A Spark For My Embers

I have held a certain passion for the physical sciences for quite some time.  I’m not sure whether or not I’ve mentioned that here, but there it is.  If you’ve been reading this or listening to Three Guys Walk Into a Bar for a while, some things probably make a bit more sense now.  I hold all sciences in pretty high regard, but I feel the psycho/social ones run on a few too many assumptions.  I also feel that many of their practitioners take those assumptions and other soft answers as undeniable truth.  Calling something empirical evidence doesn’t make it so.  Causation is not coloration.  Hypothesis is not fact nor theory.  It really gets my hackles up when I notice people, who are supposed to be scientists, can’t seems to get that and it seems to me that psychologists and psychiatrists are the worst offenders.  Sociologists less so, but I’m guessing that has more to do with the hard science and strong statistics that goes into it.  Still… if you take some time to see the work that has been done in those fields and how it can be used to help, it’s pretty good shit.  And I’m not here to beat up on something that doesn’t deserve it.  I’m not qualified and I’m not in the mood.  But maybe later…

Anyway, the physical sciences rock (heh).  If you want to know how any of them have personally effected your life you only need to look around you.  Hell, just think about the screen you’re reading this on.  Chances are pretty good that it’s a laptop or some kind of monitor or small TV attached to a desktop.  Maybe it’s a tablet or smartphone.  It doesn’t matter, because all are essentially just specialized computers.  If you really break them down, each is a collection of our scientific discoveries, distilled and applied.  Chemistry has given us the materials, engineering configured those materials into the hardware and developed the software, and biology… I don’t know, it probably did something or other.

In extremely broad terms, I find them all very fascinating.  I have had, above all, a true love of Physics.  More specifically I have loved Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics.  Quantum Mechanics has held my interest for the longest.  From the first time I heard of it, it really excited me.  The way that QM looks at the physical world is wild and insane but also purely astounding.  Just reading up on the kind of research and experimentation that those scientists are doing gets me all riled up.  It’s one of those sciences that takes forever and antagonizes at every step.  It’s also one that is greatly rewarding.  The setups are arduous but the payoffs are worth it.  I took a few classes while I was in the military, but never made it to the higher levels of Physics.  That was a pretty big bummer, most of all because so many of the subjects that I was learning didn’t really give me anything.  I’m not going to badmouth the basic concept of the college experience, but will instead boil it down to this – I have been in some pretty heated arguments about whether the collegiate requirements to study outside of one’s field are worthwhile or not.  As in, “I’m an English major, why the fuck do I need a Biology credit?”  I’ll also add that I currently don’t have a strong opinion either way, but would rather hear some more compelling arguments for both.

Nevertheless, basic English felt like rehashes of things that we all should have learned in high school.  I have since heard that the higher level language courses are both engaging and useful, but… meh.  I’m actually having a bit of trouble remembering the other courses that I’ve taken, but can honestly say that they made such a small impact on me that I would need to review my transcripts to actually remember what they were.  Kinda shitty, right?  That’s how I felt and, at the time, I found it all very unnecessary.  When I left the military I sort of wanted to go out and finish my degree (general Physics), but even more just wanted to work.  I wanted to get my ass out there and get some real world experience.  I wanted to make some money and start my life and it turns out that you don’t need a college degree for that.  In fact, I’d say that if anyone is planning on going to college just because they think they need to or are supposed to or whatever, my experience of advancing in a career without any degree to speak of is a pretty strong argument against it.  If you don’t have a specific thing in mind, you may not want to waste your time or money.  I have found out that I currently make more than the average of my demographic, even when compared to those who do have a degree.  It’s only when compared to specific fields that I fall behind, and hey, we can’t all be doctors.

Back to my story.  I didn’t enjoy the bullshit classes I had taken, I wanted to start a real life, and I was a little burnt out.  I had, more or less, lost the burning passion for higher education.

In the past year, I’ve been given a bit more freedom at work.  I’ve been given a lot of extra responsibilities and tons of new types of work.  I feel like I’ve been given a puzzle.  No, I’ve been given a dozen puzzles.  And instead of each puzzle coming in its own, clearly labeled and defined container with a picture of the solved puzzle on the box, I’ve been given a pile of all twelve puzzles mixed in together with no pictures, no instructions, and very little differentiation between each puzzle.  It’s not like one puzzle is obviously a prairie scene, one’s an ocean picture, and one’s a cityscape.  Instead, most pieces look like they could go together with any of the other pieces, and those that seem pretty different don’t really look like they belong at all.  All I know for sure is that there are twelve… ish.  And some of the pieces are missing, so I’ll need to keep some extra cardboard, crayons, and Exacto knives on standby.  And I need to solve all of the puzzles before a ticking clock ends because my job depends on it.

That sounds like a nightmare, right?  Well not to me.  I find it exciting.  It’s something new, something interesting.  It’s a chance to use some of my skills and natural talents.  It’s a chance to learn about my educational and professional shortfalls and to improve on them.  And it’s throwing sparks at my smoldering need for knowledge.  And it’s fucking awesome!

To be fair, that I’m not alone in this nightmare scenario I’ve described, which is maybe part of why I don’t feel completely lost in it.  But that’s a story for another time, or whatever.

Now that I’ve got my spark, I’ve been seriously considering a return to school.  I’d love to get back into Physics, but kind of feel like I’ve lost too much of my math skillz.  Lately, a lot of the work I’ve been doing has involved a bunch of statistical breakdowns, and I’ve rather enjoyed them.  As a way of getting back into the swing of things, I’m thinking of taking a Stats class.  That seems like a good idea.

tl;dr – fuckin’ long-assed way to get to, “I’m thinking of taking a Stats class.”  Wow.  Long.  Winded.

I do know that the IT classes I’ve taken, while not truly engaging, have been pretty easy.  If I ever get to a point where I really just need to finish any degree in order to advance in my career, I know that there is at least that.

Oh, right.  Buttsecks.  I got a little last weekend.  You know.  For unity and all.  Oh, and I’m trying to figure out how to pull that off again this Saturday.  But I think the chick is scared of having to take my this thing and put it in her that thing. I mean… it’s not like that’s all I do, but you know.  I like it.  Lots.  And I’d like to do that with her.