Mathlete

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The new se­mes­ter has kicked off and any sem­blance of a hol­i­day has fi­nally left the build­ing. The class I’m tak­ing for the next 4 months is Applied Quantitative Reasoning. The in­struc­tor doesn’t ap­pear to be a hard-ass, but he’s play­ing every­thing ex­actly by the CSU pol­icy guide. I get the feel­ing be­cause it’s eas­ier for him to let the pol­icy al­ready in place do the work. This class is ba­si­cally a part-time job; sta­tis­ti­cal math­e­mat­ics for 16 hours per week.

It’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge, but I al­ways rise to those. I’ve not ex­er­cised my math mus­cles in a decade, so I ex­pect there will be some nec­es­sary cob­web-blow­ing in the first weeks.

Today

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I had to take the day off of work be­cause Bram has an ear in­fec­tion. First we had to spend an in­ter­minable 2.5 hours at MetroHealth, but get­ting his $3 pre­scrip­tion one door down from the pe­di­atric clinic was nice. It’s that pink stuff that tastes like bub­ble gum.

Instead of study­ing for my Intro to Public Adminstration fi­nal, which is to­mor­row, I baked. Dark choco­late brown­ies (so dark they look like coal), 7 layer bars, and choco­late-dipped pret­zel rods. So much to do, so lit­tle time left be­fore the hol­i­days.

Autodidact

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Today was long and fruit­ful. I learned much, but the main thing is some­thing I fig­ured out just now as I fired up the browser to write this post. This last year has been a sub­con­scious seek­ing of new path­ways and chal­lenges. I started two new blogs, joined the W3C, joined GovLoop, started the pur­suit of an MPA, found a new tim­bre to my own par­tic­u­lar voice and phi­los­o­phy and just re­cently de­cided to get back into the swing of things around here. I broke out of my root ball and made my­self stretch into new soil. I’m even up on HTML5 and CSS3, though noth­ing vis­i­ble has come from that yet.

I still have a hard time ad­mit­ting that I’m wrong about things. Thankfully my re­la­tion­ship with Deborah has helped me be bet­ter at say­ing “I don’t know” in both my pri­vate and pro­fes­sional lives. I’ve got­ten bet­ter at sup­port­ing my own ar­gu­ments and po­si­tions, and hope­fully more tact­ful as well. I’d like to think that the re­sult is a more re­fined and ma­ture ver­sion of my­self, but I’m still quite aware of just how far I have to go. Awareness of the ex­tent of my faults is an­other bonus. The take­away from this is that I am a per­son who is go­ing to con­stantly be set­ting my­self tasks for learn­ing, teach­ing and grow­ing.

We even got the Christmas tree up.

Civil Service

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My fa­vorite dis­cus­sion this year in my Public Administration class cen­tered around whether civil ser­vice was a call­ing [or not]. This led me to think about why I get so much sat­is­fac­tion out of my gov­ern­ment web de­sign gig. The an­swer I usu­ally shell out is be­cause every day I get a chance to im­prove the way gov­ern­ment in­ter­acts with its cit­i­zens. Despite this be­ing true and the most im­me­di­ate re­ward of my job, I fig­ured there has to be more. It’s my fam­ily, and Catholic school.

My grandpa fought in World War II and then was was a mail car­rier with a ru­ral route for the Post Office for years. My mother taught spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion her whole life. The Holy Cross broth­ers at Notre Dame also em­pha­sized ser­vice. After awhile it gets in­grained. I en­joy work­ing for the gov­ern­ment be­cause it is ser­vice-dri­ven, not profit-mo­ti­vated. Whenever I get a call for­warded to me from the help desk, I al­ways make sure I don’t send them around on an­other bout of trans­fer-tag. If I can’t an­swer their ques­tion or help them out, I make sure that if I do have to trans­fer them, they get sent to the ex­actly cor­rect per­son, not just the cor­rect of­fice. The re­ward is their grat­i­tude.

So, I guess it is easy to see where I fall on the ar­gu­ment. I feel called to civil ser­vice, so I think it is a call­ing.

It might seem like an ex­cep­tion, but the Selective Service (a fas­ci­nat­ing Wikipedia ar­ti­cle), and the fact that I had to reg­is­ter for the [non-ex­is­tent] draft in or­der to re­ceive fed­eral stu­dent loans is a big rea­son why I never signed up for the Armed Forces. I’m non-com­bat­ive by na­ture, but I’m also stub­born as hell when some­one tries to force me to do some­thing. It is fit­ting then, that I would re­sent sign­ing up for the draft; it is an en­forced civil ser­vice (among other things), and there­fore in­con­sis­tent with my opin­ion that civil ser­vice is a call­ing.