...you really like reading papers. Gosh, I feel like such a non-engineer when I say this.

I mean really like. Last year my favorite readings (edging out even sci-fi stories) were the Robotics papers for Gill's class and things like Shannon's original paper on information theory. I stayed up nights earlier this semester reading Papert's stuff. Now I'm kicking myself for not doing theoretical research earlier. All the research stuff I've done at Olin has been "hey, a new lab! buy equipment, haul furniture, hello I am a code monkey." Haven't done much research, to be honest. And in high school I read very few papers, they were mostly biotech, and I just didn't get into that stuff as much (too many immunology acronyms to remember) and that was for fun, not for research of any sort.

I'm currently crawling my way through "Opportunistic beamforming using dumb antennas." It breaks my previous slow record for reading in English; 3 hours net reading and I'm 3 pages in (out of 19). The previous record holder was the Calculus of Variations textbook I crept through for my PDEs project two years ago, and that was 18 pages in 6 hours, three times as fast. It takes time for me to work through the math and look up new terms (did you know there's an imaginary error function? It's called erfi. I'm pronouncing it "er-fee," which makes it sound like the name of a puppy.)

It's a great balance, actually. Mathematics, but applied mathematics. Complex and abstract enough to be entertaining, but tied to reality so I actually care enough to keep going when the entertainment factor fades. A mix of probability and discrete math, with a good heap of graph theory thrown in - my favorites. Something where good programming skills helps, but it isn't all you do. Where hardware knowledge helps, but it isn't all you do. Where the boundaries between doing abstract mathy stuff, computational simulation, and actual physical implementation are paper-thin and crowded close together.

Did I mention the math? Ah, textual data - if it's mathematical, it's got to be written down, and so I can read it! In contrast to this, I'm still looking for a good textbook on how to lay out PCBs properly. It appears to be something people "pick up." (My PCBs are awful - I can use the software, but I really don't know what I'm doing with it aside from plugging the right things together. "They're all connectedlike!" "Holy cow Mel there are huge loops everywhere and what the heck did you do to the ground plane.")

I wish more electrical engineers would write good books about their work. I have a nagging feeling that I'll be trying to fill this gap as time goes on.

It's good that I'm forcing myself to take some time off to travel and work, otherwise I'd just stay in academia forever, and that wouldn't necessarily be good for my growth. Strength in diversity of experience, Mel. The paper you're reading now mathematically proves that (in a way).

Finish this section! Model Rayleigh fading! Sleep so you can get up when the sun rises and get more glorious natural light!