A reflection of my past co-op experience in college for software engineering:

I am in third year of a three year software engineering program at my college. This is officially my third and last co-op semester of the program, as I only have one semester of school left after this.

My first co-op was very unsatisfying. I was in second year then, and I was hired by the college to basically unpack and image new Dell machines and put them outside of people's desks so the real help desk staff could install them. I was greatly dissatisfied with this, but I plugged away ar it anyways. It paid $8.50 an hour, but it did pay for my next semester of school (and a breakfast club every morning). And I did do a lot of self education, specifically learning a lot more about PC hardware and operating systems.

For my second co-op term, I was interviewed against about 8 other people for the job of Helpdesk technician for Environment Canada. This was sort of a neat job because you never know what 's going to come next and how you're going to deal with it. There was a lot of learning at first, mostly hardware and networking things, or specifics to various Microsoft products. And this job had its extreme tediums as well. I enjoyed it for the most part, though when it was frustrating, it was REALLY frustrating (spending 45 minutes cleaning spyware off a Windows 98 Pentium II). I was responsible for answering the help desk telephone line, which makes me more or less a secretary as well. This means I would be doing about 80% of the helpdesk calls while the other two people I worked with worked on their own things like server backups and software rollouts.

This paid for college once more, as long as a few other nice things. The whole semester allotted me about $6500 @ 11.50 an hour. Not great compared to what some of my classmates who were doing real code analysis for the big banks were making. What intrigued me the most were what the other two people I worked with were making. They both have super secure, nice jobs with the government that has great benefits, job security, lots of room for growth and promotion, and these two were barely a few olders than me, graduates of my own college and making approx. $50,000 a year.

So after my first semester in year three, my third semester rolled around. This semester meant a lot to me in terms of computer knowledge in programming and Linux. Perl instantly became my favourite programming language, and Linux my favourite OS, though I still depend on Windows for quite a few things. However, rather than pursue by reinspired lust for code, I went back to Environment Canada for a second term; something not uncommon for co-op students to do at this place.

And here I still am, largely doing the same stuff I was doing last co-op, which makes it that much more tedious because there's a lot less to learn from there. I was having regrets for a few weeks about coming back, as I was apparently going to graduate with pretty much no real world programming experience from a software engineering program.

I don't feel so bad now though. I'm going to learn an awful lot more during my last semester of school about Linux administration and Java programming and creating a major software engineering project and offering it to a company. My resume will look good with 8 months experience for this very corporate-like government institution. And I will have some great references. This particular place more than likely won't hire me because it is much cheaper for them to just keep getting co-op students for the monkey-work, but there are a lot of other government institutions in Canada that have an IT staff. And all of the baby boomers are retiring, former punch card programmers that have worked there for 35 years and now their main job is creating new email accounts in Microsoft Exchange and making $80k a year. That is job security.

I guess the moral of the story is you can take some great experience out of anything you do, even if it's not quite what you expected to be doing. For the most part, you decide what you want to do with your life.
I thought I'd ramble a bit more today, for your entertainment. Not that this is going to be very entertaining.

So we've started trying. Uh, you know what I'm talking about. Will we succeed? How long will it take? I'm just hoping we'll be normal like most people. That would satisfy me. If things went as smoothly as they did with my brother and his wife, that would make me happy enough, even if it could've been better as well.

So, a new stage in life. It will be interesting at least. Who knows what else it will be. Probably frustrating and tiring too, but nothing generations of people haven't been able to handle.

On a different note, the years just seem to fly by with you. Compared to the rest of my life, I haven't really known you that long. You'd think it would be a big adjustment, but it's really been easy. It's now coming on four years - that's a long time to me, but it seems like no time has really passed at all. Maybe it's just because of my poor powers of memory.

Well, I can't wait to see you again. Each of these little separations are really nothing in the grand scheme of things, but they make me think of how much I enjoy being with you.

...and Blockbuster is raising their on-line subscription price to $17.99 - just like Netflix. Bastards.

I am just going to get a few things off my chest. There are some things in the immediate present that are bothering me, and then there's a pet peeve of mine that has always been banging around in my head but I've never taken the time to put it into words. Until now. And all three are related, as you'll see. It all relates to the fact that I am a moderate. If you absolutely had to find my precise place on the left-right political scale, I suppose I'd be a teeny bit to the left of the center. After all, being at least somewhat liberal is almost a requirement of being a creative person, as you are creating something new, something that wasn't there before, and usually those are accompanied with new ideas meant to make the world a slightly different place after you've left it. Extreme righties will look at my first point and call me a raving anti-Bush liberal. Extreme lefties could probably take my second point and call me a right-wing racist hate mongerer. (While I did not vote for Bush, the former is not exactly true and the latter would not be true at all). But do with them what you will:

  • So gas prices are getting insane. I don't know how it is over in Europe or the UK, but they're pretty bad over here in the United States. People are shouting about President Bush doing something about it? What can he really do, though? Ask his Saudi friends very nicely to please pump more crude? Well Bush didn't do that. Instead, he signed a bill into law, an "energy" bill, on Tuesday, August 9, 2005 aimed at promoting a quest for cleaner, alternative energy and less dependence on foreign oil. While I think that tax break on buying hybrid cars sounds nice (it will supposedly help you save up to $3,500 - yeah, we'll see), the major part of the bill is not going to do jack shit, not only not in the short term (which proponents of the bill had admitted) but it's not going to do any more good than pissing on a five-alarm fire in the long run either! What is chapping my ass is the billions of dollars in tax credits he's giving to energy companies! With fuel prices what they are now, with the profits they're making now, they are just raking in the dough! They can practically swim in all the money they're making now like a certain Scrooge McDuck used to do on Duck Tales. So the solution is to give them even more money?! Oh yeah, supposedly they're supposed to spend it on research and development. Yeah, right! It's more likely that the corporate heads will use it to buy new boats or small islands in the Pacific. This is just another example of Bush' policy to give gifts to his corporate buddies, him and Cheney. Some would look at what I just said and call me a left wing conspiracy theorist. I think it's just common sense! Where there's smoke there's fire. Just look at it without rose-colored glasses, you don't even have to be cynical! So, anyway, thanks, Bush! This new bill is reeaaally going help me out at the pump and with the vulgar gas bills I'm going to get come this winter. Just extend that vacation you're on, OK, maybe another month, you're doing nothing anyway. Fuck you, Mr. Bush, fuck you very much for that awesome energy bill!
  • Locally, in the St. Louis area, the Parkway School District is located in an afluent sector. Let's go ahead and call a spade a spade, a mostly white area. Blacks are bussed to the school from less affluent areas, but bussing isn't the issue I'm going to talk about. A few years ago there was a big hoobob about a ten-year-old white boy calling an eight-year-old black girl a "nigger" on the bus. The boy was disciplined but lots of folks wanted a stiffer punishment. To make a long story short, with that event being the genesis, a new anti-harassment policy was just adopted in the Parkway district to impart stiff penalties on anybody who harasses anybody in a "socio-economic" context. (Harassment for sexual orientation was also thrown in there but as an afterthought). It is meant to curtail students calling other students "niggers" and the like. Which is all well and good. I never use the term, I despise it and everything it stands for. However, the clever usage of the term "socio-economic" in the policy basically means that it is only the white kids that cannot do the harassing while the blacks or other minorities I suppose get a free pass, because the black students in the district are largely considered to be of a lower socio-economic class than the whites. This was discussed on a local morning radio talk show and emails sent in response to this from people in the district claiming that a lot of fights are caused by the blacks (yes I question the validity of that claim, too, but I believe there's at least a grain of truth in it). And it's another quagmire altogether that the black students often call themselves by that word. Do you suspend them, too? My main point, though, is this: Why is it that time and time again, blacks are given a free pass, with few exceptions, to do or say whatever they want about whites whereas whites have to be extremely careful as to what they say about blacks? And why when they are anti white it's called "reverse racism" WHEN IT IS RACISM PERIOD, and why when any white person has the balls to bring this issue up (like I am now) WE ARE OFTEN LABELED A RACIST?! Is it because supposedly white people are much richer (I had to use a credit card earlier this week to pay for gas because there wasn't enough in my checking account; see the first bullet)? Is it because of slavery? Do we still have to apologize when it's been over 150 years since we ended it? Do we have to for another 150? Will my great-great grandchildren finally be forgiven? Sorry, I'd better stop, I could rant on for another four pages, but I think you get my point by now.
  • As I said above, I am a moderate. I feel that that allows me the luxury of thinking for myself...by not automatically having a policy of completely discounting any opinion that is "left" or "right" just because they are so, without thinking. While I realize a big part of it is for ratings, conservative talk show hosts piss me off by automatically condemning any viewpoint they deem as liberal, or all liberals themselves. You might as well put robots in programmed to do that. I wish more people could approach issues with an open mind, why are so many people so myopic? And this goes for radical liberals, too. Why do the conservatives always have to be anti-environment and the liberals are always pro spotted owl? Why do conservatives never ever find absolutely nothing wrong with the War in Iraq or Bush's policies on it and the liberals seeing absolutely nothing good about it? Why do the conservatives always ad naseum go on and on about the liberal media, everything that anybody reports (except Fox News) is wrong or skewed because they are a bunch of raving liberals? Why are these conservative talk show hosts always portraying any Democratic Senator or Representative as stupid, or the liberal people in the media seeing any Republican as potentially racist or a hate mongerer? Why are conservatives always so pro religion and anti-evolution and liberals so venmous against religion? THINK FOR YOURSEVLES, PEOPLE, don't just think what other people in your party expect you to think! Gosh!!.

Serenity now!

I have been listening to some albums which I should have been listening to when I was a kid, but which I was not, because I was playing computer games instead. Gosh, the internet is good if you have broadband. But music loses some of its desperate power if there is no money involved, because the exchange of money makes everything seem more valuable and intense; insert lewd comment here.

Some of these albums involve loud guitars; it is odd now to note that the metal music of the 1980s has become normalised, such that the music of modern American teen pop stars sounds heavier and sonically more impactful than the music of Def Leppard, a band which was once held up by the media as an example of the kind of bad influence that would drive the children of the 1980s to a life of deliquency, which did not happen.

2. Greatest Hits 1, 2 and 3 - Queen
Queen is a rock band stroke hard rock band with elements of heavy metal from Middlesex in England, although the group's lead singer was actually from Zanzibar, where a lot of people had to stand on it because pollution was causing the sheep to become uppity, and Zanzibar is now part of Tanzania, which is on the Eastern coast of Africa and borders Rwanda and Uganda, which rhyme! Freddie Mercury's parents were Iranian, but he was born at a time when Iran was on our side; I do not know why they moved from Iran to Zanzibar. Perhaps it was better to spend a week with someone who loved them for what they were than years of loneliness. Tanzania has a population slightly smaller than that of Ethiopia, and it is also slightly smaller than Ethiopia.

{pause}

In fact, according to the CIA World Factbook, there are millions upon millions of Ethiopians, and so I don't understand what all the fuss was with Live Aid at all. There are seventy-three million of them. They aren't dying at all. There are millions of them. Don't fear the reaper.

There is an island called Mafia which is off the coast of Tanzania. In real life, Mafia is an acronym for "''morte alla Francia Italia anela!''", which is Italian for "death to the French is the cry of Italians!" or "died to Italy France it gasps!" if you use Babelfish. Aneli is a Russian model who appears naked on the internet; go on, use Google's image search, she has a formidable balcony. I have just learned that 'poitrine' is French for 'chest'. Oh, I don't want to write about Queen, I want to write about something else, anything else, I want to look at pictures of Aneli and imagine what it might be like to meet a woman my age in real life. Would she like me? If not, could I dominate or intimidate her so much that it wouldn't matter? There is a lot to be said for the notion of a world in which women do not have brains, and are instead like apples or plants in the ground; things to be plucked, used and thrown away.

Queen. Judging by this greatest his compilation, the band seemed to produce a lot of ballads, and some extremely unconventional pop songs. Another One Bites the Dust and We Will Rock You are basically the title phrase repeated a few times with a stomping beat; along the lines of Rock and Roll Part II by Gary Glitter.

In fact Queen is boring, that is my official opinion, and I dislike the group. I actually like them less than I do before I heard Greatest Hits 1, 2 and 3 because I had been sold on the media's packaged image of Queen, as a ridiculously over-the-top and iconic rock legend etc. But the band's songs, in reality, are mostly mid-tempo ballads with bits of rock here and there, and the group's inability to create a song which flows naturally without going off with orchestral harmonies / Brian May on the guitar is pathological and autistic; it was funny with 'Bohemian Rhapsody' but they kept doing it over and over again, and I despise mental illness and the mentally ill. Yes, you bash your head against a wall; I hope your skull splits open and the insides come out like egg yolk.

Greatest Hits III is by any measure a terrible album. You disagree with so many things I say, but not this. I don't even have to describe it; you know it is terrible.

3. Powerslave - Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is a heavy metal band from London in England. The band is not a speed metal or a thrash metal or a metal or a rock or a hard rock band, or anything except for heavy metal. It is a heavy metal band. Iron Maiden was very popular in the mid to late 1980s, and the band is still popular nowadays; as with all heavy metal bands, they do not attract much mainstream press attention and are part of an extremely large parallel world of music. Unlike Def Leppard, Iron Maiden is true metal, not false metal. Iron Maiden is easier to like, in my opinion, because the band is quite silly, and their brand of epic rock music at least has some ambition.

Powerslave is middling. It is generally faster than Pyromania, which is a good thing. The standard of musicianship is a lot showier and the band can play quite complex arrangements in sync with each other, without going out of time. Def Leppard's music seems a lot simpler in comparison. Perhaps the children who listened to Iron Maiden when they were younger are now mathematical geniuses, because of the 'Mozart Effect'.

In fact the guitars of Iron Maiden sound as if they were sequenced, like Metallica, with a computer. Although I am not a follower of heavy metal, I can nonetheless determine a difference between Metallica and Iron Maiden and Def Leppard; Def Leppard wrote songs about rocking all night long and were basically a pop band aimed at the mass of consumers who buy pop records, Iron Maiden wrote songs about demons and World War II and were aimed at young teenager boys, whilst Metallica had a degree of angst and were aimed at older teenage boys.

Of the three groups, being Metallica, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, only Def Leppard wrote and sang songs about sex, or at least had an emphasis on sex that went beyond the purely cartoonish into the realms of suggesting that the members of the band actuall did have sex, and that sex was both something men wanted to do and were able to do and it was good for them to do so. Iron Maiden is a boy's band, the members of the band are boys, and although they are aware of sex they are not actually physically dominated by it as men are dominated by it.

It gets in the way, see.

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