My Blog Posts, in Reverse Chronological Order

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Minor Ramblings

Aug 30, 2011

It’s August 30, 2011. I’m planning on moving in to my room at Williams on September 2nd. Classes start on the eighth. As the last few days of my precious summer dwindle down, I gather some random thoughts I’ve accumulated as well as any future plans I have on my agenda for the fall semester. Some of my goals, in no particular order:

  1. Solve a Rubik’s Cube in 100 seconds or less.
  2. Beat either my 500 push-ups in a day or my 600 sit-ups in a day records
  3. Reach level 2 on Project Euler
  4. Perform one successful muscle-up. It’s a lot harder than you think.
  5. Do well in my courses for the fall semester (particularly the math and science ones)
  6. Reach 200 pages of text in my personal writing project
  7. Have 30 entries on this blog
  8. Get involved with a professor on a research project
  9. Successfully shoot 50% from three-point-range in one day (minimum 50 attempts)
  10. Improve my vertical leap, since it helps a lot for the Ultimate Frisbee season
  11. Learn some C++ (of course, “some” is at my discretion)
  12. Maintain better communication with my siblings
  13. Solve a Rubik’s Revenge
  14. Finish reading the Riverworld book series
  15. Drink a quart of water every day
  16. Skype with my grandmother
  17. Watch the Introduction to AI lectures from Stanford University
  18. Pick a Minecraft mod to play with

Some of these goals are common, while others are a little more eccentric. I’ll try to achieve as many as possible.

UPDATE May 13, 2015: In retrospect, I really should have worked more on C++ and de-valued the importance of drinking that much water.

Summer Academy

Aug 26, 2011

I spent much of the summer of 2011 at the University of Washington at Seattle as part of the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing in Computing. (Will they ever change that name so it isn’t a mouthful???) It’s a nine-week residential program that brings 13 deaf and hard-of-hearing students together who take courses and attend talks together. I was one of those students, along with my brother. When I first heard about the program, I had mixed feelings. I didn’t consider myself as a computer science person, and I felt like this program wouldn’t match my interests. But what was once a near last-choice summer experience may have unintentionally, yet incredibly, led me to gravitate towards computer science as a major.

You can read the description of the program on the web (alternatively, just Google search Summer Academy Deaf and Hard of Hearing) so I won’t explain everything. However, it wasn’t like being at Williams, since there were only 2 classes there compared with 4 at my college. What this program offered that I hadn’t experienced before was the opportunity to see what current computer science graduate students and workers were doing. Graduate students presented their topics, ranging from Android programs to touch-screens for blind people, while people in industry talked about their experience and jobs, which typically involved software engineering or information technology.

We’ll see how this program impacts me in the future. Check back in five years.

In the meantime, I’m going to read more about the ultra-popular computer game — not just at the Summer Academy but global — Minecraft and it’s upcoming 1.8 version. I can’t wait….

So, I Turned 19

Aug 9, 2011

My birthday’s on August 10. I was born on August 10, 1992. It’s not August 10th yet, at least in my current timezone, but I was born in a different timezone that’s 3 hours later. So I still consider myself 19. Only two more years until I can drink legally!

This got me wondering. If someone is born in L.A. and immediately moves to New York city to live, is that person automatically 3 more hours older, excluding the transportation time?

UPDATE June 24, 2013: I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realize that I originally mistyped the title of this post. It used to be “So, I turned 19,” without the capitalized “t” …

UPDATE May 13, 2015: To answer my original question, your true age is based on the time zone when you were actually born.

On the NBA Lockout and the 2011-2012 Season

Aug 4, 2011

According to ESPN, it’s likely that the 2011-2012 NBA season will be canceled. That’s truly a shame, as I was hoping to see another season of my favorite team, the Dallas Mavericks, and possibly my favorite player, Dirk Nowitzki, while they were still at their peak. (And defend their titles to be the 2012 NBA champions and the 2012 NBA Finals MVP, respectively, but I’m dreaming here.) The problem with an NBA lockout is that it causes these older teams — like the Mavericks — to lose an advantage to the younger players as it’s extremely difficult to stay in NBA-caliber shape as Father Time takes the reins. An NBA lockout also puts Dirk Nowitzki’s quest for 30,000 points in danger. He has 22,792 points, but just turned

  1. For the players, and possibly some diehard fans, there’s always Europe where New Jersey Nets star Deron Williams is likely to head in the case of a canceled season. An ersatz league compared to the NBA, but it’s better than nothing.

But what possibly frustrates me the most about the current NBA lockout is the lack of information. The NBA claims that 22 out of the 30 teams are losing money, yet they’re somehow encapsulating the data. (Despite the popularity of the sport, this isn’t an entirely spurious claim, since a lot of money has been shed unwisely to pay unproductive players cough cough … Gilbert Arenas … Rashard Lewis ….) Owners are demanding a greater share of profits, but what exactly are their balance sheets looking like? And what are the opinions of the players, whose very presence is needed to even consider continuing the NBA as the best professional basketball league in the world? As a fan, I’d really appreciate any attempt by the league to shed some light on how and when the lockout can be resolved.

If I had to wager, I’d think that the 2011-2012 season won’t be canceled. There’s just too much money and talent lost if the winter and spring seasons go by without the ultimate professional basketball league. But I cannot fathom a case where the season starts by the end of October. It’s likely to be a shortened season, as in the 1998-1999 NBA season all over again. And despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic that there will be a season.

I’m aware that I’m in need of a post in my third category, “everything deaf.” I’ll get to that shortly.

Hello World!

Aug 2, 2011

Hello world!

Well, I guess that’s good enough for an introduction. No, wait, this isn’t a world of computer science, so I guess it’s not good enough. (Computer science people will understand the joke.) Actually, I have to retract the last statement — isn’t it already a world of computers? Anyway, I’m an eighteen year old male living in the United States. I’m a student at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and my hometown is Guilderland, New York. I have also been deaf since birth.

I have two primary objectives in mind about this blog. The first is that I want to spread my knowledge of deafness and deaf culture to my readers. The second is that I also want to talk about what life is like as a college student, as well as in academia. I hope to land a job in academia within the next decade. By doing so, I’ll be one of the few deaf people I know who have an academic job. I know that there are numerous deaf professors at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT – maybe even fifty or so – but elsewhere, professors are scarce. It is my lifelong aim to rectify that.

And, naturally, there will also be some random posts about things just popping up in my head, or just random things because I want to write something down for the sake of writing something down. Or perhaps they’ll be something so important that I just can’t ignore them. What about the House just passing a deal to avoid a debt crisis on August 2nd? (Oh wait, that’s a random thought!) I’ll just include those in an “everything else” category. But hopefully, I’ll be able to focus mostly on academia and deafness.

More details about my aspirations, expectations, and interests will come in future posts when I get used to the WordPress platform. UPDATE: As of May 13, 2015, I have migrated to Jekyll.

I look forward to having a long, lasting blog!

-Daniel Seita

August 1, 2011

Why Academia?

Aug 1, 2011

I guess I’ll make things clear right away. Working in academia can be very, very difficult. It’s hard to get paid to do research at a top school, with all the competition with the freshly minted PhD’s from last year and tenured professors in their seventies clogging up positions. Politics are rife, with tenure often being a measure of how your colleagues enjoy you rather than the true quality of research. You also have to deal with students, of which a select few will be whining at you, barraging you with complaints about grades …. Last, but not least, you don’t get to start being a professor (unless you’re extremely gifted and got a PhD at 25 or younger) until you’re almost thirty, and that’s as an assistant professor with meager pay. So this begs the two-part question: Why do I want a career in academia, and why do I think it’s right for me?

The first is that, as a deaf student, I don’t think I’d function well in many fields that my classmates at Williams seem to be gravitating towards. Investment banking, finance, private equity, and consulting seem to be all the rage here, and probably reflects how popular economics is as a major. I’m sure I could get a decent job and a living following the finance route, but that requires so much communication between me and clients, and I’m not sure if many would enjoy a deaf person working with them, all other things being equal. I think that, due to my natural tendency to study a lot of material in depth, I’m more suited towards graduate school and the PhD track. I’m primarily studying computer science, economics, mathematics at Williams, and I’m probably going to pursue a PhD in computer science. I don’t want a PhD in mathematics, since I’m not sure how well I’d be at conjuring new solutions to math problems, and I find computer science far more interesting. Economics is also interesting, but computer science may have more opportunities for me outside of academia should my quest to be a professor hit a severe gridlock. (I have backup plans!)

In that respect, Williams is a great place for me to start my prospective career. It’s a fantastic institution known for the quality of its research and the close interaction between students and faculty. The ratio is seven to one. I haven’t gotten involved in true research yet, but I’m hoping to start as early as the fall 2011 semester. I’ll probably ask around the computer science department and see if there’s any interest in a research assistant to help them with some grunt work. After all, I need to start somewhere. And in the summer of 2012, I hope to land a research internship at a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in computer science. Unfortunately, Williams does not have a computer science REU — it has a very prestigious REU in mathematics — so I’ll have to apply elsewhere. I’ll have to aim *wide *since REU’s are super-competitive to get into. I would guess that almost all of them have acceptance ratios of 10 percent or less for students who are not already in that school. Ouch!

That’s looking far ahead in the future, though. I’ll update this more later.