Faster Than Expected

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Earlier this week I got a call from Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services. All the requested medical records had come in, and I had been officially approved to receive their services. I was expecting that to take three months, not the month that it actually took.

So now I have an appointment on the 22nd of November to determine what my plan of attack is going to be. I really want to go back to school, but I don’t know if TWS-VRS will cover the expenses. However, my case manager told me of a situation where they not only paid for someone’s education, but their living expenses while at school since their chosen field of study required them to move to another town to attend classes. This gives me hope.

I would prefer not to move, so I’ve been looking at degree programs at Austin Community College-Northridge, which is literally down the road from my apartment. They offer one program that interests me, Architectural and Engineering Computer Aided Design. It’s an associate’s degree as opposed to a vocational certificate, but it looks like the typical entry-level positions require only an associate’s degree, and the pay is solid, plus it’s mostly desk work, which will be good for my back. The outlook isn’t splendid, as they expect a 3% reduction in available jobs between 2014 and 2024, mostly due to more efficient work processes due in large part to improved software, so I’m a little apprehensive of getting a degree and then floundering trying to find a job locally. But the market here in Texas is better than most of the rest of the country, and the pay scale is slightly higher than the national average, although it’s the oil industry in Houston and Dallas that’s skewing those numbers. I called the college and requested someone to call me back with more information. I plan on following that up with an email by the middle of next week if I haven’t heard anything, followed eventually with an actual visit to campus to try and get some time with one of the advisers to get some more information about the career and the program.

I did something similar to this at one point in time – I was a well planner for a small engineering firm that was eventually folded into Halliburton. I enjoyed the work, but the atmosphere was very toxic to me and I went on short-term disability to learn how to cope with the situation. By the time I made it back, the merger had happened, and my position had been considered superfluous and so I was laid off.

I’m working on how to deal with toxic environments in therapy, so hopefully that will coincide with the end of this degree program, if it can come to fruition. Keep your fingers crossed that my questions are answered to my satisfaction and this works out to be something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

One more step toward the goal …

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Los Biblioteca Es Muy Macho!

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So, I figured it’s time to focus on one of the items on my checklist, that being “learn.” Right now I define that as completing the default daily goals in both Duolingo, a language learning program, and Elevate, a brain training app similar in purpose to the better-known Lumosity website. Both of these are on my phone, and so for about fifteen minutes a day I’m doing a small part to improve my mental skills and to learn another language.

Duolingo guides you through the basics in a teaching model similar to what Rosetta Stone uses, with an immersive learning experience that help you to figure out correct answers on your own with no prior teaching. As you progress, the app considers your aptitude in each one of many different areas of learning the language. In Spanish, the language I’m currently working on, Basics 1 leads to Phrases leads to Basics 2, and so on. Each area of learning has multiple days’ worth of lessons to cover, and lessons give experience points, similar to role-playing games, with the default daily goal set at 20 XP. (Most lessons will give 10 XP on your first completion.) Spanish is exceptionally thorough, with 64 discrete areas of study to complete the course.

However, if you don’t keep at it, your competency fades in certain areas, and you need to take refresher courses in your weakest words in an area of study in order to re-establish full competency in that area. Even with consistent use, the occasional refresher on certain areas the app recommends is common.

I’ve been away from Duolingo for almost two months, so my recent study in this area has all been old material I’ve been regaining competency in. I should finish with that in the next day or two and start in on new material after that.

I can tell you it helps. Living in Texas, there’s a fair amount of Spanish signage around, and I’m starting to understand more and more of what I read in my everyday life. It’s a cool feeling, and I hope that I can be conversational in the language once I’ve completed the full course. Still have a long, long ways to go, however.

Incidentally, the title of today’s blog post translates to “the library is very manly.” It was one of two Spanish phrases that my wife’s high school friend taught her, the other (Spanish since forgotten) is “your mother is under the table.” The first goal of this education is to be able to turn to her and tell her what the Spanish is from my own learning, and not from Google Translate. Because I’m mature like that.

July 3, 2015: Three Good Things

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This week I’m departing from the usual list of three good things about my day and listing three good things about myself. Today is day six of the challenge. Six more things to go. This is really starting to get hard.

1. I’m a fast learner. I’ve always been very quick to absorb new information, and I read to learn as well as to be entertained. Unfortunately, this means I stayed bored in school and didn’t go as far with my education as I wanted to – I would have been bored out of my mind. As it is, however, I’m a trivia fiend.

2. I’m inquisitive. When you tell me a story, I want to know what inspired you to do the things you did, what motivated you. I want to know the story behind the story. My curiosity lends itself well to strengthening friendships.

3. I have an amazing sense of humor and love to make people laugh. Fortunately, I’ve developed that skill well, as well as the skill to read my audience and know where their sense of humor lies.