What, me worry?
In a blog a few days ago, in a state of frustration, despair, and pique, I asked the question, "Why Should anyone listen to what I have to say? Who the F*ck am I anyway?" Well, after mulling over that question awhile, I thought maybe I should address it. What does give me the feeling that i have a unique perspective on things? One that's worth heeding, or at least listening to?
After flailing at Holy Cross College, one of my co-workers in the Lincoln school system, which managed the Military's schools on Hanscom Air Force Base (located about 20 miles northwest of Boston), at which I'd found employment as a custodian, doncha know?, told me about some courses he was taking at Harvard's Extension School. I learned from him that by taking courses, some of which you could take via TV, long before any internet courses were available or even dreamed of, that if you liked, you could eventually apply for admission and earn a Harvard degree. All for a fraction of what it'd cost in the day school, albeit over a longer time-frame, as the credit earned for each course, except summer school courses, which were full credit, was half of the regular daytime courses, necessitating a full year to accumulate a semester's worth of credits. Since I was working full time, though, that was perfect, especially as I could pay as I went.
This worked well for a couple of years, with me in a kind of Academic Nirvana, completely enthralled at how unbelievably lucky I was to have been born in Massachusetts. I mean I could just drive down the road or take the train, or bus from Waverly Sq., right into Harvard Yard, almost literally. So I took everything: Botany, Anatomy and physiology, a course on the Ring of the Nibelung, American Lit, Indian Studies, Psych, Sociology, Black History, Conversational and literate French: I was like a kid in a candy store. But just like a kid in a candy store, there was no method to my madness, I just grabbed gleefully at whatever was nearest to hand or would bring the attainment of a degree closer. But what I would then be suited for, besides more college, once armed with that degree, was always vague and somehow unimportant.
It was the thrill of being able to take advantage of having the greatest minds and educational resources in the country that drove me. The teachers weren't just from Harvard, either. The way the Extension School worked was that we had profs from Simmons, MIT, Emerson, BU, and many other first rate colleges in the Cambridge/Boston area that came and taught there. The only proviso was that a certain number of your degree credit classes had to be taught by Harvard Professors.
The glimmering chimera of a Harvard degree was not to be, though ... at least, not for another 30 years (when, in 2003, I received, in abstentia, the Tortoise Award, for having taken the longest amount of time to earn a degree in the Extension School). This was because, as I continued to pile on courses, my impatience with the 8-year time frame growing unbearable, I ended up taking 8 courses in one semester and that broke this camel's back, and so I floundered once again.
The path that would then take me to San Francisco's City College, was twisted and arduous, but after working for a printer in Chinatown, as a teller at Hibernia Bank, and then an account analyst at Industrial Indemnity, taking courses in International Banking and H&R Block's on tax prep along the way, I started taking Electronics and Digital Design, and although I'd sworn I hated computers, and never wanted to have anything more to do with them again, having found FORTRAN a colossal bore, I found that I just loved the hardware of computer design and the science behind the production, distribution and electronic utilization of that most magical of modern forces: electricity.
Next: V = IR.