(Anyone that's been reading Slashdot has probably figured out what I was doing in Sweden. I was there for most of March, and the San Francisco thing I talked about was in January. I left Loki at the end of March, and besides some side trips to various parts of the country, I have been in Philadelphia. This journal's gonna jump around a little as I continue to play catch up. Stay tuned. --Ed.) ------ I've been craving chocolate, cookie dough Blizzards. Recently I've been wandering over to Dairy Queen almost every night to satisfy my craving. It all started when I was told that, despite the name of the store, there's nothing Dairy in Dairy Queen ice cream. No milk. None. Naturally, I had to find out if this was true, in the name of Science, of course, and y'know how it goes. You start with the soft stuff: Dilly Bars and those hand-dipped cones, but before long, you're playing with the big boys and sucking down 8-balls of Peanut Buster Parfaits. Before you know it you find yourself on the wrong side of the tracks, giving blowjobs to strangers in a dirty bathroom to get your next Blizzard fix. At any rate, there is a girl working there that used to go to my high school, and she's been working there every time I've visited Philadelphia since at least 1995. Maybe she was even working there before I graduated from high school. I wanted to scoff at her under my breath for her...uh, lack of ambition, but then I had to examine my hypocrisy; after all, the only REAL difference between this girl and myself is that she gets a steady paycheck. Also, she may not be living with her parents. Also, her cat's litter box might not be three to four inches from her bed. So I thought about getting a job. Then I took a deep breath, played some Crazy Taxi, and the thought passed, but only briefly. I have discovered the horrible truth of "doing your own thing," which is code for, "refusing to get a job," and that is, simply, that Doing Nothing Is Expensive. All those late-night cups of coffee at 24-hour diners were adding up, and when Geico sent me a cheerful reminder that my next car insurance bill was closing in, I wept for the death of my savings account, which has been somewhat anemic for quite awhile now. So, I decided it was time for some upward mobility. And the path to untold riches is education, right? (I couldn't help but notice everyone with student loans just hit the Delete button on this email. The rest of you still with me? Good.) So, I enrolled at the prestigious Bucks County Community College, where I'm making my way once again through EDUC101, also known as "Intro to Teaching", which is BETTER known as, "So You Want to be a Teacher, Huh?" Let me summarize this course. You can take it anywhere in the country, and get the same basic synapsis. a) Those in charge of Education (the "dimwits") have no idea what the hell they're doing. The only ones that do are the teachers themselves. The dimwits only concern themselves with the bottom line: The end result for the dimwits is not the product, but how much the product cost to make. b) The teachers themselves are permently restricted from doing the right thing by the dimwits. Regardless of what position a given dimwit holds, in any given teacher's mind, the dimwit is a Neanderthal. No one tries to enhance the teacher's ability to teach, because sooner or later the teacher will get fired, sued, shot, or just plain old starve, in which case, the dimwits surmise, why should we expend the resources on those pesky teachers in the first place? c) The students don't care what the teachers do, because it's all the same unproductive and/or annoying hazing session to them. The teachers don't care what the students do, since more interaction with a student means more likelihood of being fired, sued, or shot. The dimwits don't care what the teachers do, so long as they don't get sued, because sooner or later, they'll be fired, shot, or starve, which means more money available for whatever dimwits like to spend money on, which is nothing at all. d) The only thing dimwits like to spend money on, apparently, is football. The only reason that dimwits spend money on Arts Education is in the hope that one of the students in the school-financed drumline will accidentally be killed by an offsides football player, which means cost reduction of bussing and cafeteria plans. If you haven't developed a certain sense of hopelessness by this point, then think like a dimwit for a moment: if you were a professional video game programmer and went to teach highschool, even in the most highly paid districts in America, you've taken a several thousand dollar pay cut. If you work in the Dakotas, you've cut your salary in half, and you get laid off for three months every year. But we're not dimwits, so money's not important to us, right? right? If you've managed to get through all of that, then there may be a position for YOU in teaching. In the meantime, the Dimwit in me has taken to contract work. Let me explain this briefly. Contract work comes from a few different venues. First, you might get an email from someone to the extent of this: TO: email@example.com FROM: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBJECT: Still looking? Ryan, Saw a posting on LinuxGames.com that you are looking for a job. My company is looking for someone to implement casino poker machines as a Netscape plugin, and we think you'd be a good choice for the job. --alvin. This is actually a trick. If you write back to them, they will NEVER talk to you again. Instead, you should play hard to get, in which case they still won't respond to you again, but at least you've saved yourself the trouble of typing a response in the first place. The second type might be Linux-specific: TO: email@example.com FROM: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBJECT: Job offer Ryan, Saw a posting on LinuxGames.com that you are looking for a job. We'd like to have you port our program to Linux, but we can't pay you anything for it. Interested? --simon. This is NOT a trick; it's way too direct, and they are serious. Like I said, we're not dimwits, so money's not important, right? Hey, there's a million NCGs (New College Graduates) that think hard, unrewarding work doesn't have to pay well if it will look good on a resume. These people tend to starve with the teachers. It's a form of Darwinism. Finally, there's the way I got the current contract I'm hacking on, which is much like how everyone else gets their jobs: TO: email@example.com FROM: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBJECT: Job offer Ryan, My boss Theodore told me to hire someone, and I suspect that, while your work ethic is generally mediocre, you will work for cheap and probably WON'T screw the pooch on any assignments we give you. Where can we send a check? --guy you used to work with. Needless to say, all you need to read in that email is "where can we send the check." That's MY generally mediocre work ethic shining through. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go study and write a Netscape plugin at the same time. --ryan.