The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Education

Continuing Education

In March of this year, 2017, I made the decision to return to school.

This was not an easy choice, but it was one that I knew, if I wanted my family to have any security in the future, I had to do.  I know that I have a decent amount of money in my retirement right now, but I would like to make sure that there is a little more there and since I am pretty much as far as I can go with the company I work at now, this was the only option that made sense.

This was not a spur of the moment thing.  This was something that I had been planning for some time, and researching various schools through which to complete that which I had started many years ago.  I had also been pretty hard on a friend of the family, Rian, about the fact that she kept finding excuses not to go to college, so I figured I had to put my money were my mouth was.

Originally I started going back to college in 1997, I took some classes, then I could not find the time to keep going because the school schedule and my work schedule would not work together.  Then there was also the issue that I kept running into a problem where the classes I wanted were all backlogged.  In some cases the waiting list was into the next semester.  So I just did not return.

When I started looking at schools this time, I was advised that I should look for schools that would also allow credit for life experience.  I mean, I have been in the IT industry for about thirty years, that should account for something, right?  So I changed my direction and began looking for schools that would allow this.

One of the schools names that kept popping up was Western Governors University. Then one evening I saw one of their commercials on TV with Sage, the Night Owl.  I took this as a sign that maybe I should consider them.

When I first approached them, I was called by Mike, one of the entrance counselors.  He called me several times before I finally took the call.  To be honest, I was avoiding him intentionally.  I was scared to death about going back to school, about the financial responsibility, about the fact that if I did this, “Shit was gonna get real.”

The enrollment experience was great, Mike was informative and once we actually spoke, he gave me the time I needed to think things through and even gave me resources to make sure that WGU was the school for me.  And it took be a few weeks of researching to find that it was not a bad deal.

Through my research, I go in touch with a person at UCLA medical center that had recieved his Masters through WGU.  To be clear, this was not someone that Mike pointed me to, this was someone that I found while looking for information and then ran into.  This person at UCLAMC told me about his experience, the pros and cons, etc.  In the end, he told me it was not like I would be expecting of a college or university, but it was worth it.

About that time, one of my other feelers got a tickle and I spoke with a woman that was a nurse in Austin, Tx.  She had not only gotten her BS through WGU, but was now working on her MS through them while working through a private medical facility there.  She told me that she had had a rough start with them, but her Mentor was accommodating and worked with her through the first term until she was back on track.

This was enough for me, in addition to the information I found on GradeReports web site and on OnlineDegreeReview web site.  I had the information I needed and felt OK making the move, now it was time to talk to the people that really mattered, My Family.

It should come as no surprise that my wife and even my son were happy about the idea of my returning to school.  Most everyone else has been supportive, with a couple people that have been mostly apathetic about it.

So now… I am done with my first term and am scheduled for graduation in the spring of 2021.  This may change if I can work an additional class or two into each term, which it appears that I should be able to do with little or no issues.

But my goals are the important thing, here.  They are not completely about just me, they are not solely about self improvement.  They are to be a better person for my son.  To be someone that he can look up to and be proud of that I have done.  To show him that there is no age limit to education.  To show him that we should never stop learning.

So… here’s to the next term.  Here’s to my success.

 

Thank you for your readership.

An open letter to parents…

An open ended letter from teenagers to parents.

Speaking as a teenager these are some things that I believe all teenagers want their parents to know, however they have no clue how to tell them. I, myself, am a 17 year old woman, and about to begin my senior year of high school.

That being said here some things kids my age want you to know.

1.  We do think about college. And yes, we know how important it is for us to go college (and a good one).

We are scared about it. Nothing is as scary as the unpredictable future. Looking at colleges is scary, you’re going to be sent to someplace where you know maybe one person, and that’s if your lucky. We will be in a new town, maybe even an entirely different state. This is the first step to becoming an adult; maybe not legally, but mentally. Our first step to becoming independent. And you think you’re the scared?

2.  When you give us advice, we actually do listen. There is a very good chance we don’t understand it and might think that you’re full of it, but we still hear what you say.

This advice is important because we will know it when we need it. So even if we roll our eyes at you, NEVER stop giving us advice. We are young and have no idea what life is going to throw at us, help us be ready to catch whatever we get pitched.

3.  Senior year is going to be an emotional time for us…

Everything we do this year is the last time we will get to do it during our high school years. That is a scary thought. We have had certainty for the last 3 years and now there is this big mystery box in front of us. And we have no idea what we should do with it.

4.  This is our decision. Its for us to decide please don’t push us to do something we don’t want.

This is a note for the parents who think their kid is making the wrong choice. We don’t even know what we want, but we are going to make the best choice for US. Not for you, not for my favorite aunt, not for the best English teacher in the world. For ME. You might think our choice is stupid, but it’s our choice to make, so let us make it. Even if we do mess it up it’s something we can learn from.

5.  Even though we wish you could, you can’t protect us or bail us out all the time now.

There will be times when we need your help, but you can’t let us run to you every time something bad happens. You have to let us learn to do things on our own.

“Smooth seas do not good sailors make”

6.  Last but not least, We love you.

We are crabby ass teenagers who have a funny way of showing you that we care but never doubt for a second that we don’t love you. We will fight in the future as we have in the past but never once doubt us. We can always count on you to give advice the best you can.

So to the parents thank you for putting up with boring high school sporting events, award ceremonies, choir and band concerts, baking crazy amount of cookies at the last minute, teacher conferences, and for the funding to go on crazy school trips. It didn’t go unnoticed like you might think. So please be easy with us this last, senior, year, cause it’s hard for us too.

 

Muslims…

With the stories that I see each day, I find myself struggling with my own convictions and beliefs with regards to the Muslim community as a whole based mostly on the actions of a few.

As a Jew, I have a personal reason to know better than to dislike a group for their religious followings and beliefs.  To understand that by picking out a group for their religious beliefs and casting them in a shadow or shunning them BECAUSE of their religious following, would make me no better than those that have done the same to me and my people.

As I have posted in the past, I KNOW that there are good Muslims out there, and I am not talking about the recent converts.  I am talking about the people that are “Multi-Generational” Muslims who have practiced in the manner that their predecessors have before them.  People for whom this is more than words on a page, but a part of their culture.

With the events in England and Boston over the last couple months, as well as the other rumblings, it remains my focus to explain to people that these are the actions of a few, militant, groups within the Islamic community and certainly the exception and not the rule.  But it would be so easy for me to cave… to give in to the anti-Islamic uproar and fall in step with them to condemn the Islamic community as a whole for this.

But that would be wrong.  It would also be wrong for me to allow others to take this attitude without my trying to explain to them, like I am trying to here, that you cannot hold an entire group accountable for the actions of a few within it whom have decided to act on some misunderstanding that they have picked up from their readings.

This is usually the point were someone points out how violent the Qur’an is and how, but I would ask those same people, mostly Christians, to review their own texts and tell me that there are no violent or outdated actions that are suggested to carry out in the Bible.  But I am not writing this to argue religious texts.

The point of this to not hate Muslims, or any other group, for the actions of a few within it.  All this does is raise distrust among all of us and create more hatred, thus giving other groups the feeling that they have earned some right of revenge against the other, and so the hate and anger become self-perpetuating.

I will say, to all servicemen and women everywhere, to please watch yourselves carefully.  With the horrific attack on Lee Rigby and the suggestions that the Radical Islamism are going to carry out more such attacks on soldiers, I worry for all of you serving out there.  Keep your guard up and I would suggest, as I think many commanding officers should as well, to not travel alone, if you are in uniform.

As always, I thank you all for reading.

 

I hope to be the model of a Modern Master Mason.

So… as of this last Wednesday (22 April 2009), I am now a Master Mason.

Masonry has been a part of my family for a few generations now.  Most recently it was my Great Uncle… William Yelland.  He was a Mason to the core and made it to the lofty 32nd degree in the Scottish Rites.  If you were to look at the life he led and the things he had accomplished, there would be no doubt that he was a benefit to the lodge and they to him.

Thinking about it now, this is something that I should have done years ago but I never was able to set aside the time to do so.  This is mostly my fault.  I got lazy and never MADE the time to do this, something that was important to me because of the connection that it has to my family and to myself.

And just remember.

“To become one, ask one.”

Have we nothing better to worry about?

This question comes as I stumbled upon the following video:

Have we really gotten to a point where someone like this is not allowed to get up, and speak his mind, whether it be in ernst or jest, without being taken to task by the media as being a racist or hate monger?

His message was stated with a sense of jest and humor. There was nothing negative about it. It was a speech that, if given twenty or thirty years ago, would have had no negative feedback for anyone involved. But we have become so worried about what others think, and not wanting to offend anyone about anything, that we feel obligated to place him on some shelf as a bad guy.

What makes this worse is how the media, in their usual idiotic way, only shows enough of the clips from the actual speech, to make it appear that he was being hurtful to others. As I have said before, the media is nothing more than a vulture culture that lives to feast off only the refuse of what should be real news. What they did to Brandon is a prime example of that. While it is of poor quality, I have included a video of that as well.

There is nothing wrong with making fun of the things that divide us. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating that you have a sense of humor. Personally I think that is something that all too many of us are missing these days, and the world would be so much better if we did not hide our jest from one
another, and Brandon Rosario was demonstrating just that.

Looking at this from another point of view, we are sending a message that expressing yourself openly and honestly is not something that we want our youth to do. We are teaching them that you have to censor everything you say and do to not offend anyone. Doing this is almost impossible without making your speeches so open ended and bland, that they lose any real substance.

Back to Brandon, though. I hope that he stays who he is and does not change because a few people might have been offended but some of what he said. We really have to learn to laugh at ourselves and others. I honestly believe that the only thing that is going to save our world is if we all learn to have a sense of humor again and start using it.

There is nothing more cleansing to the soul than a really good, gut wrenching, laugh. Preferably one that brings you to tears.

Brandon Rosario… keep up the good work.

Credits for the attached videos go to “Moohu” on you tube, for the news clip, and the coverage of the actual speech by Brandon Rosario.

“Where are all da white women at???”

WARNING… PART OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS VERBAL MEANDERING WITH INTERMITTANT POINTS OF CLARITY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. PROCEED WITH CAUTION AND A SENSE OF HUMOR. IF YOU ARE MISSING A SENSE OF HUMOR, PLEASE LEAVE THE SITE IMMEDIATELY.

How many people out there know what movie the title of this article came from? There are many of you who probably think I am just being hateful, or mean, or making a racist comment. Trust me… I am not.

The quote came from what I would have to say is one of the greatest comedy movies, from the greatest comedy mind of our time. Mel Brooks and the movie was, dare I say? (Dare Dare) Blazing Saddles.

I started this article out with that for two reasons… first, because I know that there are probably people out that might not have ever heard that line, and will be drawn in by the sensationalism of it (Hi there, and welcome!), and also because I have just always wanted to use that quote for something.

I miss the days when movies could really take chances and not have to worry about some particular group being offended by something, or having some organization crawl out of the legal swamps and morass to defend some group that has yet to realize that they think they are being victimized.

A good RECENT example is the whole controversy over the character “Jar Jar Binks” in the last episodes of the Star Wars franchise. Yes, I will agree, Jar Jar needs to be killed in the most gruesome way possible for being one of the most irritating characters ever created in the the history of Science Fiction, following a close second would be the entire cast and concept of the movie “The Black Hole”, which ranks right there with “Attack of the killer tomatoes.” But I digress…

Jar Jar was a irritation, not too far removed from severe jock itch if you are Edward Sisor , but the idea that he was offensive to the Jamaican community? That is a bit a of stretch. Yes, he had an accent that would be considered slightly “island” and with a stretch of the imagination, you could say his ears looked slightly “Dreadlockish”. But SciFi is SciFi… we have no idea what is out there and what they look like, or how they sound. If you watch most of the newer SciFi movies and TV shows, then all of Australia and England should be offended, since it appears that most spacefaring races have a distiguished British accent.

But going back for a moment to the 70s, and the movies that were out at that time, you can see that there are some of them that would probably never make it back to the big screen, if they were released, brand new, today.

Take the whole opening sequence to “Blazing Saddles”, for those of you who remember it. The continuously running joke about Cleavon Little, and his become the first black sheriff of the town. How they actors kept teasing you with by saying things like, “The Sheriff, he’s a ni…” then a bell would ring, or something else would sound. And just when you were SURE that they would not say it… John Hillerman’s character drops the “N” word. Please see play the embedded video for the real scene.

I honestly do not think that studios could get away with releasing movies like that today without being called to task for them. Blazing Saddles was not being racist, it was making fun of the fact that there is racism out there and at the process of BEING racist.

If you go back even further, there are other examples that are not as light hearted as Blazing Saddles, and while their message is considered “Racially Insensitive” by today’s standards of not being allowed, in some cases, to acknowledge color or nationality except in a educational way, they were considered appropriate and innocent for their time.

As another example, look at the Disney movie The Song of the South. This was not a malicious movie, is was a fun movie whose message was in no way negative. It simple told a story about the deep south and was set in the past. There are probably very few younger people, born after the mid seventies, that remember this movie. In spite of the way people probably will look at it today, it was a good movie, and some of you may be familiar with the music of it.

If you have never seen The Song of the South, then I would ask that you rent it, if you can find it. I have actually been in two places that will not carry it because they consider it offensive material. Yet it you walk down the isles, you see just about every horror film you can imagine, and one of them had an adult movie section. Granted… these were smaller private rental places, but the point is made.

I think the point I am trying to make with this is that yes, racism is important, and it is something that makes no sense. There are already plenty of ways to keep ourselves divided, why make the color of our skin, or where we were born one of them. But we also need to laugh at ourselves sometimes. There are probably just as many Black idiots as there are White idiots, Red ones, Brown one, etc… Likewise, there are probably just as many of each who are as smart or smarter than you and I. The idea that you can look at a person’s skin color, and decide that they are smart or dumb, worthy or not of respect, etc, tells me that the person making that decision is missing something upstairs.

I think that portraying racism or bigotry in a humorous light makes it that much less of an issue, because if you can laugh at something like this, then you are that much closer to beating it. Simply dwelling on the negative does not fix the problems. Sometimes you need to look at something like this, and laugh. Make a movie about it and let other people laugh.

Can you imagine a world where racism was laughed at the same way we laugh at people when they same that they think the earth is flat, or Elvis is still alive, or that modern technology is based on what they found at Roswell?

Next time you hear a person use the “N” word, as referenced above… start laughing at them… just keep laughing and walk away. Who knows… maybe if they get the hint that the shock value of the word is gone, they will not use it as much. Then people like Mel Brooks can start putting out the movies we know and love!

Until next time!

Education and Experience

For as long as I can recall, there seems to be an argument about which is more important, education or experience. Being that I see the importance in both, I decided that I would address it as much as I can in this article.

In short, I will start by saying, simply, that each is incredibly important by itself, but together they are invaluable. Both are important in both your professional and personal life, and both go a long way to making you a success or failure.

I have been an on-again-off-again college student for some time. I know what I want to do, and I know the degree that I would like to, someday, get. The problem for me is that I cannot afford to take the time off work to attend school as much as I need to get my degree in a timely manner. I know that there are those of you out there that will say, “That is no excuse.” But trust me… it is.

I do not have a degree. I have several cerifications and I have several years of training and experience in computers, network design and network infrastructure. I was lucky enough to have gotten into computers and computer repair in a day when companies offered apprenticeships in such fields. Alas, you can find almost none of these types of training programs these days, unless you are a plumber or welder. I see this a unfortunate, but I will talk about that later in the article.

For the most part, my lack of a degree had not really been a problem until 1999, when there was this sudden push for everyone to have a certification or degree in whatever field they worked. In my case, it hit like a brick wall. Suddenly I was getting turned away from job interviews immediately when they asked that all important question, “are you certified?”

I was able to go and get my MCSE with little or no problem, and was back in the work force. But there was a new problem that I ran into. With the push for people to get their certifications, there was also a sudden influx of people that anyone who has been in the industry, for any length of time, refers to as “Paper MCSEs” or “Paper Engineers.” These are people that go to schools like New Horizons, and have the answers to the questions pumped into their heads, get a brief explanation of the facts, very little lab time, and then get pumped out into the world, and are not always ready for the stuff they find. Places like this are fine if you already have the experience and knowledge, but need a refresh, but they are dangerous for the rest of us when people who are just getting into the field go there, and pass the tests, then get out here and realize that life is not a lab.

The fact that I had been working with the network side of things as long as I had, was a major factor that lead me to go to New Horizons. I knew that the assembly line structure that they used would be fine for me to get the tests out of the way as quickly as I could. So, three months later, I was done, and back in the work force. So I have learned, first hand, the value of experience and how it works in conjunction with education.

There are also examples of the opposite of what I have just explained. There have been many times that I have run into people, who are just out of school, and their heads are filled with facts and numbers, but when you ask them what positions they have held, or if they did any “co-op” work while in school, very often they say that they have not held a job in that field, or they did no co-op work at all. For those that might not know, “co-op” programs are where a business will take a person that is in school (college) and give them a job in a field related to what they are studying, on a part time, temporary basis. This works well for the student, who gains experience, and for the company, who gets a “discount rated” technician, since they will usually only pay the person about minimum wage.

I think that all schools should adopt mandatory “co-op” programs for certain fields. I think that giving a person the education, and a degree, with little or no real-life experience, is unfair and unrealistic.

Education is important… there is no way that you can put a value on the benefits of a good education. Statisically a graduate will make a lot more over his or her lifetime than will a non college graduate. There is no disputing that. But education without experience is almost pointless. Why do you think that medical students need to spend almost four years of their studies actually working in hospital.

If you have the option of going to school and furthering your education, then by all means, DO! I cannot express enough how important it is to have that piece of paper. But do not knock experience, there is an equal amount I can say good about getting out there, getting your hands dirty and learning by doing. Nothing teaches you to do a job, and do it right, more than going out and busting your butt. And if you have the chance to combine the two, then not only will others respect you more, but you will respect you more.

Both a good education and good experience are hard work and both are filled with ups and downs. You may not always be a success at both, but every time you fail or make a mistake, just remember that it is all part of learning. It has happened to many before you, and it will happen to many after you.

Lastly, I would like to revisit the comment I made in the first part of this article. Apprenticeships. These are something that should be taken more seriously by employers. The Department of Labor has a very good web site dedicated to Apprenticeships and On the job training, but you still do not see many companies that use this service.

In reality, I would like to see the schools, namely at a High School level, implement a program to select people that look like they are not bound for college. People that are not scoring high enough or that just are not interested in attending college. Take those students and put them in High School apprenticeship programs where they will learn two or three trades. They will still be required to get their basic education out of the way, but they will be prepared for a job once they leave High School. Because it would be an apprenticeship, they will probably even get hired by the company that they apprenticed for in school, or could be referred by them. This would give some kids, especially in poorer areas, a chance to do more with themselves than they might have been able to do before.

Apprenticeships are not gone, but I think they are under-utilized. If a company or school really wants to make a difference, then they should look into offering this option to potential employees or students.

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