6
Apr
2017

I am often asked by students to provide them some career advice.  Most of these questions are very generic, indicating that they really have not dived much into their own research.  My favorite (or perhaps, most irritating, really) is: “What career advice can you give me?”

Well.  Advice number one: Don’t ask vague open ended questions like that to any potential employer.  Be specific, be precise.  Ask questions during the interview. Do some research about the company and / or the type of projects they have been involved in.  One of the best questions a potential new hire asked me once was “What obstacles did the company have to overcome to grow from XXX to YYY employees over the past three years, and how can new employees contribute to that?” At a minimum, the question told me the recruit had actually read the company’s history; additionally, it clued me in to an element of ambition.  The student was already thinking about the big picture in business.

Advice number two:  This is my most critical piece of information that I can convey, and 95% of people will not take it.  Become an expert in your field.  No, correct that. Become THE expert in your area.  I don’t care if your first job is developing webpages in javascript.  Become fluent.  Read.  Be apprised of upcoming shifts in popular technology.  Curiosity, and the ability to research and act on it will enable you to transition from task to new task quickly and efficiently.   Do not just try to learn the basics needed to perform your job (or class assignments).  Learn as much as you can.

It’s April.  Spring has sprung.  Good luck in your job hunting, padawans.

1
Apr
2017

The end of this coming week will mark 7 months since Mom died. In some ways it seems forever ago, in others, it seems like yesterday.

A few months before her final days, I left an extremely stressful position and took a college teaching position.  I have been enjoying it because even though teaching, grading and prepping can be a lot of work – trying to keep ahead of the semester, etc. –  I don’t find it to be terribly difficult.   I also have enough flexibility in my schedule that I can exercise more, AND, teaching is not sedentary for me.  I tend to walk back and forth in front of the white boards – a LOT!  I have been averaging two miles or about 5000 steps a day just teaching.  The new activity level has helped, and I have made a conscientious effort to exercise (walk) harder several times a week at the urging of my Cardiologist.  I have lost 12 pounds off my heaviest weight, and last week I hit a milestone that is important to me.  I now weigh the same as I did before Mom’s crisis and Stage IV cancer diagnosis almost 2 years ago, upturned all our lives.   I will not be complacent, however, as I still have a long way to go to get back into a reasonably healthy weight.

Spring is here. The sky is spectacularly beautiful.  I hear birds chirping.  I see little children eagerly anticipating the end of the school year – I also see it in my college seniors!!!

I feel happy. I feel content.  I am looking forward to my college freshman girlie coming home for the summer in a few weeks.

I am blessed.

7
Mar
2017

I have found it harder and harder to make time for my fun, little hobbies that I love.  One of them, photography, has really taken a backseat over the past few years.  For some reason, I believed that as my kids grew up and became less dependent on me, that it would somehow free up some time!

Spring break is coming up soon.  Maybe, I can dig out the old camera, charge her up and take a walking tour of my town and spark some ideas.  Perhaps, I just need to un-backseat the things I’ve shelved in the hopes that they’ll light a creative spark again.

6
Mar
2017

My back pain has been excruciating for the past three days, although it is beginning to abate.  Much of the time, I feel best if I don’t try to sit down, if I am standing and moving, it doesn’t hurt as badly. However, I find it difficult to grade papers in a standing stance.

At about 4pm this afternoon, I couldn’t tolerate it anymore, so I took a pain pill for it.  A real one – makes me a little loopy.   Then, I proceeded to write up my notes for class tomorrow.

When I realized at some point I had begun to number my pages in descending order, I called it quits.  I don’t think I want to even chance grading this stack of midterms, do I?

Tomorrow will be a new, more lucid, day, I hope!