"We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians." --Edgar Mitchell

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth." --William Anders

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Brass Tacks

You know, I'd always thought the phrase was "brass tax."  And that made sense to me; I mean, when you get down to the real business of things, that's what pays the bills, and I'd always associated the phrase with that concept.  But I digress.

I seem to have figured out how to make the imaginary people that read my blog less imaginary, and more real.  Before I wrote my last entry, I had a grand total of eight page views, EVER.  And most of those were probably myself (I have since turned THAT off).  You can see why I thought, and will still think, for the most part, that you are imaginary.  Five hours after I posted the last entry, I had about 25 views!!  Real people!  Some of them possibly German (although that may have had something to do with my surname).  Internet "popularity" is heady.  (I've never had more than three people read any one thing that I've written, so this is huge.)  Let's let it go to my head, shall we?

But back on topic: now that I have the nitty-gritty business of introducing myself out of the way, I can turn my attention to other things.  As in why I am actually throwing this nonsense into the internet?  Doesn't it already have enough of its own? Well maybe I like the noise.  But there's also more to it.

You see that title I have?  "A Longer Road," it says.  It's a pretty vague title, but it does carry some meaning for me.  Remember I went to the Air Force Academy for a little while?  When I left, I wanted to finish my degree as fast as possible.  Any degree.  It was a bonus that I enjoyed linguistics.  Then I was left with a degree I had no idea what to do with, and a job that was going nowhere fast (although it was quite a ride, and the people I worked with were a special kind of crazy).  When I was a senior, I had started a linguistics blog...  that went absolutely nowhere.  But I was drawn to this idea of putting thoughts on imaginary paper and sticking it up where everyone could see.  Only I had nothing to say.  But I thought if I put enough blather down, someone would read it.  Wrong.

So there I was, perpetually broke, with this really cool degree that I was discovering I didn't particularly want to build on - the GRE is a scary beast when you haven't taken a test like that in five years.  I thought about law school.  I thought about becoming a publishing agent (HA!).  I thought about staying with my job and hoping that in fifteen years I'd be made a regional manager.  None of these won out.  The underlying harmony to all of this was a quiet refrain of "when I get the money, and am old and gray, I can go back and get my engineering degree, and prove to everyone that I can do it."  It took me about a year to realize that the only person I had to prove it to was myself - and that waiting until I was old and gray was waiting too long.  And if I went back for this degree, I was playing for keeps.  This is where my heart is; this is what makes my throat clench and my eyes attract all the dust in the room.  If I couldn't - didn't - make it this time, it would break me.  So I thought about it.  For a solid month.  Not a year, not even half a year, but a single month.  By the end of that, I had determined not only that I would do it, but how.  Second baccalaureates are tricky beasts. They have all kinds of frustrating, special rules, but at the end of that month, I knew them, and I knew how to deal with them.  It would take longer, but it would be worth it.

And so this blog came into being.  It was to be my "space" blog.  It was going to chronicle the process as I showed everyone and myself that even though I took the long way around, dammit, I still got there.  I had a chip on my shoulder, although "had" might be a misleading word to use...  it's really more like "have."

So there you have it: this is a blog about what I see and hear in my capacity as an aerospace engineering student.  Except when it isn't.  As I said before, I occasionally have opinions, and I see no reason not to work through them here.  Because you see, the longer road I'm talking about isn't just in terms of time related to getting my degree.  It also refers to this nasty habit I've developed of questioning just about every view I ever held on things, instead of just blindly accepting them.

Sometimes this is pretty funny to watch, as I make mistakes.  Sometimes spectacularly.  Or you might find some interesting bit of wisdom in what I say, although I wouldn't count on it.  Mostly though, it's for me (you're imaginary, remember?).  This is a place for me to (publicly) organize my thoughts and experiences.  Which sounds self-centered and selfish, but let's think about this for a minute: if I'm not doing this for me, then I'm doing this for you, which sets me up for all sorts of dishonest language and behavior.  So I'll continue to pretend that the internet is full of imaginary people, if only to achieve some level of honesty with myself.

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