Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I'll be doing this summer

So I'm in Clemons right now working on a take-home Symbolic Logic test. I'm also worrying about what I'll be doing this summer.

A lot of my friends are facing the issue of not being able to find a job, so I feel bad that I'm in the situation where I've got two and have to find out a way to pare that down to one. Well, I have a way. Just not one that I like.

I've got a job offer from a DC-area government contractor that I accepted (contingent on my receipt of a security clearance). However, since accepting this, my mind's been going back and forth on whether or not I actually want it, or whether I'd prefer the other pending job offer (TAing at CTY again), and at the moment I think I'd probably prefer the latter.

If I didn't mind being a dick, this would be simple. I'd call up the government contractor, tell them that I retract my acceptance, and I'd be done with it. The issue with that lies in the process of getting a security clearance, which is a very expensive process. The government would be displeased with the contractor if I were to drop out once the security clearance investigation is already underway, as it'd be a waste of money. If it were some massive contractor, that wouldn't much matter, but the contractor is on the small side and as such their reputation with the government would be hurt more than if they were massive. (It wouldn't by any means kill their reputation, but any negative mark is still a negative mark.) And as it'd be because of my withdrawal, I'd feel bad. I said I'd do the job, and I don't like going back on my word, even if the contract technically allows for it.

At the same time, though, I'm questioning whether it's really the right job for me for this summer. I know I'd enjoy CTY. I'd enjoy the work, I'd enjoy the people, and I'd enjoy that it would still leave a good portion of my summer free. Working for the contractor, I don't know. I may or may not enjoy the work. It's computer programming, which I enjoy, but I've never had to do it full-time for months. The people, I have no idea what they'll be like. I wouldn't have as much time free (only a couple weeks at the beginning and end), but it pays on the order of three or four times better than CTY.

So, the bottom line is, I don't know what I'll be doing this summer. If I get a security clearance I'll probably be working for the government contractor, but there's a definite part of me hoping that I don't get the clearance. I know it's a rare thing for me, hoping against both a valuable asset and a chance to try something new, but the expected value is, in my mind, in favor of CTY. There's also the issue that I may very well need to let CTY know whether or not I'll be back before I know whether the security clearance was granted.

CliffsNotes condensed version: If I get a security clearance, I'll be programming for a government contractor. If I don't, I'll either be TAing Crypto at CTY Lancaster, or I'll be unemployed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

'Tis a sad day for cyclists

A biker was killed yesterday biking on West Main. He was a math graduate student, and although I didn't personally know him I have friends who did.

I've heard a lot since then about people blaming the driver, blaming the cyclist, and also generally just bitching about driver/cyclists/pedestrians (generally whichever group or groups the complainer themself doesn't fall into). I don't know the specifics of this accident, but I know it was what's generally called a "right hook" (biker passing a car on the right when the car turns to the right), and I myself have been in that very type of accident on West Main.

In my case, I was passing a car on the right when it made an unsignaled right turn. Whose fault is that? It's not entirely clear. By Virginia state law, cyclists are allowed to pass on the left or right when the conditions are safe. If a driver doesn't signal a turn, can it be considered safe to pass them? If people drive safely, yes. However, that's not realistic. There will always be some drivers (and cyclists, and pedestrians) who behave in an unsafe manner, and regardless of which group you usually fall into, you have to realize that the responsibility of keeping roads safe is held by all.

Drivers, stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, signal turns well in advance (especially when there are bikers on the road), and generally be aware of pedestrians/cyclists in the area. Cyclists, also stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, follow the rules of the road (especially with regards to red lights and stoplights), and don't automatically assume drivers see you or are driving legally. Pedestrians, use crosswalks if there are any cars in the area, be mindful of cyclists even when cars are absent, and for heaven's sake, if the red sign says don't cross, don't cross.