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.
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.
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.
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.