24 January 2007

just a thought...

I took a trip down to the university campus today to see if I could chat with someone about my future in their program. I guess that isn't how things are done, but I am used to having total access. I don't think I ever had to make an appointment to see a professor or drop in on someone in all my years of college. Why start now?

Anyway, I picked up more information about my top two choices for graduate programs and then I went home somewhat discouraged.

One reason for my disappointment is that even if there are no hiccups in the admissions process I wouldn't be able to start either program until fall. See I had hoped to jump in at any point and start plucking away at it as early as late March when the spring quarter usually begins. Then of course there is summer. Fall seems SOOOOOOOOOO far away to me right now. I mean, there are a thousand things that could come up between now and then that might make me change my mind, why would I want to plan something that far out.

Then there is the issue that when I was in this faculty advisors office talking about her program it hit me that I really have no idea WHY I would want to study her program. Then all the way home and since getting home I've been racking my brain trying to think of why I would want a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies. It sounds appealing for some reason but what do you do with it? I made a decision a long time ago to spend no more money on education that does not have a very clear and logical link toward my progressing professionally and financially. I already pay a lot every month for the previous ten years of enlightenment, why punish my future self even more unless it is clearly justifiable.

So what does a person do with this kind of degree? Their literature shows pictures of ordinary folk who are know deans or heads of departments in government agencies large and small or perhaps even non-governmental social service organizations of some kind. They say it is for those seeking a future of public service, political service or even political action groups. While they claim no focus it seems to somewhat revolve around managing social change or otherwise making the world a better place. In other words its anything but an MBA which is often seen as the get-rich-quick infomercial to the MAIS' informational and educational programming.

Does that make any sense to you? Me either! Maybe if I sit in on a course I'll know better, but what troubles me is that I cannot answer a question as simple as "what do you want to do with your life." I honestly have no idea. I only work in the lab because I cannot think of another thing I am good enough at to make as much money as I can at this. I would just assume wash cars if I thought it paid as well. I've never been good at sales or anything that involves selling (which is why I stay clear of evangelism and evangelists) and that explains why I couldn't do much with the wild world of finance. Sure I am perfectly capable of grasping the math as well as the process but even loans have to be sold to the customer as well as to the banks (although they like to think you are are their customer, once you get into an individual case you are pitching a client to them which means you are trying to warm them up to the idea of doing the deal in spite of its complications).

The only glimmer of hope in this comes from my faint remembrances of some of the things I worked on the last time I was in school. I always got fired up whenever we would discuss social issues. Often I chose to take a contrary view to my peers and I always favor speaking on behalf of those who seem disadvantaged or otherwise unable to act (or speak) on their own behalf. Whether it is homelessness in urban America, third-world poverty, HIV (or other global health issues) and the orphans it is causing in Africa, or simply the overwhelming imbalance in today's economy that makes it so challenging for ordinary hard-working people to afford typical housing right here in our own country. I'm always thinking about the problems without the ability to arrive at conclusions about solutions. Sure I feel more and more capable of grasping the complexities involved, but the more I understand of a given problem the more complex the problem seems to become. For every step toward understanding the end seems two steps further away!

I feel the same way about my own life. The more I understand of myself the more questions I have about what ultimately could make me happy. I don't want to make it sound like I'm an unhappy person, though I do clearly see that I cannot be satisfied by the same simpler pleasures of my youth. I feel a more compelling pull to matter, not just to others but also to my self.

It is with this thought I will leave you in the capable hands of this song written by Brian Burton.


the ducks won't row...

Do you ever think maybe your job is too much of a distraction from living well? I like to think that what I do has little-to-nothing to do with who I am, but unfortunately when you find yourself working nights in a hospital what you do dominates your life, even if it is less than "full time."

What do I mean? Well today was my day off and what did I do? I watched a weird movie on Showtime where Noah Wiley was a developer who falls for a chick in a band that protests developers. Yes there is a reason you have not seen or heard of this movie even though it came out less than two years ago, it is a very cheesy premise for a story.

Then I went to sleep. Then I overslept. Then I woke up in the middle of the night (when I would otherwise be working) and there is absolutely nothing to do, so I'm on the internet and everyone I could talk to is asleep so I'm blathering nonsense into the blogosphere. I would otherwise look forward to what I can do tomorrow but I probably will do nothing since I have to work again tomorrow night.

It isn't just the schedule though. My job is highly stressful. I like to think of myself as a stress-free guy who can handle much more than the average person without becoming overwhelmed but this past weekend proved me wrong. Almost every night at work things seemed out of control. Friday night it was just busy as usual but Saturday night when I arrived at work there were a couple dozen specimens that needed to be set up for cultures from the previous shift. Then there was the usual workload in the other department I cover and for some reason they feel that weekends require less staffing so we do it all with one less tech than usual. Sunday night we didn't walk into the same mess as Saturday but it was busier and I found myself getting overwhelmed in the morning and I think the lady who replaced me in the morning was upset because there were so many patients left untested for her to catch up on (though it would've been nothing like what I dealt with the night before).

Then there was Monday night. Monday night I was back in Chemistry and the usual crap where the machines fail their blank absorbance tests was going on only it was backwards from the last time. I guess we'd cleaned the heck out of the one it was happening to and it's fine now but the other one is starting to do it. Also we had some of the sickest patients I have ever seen in six years of doing this. Not just one of them but three or four whose chemistries were so out of whack you had to second guess and reconfirm everything! Now for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about I'll just say that when this happens you tend to get to deal with said patient more than twice on your shift. Often they are on an every 2 or 3 hour protocol and you get to know them very well!

So while the workload never ceased to lighten, all the while one of my machines is being stubborn and I only finished all of its quality control just in time to run the 100 or so patients we get starting around 4 AM. However, I was still dealing with the STAT problem childs who needed dilutions, repeats, reflexes and whatnots so I was being slower than usual about putting the "routine" morning rounds samples on the analyzers and found when it was time to leave that I still had like 30 samples running when I would normally be doing a quick final check to make sure nothing was left behind, misplaced or otherwise neglected. Obviously this process cannot go smoothly or quickly when there are so many to track down and make sure were not forgotten so I was late getting out.

Now ordinarily I don't care that much about my job. I mean while I am at work I try to do the best I can but I don't get worked up and let it affect me after I am off the clock if you can relate to that. However, I find that this job, with this hospital, is so stressful that I never fully decompress before it is time to go back and do it all over again--and would you believe that I only work 7 days every two weeks? Not exactly full time folks!

So last night I had an epiphany while I was eating what I call lunch. My work schedule is such that now just might be the perfect time for me to go back to school. I've always thought I might like to get a masters degree someday but I never settled on what I would want to get it in. I also remembered that I have the option of buying intopay to go to school! Also the fact that I'm only a .7 at work would mean that I could use my nights off to work on all my papers and things. Seems perfect right? the full GI Bill now and it would actually

Well, it might be somewhat less than perfect since I still have to decide what I want to study and jump through the hoops to get accepted. I'm leaning towards the University of Washington Tacoma since it is cheaper than the private schools in the area. They offer an MBA which has night courses that would be perfect for my schedule. I'm just not sure I want to study business since I've always found the topic a little boring in comparison to other areas of interest. They offer the MEd which is intriguing. I've always considered teaching but I'm not sure I want to struggle through life on a teacher's salary either. Of course if my choice was to struggle through life doing what I'm doing now or teaching, it wouldn't be much of a choice!

They also have something called Interdisciplinary Studies. I don't know if they offer it just at night or not but essentially it is the closest thing to the kind of Bachelors degree I have. It is very broad in scope and the emphasis is on critical thinking, research and analysis of sociological trends, public policy formulation, social concern and welfare. I'm not sure what these MA students ultimately go on to do after they finish but it does sound very appealing to me.

So I have a choice between what is practical and what is potentially frivolous. Do I study business and move on toward some of my ever-present ambitions with the leg up I've never had or do I attempt to make myself even more rounded without any notion of what it might do for me vocationally?

I've always felt that what I do has no bearing on who I am, but can I afford to have two degrees that add up to a job at Taco Bell?

Hmmm any thoughts? As always I welcome your comments here, though I've only ever gotten a few!



15 January 2007

north is still north...

Well bloggaholics, I always feel guilty with how infrequently I post these days but it is amazing how nothing much can keep you so flippin busy!

I am still looking for a place to live, nothing new there. I am still working nights, nothing new there. I am still single, nothing new there.

What has transpired in the past 24 hours that might be worth noting is that the last of my grandparents has died; my father's mother to be specific. She was the last holdout which shocked a lot of us since her health was probably the least of them. Well, not quite, but close. Cause of death? Nursing home depression I presume.

I actually have no idea exactly what caused her to die but her health had been deteriorating more rapidly this past year and it was finally too much for my aunt who had been taking care of her to continue to do so. So she opted to put her into a nursing home a week ago. I saw her twice since (which is nearly more than I had in the previous year) and yet she was seriously depressed about being there.

Walking the halls I could tell that there was a wide disparity in attitudes and outlooks of the people there. Some seemed sad, others vacant, and some actually seemed to have had accepted and begun to make the best of being there. In fact I might say this was the case with my grandmother's roommate. She always seemed chipper and when a visitor was with her while we were with my grandma she seemed very cheerful. Maybe she won something at bingo just before!

I guess nursing homes are a tough subject but the inevitable consequence of modern medicine. We cure almost everything except age. I wonder sometimes if we were meant to live as long as we often do now. On the other hand who ever really wants to die and who of us is really ever ready to say goodbye to a loved one?

Me on the other hand. I'm going to get a living will that says who has to shoot me if I get too old and/or senile. My feeling is that if I cannot be of some use or I can no longer have the presence of mind to know who I am and what is going on around me then I'd like to skip "go," not collect another 200 dollars and go straight to heaven... or nirvana... or the parallel universe where I am the infamous taco king of South Detroit.

Well, with that thought I'll end this one. I had no where else to take it. Might as well land abruptly if there is no flight plan filed with the FAA.



04 January 2007

happy 07 anyone?

First off, sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Been a busy couple of weeks for those of you who know, for those who just sneak in here to read random stuff from strangers, good luck!

So I moved out of my apartment in Vancouver. The only hitch is that I have been too busy to go apartment hunting so I just put it all in storage for now. For those of you who know me, you maybe can imagine how much it killed me to do that. Also because I was moving over New Years weekend the only storage place I could find that would be open that Sunday was not heated.

I will lay this out for you so you see why this is potentially a problem for me. Having my stuff in non-heated storage during the winter months means potentially losing some of my furniture if it draws any moisture and mold/mildew grow on it. I wrapped my mattress in plastic and laid some plastic over my couches but that won't guarantee anything.

All this really means is I will want to hurry up and find a place fast, hopefully by the end of this month. However, I am interested in buying a house sooner or later and moving into an apartment might be the best thing to get my stuff back out of storage but it would mean moving a third time before this is all over. I hate moving and with apartments you tend to have to deal with stairs or tight corners and some of my furniture is big and heavy!!! Not looking forward to moving into an apartment.

So I have an appointment to meet with my real estate agent today. I don't know if now is the best timing for me to try to buy a house here but it seems that I am going to try anyway because it is worth at least trying right?

The thing is that housing prices are kind of high right now and getting the home I'll want to live in for the next 5 years or so might require taking on a roommate for the short term. That isn't a problem except I don't really know anyone who would be interested so I might have use Craigslist to fill the space and we all know what a question mark that can be.

Well, aside from all this mental noise my year is going well so far. I am settling into my "regular" schedule which is highly irregular. Essentially I work every other pair of nights with minor adjustments to make sure I work every other weekend. I have mixed feelings about the schedule though. I guess you can say I inherited it from whoever held it before and they didn't want to work more than 2 in a row, where I would just assume work 7 in a row and have 7 days off in a row. Also I would prefer 10 hour shifts (and they are seriously talking about it) but for now it is what it is.

So tonight is my other night off and I get to do it all over again tomorrow night. I guess I'll have to take my vacation time if I want to go anywhere on my time off. Lucky me I don't really want to go anywhere yet.

Christmas was ok, but I was just trying to sleep all day and suffering the insensitivity of my family who were making lots of racket and trying to bake something in the oven out here. NYE was different. I could have spent it with my brother but I got word that my dad was coming down too so I decided to hang with some friends. I might just as well have gone to a random pub or something since we were just sitting around watching b-movies of the horror subset. Maybe next year I'll have a house and host my own NYE party complete with loud music, crazy food, board games and probably a drinking game or two. Sounds like a hoot, you come?

So otherwise it is another year, nuff said?

Happy o seven folks! As always, Peace,