Today Samir and I had lunch on campus. He told me about an 11th grader who called because he was interested in algorithms, learned all the material in CMSC651 just like that, and then, over the summer, wrote a research paper that got picked by Intel as a top publication. Wow. As a high schooler, I never even suspected that it was possible to get interested in something, talk to a real-world person who was an expert at it, and contribute to it in some real way. Like, my high school had mock trial and mock Senate. Everything was just practice activities taylored to look good on an application.
Also, I visited Yoo Ah and Justin. They are about to finish their Ph.D.'s, and go off to professorship and to Google, respectively. I felt like I was an emissary from the strange world of non-research. Also, I felt old, since Yoo Ah's daughter, whom I last saw in fetus format, is now 2 years and 4 months old.