Friday, July 30, 2010

Magic & Science

Since I got it together to bring the textbook from Kristin's summer term Chemistry course in to work I've been making steady progress through it. At this point I'm reading about atomic modeling and structure, the same subject matter that was being addressed in the Physics of Superheroes when I set that aside for the time being. It's very cool to me anytime I can identify a direct link between scientific disciplines.

In the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore Mr. Moore, my favorite author who many know as the scribe of such groundbreaking comics work as Watchmen & V for Vendetta, suggests that magic is the original all-encompassing science. I am inclined to agree. While it is beneficial for the purpose of initial [a word that should be considered on a generational scale time-frame here] study and familiarization for people to gain a principal understanding of the building blocks and operational systems of the universe, ultimately these distinct threads of learning weave back into one another. The potential exists to eventually identify and verify these very real connections, reassembling what has been deconstructed into separate fields of study into a comprehensive, unified understanding of all existence. The magical understanding of reality of the mystics, shamans, prophets & magi lead human curiosity and inquiry to alchemy, astrology & philosophy which in turn begot the myriad modern disciplines of scientific inquiry; an evermore microscopic analysis of that which is. It seems to me inevitable and necessary that once these increasingly specific fragments of knowledge are sufficiently
explored and understood they will be reassembled into a genuine and accurate understanding of all that is and only one field of study will remain for the student, scholar or philosopher; the all encompassing science for which I as yet have no other word than magic.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not Much To Report

I haven't been making much noise recently. Since I submitted my financial aid award request paperwork it has felt like there isn't anything much to do. Reading lists won't be posted until next Monday for my classes so I can't even really sweat what textbooks I need.

Now as I write this I am realizing all these things that I could be doing. That I perhaps should be doing. Kristin is done with her Summer semester and her chemistry class freeing up her textbook to be reviewed by me to refresh myself on the subject matter before I take the higher level course this Fall. I have already gotten back into that some (8 chapters down!) but I still have a ways to go.

I've been so focused on school that I've really neglected other things that I could be doing with an eye towards my long term goals. I still need to initiate contact with the professor from the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in small ruminants. Thinking about it I believe it would be good to try to set up an informational/occupational interview with her in addition to trying to arrange to log some hands on experience working with the goats on her farm. Investigating other opportunities, volunteer or otherwise, for working with animals might be wise as well.

Then there is the Comic Book College Yearbook. I'm still at war with myself over my submission to it. I've got my six-page brief history of La Guerra Civil (is my Spanish correct there?) ready to go from my original printing back in 2003. I like the text and the presentation structure, but there are some panels that I'm not entirely satisfied with and would like to redraw. I used cross hatching exclusively to ink the comic and in some instances I feel it's pretty hideous looking. There are other things I wouldn't mind changing either, particularly my renderings of Ernest Hemmingway and the representatives of the International Brigades. I just feel I could do better work, but then there's inertia and the requirements of everyday life. On the other hand there are panels that I am very proud of including what I feel is a very well illustrated cartoon reproduction of Pablo Picaso's Guernica. I'm trying to figure out a way, technologically, that I could re-draft just the individual panels I wish to replace without having to re-make the stuff that I like. I could conceivably draw the panels and try to paste them in over what they are replacing on the page, then photocopy a new master, but I don't know how clean that would look. I'm concerned that may generate shadows and/or lead to a degraded appearance for the older panels. Maybe I can make a test run with bare panels to see what I have to look forward to. Yeah, that's probably a good idea.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Geting Those Dollars

I've spent most of my free time during the last day or so trying to sort out my financial aid situation; to get everything in order to get that temporarily free money called the loan, and to figure out the best course of action on that. Since my financial aid award from MCTC included more than enough to cover the six credits I'm able to take this semester, the minimum necessary to receive financial aid, I definitely had some options available to me and this necessitated delving in to the minutiae of the different award types a little bit, so I could determine what type of aid to request and how much.

The offer I received is for $11,000 for the year total, $5,000 of which is assigned as Work Study funds. Now that would be far more than I need for the year and very tempting to take on its own and eschew loans all together, but the usefulness of work study is limited by the assumption that I would have the time (including an accommodating schedule) and energy to work a part time job on campus. Given that I'm only taking six credits because I can't afford to leave my full time, first shift job I find it unlikely that accepting the work study award this year would be practical. That's too bad because it is money that is simply earned and doesn't need to be paid back to anybody at all ever but I just don't see it happening. Maybe in the future if I'm a bit more comfortable with the whole work, school, rest-of-my-life balancing act but not right now.

With work study out that leaves loans. Apparently I managed to make it through my entire initial undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota [Twin Cities] without actually understanding the different loan types . . . at all. Private loans are their own separate entity that I don't even want to contemplate right now (and they aren't awarded by anybody, they have to be sought out) so that leaves Federal loans, which come in two varieties: subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans. Pay attention fellow students who are reading this! If you don't know what I'm about to present it may be helpful information. Subsidized loans are Federal loans that have their interest covered by the Federal government (that's the subsidizing part) as long as the student is enrolled in school at least half time and for a grace period of up to six months. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest from the time they are issued and interest unpaid within a certain time frame capitalizes, becomes part of the principal loan amount meaning that interest will be charged on that new total as time goes on. Payment is not required on either type of direct Federal loan while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time, during periods of deferment, or during the six month-grace period after leaving school (on a temporary or permanent basis.

Given these facts it was pretty easy to decide that since I can get away with it for the moment I only want subsidized loans. I loathe debt. The faster I can clear the balance of what I owe the happier I will be, and the less interest I'm accumulating the faster I'll be in the clear. Ultimately I decided to accept $3,000 in subsidized loans from the total award package. It's more than the bare minimum I need, but I'm sure there will be expenses that I cannot account for at this time so I'm preparing for that possibility.

Oh capitalism, how repellent I find you. How I wish I was in Sweden or some place I could be doing this basically for free. But as the saying goes, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Class Visit

I used a vacation day from work today to attend my Wife's chemistry lecture over at MCTC as a guest. It was pretty cool. The instructor discussed buffer solutions, aqueous solutions composed of a weak acid and its conjugate base that is resistant to changes in pH when relatively small amounts of a stronger acid or base are introduced to the mixture. She also showed the class how to calculate a mixture's rating on the pH scale based on the molarity of dissolved hydronium ions (H3O+) contained therein. I have some catching up to do in reviewing the textbook for the class to bridge this concept to those I have already read about, but I think I understood the basics. I was able to surmise the appropriate means of solving most of the problems on the worksheet that was handed out based on what I've read from the textbook, the day's lecture and what I've retained from taking Pre-Calculus last Spring (I'm extra glad I toLinkok pre-calc now); that was pretty cool. Right now, I am super excited for Principles of Chemistry [I] this Fall.

Before I attended the lecture this morning I got up early enough to make some breakfast (I lied it in spite of the portion I burned) and took advantage of the available time to visit the bench dedicated to Abdu’l-Bahá in Loring Park again where I practiced some solitary prayer and meditation. After the lecture I picked up a copy of Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour which Kristin and I successively read with enough enthusiasm that we were both finished within a couple of hours. I felt it was pretty intense as a concluding volume for the six-book series, and very fast paced. Good closure, and I'm still looking forward to the movie.

I am very proudly a geek/nerd.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Adventure"! That Could Have Sounded Cool.

Having purchased a subscription to Visual Thesaurus for my sister last year as a birthday gift I for some reason receive word of the day emails. Last Wednesday the word of the day was adventure and it presented the following:

"adventureThere is so little semantic association nowadays between advent and adventure that we lose sight of their connection. They were, however, once as closely associated as, say, depart and departure or mix and mixture. Back in the day, adventure meant whatever happens to us -- in essence, whatever came (advent being from Latin for "arrival"). From this developed, by baby steps, the current sense of a wild or exciting undertaking."

Look at that! Essentially, at its origin, that word adventure is a single word for the entire mission statement of this blog: to chronicle whatever I encounter as I journey through my life. If I had known this three months ago I might not have gone with Walking an Invisible Road and may have honored my beloved team of super-hero freaks, the Doom Patrol, by naming this blog My Greatest Adventure. Of course that may have caused problems. For example, if I ever were to submit anything I write in here for, for-profit publication I could run into trouble with DC Comics. Also, apparently there's this guy. And this guy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


It's been a pretty busy weekend I suppose. I think it would have felt significantly less so if the major interstate linking the core of Minneapolis to the core of St. Paul hadn't been closed requiring me to take four trips from one to the other on local streets. It got to be pretty frustrating. The brutal heat/humidity and near tornado thunderstorm didn't really help either. Can I have some cheese to go with this whine?

Saturday morning I got up relatively early and went to the gym. I went straight to the Baha'i Center afterwards to attend a reflection meeting, my first ever. A reflection meeting is basically a gathering of members of the community to discuss successes and challenges in community building and sharing about the faith and to try to brainstorm personal or group plans for teaching activities during intensive programs of growth [essentially periods of making a conscious effort to proliferate awareness of the Baha'i faith to those who may be ignorant of it, or to educate those who already have an interest]. It was a neat experience and it left me determined to study Anna's Presentation thoroughly until I have a comprehensive knowledge of its format. I believe that this will give me an excellent framework to work from in discussing my faith with friends [or anybody else I encounter] who has questions about what the Baha'i faith is all about.

Following the reflection meeting I went to my local comic book store to reserve a copy of Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour; the final volume of the six volume series of comics from which the upcoming movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was adapted. While there I learned about the Comic Book College Yearbook. Apparently last year the guys at the shop I buy comics from put a zine comic together out of short features by patrons of the store. I mentioned the zine comic I made and sold locally during college, a basic history of the Spanish Civil War, and I was enthusiastically offered the opportunity to have it reprinted in this year's Comic Book College Yearbook. I think I may want to redraw some of the pages, but it's exciting to me that I have this opportunity. Following this I drove for nearly an hour to complete a trip that usually clocks in at ten to fifteen minutes, then spent another 3 hours or so doing laundry at my parents' house before making the slightly less gruelling return drive with detour to pick up dinner.

Saturday evening was pretty laid back. I read a lot and Kristin and I watched an episode of the X-Files and the movie TiMER through our streaming Netflix. It was a really great movie. Probably the best thing I've seen since How To Train Your Dragon (and Kristin and I saw that four times in the theater). I very strongly recommend tracking it down and watching it in whatever format is available.

Sunday was another crazy day. After sleeping in way too late I scrambled to lunch with Kristin then we went to a gathering of friends (including my in-laws) for hanging out and a group photo staging Leonardo DaVinci's The Last Supper (I was positioned as the Apostle/Saint Andrew). This was followed by another very long drive after which Kristin and I ate Sunday dinner with my parents and sister and then headed home. After another too long drive I arrived home to discover that somebody was finally making a serious offer on my desk through Craigslist. I managed to make arrangements for them to pick it up that very same evening. Then I stayed up too late watching more X-Files episodes.

There! It only took me a full day to complete this entry about how busy I was for the last few days. Maybe I'll get to the entry that I actually wanted to make this weekend tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Please Take A Picture . . . It's Been a Good Day

Wow! Well it's been quite the day so far. So much has happened. I took the day off from work and slept in [a bit more than I meant to] which is usually nice. After I got myself together I walked over to MCTC to talk to people in admissions and financial aid to figure out how my dropping down from 3 courses to one would effect me. Admissions was my first stop. They informed me that even if I was only taking one class per semester I could still be considered a part time student eligible for a degree program. Good news!

Financial aid was a longer conversation. I learned that I would actually be eligible for financial aid at the level already offered me at any number of credits from a minimum of 6 to as many as 15. With the one class I'm hanging onto weighing in at a hefty 5 credits that means I would only need to tack on a 1 credit course to meet the requirements for federal loan money or financial aid through work study. A quick review of 1 credit courses that I could squeeze into my life includes, "Supervised Activity Programs" from the Physical Education department (basically come up with a personal fitness plan or participatory sport schedule with an instructor and check in every so often to verify that you are sticking to it. I think I could easily do this.) and Medical Terminology as an online course. I think either would be good, I'm going to work out whether I get course credit or not and a greater familiarity with medical jargon will ultimately be helpful (even if the course focuses on human rather than animal medicine), but Medical Terminology has a slight edge for me because my Wife is taking it. Like right now. Literally. I wouldn't even have to buy the book, I could just use Kristin's copy. And based on her description of the course it sounds like something that I could excel at quite easily. I haven't made a decision for sure, but I'm [obviously] leaning towards adding Medical Terminology right now and getting myself some financial aid for the fall.

This reminds me; I need to follow up with the financial aid office and/or my loan consolidation company and see if receiving financial aid as a part time student will make me eligible for loan deferment. How awesome could that be?

Anyway, my business for the day concluded at MCTC I walked home through Loring Park. For a while I have been aware that there is a bench in the Park dedicated to Abdu'l-Bahá, the successor to Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Baha'i faith of which I am an adherent. Recently I learned through Kristin, who learned through a friend within our local Baha'i community, the approximate location of this bench. Today as I walked home through the park I decided to make a point of attempting to locate the bench. I located it just slightly east and north of the horseshoe courts. The inscription into the metal of the bench read [let's see how accurate my memory is], "Abdu'l-Bahá blessed this location on [date during his visit to Minneapolis] 1912 ". It was a very profound feeling to me to realize not only that the bench was dedicated to Abdu'l-Bahá, but that it was also located upon an exact spot that he had visited AND blessed. I sat on the bench and recited one of a few prayers I have memorized. Then in the shade cast by the bench I did some stretching because my lower back and left hip were bothering me a little. I did feel much better afterwards.

I sat on the bench and read some of Catching Fire, recommended to me by my Sister, for a while until I was interrupted by an Ethiopian tourist who asked me to take a picture of him in front of the Minneapolis skyline as seen from Loring Park. And that interesting and unexpected happening inspired the title, antithetical to the refrain of a song I'm fond of, to this very long blog entry. I returned to reading until I finished the chapter I was on and then headed home.

Almost immediately after arriving at home I received a call from Kristin informing me that her Chemistry Professor [to be my lab instructor this Fall] had granted permission for me to sit in on a lecture presentation. Unfortunately class was moments from beginning and there was no way I could make it today, but if I can take another day or half-day from work in the next week or so I should be afforded another opportunity to sit in.

As it happens it isn't so bad that I couldn't make it to Kristin's chemistry class because while it was going on I received contact from an admissions counselor with Animal Behavior College. Animal Behavior College is a primarily web-based, for-profit institution entirely dedicated to technical programs in the field of animal care. We discussed their veterinary assistant program at some length. It is very clear that the program at ABC will not give me the opportunity to fulfill any of the prerequisite academic work necessary for my admission into vet school. However, it is, so far, the most flexible and lowest tuition program I have encountered for becoming a veterinary assistant or technician to date. If I can't turn up any other vet tech/assistant programs that will enable me to complete coursework applicable to acceptance into a professional program to become a doctor of veterinary medicine I may still consider a technical program as a means of expediting the transition out of my career in customer service and into work in veterinary health while I continue to work towards entering vet school. If that is what lies ahead for me the program from Animal Behavioral College seems, far and away, of the best value I have encountered, thus far, in terms of my needs as a student.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Up For Lost Moments

Since my current prospects for knocking through the prerequisite coursework to pursue veterinary school are limited right now by my need to continue to work a regular first-shift job I don't anticipate being able to take more than one or two courses at a time until that situation changes. Unfortunately there's only so much time I have in a day, and my options for night classes and online classes in a local two-year or four year public college are limited. That being the case I have taken up my Wife's suggestion that I look at some other options to expedite career change. I have made informational requests to a number of local for-profit and web-based colleges about programs for becoming a veterinary technician or assistant. One institution, Globe University Minnesota School of Business, offers both an A.S. and a B.S. for veterinary technology and a representative already contacted me. I requested information from her on both programs.

Ultimately what I have in mind in exploring this possibility, veterinary tech/assistant, is to determine if there is a program out there that will provide me with some (I hardly expect it to supply all) of the necessary coursework to create a foundation for my taking further prerequisite courses to ultimately apply to vet school. Entering such a program could allow me to make a career change that much sooner and provide a respite from the world of customer service of which I have grown increasingly weary. The other plus of starting off in this direction is that many of the institutions that offer such programs are very accommodating to working adults, by which I mean they offer sufficient night classes and online coursework that one could potentially utilize to function as a full time student while working a regular clock-puncher day job.

Ideally this is a two birds with one stone type of situation, advancing me towards vet school AND getting me out of customer service and into animal care sooner than later, but even if my investigation of the possibilities only turns up the latter as a direct benefit of following my road in this direction it may be a worthy one for my personal growth and happiness. Either way, I look forward to finding more out.

Part Time A-No-Go

So the whole working part time and going back to school full time thing isn't really going to work right now. The financial aid package offered me by MCTC can cover my expenses for tuition and books, but not much past that (plus I'd have to put in work study time at a second job for the full amount). To remain financially solvent and go part time at my work I would have to wrangle about $30,000 in private loans and/or scholarships and that's a pretty hefty load, one that I don't believe it would be prudent to take on at this time.

I spoke to my boss to find out if the third, last resort, mystery option for alternate employment situations happened to be a move to the 7 days on/7 days off overnight shift [which is considered full time]. It wasn't; it was another part-time option. I told my boss that she could fore go looking into it further. She was happy to know that she wouldn't have to worry about replacing me, and let me know she would alert the manager of the after-hours personnel to my interest in moving to that position. At the moment I'm feeling angry that I'm going to have to delay my education yet again, and having a difficult time with the fact that I'm remaining in this job by which I feel increasingly unfulfilled.

My next step is to try to arrange to take Principles of Chemistry [I] as an online course with an evening lab time. Apparently this will require the same acrobatics with the registrar's office in terms of prerequisite waivers to allow me to enroll in a different section of the same course and lab that I've already received a waiver to enroll in. *sigh* And I've decided it's best that I take time off from work to deal with this because I'll need to explain to personnel in the Registrar's office why I'm seeking a Prerequisite Waiver for a class I'm already enrolled in, but for a different section. I may need to talk to admissions and financial aid as well to determine how going down to one class effects my status as a student. Then I have to make sure I can actually afford to do this. I'll do what I have to, to make that happen.

Ugh, I feel so exhausted, and frustrated and down after all the energy and time I've invested into this over the last, what? three months? four months? No wonder I'm having trouble sleeping. And getting out of bed in the morning. And dealing with the emotional roller coaster of this whole process. I just want to rest now please.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chemical Resolve

All right, so I won't really know where things stand until I speak to work sometime next week, but I resolve that I am going to do everything in my power to take at least one course this fall and to keep going in spring 2011. Principles of Chemistry I (in a sequence of two semesters) is in my sights and I don't want to back away. Even if I have to take a second job I am taking that class and moving ahead on the path towards a life, a career, of science and making the world a better place. Stepping towards that and away from the stagnation I feel in the fog of customer service with indefinite end. There are some people for whom that is the perfect role, but it is a very small part of what I am capable of and not even that which I am most able at. Science, here I come.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Virtual Award Notice.

I've received my award notice, at least in virtual form, from MCTC and am somewhat underwhelmed. I don't know what I was realistically expecting, but it amounts to about $11,000 for the standard academic year. $5,000 of this comes from theoretical work study. I don't know how well I would be able to balance that with other employment. Still it should be plenty [at this school] for tuition, fees and books/supplies. I don't know what I'll find out next week with respect to the mysterious possibility of last resort for me going part time with my present employer. I'm thinking that if they do make part time employment available to me I MAY be able to actually do this, but I will definitely need to explore private loans.

If part time with my present employer doesn't work I don't think it is happening for me this year. That doesn't mean I just roll up and give up. I'll be upset, definitely angry & probably sad too, but I don't have to give up. I can look into resources to try and take at least one of the ultimately necessary courses, ideally something that might eventually transfer to MCTC at one of the other commuter or community colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system. This would all be much easier if MCTC offered more in the way of online coursework or night classes, but they don't have much. Since pretty much every class I need to take at this stage involves a lab (before I can move on to classes that don't actually have separate lab sections) that makes it that much harder to find a single class that is easy to schedule for. I can also try to look at other degree, programs but that will have to wait until tomorrow since my home iMac is pretty old and doesn't like newer .pdfs. Apparently I have a plan of sorts. That's good, right?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Be Patient Jon. Patient.

I'm trying to remind myself to have patience right now as I'm feeling particularly frustrated with the slow pace at which MCTC is producing my financial aid award letter. I took a couple of days off to try and deal with it, operating on the understanding that the institutions award notices for Fall Semester 2010 should be ready and issued within the first week of July. When I called this morning to clarify my financial aid status as reported in my on-line account, however, I was informed that at the earliest the letters will go out tomorrow and may be sent out as late as Tuesday of next week. This led me to take care of all the major errands and little projects I had in mind to fill some time off today. Now I am sort of stumped about what to do with my day off tomorrow, to the point that I even checked in with work to see if everything was okay or if they needed me to come in and help out [incidentally the week after the fourth of July tends to be pretty dead for our phone bank and things are apparently fine right now]. There aren't even comic books being released this week that I am interested in. I mean I guess I could always try to just relax and read. If nothing else comes up I may have to do that.

Anyway, as I stated I am frustrated by having to wait longer to learn about financial aid awards through the college, but there's nothing I can do about it except to wait and see what they offer me. My co-workers don't have much time off between them for the rest of the summer so it should be relatively easy for me to take time as it is needed. I think my frustration really comes from, first, not knowing and the anxiety that comes with the unknown and, second, knowing that the sooner I can identify what my financial needs are the sooner I can start pursuing additional resources to support this effort and the more likely it is that said resources will be available to me. Of course wrapped up with all of this is question of whether I'll be offered sufficient aide to have even a remote chance of returning to school at this time, and not being able to answer that is a big source of fear for me right now too. Okay, I think I've covered the subject to the extent I can right now. I'm going to try to just ride out the frustration and the anxiety and read and find some patience.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yay For Goats!

As I continue to wait for that financial aid award notice letter to show up (it should come sometime this week according to the financial aide office at MCTC) so that I may gauge whether a full time return to school is plausible for me this year I have sort of a weird week of not working [Independence Day holiday paid day off], working [today], middle of the week weekend [tomorrow and Thursday] and working [Friday]. Hopefully things will fall into place a bit so that I can figure out whether or not I'm going to school in the Autumn. If that aid letter is slow in coming though I may just have to divide my time between reading, going to the gym and napping. That would not be such a bad thing either. Oh yeah, and I guess this would be a good time to go to my County administrative office of choice to get my driver's license renewed.

Anyway, I took a little bit of an actual vacation this last weekend and went over to my parents house to basically be a hermit for a couple of days. I did interrupt this briefly, persuaded by my Father, to attend the annual Block Party in their alley and allow myself to be introduced to a neighbor of my parents who is presently gearing up for year two of veterinary school at the University of Minnesota. It was good for me to get an opportunity for me to talk with somebody who, like I am attempting to, pursued veterinary medicine after already completing one bachelor's degree with pretty much no academic background in the sciences. We talked animal medicine stuff some and the ups and downs of trying to go back to school after some time away. While her interest lies in entering small/companion animal practice when she learned I was interested in large/food supply animal work, and small ruminants in particular, she offered to help get me connected to a Professor of hers who is apparently VERY enthusiastic about goats in particular and actually has a goat farm. This could be a great opportunity for me to talk to an academic professional (rather than the semi-knowledgeable stonewall that is admissions personnel) in my intended field AND provide potential for some volunteer work on a farm working with goats. That would be really good since I've been having a difficult time arranging something with my academic adviser from undergrad who happens to own a sheep farm. Here's hoping this turns into a chance to do more investigation with an eye towards my future and maybe some hands on experience.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Those Things Which Cannot Be Anticipated

I believe I mentioned a while ago a proposal I had submitted to my supervisor and my boss that would allow me to return to previously held job duties on a part time basis; job duties that would allow me a much greater flexibility of schedule and enable me to stick with my current employer [and medical benefits] while simultaneously returning to school full time in pursuit of my longer term career goals. The decision required the input and authority of a different manager who was on vacation at the time I submitted my proposal and I had been waiting with increasing impatience for a judgment to be made. Well, this past Friday I was called aside by my boss for a short meeting at which I was informed that after a few meetings between her and the other manager the judgment was that my proposal was not a good fit at this time and would not be acted upon. One potential note of optimism; I was told that they had discussed some third option to aide me in returning to school but that it would require consulting with yet a third manager and I would not be allowed to know what this other possibility was until further discussion could be had at the management level. So I have been offered some hope despite the disappointment of my rejected proposal, though the ambiguity of this is not really sufficient to diffuse my anxiety over the situation. I still haven't received a financial aid award letter so there is some anxiety tied to that as well as I question whether there will be financial assistance of a sufficient degree to allow me to return to school full time even if part time employment [and benefits] can be arranged.

Given the circumstances it is difficult for me to not feel generally pessimistic about my prospects for returning to college, going on to veterinary school, and pursuing a career as a veterinarian right now. This is a very trying time for me. I even find myself questioning if these obstacles are not God's way of telling me that I have in mind the wrong ends for myself, the wrong way for me to best serve God and all humanity. But I don't think I need to really look any further than the very title of this blog (though it has taken the assistance of certain people who love me very much and who I love as well to help me be able to see it) to be reminded that this is not so. I remind myself that the road I walk through life is not always clearly visible but it is the path that must be taken, no matter how difficult. I don't really know that my road will lead me to the place I believe it will, but I do trust that if I hold fast to it and remain faithful that it will lead me to where I need to be at the time I need to arrive there. Simply because I cannot see the path or where it is leading me does not mean my path is wrong when I encounter hardships. Sometimes when we walk or ride down a road we must take a detour from what appears to be the obvious path and wait for this diversionary trail to lead us back to a path where we can once more clearly perceive our destination. Other times we find ourselves at a crossroads or a barrier and must wait for the road to become free enough from obstructions that we can safely traverse it once more. Some roads curve around hills or in ways that we cannot understand, seemingly directing us away from a straight vector to our destination before redirecting us clearly back on course. These things do not mean that the road is wrong nor our destination. They are merely tests of patience and resolve. Sometimes we must wait for conditions to be correct before we move forward. Sometimes we must take a direction that does not seem to be logical to safely arrive at our destination. Sometimes to attempt to avoid a detour can leave the traveller stranded or without experiences or resources that would not have been acquired had the advanced on what seemed the clear path.

Patience is essential. Patience and faith that the road will not lead us astray. The invisible road of life cannot lead us astray. It sets a course for us that we cannot help but follow. If we resist this and attempt to crash through we will inevitably miss important steps along the way or become stuck until we find our way back to the road. When we are patient and faithful to the path set forth for us we will still be tested and face obstacles that must be overcome to advance, but these are trials that are necessary for us to have the strength to continue down the road and overcome challenges we cannot yet envision, and arrive at our destination safely.

With this understanding I resolve to continue to walk my invisible road. I resolve to strive for patience and steadfastness in my journey. I resolve to do my best to accept the road as something that I cannot change and cannot have foreknowledge of. I resolve to strive for the courage to overcome obstacles I find for myself as I press on. I resolve to hold faith in my heart and mind that the road will lead me to the proper destination, even if I cannot yet see that destination, and that every step of my journey is absolutely essential to my my arrival there. Those of you that have helped me to gradually come to these realization and resolutions over the last few days, I hope you know who you are, I am very grateful to you for helping me wash the fog of disillusionment, self-doubt and despair from my eyes. It is time for me to stand back up and take another step on the path I cannot see.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toad Time

I really should begin using the labels function on this thing to identify stories involving my interaction with animals and how they've inspired me or reinforced my resolve in wanting to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I think I will do just that. From now on, if somebody wants to read my blog just to read about my personal experiences with animals look for entries with the label, "Animal Tales".

This is a fairly recent occurrence. Last Friday evening, as my Wife and I were leaving feast at the Baha'i Center of Minneapolis (I don't recall whether or not I've mentioned I am of the Baha'i faith before. Either way I'll need to write some entries on how finding my faith and the role it now plays in my life have influenced the goals I've set for myself.) A very severe thunderstorm that had almost generated tornados had just concluded and there was flash flooding in much of the greater metropolitan area. As we went towards our car under twilight in the now drained parking lot Kristin caught sight in her peripheral vision of a large toad. I suspect I would have spent a long minute or two observing the toad in any case, that's just how I react to catching sight of wild animals, but this little guy was actually in a little bit of danger. Seemingly the storm had driven him (her?) out into the parking lot and the toad was not showing any sign of having a remote idea of how to get back to the habitat it would have come from. My wife and I spent a mostly futile five to ten minutes chasing the toad around in an attempt to deter it from residing, with almost certainly fatal consequences, underneath a friend's car. I used to frequently catch toads and keep them as one or two day pets before releasing them back where they came from when I was young (I believe I was seven at the zenith of my toad wrangling career). I have never, NEVER seen a toad that moved as fast as this little guy did. Eventually we were able to herd him out next to the curb and I was just fast enough to scoop him up. We transported him to a greener area near a small pond and park and let him go. A week later I hope little Mr. Toad is doing alright. With reflexes like that I think his chances are pretty good.