Friday July 9th

Those PhD students and RLOS week 8?

I’m going to Black Hat and PETS and Usenix Security!

  • Today, I found out I got a ticket to attend BlackHat, via a scholarship from WISP! How cool is that?
  • I’m so excited! Years ago, I applied as a student taking night classes and working full-time, and of course was denied, and remarked to myself that “some PhD student must have gotten it”, and I was a bit salty about it.
  • Today, I am that PhD student! I opted for virtual attendance, but I’ve watched the videos for years and am excited!

I am bushed

  • I am winding down and definitely taking this evening off. Sorry! That’s how it’s going to go!
  • I don’t want to crash and burn like last week. By this time last week, I was ragged. I bought a Halo tshirt, in memory of the time I kicked the butts of my internship coworkers during an arcade and gaming social, and it arrives today!
  • I wrote a fair amount of code across several projects this week, as well as wrote a bunch of stuff, and made a bunch of friends. I got tokens from a workshop, and thought for a moment it might be a really good scheme to just pretend you know nothing about cryptocurrency, attend a bunch of “intro” workshops where they give out cryptocurrency, and profit. It’s like the poor (grad) student’s way to profit. It would be really funny if someone did do that and bought a house or something years later with it when they completed grad school.


  • we worked on the functions for using the estimators and chunking the data in the files, and I have to continue to work on it over the weekend so that it can use the distributed pipeline we were using before. Since the estimators library is a library as of today (hooray!), I can pip install it and it should hopefully work. I also have some test cases to write. Our formatting is not quite right, but it’s not too much of an issue for now. Again, this is weekend-work, not this evening work, as I am already winding down for today. This is pretty much my only break this evening, so I am absolutely going to take it and everything will have to wait; sorry! And the evening goes so quickly, too!
  • I ended up also attending the socials at MSR this week, too, and learned what a Numbat was, and I have to tell you, I’m in love. I think I ended up falling asleep watching all the videos on Numbats at 2:30am. They’ve stolen my heart with their really long anteater-esque tongue :)

Someone asked me this week

  • Someone asked me this week where I want to end up. I have zero idea, to be honest.
  • One of the difficult problems is that even if you fall in love with a group, things change; someone may leave, etc. Some of the best times in teams I’ve remembered also felt bittersweet because nothing is forever. Nothing is guaranteed. But that’s also a positive, because some great times may also be in store; the beginning of a new journey.
  • I learned to accept this especially while sailing. I used to say that regardless of what was happening on land, I could leave it behind once we pushed off.
  • And I had some amazing times sailing and racing SoCal; in fact, I saw that some of the group went to Emerald Bay this week (grumble grumble so jealous it’s so beautiful there!). But they knew it wouldn’t be forever, and one of my best mentors in that group, Jeannea, was very proud that things were working out for me and that I was moving on to the next stage in my life. Very Good Will Hunting, if you’ve ever seen one of the last scenes of the movie and conversation between Affleck and Damon.


  • I was in a mentorship for a blockchain group I’m in today, and I thought about how freely my mentor was transferring knowledge to me; knowledge that he spent at least five years accruing. There was so much nuance and insight into his explanations, and some of my very trivial questions were answered with so much insight, I felt really grateful that he was taking the time to speak with me, and eager to work on my journey of understanding. I’d like to stay in those kinds of spaces, and continue to interact with those kinds of people. I’m very over, as I’d like to call them, “D-bag spaces”. They’re too exhausting.
  • It reminded me of how easily my Cryptography professor this past semester transferred knowledge to me, and how patient she was with me, and how much gratitude I felt for the serendipity of having signed up for her class. She made me excited about cryptography, and that feeling hasn’t left, but she made me think that maybe it had always been there. Many years ago, taking workshops at MSRI and Simons Institute, and hiking to the Gourmet Ghetto with my new number theory friends. Playing Jenga and eating ice-cream late at night, talking about Moduli Spaces on the BART on the way to Daly. In the middle of the semester, I remember I had bought a bunch of books on Elliptic Curves, and I didn’t have any more room on my bookshelf, so I just put them on my bed (they could be my new friends), and they would sometimes randomly fall off (okay, I am a bad friend). I remember staying up until 4am working on a paper that was only supposed to be 3 pages long, realizing that it was now 11. And that I had to also attend class in 4 hours after that. A lot of that intuition guides me as I continue along the path. I hope it leads to something good, but even if it doesn’t, I think the journey will still be worth it.
  • So maybe now I’m “one of those PhD students”, but it truly was a process. I was watching a video early this morning where someone was saying that the types of people who get into these programmes aren’t used to failing, and so it’s a shock the first time it happens. But I think that failing and picking yourself up is one of the most valuable lessons, as is learning something new and becoming really good at it. It’s part of the authenticity of the journey, the experience and of finding your people and your stride.

And that’s it

Written on July 9, 2021