First, the big news. After much discussion of preferences, possibilities, and alternatives, Becca and I have decided that I will be going to Stanford for my Ph.D. Becca, of course, will be coming with me, ideally to acquire a job in a lab at Stanford (or, if needs be, at one of the other Bay Area universities). The only other option under any real consideration was UC San Diego, though I did go by USC for interviews on the Friday mid-break.
For those who are keeping track, this means that I'll be getting a Psychology (with a Cognitive specialization) rather than a Cognitive Science Ph.D., and I'll be studying under Jay McClelland rather than Jeff Elman. This has its good and bad points. McClelland is newly arrived to Stanford, there to start up a training program in computational methods for mind and brain or some such, while Elman has an established power base and tentacles in a *lot* of pies. Then again, this gives me the chance to help shape a new program to suit my whims. It also doesn't hurt that (1) Stanford is giving me more money over a longer period of time than UCSD can afford, and (2) McClelland was *much* more aggressive about recruiting me than Elman, thus making my ego even larger than it already was.
On the gripping hand, I felt that the other professors at Stanford were both interested and interesting, while the other profs (who I met) at UCSD were relatively... not. Given how much both departments emphasized the interdisciplinary-ness and cross-fertilization between labs, I think it is important that I be excited about working with the other profs as well as my primary adviser.
All the drama about hearing from and turning down all the other schools just isn't particularly relevant or interesting.
I will refrain from posting on the probable effects of this decision on Becca's future path, as I think she has a better idea of that than I do.
In other recent news, break went well. Went home to visit parents, brother, and kitties for a few days, then down to LA and Becca for the bulk of the two weeks. It hurts that I'm gone again, and for a longer period than ever, but it feels much better knowing that it's the last such separation.
While I was there, I stopped by the nearby used/antique bookstore again, and picked up a book on astrology which was largely ghost-written by Aleister Crowley, as well as Lord Dunsany's _Fourth Book of Jorkins_, in the same edition (first US, published by none other than Arkham House) which is currently sitting in the rare book room at Powell's for five times as much. Very nice, and solid enough to actually read.
Some other stuff happened, including watching a few really bad movies, particularly Bride of Re-Animator and The Hills Have Nuclear Hillbillies. The former failed to have *any* of the clever dialogue or interesting... anything of the first movie, and the latter inexplicably turned into Half Life about two-thirds of the way through. Haven't gotten to V For Vendetta yet, which I feel guilty about, largely because I feel like I *ought* to like both the Wachowski brothers and Alan Moore substantially more than I in fact do.
If all goes well, I'll be back in LA for an ICT summer internship. In fact, if all *doesn't* go well, I'll be back in LA anyway, because I'm about to e-mail Luke Hunsberger to let him know that I won't be here for URSI next summer. But ICT is sufficiently nepotistic that I don't foresee any difficulties.
There is of course a million work I need to do, but I'll spare everybody the enumeration which I've got half-written for myself. Suffice it to say that I've got the midterm for Western Esotericism to finish for Monday, the omnipresent robot to work on for Friday, my thesis draft to *finish* (including running the experiment and building the neural nets) for less than three weeks from now, and an outline for my seminar final paper to finish in a similar time frame. Yes, the list could have gone into much more detail. Be thankful.
That's about all I have time/patience/consciousness for. If updates are required, they might appear. Maybe.