Revelations and Updates

by brianp411

Time for an update! Recently I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the amount of exams I’ve had/will have these past few weeks. The timestamp of this post should probably be an indication of that. I’ve been procrastinating extensively because I’ve been lured away by into the beautiful world of computer build log forums especially this one called linustechtips. It’s a great site but it causes me to think about buying really expensive computer parts that I can’t afford on a minimum $8/hr job. The worse part about it that it’s kept me from my studying for some time now so this is why I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed in the first place. I’ve been going to bed at 3AM on school nights because I’ve been so mesmerized by people’s awesome computer builds and I’ve been up late researching ways on how to do these things. It almost seemed like an addiction because no matter how many times I told myself that I would get something done that day I would just slack off and browse these internet forums for a long period of time until it was too late or I was too tired to do anything. My reasoning was that if I could research what I wanted now and make plans on how to buy these things then I could be truly happy and then return to studying.

Well, now the problems begin! About a week ago I was browsing the internet looking for ways to secure a loan without credit (bad idea in the first place) and I stumbled upon this website that talked about getting a car title loan. I thought it was a scam but I filled out their online application and low and behold I actually got a call from someone two states away in New Hampshire. They explained the whole process (minus the actual financial details) and then I got this crazy idea that I would actually drive 80 miles up to this place and get a title loan. Well, I did and there were several red flags that should have stopped me from signing my life away to these loan sharks but I didn’t care because I wanted quick cash for a computer build. Well, they told me it would cost 22% interest, I would only be getting $850 financed even though my car is worth at least 3x that much and that the minimum payment would be substantial. Oh yeah, and they charged a $186 finance charge. So fast forward to now and I finally realized what I got myself into. I have to be popping $200 a month on interest on a $850 loan and if it takes me too long I might end up equaling or exceeding the amount borrowed in just interest! That’s getting close to a mortgage! It’s like a credit card bill. People like car finance places know what they’re doing. They’re loan sharks knowing that they’re always going to make massive profits over idiots like me who are too excited/too desperate for money that they would sign away to almost 4x higher than a bank’s interest! So, basically I’m in debt so I’m trying to sell as much of my unwanted/unneeded technology and working as much as I can at my minimum wage job to get the money I need. If my hours slip for any reason, I’ll end up having to pay out the ass for interest. I’m never doing this to myself again!!! The only legit real loan is the one you go to your bank about when you’ve established excellent credit and have a good job with steady pay that will allow you to pay it back quickly! This obsession over money has now spilled over into my studies and my need for increasing amount of hours is cutting into my study time which I consider very important so it’s really stressing me out. I’ve never experienced debt before and I don’t know how so many of us Americans can fall into it. You should never buy something that you can’t afford. That’s the danger of credit – it allows you to do that and has no safety net for when you do.

That’s enough about that.  Onward onto my plans for the future and my rants:
I read an interesting education article a few days ago that asked the question ‘does your college major really matter?’ and then it proceeded to explain how most students are seeing school as a means to an end rather than a learning experience and thus are coming out with lackluster critical thinking and communication skills. I think this guy hit the nail on the head. Everyone got into a big puff because he was debunking the whole college major thing – “Zomg, I’m an engineer! Don’t tell me a English major can get my job” – No one’s saying that. What the guy was trying to point out is that we’re telling kids that college is a way to secure a job when it’s not really as straightforward and clearcut as that. College is supposed to be a time for learning and skill development but it doesn’t really truly prepare you for a job – only related experience can do that. College teaches you about how to think and communicate. It teaches you to not take facts as undisputed truths and to delve deeper. We now live in a global environment so businesses are going to increasingly need strong problem solvers. This all starts with the proper education.  We need to teach kids the basics of communication and listening because these things are not being taught. We need to teach them how to study, we need to teach them how to think and inspire them to think; the one gift afforded to humans that allows us to change with our environment rather quickly.

It’s funny, I once read a review on Amazon on a Calculus textbook. The guy in the review was talking about how kids nowadays have everything dumbed down for them and how only 60 years ago the math textbooks of the day challenged kids a lot more and as a result that’s how we had the great wonders that emerged from the post-WWII era. He felt that kids nowadays don’t have the skills necessary to be able to survive in the workplace of the modern age. That made me think: are we really making things easier for kids? Are we truly not preparing them to enter the real world? Are we not inspiring the thinkers, inventors, writers, of this generation? Will this generation solve the greatest threats facing humanity as we know it?

I don’t know the answer to these questions because I’m a 22 year old kid going through the ‘system’ just like many other kids are but it does cause me to wonder. What are we lacking or how was the past better?

Finally, I’m going to wrap up this long and grammatically incorrect post with an idea I would like to to delve into deeper in the future: Remember that idea I had about a computer business? Still want to do that but I had an idea concerning an underlying problem in my city. It came to me when I remembered what Senator Mike Rodrigues said about my city – it has the potential to grow but no businesses want to expand here because this is a forgotten factory city. The workforce is not skilled enough to be able to fill the jobs that businesses need filled. He also told me how a local medical software company was changing all that by offering full time positions to programmers with associate degrees. Then it hit me, I should start a non-profit in my city to help get peoples technical skills up. Am I perfect for the job? No, some of my friends would make me look like a ape in front of a computer with their level of technical finesse and skill but I want to get people who have those skills and are passionate about helping others to join me in my efforts. I think this city has great potential but that potential is drying up what I like to call a vicious cycle and I think the only way out of it is proper affordable education. I want to offer free education on technical literacy to these students – real localized instruction utilizing state of the art instruction techniques and brain research – taking those who are computer phobic to intermediate programmer. Okay, maybe not that far but get these people started and skilled enough so that they don’t break into cold sweats when they see a monitor. Think about it: if my city has a more educated workforce I could possibly bring business here, I could succeed as a business because I could supply the big businesses, and best of all I could help the local new tech savy populace. People might think I’m crazy – that the only real tech savy people exist in sun bathed California but I wouldn’t knock these old factory workers for the count. There’s a market out there for IT and I may not be the best guy to find it/teach it but I want to lay the steppingstones so someone else can take over my work.

Maybe I’m glamorizing the whole thing but a clean office with a nice view helping my local community surely doesn’t sound that unreal to me!

-Over and out!

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