*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

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scientification, act 1
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I think I have some explaining to do regarding the last two years of my life. I've strayed from sharing the day-to-day details of my life on this blog, but I think it's time to make this place a little more human. As my dearest friends disperse out across the world once more, it would suit me to become comfortable providing some more detail about the progress in my life.

Spring 2009 was a rough period in my history. I was still working at the Geek Squad, a job whose only saving grace was a team of exuberant and eccentric co-workers that allowed me to share in some of their excellence. I was really enjoying the academics at IC, but the social scene was intensely isolating and in my semester there I couldn't manage to make a single friend. I was also struggling to come to terms with my gradual conversion to atheism and what this meant for my identity and future. Living with my parents greatly exacerbated all of these issues, and I was eager to get out. When John approached me about joining him on an apartment hunt, I was totally on board.

We checked out 7 or 8 different places, but it was the last place we looked that we ended up going for. It was a pretty good deal – 500/month, all utilities included, tons of space, in-house laundry, and a landlord that seemed very clearly to not give a fuck. Boom. To afford this venture, I took out a bit of school loans, assuming that I would still be at IC in the fall. Of course, it wasn't until after signing the lease that I received my letter of suspension – no matter, I said. I can do TC3 from here.

As soon as I looked at my coffers and saw how bountiful they were thanks to the loan money (I get a great laugh remembering how I thought $6k would last me forever), I saw no cause for pressure or worry. I shrugged a massive “meh” to TC3 after starting the semester and bowed out of my job at Best Buy. I was determined to forge a unique and stellar path with my new beginnings out on my own. I spent a few weeks daydreaming about going back to Europe, looking into some sort of transfer program that would send me to Germany or beyond. The reality is, of course, that no such opportunities exist for college dropouts. I resigned to stay.

The interview for my next job was an interesting affair. The CTO had been asking me a series of fairly standard questions, when the CEO walked in and said that if I could fix the virus that was plaguing their email, I was hired. So I stayed for a few hours and cleansed their network. At 20 years old, I was the (wholly unqualified) systems administrator for a multi-million dollar small business that specialized in materials testing. It was a pretty exciting place for the first two months. I was given nearly complete control of 35 workstations and half a dozen dedicated servers. I answered only to the CEO and CTO. I spent half of my time just trying to sort through the ridiculous mess that had been left behind by my predecessor. I performed the company's first inventory of software and hardware. About every two weeks a server would crash, and it was on me to figure out why and fix it in the shortest possible time-span. I had to learn to use Unix on the fly. I was constantly using and installing crazy software I'd never touched before. It was quite the novelty having a job that consistently provided intellectual challenge and reward.

This would have been wonderful were it not for the absolutely miserable working conditions. The net turnover rate exceeded 300% - some positions saw more than half a dozen individuals cycle through in a given year. This was because the CEO was probably the most controlling and narcissistic character I've ever encountered. Most of the engineers were getting paid less than I was – and I was underpaid as it was. It was a place of extremely low morale and job satisfaction. After working all day on Christmas Eve, I never came back. I just didn't show up again. It was at this point that I realized how much I needed to be in school. If I didn't want to work crap job after crap job, I'd need a degree. My realization came a little late, though. I still owed TC3 for the fall semester. There wasn't enough time to acquire loans, either. To enhance the situation, I'd gone on a spending spree in the fall, still feeling financially invincible. School was out of the question.

I clutzed around assuming that finding another job would be as easy as it was with the sysadmin position. I spent a solid two months jerking around in a state of relative inactivity. By the time Feburary rolled around, I realized that I could only afford one more month of rent, and panic set in. Three dozen applications later without a response I began trying to join the Air Force, but I couldn't even get a call back from a recruiter. The margin between finding my next job and being forced to move out was less than a week. Looking back, the absurdity of my irresponsibility is matched only by my extraordinary luck.

The place I landed at and where I have managed to stay for the last year and a half is the publications office for the Ecological Society of America. The ESA publishes a suite of scientific journals in the field of ecology, most of which rank in the top 20 for impact factor. My official title is that of the esteemed Office Assistant. In a nutshell, I perform the nitty gritty data entry that comes with the processing of scientific manuscripts. I proofread manuscripts for adherence to the venerable ESA style. I enter information about manuscripts and authors into a database. I put together folders for each manuscript. The most complex of my tasks is converting and formatting the online appendices that come with each manuscript. Most of that task I have relegated to a small number of regular expressions in Notepad++.

To explain the immense importance of this job in my life, I'll have to begin detailing what it was about 611 East State Street that was so critical in my life all this time. Which I'll get to. For now, I need to go pick up my father from the airport.
posted by MC Froehlich at

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