Life is hard when you have a job

Ever since I’ve been gainfully employed again, I’ve been too busy to post very much. I’ll start again just as soon as I have this program working…

I’m still managing to read a decent amount, I’ve made several pysanky, and bought a piano. Pictures forthcoming.

An obligatory update

I’ve been busy with work. That’s pretty much all.

I found a recipe that attempts to duplicate the dearly departed toasted coconut sesame brittle ice cream. It seems a bit complicated, but what is complication compared to addiction?

http://the-cooking-of-joy.blogspot.com/2009/02/toasted-coconut-ice-cream-with-sesame.html

Sometimes it makes me sad…

… how many people I’ve known who I will probably never talk to again.

On the other hand, it’s awesome to meet up with people I haven’t seen for years. In the 3-4 times it’s happened over the past year, it’s always gone just great.

we always knew I’d end up back at school

It was inevitable. I’m not going to over-analyze whether the reasons that I like being in school are good or bad, but being in school is the one thing that’s almost always gone well for me. I like classes and the educational aspects. I like learning new things. I like that there are objective goals and a clear end point. I like being around other students and find it easier to meet people (especially since I mostly work from home). I like the environment on campus. I like the access to the library and the fitness center. I’ve had ups and downs as a student, but the actual being in school part has always been a positive.

On a practical level, I can see the ceiling approaching. I work in power systems engineering, but I started in math. I like power systems. I don’t want to leave power systems. But I don’t really know all that much when it comes right down to it. If my job were cut tomorrow, I would have a hard time doing anything besides building models or working with one specific software package. What I really want is to be an expert at some aspect that isn’t too narrow. I want to be indispensable because people need to come to me for help with analyzing their utility operations. What I don’t want is to be a manager or a bureaucrat. I want to stay in technology and analysis. I don’t think that I made horribly poor life decisions, career-wise. I could have gone a lot of different directions with math, and I like choices. But now that I’ve seemed to pick a direction, I feel that I’d better finish up my education.

The one thing that I don’t like is writing. That may sound strange from a blogger, but I don’t really care if readers like my writing style or not. Writing statements of purpose is just obnoxious though. Nothing drains enthusiasm and motivation like having to sound enthusiastic and motivated. And I like starting sentences with I. I like repeating words. Putting in leading clauses to break up my sentence structure makes my writing feel unfamiliar to me. I don’t really like the sound of the person behind my statement of purpose, but there’s not really a compromise between that person and the honest self. Forcing a false persona to sound more like myself is repugnant. And writing like myself would not cover the kinds of things that an admissions committee wants to hear. I’m less worried about being admitted than about managing my schedule once I’m in. I’m worried that there’ll be a big change to my job responsibilities. My manager said not to worry about that and that I should start making the plans that interest me and deal with changes that may or may not happen if they happen.

I’m capable of finishing up the chapter for review, but I don’t really want to write it. The things that were frustrating me previously are continuing to frustrate me. I mentioned at the very beginning that these kind of discussions aren’t why people believe or disbelieve in god. Philosophical consistency is not the same as reality. At one time I wouldn’t have understood the difference. As a Christian, I believed if it could be shown that a point of theology made sense, then it meant that the point must be true. Probably I didn’t think about it thoroughly, but I argued as if there were no difference. I don’t have much patience with emotion based belief. I’ve been trying to think about these arguments carefully, to the best of my time and ability. But I don’t believe that even if it could be shown that god is possible, that it means that there is a god. There has to be more than possibility and even more than probability.

Speaking of religion, we had a visit from a JW this past weekend. When I meet people of religions or denominations where I don’t have any baggage, I can see why people find religion attractive. But that’s also a different matter than reality.

Book review frustration

I’ve been having a hard time getting through chapter 8 because there are a Lot of things that I want to respond to but the topics are all over the place and not linked together very coherently. I.e. there are a lot of things that are making me want to bash my head against the wall. Not because I’ve realized that I was wrong and Christianity is right. And not even because I’ve become more certain that I’m right. Mostly because of the writing structure and the authors’ amazing ability to claim that they’ve proven conclusions that they didn’t even discuss thoroughly.

That had me thinking about apologetics in general. I’ve read several, mostly while I was still a Christian or attempting to be one. In most of them, there’s a large extent to which they’re preaching to the choir. They’re explaining things to Christians who aren’t clear on their theology, reassuring doubters, and answering questions for people who are inclined toward Christianity to begin with. I have yet to read anything that is truly persuasive toward those who are not inclined toward Christianity, and I must say that Geisler and Turek’s snide and condescending tone toward atheists as a general class has emotionally turned me off to their book, just as their incomplete presentation of complex arguments has turned me off intellectually. Even as a Christian, I was more of the mind that if the Bible is the word of god, it should speak for itself.

I’ve continued to be busy with work because my company has been acquired by a much larger company. Although the amount of paperwork and new policies has been daunting, so far it has been exceedingly positive. There are a lot of learning resources, 401k matching and good benefits, and several other perks. My actual job duties haven’t changed though.

I’m also reading Neuromancer, by William Gibson, whose book signing I attended this week with the Denver BWB, and have completed about 1/3 of a small stained glass piece.

Back to the grindstone

I’ve been in Blacksburg for the past two weeks and haven’t had time to write. Two weeks without coming home was a long time. But if we get a project in Hawaii which would necessitate a long trip, I won’t be complaining. Between vacation and business trips and some work related changes, I haven’t  had time to get into any sort of routine recently. I wouldn’t want to give up flexibility and travel to do the same things every week, but I now feel disoriented and can’t decide if I should commit to any weekly activities when I know there’s a good chance I’ll have to miss a lot of weeks. As for the being at home part, THIS is pretty much exactly like my real life.

I’m going to make sure that I keep in touch with my friends. I’m going to invite my aunt and uncle to dinner. I’m going to go to the next town social meeting. I’m going to the company bowling outing even though I don’t like bowling. I want them to give me an office. And right now, I’m going to go boil some eggs.

Sweet Coconut Thai Chai

Coconut things are especially addictive to me. I am drowning my sorrow from losing my favorite ice cream flavor (Haagen Dazs toasted coconut sesame brittle, oooooh) with my new favorite tea – Celestial Seasonings sweet coconut Thai chai. A close runner up is the Stash coconut mango.

So vacation part two: we left from San Francisco to the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, and I can sum up all my feelings about it by saying that it was ok. I’d rather go to FloydFest. The problem was that everything was literally twice as expensive as it felt like it should be. There was only one stage, it was oppressively sunny during the day and freezing cold at night, the very expensive rooms and food were meh. I had a good time, but I’m not in a hurry to go back to that particular resort or festival.

We did want to return to Jackson and spend more time at the national parks, although not at the same motel. We stayed at a dubious (but still not remarkably cheap) motel with dubious patrons. It’s probably good that we didn’t try to camp, because we’d underestimated how cold it would feel anyway. We were going to go on a ferry ride and hike in the Grand Teton National Park, but it cost $5 more than I expected, so we didn’t have enough cash for the ferry and the Jenny Lake parking lot was overflowing, and it started to rain. So we decided to drive to Yellowstone instead. Besides, it’s practically obligatory. We made it to Old Faithful, which did its thing at its scheduled time. We considered continuing to Montana, but decided that we would miss dinner. Dinner was an improvement on the previous night – wagyu beef tartare and pasta with elk and bison meat sauce.

Yes, I talk a lot about money on vacations. But I’m not anywhere as bad as I used to be – when driving to Washington with college friends, we declined a $10 drive through the Badlands National Park in favor of driving around the perimeter for free. There’s only a few years between charmingly young and broke, and cheap and kind of weird. In our defense, we’d intended to find campsites…

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