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April 28th, 2008

...and it comes up 4.

So I cast the die on Thursday in more ways than one, and I wasn't going to admit it until I saw how it came out.

What I told you was that I had declined the offer of a raise and promotion at my current job in favor of the Institute. What I didn't tell you was that I had then called the Institute and asked them to raise their offer.

This—declining offer A and then pushing back on offer B—is dumb. Don't do this. It turned out OK for me, but it would have been safer and probably more lucrative to hold my options open and give less information to my opponents1. The reason I didn't: I have a certain amount of cowardice that I have historically only been able to overcome by a somewhat forced overconfidence. It isn't pretty.

Anyway, after letting me sweat over the weekend, they offered a small salary bump and I accepted. Is a month and a half's rent per year for the rest of my working life worth three days of stress? Well, when you put it that way, of course it is. But it was pretty stressful and I had to exercise a certain amount of rationality to convince myself to do it. (This was, in fact, the first time I have ever asked for more money from any employer, not counting the time I told that part-time dude that I wanted to quit and go back to part-time but couldn't unless he raised my rate.)

I start the new job a week from today. Although I will admit to not having searched as widely as I could, it seems to be a Pareto optimum among realizable jobs for me at this stage. I can imagine Tufts jobs that would beat it, but my applications for Medford-campus jobs did not generate responses—I suspect because they're a Solaris shop and I don't have a solid Solaris bullet on my resume.

What's going to be hard is asking again next year. It's hard to calibrate expectations, since I don't have access to the salary database and local geek society tends to keep salaries confidential.

1Doesn't it suck that, before you get to cooperate like both parties want to, you have to play a zero-sum game for stakes that are way higher for you than for them?
OK, I think I got this from one of you today, but I don't see it on my flist, so maybe it was greader grist. (Update: I blame elfs. Transhumanist smut peddler.) Anyway, Clay Shirky says television is the gin of the masses, and the cognitive surplus (good term!) it's been eating up is starting to be used for other things and is going to kick the ass of the world, finally, RSN.

This makes perfect sense to me. I watch at most one hour of TV per week: House (BTW: tonight, my place, starting 7 PM) is the hub of a roughly weekly social gathering that lasts 3-5 hours. I don't have the patience for commercials: LJ and iGoogle are much more efficient at feeding my insatiable hunger for stimulus, and they have social and educational elements TV doesn't.

And in turn, my life is vastly improved when I steal even 10% of my cognitive surplus from these more-or-less passive reading activities. Over the last 3-4 weeks, that much stolen time got me a better job. If that less-stressful job lets me ease up on the NADD a little bit and spend more time on school and exercise and hobbies, all indications are that I will have a vast improvement in health, intellectual satisfaction, and employability.

Don't kill your TV, just strangle it to the point of near-unconsciousness and have a party with your friends around its twitching remnant.