John Tesh

John Tesh

I like the John Tesh show.  When returning home from a late appointment or meeting, he’s often on the air with his Intelligence for Your Life Show.  They research little helpful tidbits and give them between songs.

The other night he was talking about a recent study that reported during the 1st quarter of 2018, those people getting the new jobs were the baby boomers.  He went on to say employers like hiring baby boomers because they work harder and make fewer mistakes.

Interviews

I can relate to that going back about 20 years.  About 20 years ago I was looking to fill 3 technical job positions.  Most of the young college graduates I interviewed had little to no life skills.

Turning to a co-worker I said, “If this trend doesn’t change, we’re in for a world of hurt in the next 20-30 years.”

We’re in a world of hurt.

A general contractor friend says he can’t find decent workers.  He interviewed a kid who had a bachelor’s degree in construction management, but no work experience.  The young many wanted more that he was worth because he had a degree.  My friend explained to him that he has no experience.

Another friend says he grandson sits and plays video games all day.  When he turned 16 he couldn’t pass his driver’s license test because his peripheral vision hadn’t been honed through going outside activities where you have a 360-degree world coming at you.  His world was 15-degrees in front of his computer looking at a 2D world.

Eagle Scout

From the time I was 11 years old, the most important thing in the world was achieving Eagle Scout.  I had in my mind if I had my Eagle Scout, I could do anything.   It was the one thing at 11 years old where I was right.

Earning those 21 merit badges, the service projects, and Scouting skills that went along with becoming an Eagle Scout gave me the confidence needed for life.    I had to gain experience and knowledge in 21 topics.  My service project required I supervise, manage, and direct a project.  Before I could even start on the project, I had to write a proposal and have it approved.  After the project, I had to write a report and present it to a committee of adults.

Where have we gone wrong?

Painting

I completed my first pirate painting today…

copyright 2018 db walton - John Tesh
2018 Pirate Commemorative Painting

Things I Learned and Where I Learned Them

Things I Learned and Where I Learned Them

In elementary school, I learned very little.  I learned to read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide.  All the best attempts in the world couldn’t get me to understand grammar, history, spelling or anything else.  I did, however, learn to play trumpet and developed a passion for music and band.

Cub Scouts taught me how to do some cool things like make a hidden lock for a drawer or box.

Junior high school taught me to love electronics and algebra.  I had a good algebra teacher, and another teach ran a makeshift repair class.   I continued with band, and I also started to develop a love for photography.

Boy Scouts taught me I can make do with very little.  I can make a sink with a few rocks and a plastic bag.  I also can make a stool using 3 sticks, some rope and some tough fabric. You can make a shelter with tree boughs.  Or, you can cook on a rock or in an orange peel.  Boy Scouts taught me life skills that gave me confidence to do things others don’t dare.

High school taught me people can be cruel at others expense.  (I later learned the cruel kids are the losers of adulthood.)  I learned to love science and follow a scientific method of discovery.

After school jobs taught me you have to be on time, where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be, and you have to work hard.  If you are willing to do stuff others hate doing, you will always have work.  This applies to pulling weeds and digging holes as well as talking to people you don’t know.

My Mission

Wow… where do I begin.  My mission taught me to be stand up for what you believe in.  It takes effort to get along with people, but they will appreciate you for it.  People who want to argue with you are typically trying to prove a falsehood and therefore, you’re wasting your time.  But most importantly, it taught me that God is real, and that he lives.

When it came to courtship (in my 20s), I learned the hard way.  I learned that if someone belittles you, don’t shrug it off and make excuses that they are only joking or teasing.  Turn and run away.  A tiger doesn’t change its stripes is the lesson I learned.

College

College taught me to focus and concentrate.   This was something I hadn’t been able to do most of my life, but now it was sink or swim.  Good grades were going to make the difference between getting by, and getting ahead.

Advanced mathematics (calculus, trigonometry, number theory, etc.) taught me that all things in nature can be described by a mathematical formula.  Given the formula, you can predict the future.  The hard part is, knowing what the formula is.  This caused me to excel in mathematics, and later computer science.

By hanging around the instructors after hours, I learned you can learn more from them after school than you can during school.  Team up with the smart kids, and hanging with the professor.  Be a nerd.  Your report card will thank you.  When you don’t understand something taught in class, your professor will take all the time in the world to teach you while he downs a beer and feeds on free pizza.  No, he won’t give you answers to the exams, but a $10 pizza and a $5 beer is cheap tutoring by the expert himself.  (Note:  I always let my buddies buy the beer.  I told them I wouldn’t be any part of that, but I made up for it with the pizza.)

Enough for Now

That’s enough for now.  I have to gather my thoughts for the next phase’s learnings.

Ruining the On-line Experience

A recent visit to a vendor’s web site left me with an uneasy feeling about what happens when you cater to the least common denominator.  Because of smart phones (and largely because of the carry over of a vendetta that Steve Jobs had against Macro Media and Adobe) many web sites have dumbed-down so they will play on both smart phones and computers.

Some savvy web designers build their sites so you will see a mobile version on your smart phone, and a full-blown version on your computer.  However, some just dumb-down the entire site so you see the mobile version on all devices.

I guess that’s kind of how society is heading too.

I watched video where this kid went on ranting about how school isn’t needed and with the Internet, he can get his own education in his own way.  Someone ought to tell him that the Internet contains a lot of false information, and without the tools, knowledge and wisdom to know what is false and what is true, you might have a brain full of false notions and ideas… dumbed-down to the least common denominator.

For example, I saw a post that said, “Like attracts like”.

No, that isn’t a law of physics, but “opposites attract” is a law of physics.  Another law of chemistry is “like dissolves like”.  Where did I learn this?  In high school and college physics and chemistry classes.  Heaven forbid had the Internet been available in the mid-70s, I might believe false notions that like-attracts-like.

Recently a video has been circulating where a guy claims he heats his entire room with 4 tiny candles.  Not using my brain, I bought some votive candles and a couple of flower pots to give it a try.  But, as I was putting it together, my scientific training came to the forefront of my brain…

Energy cannot be conserved or created.  (Another law.)

Thus, 4 candles will add as much room as they can regardless of what you place over them.  In fact, when I recreated the guy’s candle and flowerpot set up, the candles wouldn’t even stay lit because they were not getting enough oxygen.  As Adam and Jaime (Mythbusters) would say, “Myth Busted!”

Another one claimed if you took orange peels, placed them in vinegar, let it sit for a couple of weeks, it would clean grease, lime deposits, etc.  I know orange oil is a great degreaser, but this concoction doesn’t clean worth beans.

Again, you get a lot of false information on the Internet.

Why go to school and college?

Well, given how bad public education has got over the last couple of decades, that’s a good question.  But, going to a good school teaches discipline, good study habits and problem solving.  And, depending on one’s choice of curriculum, they may learn good analytic skills too.

When it comes to college, there are a lot of take-the-money-and-run colleges out there.  As long as you pay your tuition, you get a diploma.  That’s wrong.  Employers are starting to catch on to such schools.  This means such diplomas are worthless.

I guess what I’m saying is, there is no shortcut to education.  There is value in knowing true principles and laws.  You can’t decipher truth from error unless you have the tools by which to decipher.  Stay in school and get a college education – one where you attend class, take exams, do research, write papers and work your butt off.

Sisters Graham and Killen came to dinner tonight.  I made a white bean chili and some gluten-free cornbread with flan for dessert.  We had a nice visit.  Sister Graham goes home this week.

Sandy and Musings About Education

Hurricane Sandy is supposed to be hitting us.  It’s windy (about 25 mph) and raining lightly.  So far, nothing really serious here in Palmyra.  This is a huge change when less than a week ago it was 80F here.

I was watching an ad on TV for a college.  They were offering courses in areas that Kiplinger reported as the “worst” degrees for your future.  (i.e. Graphic Design, Photography, Fine Arts, etc.)  They made it very clear that financial aid is available.

You’re probably thinking why a professional photographer is so against degrees in fine arts, photography, and so forth.  It’s two fold.  Part 1, your degree should help you if you cannot make it on your own.  You should be able to fall back on it, rely in it, and use it to help you get employed.  Part 2, your talents are talents.  Either you have it, or you don’t.  I’ve known people who for years have thought they could become a great photographer and they still take crappy photos.

But, I digress…

Colleges offering “junk” degrees and financial aid are creating a huge problem on all levels.  First, they lure naive kids into school and saddle them with debt.  As to grants, they saddle all of us with debts through our taxes.  As to the loans, if they don’t pay them back, again, we the consumers are saddled with the residual effects.  Second, they create a false sense of entitlement – you earned the degree you deserve the job.  Third, they devalue the meaning of a college degree.  There was a time when a college degree really meant something.  Nowadays, the college you graduate from is more important than the letters after your name.

There’s another aspect of the recent trend that “everyone deserves an education”.  With that, comes the implied, “everyone deserves a free education”.

Whatever happened to working your way through college?

Yes, I borrowed some money for college.  I also received a couple of grants, but most of my money came from me and my wife working, and when kids came along, it was mostly me.  I worked as an offset press operator.  I put in as many hours as I could, and had a boss who was understanding if I was standing at the counter with my calculus book and taking peeks at it between jobs.  Towards the end, I got a job tutoring on campus, and then a job at the computer center.   Then, after college, it took me 10 years to pay back my student loans in full.

Several years later, I was in a position of hiring and firing.  It was around the time that degree-deflation was starting.  I couldn’t believe some of the so-called college graduates I interviewed for jobs.  I saw straight A students with bachelor’s degrees who couldn’t write a decent cover letter for their resume.  But, what was worse, they came in to the interview dressed like they were going to their buddy’s house to play video games.

I interviewed one so-called college graduate with long, unkempt hair, wearing blue jeans, a sports shirt and Converse tennis shoes.  The message sent was that his school did not teach him respect for his future employer, and that he views this interview process as a joke.  But then, perhaps he wants to keep living with mom and sleeping on her couch.

Education isn’t a right.  It’s something you earn.  The old adage that you get what you pay for applies.  If you don’t pay your dues in school, you won’t get a good return on your investment.  That is why so many kids are attracted to what sounds like the “easy” degrees.  Well, if the degree is easy, the pay is lousy, and the jobs are few.

So, if you really want to be a professional photographer, or graphic artist, or game designer… get a degree in something that makes you mentally sweat – something like bio-engineering, accounting, etc.  You can still be a game designer, but you’ll be the best darn game designer they ever saw because you know how to work and learn.

Why College?

I just watched some parody video about useless stuff learned in school.  We all ask the question before graduation from high school, “Why do I need to know this?”

We then ponder the question, why do I need college?

Here’s the answer…

Well, the answer is coming…  I think going to the wrong college, getting the wrong degree, or too much college can be as bad as not going at all.  I’ve seen very smart people turned in to social leaches as a result of too much college at the expense of tax payers.  Grants and federal programs pay their rent and put food on their table while the espouse the principles of socialism and Marxism learned in college.  That’s not good either.

On the other hand, I have seen people who keep starting, but never finish.  It’s like swimming across a lake:  You’ve got to jump in and make it at least half-way so that you know turning back is just as much work as not finishing.

You need college for the experience.  You need college for the confidence that a bachelor’s of science brings.  (And, yes, I did say bachelor’s of science.)  You need college for the exposure to professors who are totally off-their-rockers so that you can learn to overcome their class.

The wrong degree can be a waste of the paper it is printed on.  There’s the old joke, “What does someone with a bachelor’s of fine art need to know?”   Answer:  “They need to know how to ask, ‘Would you like fries with that order?'”

In all fairness, not all arts degrees will lead you to working at a burger joint.  However, employers that know the process know the difference in college programs.  In a day and age when jobs are hard to get, you’ll have a better chance with a B.S. than you will with a B.A or B.F.A.  Typically, the programs around a bachelor’s of science degree are problem-solving and project based.  For example, many colleges require a “thesis” for an arts graduate, whereas they require a “project” for a science graduate.  So, think hard before getting that degree so that you don’t say as one friend said, “I really wish I would have my bachelor’s of science in stead of an arts degree.”

Associate degrees are fine, but they are more of a stepping stone to your bachelor’s.  Don’t be fooled in thinking that having an A.A. degree will open lots of doors.  Go all the way and get that bachelor’s.

Where you go to college can make a major difference.  Some colleges have this unwritten set of rules:  1) Pay your tuition and bills on time, 2) come to class, turn in your assignments and take your exams, and 3) you will graduate with at least a 3.0.  THOSE COLLEGES ARE NO GOOD, and the employers know it.  I’ve sat in rooms with managers reviewing resumes and heard, “Oh, he graduated from XYZ University. (laughing)  I think we’ll pass on this guy.”  On the other hand, I’ve heard things like, “OH!  He graduated from BYU (or Stanford or U.C. or Georgia Tech…)  with a 3.9 GPA.  Impressive.  Let’s get this guy in for an interview.”

Finally, I’ve seen people passed up for jobs because they have an M.B.A. or other graduate degree without the experience needed in their undergraduate field.  If you’re going to spend the time it takes to get an M.B.A. go a bit further and get your Juris Doctorate, or become a doctor of something.  Why?  An MBA is worth about 40% more salary than a BS, but a doctorate is worth about 150% more than a BS.  (taken from a survey by onlinedegrees.org)

The worst paying bachelor’s degrees currently are in religious studies, psychology, physical therapy, social work, education, graphic arts, and sociology.  The best paying degrees are in aerospace, aviation, computer engineering, business administration (be careful on this one… the wrong college will blow your money in this field), engineering, information technology, electrical engineering and chemistry.

So, when you’re sitting in that math class and you think, “When will I ever use the quadratic equation after this class?”, just remember, it isn’t the quadratic equation that’s going to help you, it’s the problem solving process and being able to work through it that will help.

D. Brent Walton is a professional photographer located in Palmyra, New York.  He also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics from California State University, Sacramento.  A former Associate Professor at Golden Gate University, Brent has also taught at Heald College.  When asked if he were starting over again, what degree might he pursue, his answer would be, “The same.  My engineering degree gives me a leg-up in the business world.”