Tuesday, March 03, 2015

I Don't think It's Permanent

      Wow, the stress has been draining from my body this past month as I reintegrate into my daily life things that have been on hold for the last 4 years of school. Things such as cooking more often, carpentry, contemplation, bible study, or, on a real good day, visiting two or three different musical instruments.  A couple of years racing, racing, racing, had me drained.  Trying to pay bills, be a parent, and getting a research paper of some description in by the end of most weeks filled up the schedule.  Heading back into school at 49 seemed no problem; but then maintaining studying full time through my mid-50s was a challenge.  But it had its desired effect, and after four years of study, hard work, and  neglecting quite a few things, I am  back at it, oddly better than I was when I put things on hold. I am better on all instruments, and in remodeling and repairing, I approach each project much more relaxed, with the meticulousness of constructing a good paper.  My brain is ever so much more able.  That is one of the unexpected  benefits of four years of intense study.  I'll take it. 

      It has been roughly four years since I went back to the academy (as my college roommate of almost 40 years ago put it).  The last few months were brutal, with stress slowing me down more so than during the rest of the time.  I've had the uncharacteristic feeling of mental exhaustion for about 4 months.  Oh, I have good days and bad days, but this was constant.  Judging by how I've rebounded since I don't think it's permanent.  I'm still not sure if the fatigue had anything to do with stopping daily cod liver oil, which is great food (protein and vitamins) for the brain, or if it was the constant pressure of four years trying to maintain the best grade possible (well. . . and learn as much as I can while I have the opportunity).  Well I got it before it got me and I think I'm in the clear.  Fish oil may have had a lot to do with this past four good years of mental retooling.  Fish has been a main staple in most people's diet since the beginning of time.  Historically, most people lived either close to the seashore or not too far from a fresh water stream and consumed fish regularly.  I'm going to get back to it.  I personally need all of the mental advantages I can get. 

      It is important to go to an accredited online college if you hope to come away with a degree which has any value.  That has always been a reality. There is, however, one even more important thing. Get in there and learn the subject matter.  Take advantage of all that is being offered.  The diploma is good to get your foot in the door, but it is what you actually learned that will dictate your eventual success.  Where you go to school does not matter nearly so much as how you perform in the first year or two post education.  That has everything to do with whether you have learned to apply what you were supposed to have learned. And on top of that, the most challenging task a college grad has is to go on learning after graduation.  Careers, the job market, the sciences, no longer remain the same for very long.  The given of constant change in life has shifted up a notch to rapid and exponential change in science, knowledge, and technology.  Information and computation technology has produced a new global economy, booming scientific discoveries, and exponentially increasing rapid technological advancement.  Life long learning is the new norm - everyone else gets left behind economically and technologically.       

      I am not here to glamorize or deify technology.  Along with all of this upsurge in the speed of information gathering and the ability to compute and organize it comes limitations.  It is more apparent than ever that humanity has hit a ceiling in its capacity to understand all of the information it has at it's disposal.  Some of us want to take particularly the information we want to hear and ignore the rest, at the expense of a truer big picture.  Many of us couldn't care less about any truth - truth has simply never shown up in our lives.  The confuser has many of us under his spell.  Very few of us can agree on anything anymore.  We have come to a limit in the ability to understand and agree on what to do with this information these machines have so neatly collected for us.  Information overload.  The electronic information is blowing many of us out of the water.  So much information, and so little capacity to understand it.  And it is only because our educational system has let us down, leaving most of us without the tools of thought to tell fact from fiction - and in too many cases to even be able to read and write.  And, unlike the economies that are slowly overtaking us - China, India, Malaysia, we scoff at higher education.  Without cultivating the minds and workers to help our country stay competitive in the new technology driven world economy our ability to sustain our countries competitive economy will continue to slide.  Former American corporations have taken advantage of the new electronically accessible global environment, moved to the other side of the world, and used the vulnerable and plentiful third world labor force to become new affluent global residents.  This leaves America with very cheap foreign products, and a labor force with hoping to maintain as high of a low-wage lifestyle they can while competing with people in the third world who are one paycheck above living in a cardboard shanty.  The new global corporate paradigm is to buy one's way into the next impoverished third world country, use up its natural resources and cheap labor, and move on to the next. This is a reward of using new electronic technology well.  The new global labor market will have to become equally electronically and globally savvy, and together, "collectively", work its way back up to a living wage.  In the meantime, a very poorly educated American labor force continues to "decollectivize".  Very interesting.

      Back to more manageable things.  At one point early in a Community Development class I had about a year ago I realized that someone with a familiar sounding name called Dr. Randall Stoecker had the greatest number of publications cited in my main textbook. When I looked back in the references at the fellow with the familiar sounding name I noticed that whereas most of the other authors had one or two respectable citations, he had three to six times as many as  everyone else. I was already aware Stoecker had published a long list of books and papers in his field after I had searched his name online, found him teaching at U-W Madison, and a link on his homepage to a long list of published works.  I sent him an email and gave him my best regards.  36 years ago he was my good friend and college roommate at U-W Whitewater.

      I have made it to level #162 in Candy Crush Saga and have spent only 5 dollars.  I had only spent $3 up to last week until I decided to make a donation to them to partially reimburse them for all the fun I was having (feeling guilty, and cheap).  It is not that I am so good, or so fast, because I'm not, but simply that I enjoy playing until I win a level on its own terms, fair and square, without paying for a win.  The game is fun.  I have found them to be very fair and patient (as fairness goes these days).  This game goes well with the other family tradition I recall which is sometimes needing to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Who would have thought such a relaxing pass time would have health benefits?

      My daughter is amazing.  She is going to high school online, at home, in charter school fashion.  Next year we will finish out "Deanta's big adventure" back in the traditional  school in town for her junior and senior year.  We are excited.  We are excited about this year too.  We have much to be thankful for.  But the first semester of geometry went very hard.  I had gloated the year before how well I had recently done in college intermediate algebra, but, was now faced with being useless in geometry.  I could not help her.  Her mother would offer to help her and then withhold any help from her in order to punish her for one thing or another.  Her instructor at the time was also not overly helpful.  But the book . . . finally, was decent - an online math book that turned out to be a decent instructional resource.  We have had some bad ones.  Her online algebra book from the previous year had been a disaster.  It was not helpful.  I had to teach her, and the teacher had to help.  She and I gave the book every chance and it just did not teach.  It appeared to be quickly thrown together.  This year however, in geometry, I was helpless.  When I was in high school I had fallen behind in geometry, and bombed.  I had really struggled.  At that time, rather than seeking help, I had felt there were far too many greater, more relevant school day possibilities.  I'm still not sure I was wrong.  In hindsight, I would have like to do better in geometry.  But nobody cared what I got in geometry, least of all me, so in my frustration I would throw in the towel, gave up, and went to open gym.  Not my daughter though.  She has been way behind.  She had thought that she could rely on some of us for help.  Finally, realizing differently, she had given herself over to the book . . . but this time the book was there for her.  All semester, although waiting for somebody to show up and play teacher, she had still been plodding along, methodically passing each lesson with usually an A, or a high B, learning the material, in spite of my telling her to hurry up and just blow through it before she falls too far behind.  She just finished first semester geometry two days ago, 6 weeks into the second semester, with a high B.  Now, she is going much faster while not waiting around for the rest of us to give her a hand.  I am totally impressed. And now, after I had given up on her, if she dedicates enough time to it she could even finish the year with an A.  I learned a lot too, and it wasn't geometry. 

      Things are good.  To finish out my state counseling accreditation I am going half an hour to Wausau twice a week for two college courses at Northcentral Technical Institute: Intro to Counseling, and Understanding Addiction, getting ready to start working again at least two days a week in construction subcontracting (I love to build), very broke, very happy, very blessed, preparing for work in an exciting field. 

      That's how things have been going on this end.  Thanks for stopping by.


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