So, this is the third week of classes, the 14th anniversary of 9-11-01 and the results of the exam taken on Friday, after having Monday off for a Holiday designed by communists and loved by capitalists because it is a sort of mini-Christmas with the beginning of the harvest season, back to school, start of the fall season, Walking Dead and Halloween.

I have been dealing with the blahs created by not getting paid for almost three weeks after doing the actual work for a company on the east coast that got a nationwide contract to handle a major upgrade and roll-out without having the employees or the real resources or skill set to handle the task.  This is what most often happens when contracts are out out for bid, price and reputation often override the warnings presented by the lack of skills and proven results.  I once overheard the in-house IT for Yahoo! talking about an upcoming review and how badly a 80% project success rate would lower their bonuses.

I have been bottom rung minimum wage or just slightly above several times in my life.  I am great at not spending money, very few people excel at this skill.  I am also excellent at almost all IT tasks, some more then others.  So when I took this opportunity to do the work, I looked at the company’s WorkMarket profile and saw the positive ratings, I assumed they were on it. 

The documentation was fairly impressive as was the plan, but what I encountered in reality is what most retail field representatives doing service work encounter,  they may think they only have 3 designs but often they have more depending on the age of setups.  Most of the equation comes in two forms, New and dusty or thrashed and nasty.  Most of the people doing the plans have little or no real field experience which often leaves volumes of small, medium and critical issues to arise while in the field that can cause hours of thumb twiddling while someone up the chain of command decides how to proceed.

My years of field experience and training to always put the customer aka end user first priority made me lolligag until I finally got a go ahead from the contractor pimping me out, which really in a lot of cases requires the same skills as a prostitute.  I often have to represent myself as an employee of a company I do not truly work for, express a knowledge of their IT infrastructure that I do not truly know and understand the procedures of their company which I was never informed of.

I often deal with help desk people that are totally unprepared with being contacted by someone in the field who has already figured out the problem when they contact them and are only calling to let them know and share the knowledge or get permission to deviate or require someone with higher powers to agree.  I went to a Vocational High School where I took Data Processing aka Computer Programming classes under  program devised in the 60’s, outdated in the 70’s and phased out in the early 80’s.  It thrived because of all of the tax deductible donations of obsolete hardware they replaced with newer, much more modern equipment.

The school didn’t upgrade the curriculum because the teachers lacked current market leading experience to update their skills.  I learned Cobol programming on 80 column punch card using punch card machines that predated my birth.  Even then they knew the PC era was coming as was the C and C+ eras and none of that was taught.  It would be easy to say that I got nothing from those classes, but actually, I did.  I learned some basic technical stuff that has helped me throughout my career because of how I applied it and not how it was taught.  Logic and flow were the two biggest.

When I got my first help desk job, only my team leader believed I could do the job and I told him during the interview he wouldn’t be sorry for his support.  My first review stated this and how every teammate and customer interviewed stated that I was their go to guy for IT questions because I was trustworthy and I had earned that by admitting I didn’t know something and when trying to fix something or making a mistake admitting that I was wrong or had erred. This is something that comes from hating to have to admit you are wrong and apologize for it.  So,I try my hardest not to put myself in that position, I usually avoid talking about something unless I am sure.  I used to read and keep up on all things Windows, mobile and networking so I knew what I was talking about.

The Physical Anthropology Lab is brutal because you learn the human and chimpanzee skeletons, all the major bones.  I suck at memorization because I suck at trying to remember but when I don’t try, it sticks.  At one time, I learned to create a user account, exchange mailbox and group membership via a command prompt.  It would make my co-workers coo I awe. 

They write the new persons name, phone number, office address and port numbers for their office.  Place the card on the keyboard above the function keys so it’s facing me and angled back for better clarity.  Winkey+R and type CMD and hit enter.  As soon as the window opens begin typing pausing only long enough for the next command prompt or other prompt to appear to continue like a hacker rushing to unlock the door as the security or good guys are arriving.  Someone else was watching active directory and as soon as the user appears, they say stop.  How much time did it take? Using the GUI it often took 20 minutes plus phone line setup.  I got the command prompt down to five minutes using batch files and passing it parameters.  Nerd.  Lazy Nerd who suffers from can’t remember shit.

So when I took the first Anthropology class, it was because MooSe wanted to take the magic, witchcraft and religion class and he chose Professor Casper-Denman.  A month in to class and MooSe’s wife died and she is why we both finished the semester.  Her caring, compassion, understanding and humanity.  Up until this point most of the IT professors didn’t leave me admiring their skills and knowledge or feel like the class was capable of teaching me anything.  Not arrogance, just reality.

I aced her class and not only that, but the next semester she put me in a class that changed everything.  A primatology field class at the Sacramento Zoo.  It was during her class that I realized that she was a truly awesome teacher.  When I talked to a counselor, I realized I could earn an anthropology degree from her almost exclusively.  I understand the topics in a way that I had previously only thought possible about IT.  I have made a lot of really amazing friends and it has been a struggle.

I realized that I am an anthropologist and that as the teacher was lecturing, I knew the questions before she asked them because I already knew the topic that well.  This is important, on an epic level, I hated most of the physical anthropology topics especially those related to biology.  Bad teacher in High School who didn’t like that I believed in evolution and that Koko could communicate in Gorilla American Sign (their fingers have limitations in articulation that prevents them from correctly forming all signs.) And was sentient.

I essentially would have given up on High School and the diploma because of it but the Good Enough Diploma didn’t exist so I trudged naked as the day I was born on much like Chaucer in the movie A Knight’s Tale.  That movie is one of my favorites and used to run weekly at my house.  I am terrified by this class because the majority of it is memorization.  I will persevere because this is the professor who has promised to help me through it and help me succeed.  She did it with the lecture.

To me, Anthropology is my religion because I totally believe in the awesomeness of primates and humanity.  As an anthropologist, I am a lumper and not a splitter which means I lump hominids together based on their similarities instead of splitting them based on their differences.  I do the same with humans and it is why I usually let everyone who knows me that I don’t believe race is real as it denotes a subspecies and there is only one living human species and that’s _Homo_sapiens_ or us.  I truly believe that we are much similar in beliefs, thoughts and feelings then we would ever admit.  Especially in the more generalized sense.


About Old Guy Student

I am a 43 year old IT Consultant who has decided to go back to school and get a degree.

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