Saturday, March 15, 2008

Home Alone
Yesterday my wifes grandfather was having surgery, so I took the day off of work to free her from kids and school duty. After getting my daughter off to school, I was home alone. That doesn't happen all to often, and I have to admit I didn't know what to do with myself. I blogged quite a bit, which I hadn't done in ages. I did some laundry, which unfortunately I also rarely do. I installed OpenOffice to my daughters computer so that she could do a report for school. Then I realized it was only noon. I wanted to work on my term paper at least a little bit, but I just wasn't in the mood.

So I hopped into the Bug and ventured off to find my local library. I looked it up on a map, and saw that it wasn't even half a mile from my house. I could have easily walked there, but it was raining off and on. I was impressed with the size of the place. It was easily just as big (if not a little larger) than the library back in my home town. Yet, my home town had a "main library" which was several floors. This place *is* the main library for this small town, and the smaller towns around it. Still I was impressed with the selection of materials. And hey, I found two books to use for my term paper. Woot!

Then I went to Wal-Mart. I was looking for a pre-paid phone that I could use, so that I can give up this brick of a "smart phone" that I carry around now. The problem is, these pre-paid plans really suck. I would be dumping about fifty bucks into an old Nokia, and an hour or so of minutes. Nah. I guess I will hold onto this brick until my employer decides that it's not good for me to hang up on hospital staff. As of yet, that doesn't seem to necessitate her getting me something different. In the mean time I changed my cell phone greeting to "if you are calling during business hours, kindly hang up and call me at my desk".

My local Wal-Mart has a nice Clearance aisle full of worthless shit. One such item, a "snake bite kit" made by Coleman. At only $1.50 I was tempted to buy one and do something random with it (like inter-office mail it to one of my co-workers without explanation). But then I found a clearance item of significant magnitude.


Now I know what you are going to say. They don't make those things for grown men. You would be correct. What you are looking at is half a roller skate with a little elastic strap to hold them to your feet. Instead of a single heel, you have wheels on either side of you feet at about the same logical place. The amazing thing was that they fit my enormous size 14 Converse shoes.

I got home, busted them out of the box, and next thing I knew I was rolling through my kitchen on these bad boys at high speed. Of course, when my kids came home from school they were equally as impressed with the toy. They spent the next several hours performing death defying stunts, and testing every inch of patience from our two dogs. Quite simply, the best $7 I have ever spent.

My wife returned with good news. The surgery was an easy success, without any problems whatsoever. Grandpa was sent home the same day.

We ended up going out for dinner to a nice Italian joint up the road. We haven't been out in ages, which is probably a good thing (or at least a healthy, and cost saving thing!). I just love *real* Italian ravioli. That's good eatin' there.

It was a pretty good day.

Today we learned that Grandpa is right back into the hospital with a high fever and they suspect it's an infection. So that news, is not so good. It looks like tomorrow we return to "the big city" (my old home town) to do some visiting with the grandparents and perhaps some thrift shopping.

Oh, and I typed up about 5 pages of my term paper so far. I only need 8-10. I'm thinking I may have a hard time shrinking this thing down, as I feel that I should only be about 1/3rd done.

Historic Comments
Kudos to you and your wife for furthering your education.

FWIW, I took some upper-level Philosophy classes that ended up being the most interesting classes I had in college. We had great discussions in nearly every class. Had it not been my Jr/Sr year I very well may have changed my major.

Glad to see you're blogging again.
Best wishes to your wifes grandfather.
Michael | 03.18.08 - 11:14 am | #

Friday, March 14, 2008

Alive in 2008
I'll bet you thought I had perished. But then, who are you and why are you still reading this awful Blog? I have been living, rather well I might add, in my new small town working my small part in a big hospital. I love it. Since my last post - ages ago - quite a bit has transpired. My wife passed her GED exam with flying colors, in record time. I followed her lead, and jumped into school myself to begin working on a degree. One of the perks of working where I do is that a small sum is paid to me each year which I can spend educating myself. My goal, is to put my wife into a position where she too can begin working toward a degree.

Back to School
I never had a vision of going to college. After I left high school, I was able to land myself in several job opportunities which were rather well paying. I was on a mission to prove that you didn't really need an expensive certificate to prove yourself worthy of a skill. Even if that skill was a highly technological skill, or set of skills. I have done all right. Of course, there have been lay-offs. And I have been denied work, due to complete lack of any college education. So now that I am in a good position, I should probably prepare for a day when I may not be so lucky. And heck, it might be fun?

I was sent a course list from my recruiter and asked to choose whatever I desired. You had your typical math, English, philosophy, etc. You also had a fair share of courses on Christianity and faith. Interesting. I could certainly learn something in those courses as well, but not being a ma of faith myself, I don't know that my views would be welcomed there. Then, a course on technology caught my eye. I expressed my desire to take the course to a co-worker who is also attending the same University. "Oh, you don't want to take that" he said "it's just a whole course on bashing technology". Awesome! I enlisted.

The class was not quite what I expected. It's been shaped around a single book, Technopoly, by Niel Postman. Postman has written the book from the perspective that Western society is putting too much stock into technology. We create problems with technology, and try to solve them with technology. It has redefined our world view. It has removed essential elements for a strong moral "narrative". And so on, and so forth. While I disagree with Postman in a few areas, I agree with him for 90 percent of the book. Perhaps worse, I understand him.

I consider myself to be fairly anti-technology. I have a rotary phone on my desk (because it's a testament to good quality). I drive a 1968 Volkswagen (because I can, and have, rebuilt the vehicle myself). I am about to trade in my cell phone for something without a keyboard, camera, etc. (because I need a phone that doesn't lock up when someone tries to call me). I have become this way, because I have lived in an area where I see greedy corporations taking over the world. Their tool, is technology. And not good technology either. Quickly developed, cheap, and garbage-like stuff. My class, does not see it.

During an in-class discussion, I made a statement about a video we had watched. An MIT professor claimed that "my children and grandchildren will not have to work as hard, because technology will allow them more time for family and entertainment". I balked. I said "how could he claim to be an expert and yet be so naive?", and "he is working the same amount of hours as his father did, and studies would show that we actually spend more time at work now than 50 years ago". Ah, but I was challenged by a younger student in the class. She disagreed. She countered with this story.

"I work for an insurance company. We are joining a new program called TEAM. I forget what it stands for ... it's an acronym. With this new program, we are joining forces with other agencies so that we can work fewer people, fewer hours, and yet still accomplish the same amount of work".

I of course wanted to know how that had worked out. Admittedly, the program had not yet been implemented because "not everyone at the agency was on-board". I wanted to slap her. I wanted to shake her around and tell her not to be sold on an acronym. Nothing is that easy.

This is the problem. Management types need to justify their existence. What better than an acronym. What better than a new process that removes labor, and adds profit. Technology is the cure to the problem. Whatever that problem happens to be. We will build a software package to manage the people. But of course, you will need a database to store all that information. You had better use Microsoft SQL. It's going to cost you, but it's all we support. What, you don't have a database administrator? You had better hire one. He or she will need to be skilled at this application, and staying current will mean training them. While on the subject of data, how are you going to back up this information? You do realize that this application will need it's own server too, right? We don't share our server with other applications. Perhaps you could virtualize that server, and "go green". Have you considered hiring a consultant who can reduce your energery consumption? What will you do if the power goes out? You need to purchase some components to generate power, for when the power fails. And so on. And so forth.

I understand what this class is about. But I fear that the instructor and I are the only ones. There have been a few times where we disagreed on some fairly good points. That makes for good discussion. There are very few of those which involve students. This was apparent in the first class, where the in-class discussions kept skating off toward discussions of "faith" and "God's plan". While I am not opposed to hearing discussions on how students feel that God plays into technology - it should hardly dominate the class. The instructor allows such discussions, but often reminds us to "stay on topic with the book". After my first night of class, my wife asked how it went. I told her that I thought either the students weren't actually reading the book, or simply did not understand it. Now that I am one class away from completing the course I would say the latter is true.

Yet ... last night, our Instructor asked the class to name elements that make for a good community or society. The goal would then be to ask if technology was what we needed to attain it. A young student behind me (who seems to be highly intelligent) offered "a balance between good and evil". I was taken aback. That was quite a bit deeper than the other items that had been chalked up, such as "better cars", "more family time", etc. The instructor countered. "Is evil necessary at all?". I backed her up. I stated that while we were asked to focus on Western society for this course, the entire Eastern culture would be in agreement with this statement. The Instructor had fun with this issue. He put it on the board, but off to the side as if not to consider it as a real answer. He proposed some interesting questions such as what good did the holocaust do? When atomic bombs were dropped at the end of World War 2 (or the beginning of WWIII depending on your warped view of history), what good was done by killing millions of men, women and children? That's pretty heavy for the class we are in, and the questions were meant to be rhetoric. But it was obvious that this student was all ready thinking above the discussion, and was probably above this course. Perhaps I am too.

Most students have been fulfilling their homework each week by summarizing the authors points from each chapter onto a single sheet of double-spaced paper. To me, that is not *nearly* enough space to encapsulate his best thoughts. I need at least two sheets. I don't think anyone else would agree with me. They seem to be running short on a single sheet. At times, I have seen students say that they agree with the author on an issue, where it was clear to me that the author was going "the other way" with the argument. The instructor encourages us to counter each other, but most of the time - nobody would understand the point being made.

Now, I should be working on the paper I need to submit for this course, and not blabbing about this dreck. But, it sure is a good vice isn't it? I dump out this lump of thoughts from my brain - to a machine. Which will kindly store it, sort it, make it searchable, and one day deem it worthless before archiving and deleting it.

In the mean time, I wonder how my wife's grandfather is doing right about now?

Historic Comments
Next post in six months then? :D I've always wanted a cellphone that just made and received calls. All that extra crap does is run the battery down. Some tech companies just don't understand the Keep It Simple Stupid rule.
Hello | 03.15.08 - 3:35 am | #

just wondering about your book

Working Title(s): Invasion Of Privacy / Home Invasion
By Ray Dios Haque
Draft – Last Revised 12/29/04 - Version 1.1

tell me , how much further did you go with the research, is it an old copy or new, it says 2004

my hobby after work is cracking wifi nets, once i get access i test the connection and go to another one, every single wifi network i´ve scanned has been cracked by me, companies, homes, schools etc , i havent come across any challenge yet , anyways, just thinking if you´re into this stuff , would be great tpo share ideas, coming across you pdf book
sweden | 05.07.08 - 12:02 am | #