Friday, January 06, 2006

Thoughts for a long day

Well, it's approaching 21 hours that I've been up already and we just departed Hoonah on board the M/V Le Conte bound for Juneau, a 3 ½ hour boat ride.. I will have enough time with a little to spare to get from the AMHS ferry terminal to the airport and checked in with Alaska Airlines. Heading north to Anchorage today and on down to Seward come Sunday.

I’m looking to continue the training I wasn’t able to finish up the past year in regards to my maritime license and endorsements as well as possibly picking up an industrial welding qualification. I know, for as varied as the subjects of my training, if I would have focused them on a single discipline I would have a PHD by now. It’s almost a scramble now to use up the remaining money in my GI Bill, almost $28k over the next 3 years before I loose it, I need to be a full time student for the next 28 months to use it all and with in my time frame. My where has the past seven years gone?

I took some useful college tips I got in a recent issue of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine up to my old high school mentor and probably one of the few remaining teachers in the high school that I know. I now wonder how many will actually put them to use since it seems less and less kids want to go off to college. It’s sad really, many don’t really realize that there is life beyond the small town and even Alaska. Hopefully someone will learn from other’s experiences, no sense in constantly re inventing the wheel.

I guess in many ways I was lucky, at a very early age I began traveling, not quite as abroad as I wished, but as of last count I’ve been through 38 of the 50 states, spent brief times in 5 other countries. Sounds impressive, but 2 of the stops, Paris and Rome they wouldn’t let us off the plane, and I don’t blame them, they wouldn’t have gotten us back on and don’t think the Gendarme’s want a bunch of armed troops running around town who have had little contact with women in months.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been a disappointment to the school, considering I was one of their "golden kids", very heavily recruited by a good deal of the nation’s top academic institutions. One girl that was a year behind me once asked me why I we never dated, I couldn’t think of a good reason and didn’t want to admit I was pursuing another. I brought her up simply because at the beginning of the recent summer she completed her doctoral thesis.

I’ve never wanted to specialize that highly in a single area, if that industry collapses, where do you go from there? Plus my interests are varied and practical. At the current rates of my training, I’ll soon be qualified to operate nearly any piece of machinery in the world, be it plane, boat or vehicle, pull high or low voltage wiring and be able to weld my own stuff. With that many qualifications, I may end having to be the professional student, no one would want to hire anyone with that much training, but would suite me just fine, I enjoy learning anything and everything I can.

I was taught to think and reason for myself, which gets dangerous if I start thinking. I had an epiphany barely into my high school career that a degree, like money is an abstract concept, it only has as much value as you place in it.

What really got this line of thought dangerous was my senior year, I was visiting my step father on a construction job site and just happened to take a glance through the blue prints. I was taking drafting that year as a way to kill time and use up a time frame, the school demanded I take the full class load of seven classes even though I only needed three to fulfill my graduate requirements.

I’d taken a ride around the job site prior so I had a good idea what the area the place looked like as far as terrain and geology of the area. There was a foreman meeting in the trailer, so I got out the way and sat down to look at the blue prints that had be delivered from the project engineers.

After a brief period of analyzing them, I was talking out load to myself and asked why it was designed that way and it would have made sense to move a water lift station to a different location so you’re using gravity instead of fighting it in addition to placing a water storage tank in a spot where the bed rock would be better suited to handle the weight without a great deal of excavation.

You could have heard a pin drop in that trailer, a sixteen year old kid still in high school had found significant flaws in a project design that came from an engineer that already has a master’s degree. I also figured out at the same time was, the people who design stuff are very often not the same ones who have to build it, that’s been reflective in nearly every job I’ve worked.

Here we are at 36,000 feet, with the sun setting towards the west faster as we continue our journey northward, the Coastal Mountain Range looks like it’s covered in bright pink cotton candy. I can also feel a steady decrease in temperature with each mile we fly northward, expected at least a 13 degree drop in day time temps from Juneau to Anchorage. I forget that Anchorage does get cold, it’s been 11 years since I was last here, right about this time of year actually when I finished my processing at the MEP. station and headed to Ft. Benning, GA for Basic Training.

I couldn’t help but look around the Le Conte for a while and seemed to be a lot of young mothers on board, most of them Native. I have to wonder what goes through their minds, is this all they see themselves fit for, a baby making machine? Or has babies become the new fashion accessory?

I feel not quite so grumpy, but a quick 30 minute nap during take off helped take the edge off the 30 hours of being awake. I’ve had people ask why I do that to myself, push the edge of basically sanity and the limits of the human body, only thing I can say is, I do it to myself because I can’t very well do it to them.

On the ferry as well, I ran into the parents of the girl I’d mentioned earlier, the one who asked why we never dated. I really didn’t speak that much to them, I wanted to though, but there’s been a strife between the families ever since my step father was mayor and my mother was magistrate. There’s a lot of petty politics that goes on in so small of town and it tends to get real dirty, if you have no faults people will invent them. I think it was part her decision to stop talking with me going on seven years now, almost to the day. It’s sad the lengths some people will go for power, including using their kids’ friendships to their own ends.

I’ve thrown a picture of us together at the prom, I missed going with her by a day. She did ask me too why I waited so long to ask her out, I could only say that I’d just found out the evening before that AT couldn’t make it up from Oklahoma to go with me.

If there’s some general characteristics I see in the women I’ve been interested in, then and now, is that they are smart and strong willed. JB and Denise both graduated Valedictorian, AT was National Honor Society. As for myself, I only graduated Salutatorian and if I really applied myself I’m sure I could have gotten myself into MENSA.

Speaking of applying myself, one of the more common remarks make to me is that it’s known that as successful as I am it’s noticeable that I’m not really applying myself. Most recently it was RR who asked me why I wasn’t working at my full potential. I don’t think I’ve ever worked at my full potential, I’ve held myself back to a level a little above par of everyone else. Why? It would make people afraid for their jobs to see what I’m truly capable doing. My physics teacher commented about how he wondered just what I would be capable of doing if I really committed to something.

Anyways just random thoughts that have been gong through my head today, at least Sky can breath a sigh of relief that I’m not sharing what ever strange and off the wall concept I’ve got my head wrapped around at the moment.

Ok, I've been up for 36 hours now with just that 30 minute nap, I really should get to bed, but I've drank enough coffee to keep me up for a while longer yet, so might as well do something productive.


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