Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daily Report: Frozen Assets

My all-time favorite quote comes from the movie Good Will Hunting, where the main character Will gives a verbal smackdown to a stuck-up Harvard student:
"...in 50 years you're going to start doing some thinking on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that ... you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin' education you could've got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library."
It says everything to me and everything about me: I want to learn, so I just do it: I don't need to pay to learn, I don't need to sit in a classroom to get educated on a subject, I don't need a professor to hold my hand as I educate myself, and I don't need a professor to quiz me when I'm done. I certainly don't need a diploma to prove my knowledge... especially at my age.

I just need one thing: books.

It was with that in mind that I went and got myself a library card today. The first reading assignment I've given myself is two books from Huxley: "Brave New World" and "Island". (I figured I'd start with the science fiction, since that's my favorite.)

Also, here in the house is a fantastic collection of the hardback magazine, "American Heritage" from the 1960's... nothing but American history. I've read a biography of John Jay already.

I picked up some more Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper today. In addition I refreshed my supply of microwave popcorn. I found microwaveable caramel popcorn. It was kind of crap: the first bag I made burned, the second bag I took out a bit earlier and half the kernels hadn't popped. The stuff that did pop tasted fair... but my mother has a recipe to make better caramel popcorn from scratch using brown sugar and butter, I think.

The cable box / DVR is going kerput too. The picture goes all squidgy and the audio turns into this staccato nonsense. At first, unplugging the box for a while fixed the problem... then it didn't. Then, I learned on the internet how to reformat the hard drive, and for a while that fixed the problem... now it doesn't. I'll take it down tomorrow to the cable company to be replaced.

Once again, temperatures are down to freezing tonight here in Florida. And no, I'm not going to count my blessings that I'm not under 3 feet of snow up north. Sorry... I choose to be a noodge about the cold and will take some small comfort in my whiney blogging.

Some new renters moved into the house next door who come from just a way down the road from my hometown in Upstate New York... from a town called Wellsville, which is really a lovely place — just as long as you don't mind living 40 miles away from the nearest town with more than 10,000 people in it.

On the other side of the world, Epril and Susan have been plagued by the most awful house guest, a kano who is a friend of a friend, taken in by friendly obligation. In return for the hospitality, the house guest gets fall-down drunk, walks around in his underwear, eats food (without buying any), and is pretty much a total shithead. Unfortunately, Epril and Susan are too polite to say anything. So, I will: friend of mine, you know who you are; do something about him.


Jim Cunningham said...

Hi Jil – Your quote “I certainly don’t need a diploma to prove my knowledge …….especially at my age”.
I think your losing it mate, are you suggesting that the world closes its higher institutes of learning and issues library cards instead?
The whole purpose of a parchment is to prove that an individual has the discipline to read and research a subject and prove their knowledge to a board of peers. That way the world has an academic record of achievement which can be used in part as a yard stick to get in the door or further career success. Without such an award the entire HRM world would be upside down and there would be more liars than qualified people. And whilst your vast knowledge of science fiction may get you a job at NASA, I doubt it.
I think you as a young man have spent too much time on the computer in SEA and not enough time finding out as I mentioned before what goes on in the real world from a first hand perspective. Since you left the US to wonder and work in SEA you have acquired little or no savings or assets to boot. Yes you may have gained experience from your travels but now you are back in the US you will need money to support a wife and possible family of your own. I’m being frank in the hope you will give yourself a shake and wake up to reality and not just too cherry coke and popcorn. The reason why I bother to tell you this is I have a daughter of Eprils age and if she brought you home to meet me I’m afraid you would not even get under starters orders to take her out on a second date as your future prospects are bleak to say the least with your track record to date.
Come on Jil wake up and make a plan for the future instead of excuses and like your supposed diet stick to it. I really do wish you and Epril every success but your ramblings of late have me wondering what you really want out of life and in which direction you wish to go. I just hope you don’t ever in the near future fall out with you very benevolent mother otherwise reality will smack you in the face.
Best wishes.

Jungle Jil said...

Well Jim,

Let me give you a more concrete example to set your mind at ease:

I plan on going back to school to become a radiographic technician; I'm going to learn everything there is to know about operating, maintaining, and understanding MRI machines, PET scanners, X-rays, et cetera.

(Unfortunately, I need to live in Florida for a year before the cost of state colleges comes down by 80% and attending without getting a bunch of student loans becomes affordable.)

SO... Here is what I'm going to do first: I'm going to go to the library. I'm going to get a book on anatomy. I'm going to read it through. I'm going to get a book on phsyiology. I'm going to read it through. I'm going to get a book on diagnostic radiology. I'm going to read it through. I'm going to get a book on the basics of magnetic resonance imaging. I'm going to read it through.

Then, I'm going to go to the college, and I'm going to proficiency out of the anatomy and physiology courses and all of the other basic stuff and knock a year off my education. Then I'm going to go and perhaps proficiency out of the basic 101 radiographic courses (though perhaps not).

Regardless, while all the other students are trying to learn all of the basics of radiology, I'll be focusing on the more difficult, advanced, and detailed aspects. When it comes time to do practicums at hospitals, I'll get first choice, I'll be far ahead of everybody else. Then, when it comes time to get accredited after 2 years of education and practical experience, I'll breeze through without a hitch.

Then do you know what I'll be doing? Going to a hospital to sit behind a desk? Nope. I'm going to try following my cousin's lead and go into sales of radiologic and diagnostic equipment... where the average income (base plus commission) is abouve $150K per year. (And if that fails... well then of course I'll go work in a hospital.)

There... is that enough of a plan to get me a second date with your daughter?

You read far too much into my "quote". I'm not saying that colleges are useless in general... just that a huge portion of things that are learned in college can be learned simply by reading: You may not become a surgeon from just reading books... or a welder, craftsman, police officer, or chef either. But you certainly don't need to attend class to become well-read; you don't need to go to class to learn history; you don't need to go to class to study philosophy or literature or poetry.

You don't even need to go to class to learn a foreign language: I speak Thai very well, thank you, and learned it before I went to Thailand. How? By buying and reading and studying a book and tapes on the subject.

And, if I wanted to get a job at NASA, I'm sure that 6 years of sitting in a library and reading and learning and studying and practicing with the same set of engineering textbooks that college students are opening on their desks on campus — while not getting me all the way in the door — would certainly get me close enough to warrant consideration. After all, there are hobbyists out there who know a shitload about rocketry and physics and engineering.

But what the original statement boils down to is this: You don't need a teacher standing in front of you, telling you what to study if you want to learn something. The books are out there. All you need to do is walk into a library, start studying what you want, and (just as long as you don't care about what yardstick others measure you by) you've accomplished for YOURSELF pretty much the same thing as the kid paying $40,000 a year to sit in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr.Jil,This friend of a friend is an obligation?You want to be considered a doormat?Well you will be and most likely you won't like the treading you will receive from all guests trampling on you no matter how delicately they wipe their feet.
This is your blog and it is amazing to see how people who say they are your friends trash you as if it is their duty as a friend.With friends like that.....
It is a li'l surprising though that you have gone back to the States and are living with your Mother.Living in Asia for 8 yrs. making the kind of money you say you were making one would think you could have easily saved $40,000.00.
That being said no one can ever be surprised when things do not go as planned.Rolling w/the puches is one test of a MAN and it is those challenges and the way they are handled that tell others what kind of MAN a guy really is.Going back to the States and living w/MOM could be seen as failure to some,Wise to others and most importantly:If people are your friends they will be positive about it and nothing else.
Sounds like others are just minding your business and only offering criticism when things do not look so good.With them,the same way with the house "guest",one could hardly ever not want to give 'em all the spur.
I would rather ask if you have read "The Brothers Karamazov","The Possessed"or "Ressurection" by Doestoyevsky and have a conversation about chapter three(bros.K).Telling you how to run your life is just not my place,and dare I say,anyone else's.....

Jungle Jil said...


Yes: unfortunately it really is an obligation to take this person in. I won't go into details because the obligation extends so far as to not publically embarass this person... as well as take him in.

In regard to people (friends and otherwise) coming on this blog and criticizing, I personally like it. I get more advice, ideas, and direction from people coming on and telling me that I am wrong than just coming on and agreeing with me. (For instance, I wasn't going to start studying anatomy for a while yet... but Mr. Cunningham's comment above made me think twice on that, and I went to the library today and checked out an anatomy text.) Granted, I don't want to be insulted, and don't post those comments, but I certainly wouldn't write extensively about my life and my experiences (good and bad) if I only wanted to hear good things said about me.

Living with my mother is a privilege and I'm lucky to have her. Many people have tough times in life, but not everybody has parents they can turn to and can rely on. I was welcome to come stay here, and it was an offer I gladly accepted. But that in and of itself should not be evidence for or against my life, or its durability, or its solvency. It simply is what it is: Hospitality given and hospitality taken. (In other words, even if I did have $40,000 in the bank, I would still be right here doing exactly what I am doing right now... and yes, admittedly that is in hindsight.)

As for the book recommendation: Thank you! I'll put it on my secondary reading list. (I have 3 books that I read: Primary is an educational book (like the anatomy text I now have), secondary is a heavy literature book (like Huxley or Dostoevsky), and tertiary is an entertainment book (like "The Hunger Games" series my sister sent me for Christmas). I read a little of each book every day.)

Jungle Jil said...

I actually just thought of a good way to explain my original appreciation of "Will's quote" about a public library providing educational opportunities equal to what you can find in a college:

The anatomy book I just checked out of the library is written by a professor of medicine, one Dr. Keeffe, at Stanford University.

Now, lets say that I was lucky enough to be accepted as pre-med at Stanford University. I plunked down my $40,000 and enrolled in Dr. Keeffe's anatomy course. What textbook would I probably be buying? What book would Dr. Keeffe be excerpting from, propounding upon, and using as source material for his lectures? What book would I be assigned to read? Precisely: The same book I have in front of me.

Now: If my goal is to prove to other people... especially people at Stanford University... that I know anatomy, well then by all means, I need to enroll in Dr. Keeffe's course and be tested and pass it. But if my goal is only to learn anatomy for myself and my own knowledge, benefit, and enlightenment, then what I am doing now is equally as good... and much cheaper.

And yes: When the time comes to go to the local University of Florida Campus to prove that I know anatomy, then I will take the proficiency test, (hopefully) pass it, and be credited with the knowledge I have demonstrated (and save some money too).

But take for example English History, which I love: I really want to know everything there is to know about English History. Why? Not so I can be a professor, a scholar, a historian, or to be quoted or respected for what I know, but just because I want to know. And again: all I'll ever want to know about English History I can learn from the books in a library. And after years of reading, years of learning, years of studying English History from library books, who could argue that I shouldn't know as much as the people for whom English History is their profession?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good plan Rad tech is promising. A little advise from some one spending the rest of my life in healthcare. The schools are not only about learning these days its about learning to take tests. Some times it isnt what you know but how you take the tests. So when you get close to going to school I suggest you brush up on practice tests because healthcare gets rid of smart people everyday who just cant take the tests. Also find out what books your future program actually uses rather than just picking books on the topic. You will find out that anatomy and every other subject is vast and you can never learn it all sorry to say. So if you are going to study then learn what you will need to know rather than throwing your self in a topic and learning stuff that wont be evaluated. All healthcare schools are about information overload and the key is to figure out what you really need to learn and learn those areas the best. Most schools you can actualy get the books in the library like you said and if they dont have them, you should ask and they will order it. You can even get sylabuses sometimes online on school websites and even know the class reading assignments. So then you will know what to expect in the future. Things will change over the next year but for the most part things dont change that much from year to year except the edition of the books they make yo buy haha! Wrtie a study plan down and follow it until school starts. Do not burn yourself out before you even begin please pace yourself! You could even email professors and explain your eagerness and situation and they will most likely be very helpful for an enthusiastic student like you. Anyway sounds like a plan not get er done!

from Jakal

Jungle Jil said...


Yup. If there is one thing I know how to do, it is take tests. I used to take 21 credits a semester for my last 2 years of college because I took tests so well. I could literally walk into the class stuffed with knowledge for the test, get a perfect score, then walk out and have forgotten everything within a few hours. I would keep an A+ average thoughout the entire class, and then of course blow it all on the final because I couldn't stuff everything I had forgotten back in. So I'd get a B for the course.

And, of course, you are sort of making my point too: I'm studying this stuff because I really want to know it. I've been working in the medical industry for 10 years now, and these are things I hear all the time but really do not understand. I am going to be happy to learn them whether or not its "on the test".

Yes: I know the Radiologic Technician syllabus already. There is only so much I can study in advance. Then comes about 16 credits of hospital training which obviously I can't study in advance.

Good idea though, getting in touch with the professors in advance. I had not thought of that.

Anonymous said...

What is your secret to test taking?

I'm about to enter an intensive paramedic program--and while I'm a good student and quick study, tests make me sort of lose my cool.

Have any advice?


Jungle Jil said...


As much as possible, take notes in a list format... point 1. Point 2. Point 3. Point 3a. Point 3b. Point 4. You get the idea. If your notes don't wind up like that at the end of class, put them into that format as best you can after the fact. Try to use as few words as possible.

Then, memorize the list the night before the test. Then, 20 minutes before the test, memorize it again so that you can recite what is on your notes from memory.

Mom said...

I am in awe of all the good advice you've received, Jil. One of the surprising benefits of your blog is all the people who want to help you. . . all the intelligent awareness people have of the world around them. The advice given shows that they want you to very much succeed, as your family does. I have been silent up to this point, but I wanted to point this out to all your commenters that it is impressive and greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tip. I generally take notes in paragraph style and your system makes so much more sense!

Happy New Year-

Anonymous said...

A university education cannot be replaced by just reading books. You will supplement your formal education with books all your life.

Jill, you are way off base on your comment here, You need university classes to properly learn...How can a nurse learn from just books alone?
A nurse needs both classroom and applied hospital training to be a nurse.

Jungle Jil said...

Anon 12:52:

You missed my comment above (starts off with "Well Jim") where I said:

You read far too much into my "quote". I'm not saying that colleges are useless in general... just that a huge portion of things that are learned in college can be learned simply by reading: You may not become a surgeon from just reading books... or a welder, craftsman, police officer, or chef either. But you certainly don't need to attend class to become well-read; you don't need to go to class to learn history; you don't need to go to class to study philosophy or literature or poetry.