Apparently someone managed to pop the hood of my locked car in Marcus' ghetto neighborhood in Berkeley and steal the ignition module wiring connector. Thankfully the replacement is only $35. Since I'm pretty sure those 35 bones are coming from Marcus' pocket, from my point of view the cool story I get is definitely worth the price.
Friday is Jomo Kenyatta Day (the anniversary of his imprisonment during Kenya's struggle for independence) and Tuesday is the end of Ramadan, so I think I'm taking off to do a trek in the Cherangani Hills. It seems like it's a lot of walking on dirt roads from village to village, except not as flat as around here. Plus this region is where all the marathoners are from, so you pass right by one of the shoe company training centers. Should be good stuff.
Anyway, what should I do when I'm done with this job in January? I could go right back to grad school, retake the classes I need, and retake the labor field exam August 2007. The advantage to that is that I don't lose any of my ties to the Girls Scholarship Program, and I might be able to get a co-authorship out of it if I stuck with it. This would not be my job market paper, since you've got to do that on your own, but it might be a chapter. (Econ PhD's write 3 papers, staple them together, and call them a dissertation. Only one (your job market paper) has to be any good.) The disadvantage is that I'll be enrolled in two, possibly three courses (a full load) and I will be hating them. I can guaran-g_d-damn-tee you that. Plus I'll most likely continue working as a research assistant for Ted on the GSP data. But I'd probably reduce my research hours and work as a TA for an undergrad class, meaning more total work hours.
The other option is to either try and extend my time in Kenya, or see if I can just work for Ted as a non-student research assistant in Berkeley on the GSP project until April, then start hiking the Continental Divide Trail in May. This way, I get the GSP data to a point where Ted and the other people working on it can do the analysis so nobody feels like I'm dumping dirty data and running. Then I use the money I've got left from student loans to go hike for several months, and re-enroll in school in January 2008 and retake the exam in August 2008. Disadvantages are that I'd no longer be even close to graduating on schedule with the peers in my cohort. I also might get to spend less time with my good friends from church in Berkeley before they inevitably move away. I also probably lose out on immediate co-authorship opportunities. Advantages are that long-distance hiking makes me happy.
You can hike one or three of the long trails, but not two. 3100 miles along the divide through NM, CO, WY and MT, with less than 20 miles below 10,000 feet in the entire state of Colorado, Anasazi cliff dwellings along the Gila river, and the Glacier backcountry are calling my name. I'd probably try and buy a digital SLR to take even better pictures. Of course I'd have to lighten my pack in some other way to counterbalance the added weight. This would of course cost a lot of money, but I think I could pull it off. Financial implications of my decision are unclear; living in Berkeley is expensive, living in the woods without a job burning through a pair of shoes every two weeks and eating 6,000 calories a day isn't very profitable either, so I'm pretty sure I'll be broke either way. Plus I don't really give a crap about money anyway.
Some might raise the possible objection that I wouldn't be "bettering myself" or progressing in any grand way by hiking the trail. I think I'll address that in a later post. In the meantime, any suggestions?