I’ve been pretty busy the past few weeks and haven’t had time to really discuss anything with anybody, even really close friends, so here’s a general catching-up-and-update post, in my favorite format: an imaginary person asking me questions, which you may or may not be curious about!
So where did you go? You were gone a long time.
Back in April, I mentioned to some folks that I was going to be starting school soon, but I was pretty quiet on the details. Since it went well, I feel more comfortable talking about it. 🙂
I spent five weeks at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute, which is a state-run trade school for people with disabilities, in what was basically an assessment period to see which of their programs would be a good fit for me. Since the school’s state-run and I was referred there by the state’s disability services, I don’t have to worry about tuition or room and board while I’m there, which is amazing. It’s about three hours from my house, so I didn’t get to go home the entire time. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my dogs, and it wasn’t a very fun time in that regard. But I did enjoy my term there, and made a few friends.
I knew before I went into the school which program I was aiming for — office automation, which is basically computer repair, networking, and security stuff. (I know, it’s shocking.) It also happens to have the highest minimum test requirements for entry, which made me a little nervous.
But hey, what the hell, I thought. This is pretty much the only thing I love enough to do for eight hours a day. So I prepared myself to work my ass off to get in.
The assessment stuff was… not my favorite thing. It’s not like they were super difficult for me — they’re mostly English and math tests, some critical thinking, problem solving, spatial reasoning. I did about as well as I expected to on every test — very well in reading, pretty well in critical thinking and problem solving, awful in spatial reasoning. The only exception there was math — I did a lot better than I expected.
It was all basic math — fractions, decimals, percents, single-variable algebra. Every single one of those things is something that terrifies me, because I have dyscalculia. It goes along with my ADHD, apparently — it’s kind of like dyslexia, but with numbers. It means I can’t read analog clocks or do time very well, and it’s caused me to miss a lot of questions on many a math test over the years, for very small reasons — missed negatives, transposed numbers, mixed-up operations. Luckily, they let us use basic calculators for pretty much every math test, so those sort of things were minimized.
After all of the testing was done, we had three weeks of what was basically “skill-boosting”, while everyone took their trade assessments. I was pretty lucky — I got to do mine during the last week of testing and was accepted basically on the spot. The only things that tripped me up were spatial and mechanical reasoning, and Microsoft Office. Specifically, Excel.
This did lead to a pretty excellent exchange between myself and the instructor, though:
Instructor: “So, are you a Mac or Linux person?”
Me: “Linux. Well, both. Any Unix, really. …Wait, how did you know?”
Instructor: “I was watching your interactive test portions. You know your stuff, but you really don’t know your way around the Control Panel.”
Since I didn’t have to do trade assessments, and my scores were good enough to not really need math or reading work, I was put into the electronics lab to work on various things, handed an Algebra II book, and given some online cybersecurity coursework. I basically got to spend three weeks doing things I love all day — quadratic equations, writing about Stuxnet, poking printers until they worked, and taking things apart.
And then I found out that I don’t get to go back until the end of November, because there’s a long waitlist for my program. So I’m at home for a while.
Wow. That’s not ideal. So you’re keeping busy in the meantime, right?
Obviously. I don’t know how not to be busy.
I’ve been home a couple of weeks, and I’ve already got some stuff running. Some of the things that I can tell you about are:
- I just released a new album! You should check it out if you haven’t already.
- Starting to dive into IBM’s Master the Mainframe thingy. I’m having a lot of fun with it already.
- Becoming very interested in engineering notebooks as a Thing, but they’re expensive and I don’t really need certain bits of them. Considering making my own, because of course I am.
- Adventures with ChipSpeech, as I work on fun commissioned music. And by “adventures”, I mean “fighting”, because my computer is old and absolutely wheezing as it tries to keep up with me.
- Searching for a new computer because of this.
- Working on a second cybersecurity class, since I finished the first one (although it’s stalled while I look for a new computer, since it requires some software that made my computer choke and die)
Are you sensing a common theme here, reader? I think I am.
(Seriously, my current computer is a seven-year-old mobile workstation. It would be fine if I didn’t make music on it. It needs to be replaced with a desktop that can handle the work I throw at it, then given to a kid who’ll use it for gentler tasks such as homework and social media.)
Hold on. Did you say…. mainframes?
Your geek is showing.
FIGHT ME, Z/OS IS FUN AND PRETTY.