I have a small group of very long-time friends. We’ve known each other since the seventies – some even before then. Our group meets once or twice a year to keep caught up on what we are all doing; who has more grandchildren and who has died. And we reminisce about the old days which we all seem to remember differently, if at all. The old saying “If you remember the seventies then you weren’t really there” applies whole-heartedly to this group.[…]
You know the cartoons I’m talking about. They start with the Road Runner running down the highway. The bird goes “Beep beep!” as it runs past the Coyote. The Coyote gets an idea and sends away to Acme, A Company that Makes Everything. Moments later a package arrives followed with furious hammering, sawing and sanding by the Coyote until a new, road runner-trapping method is born which is invariably unsuccessful. […]
Yeah, I’ve sorta taken a break from writing. The fact is that there hasn’t been much to tell and I was in and out of such a dark mood I was afraid that if I did write something, just for the sake of writing, I’d hear the voice of Edgar Allen Poe screeching, “Hey dude, Lighten up!” Maybe the appointment I have to get my teeth cleaned on Thursday will brighten my mood. […]
I hate Facebook. I use it for shameless self-promotion but I still hate it. The pages on their own are ok but so many misuse it in so many ways. Over-sharing is probably the worst offense. I mean, I love hearing what’s going on with members of my family but I really don’t need to know they are going to a movie, watching a movie, really enjoying the movie and then coming home from the movie all with attached selfies. […]
The only thing a college degree really proves to an employer is that you know how to complete a four-year long project. Of course for many of us even that takes much longer. I’m sure you all know what the types of college degrees are – BS, MS and PhD – which stand for Bull Shit, More Shit and Piled Higher and Deeper.
The most important thing you need to learn to survive in life is how to learn. Sometimes this merely involves paying attention. Most of the time you need to put in some effort. Never be afraid of learning how to do stuff by doing it wrong. Trial and error is a time-tested way of learning. The most ineffective method of learning is relying on others to help you or even worse, blaming others for your own inability to learn.
I worked in the R&D department of a data warehouse where they hired me to replace an employee who had a PhD. He may have had a degree but he wasn’t able to use facts to make something work. He was always spending so much time writing what he called ‘pretty, pretty code’ he never finished a project that worked.
I was at the data warehouse only a few months and had already designed a user interface for a new product and re-written code to rejuvenate some old products when someone asked me “Whats your degree in?” After I stopped laughing I said that depended on if he thought an Associate Degree in electronics technology actually counted as a degree.
At one point there was a new product they wanted to develop which monitored microclimates and reported the information to niche customers. I already knew some general knowledge about meteorology from hanging out in the weather department at a TV station helping them with their computer problems. (That’s an example of using the “Paying Attention” method.) When I found out I needed to learn more about the specifics of microclimates I said “I’m going to B&N. I’ll be back after lunch.” I came back with an armload of books which I read drinking in knowledge about things like pressure ridges and downdrafts. A big hint here is:
Don’t judge a book by its cover – judge it by its index.
I knew that even though I had some small experience in meteorology I was going to need more than that to make the project succeed. I wasn’t afraid of putting the effort in to find out what more I needed to know for the project.
When I was computer tech at another place I was one of three techs managing several hundred machines. One day one of the other techs and I were talking about how files are saved on a disk at machine code level. The third asked how we knew stuff like this. We both said we just read the books and played ‘what if’ with the software code. This goes back again to not being afraid of getting it wrong the first time. To do this there was quite a bit of effort and dogged research. Effort which the third tech some how never managed to put in. There were always too many video games to be played instead.
The three best ways to learn stuff: Books, Books, and Books. Then experience. Above all have no fear to experiment. How else can we expect to keep those Idle Thoughts coming?