What's New?

(December 22, 2008)

I'm still not quite done with my Ph.D., but much has happened since my last entry. My dissertation is now written, and my advisor Olaf says it's looking good, but now we need to set a defense date some time next year, probably in late winter or early spring. I'm finally getting around to updating this site, and will soon update my resumes and my CV in preparation for a job search. I'm thinking that probably I will focus on applying for government and industry positions, but I'm not really ruling anything entirely out.

One major piece of creative news from "Planet Chadderdon" is that last summer I started writing a novel. Its working title is Emancipation, and it is a little hard to classify with respect to genre. Primarily, it is a fantasy novel, but it is not a Tolkien-style fantasy novel (with orcs and dragons and such), but instead a psychological fantasy/romance with Greek mythological motifs. The protagonist, Paul Masterson, is a man whose life has been shaped by some very traumatic childhood dreams about a mysterious, uncanny lady imprisoned under gruesome torture. But despite the horror elements early in the story, it is essentially an upbeat novel focused on the (initially repressed) protagonist's coming to terms with Eros in life. I've started novels before in the past, but this is really the first that is likely to reach some stage of completion. I already have 15 chapters written—probably over half the novel—and the rest of novel is, on some level, already planned out. This novel is something I perceive to be one of my more serious life-projects.

In the last two years, I've also been learning flamenco guitar through books and my usual improvisatory practicing. I'm thinking I should really try to get involved more musically when I finally am settled in to whereever my next home will be.

This year, I was able to publish a paper on measuring volition in natural and artificial systems in the journal Adaptive Behavior. This is a project that has been the culmination of years of thinking and writing about the subject, and it is gratifying that I finally have the article (Assessing Machine Volition: An Ordinal Scale for Rating Artificial and Natural Systems) in print.

Currently, I'm living at home with my parents while I finish the Ph.D. process and search for jobs. The world economy is currently in the tank (as I'm sure readers have already observed). Again, I sense that another chapter of my life is coming to an end, but where I will land next isn't at all clear. But, quite unlike previous times, I'm not so worried. After some soul-searching and a few new experiences, I am more at peace with the fact that I cannot predict my own future. I am more open, I think (and I hope), to what's out there in the world.

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