The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘Silicon Valley’

Stereotypes and A-Holes (And How I Relate to Them So Well)

Through work I found out about a great volunteer opportunity where people from work went to a school and did all of the lessons in one day. Hanging out with kids all day? Sounds good. (That’s not sarcasm, but you’d think it would be.)

I worked with another guy and we were going to teach a fourth grade class. I was randomly assigned to work with him, but he was a very nice guy.

At the time I lived in the Silicon Valley. Which meant the school had a pretty wide array of people. The class had your standard white-bread Americana kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, middle Eastern kids, Asian kids, one kid from Russia and if I recall correctly one kid from Egypt.

How cool is that!

I remember my fourth grade class had, I think, one Asian kid, one black kid, and the rest white. I was living in Leavenworth, Kansas – so those demographics seem about right.


I thought it was great for the kids to see so much diversity at a young age, when you’re less likely (I hope) to have negative pre-conceived notions about any particular nationality, skin color, or whatever.

I was worried though. What if the one Russian kid was a jerk? Then these kids might think of all Russians as jerks. I know that’s pretty silly to have such strong associations with a whole country from one person, but I realized I just did something similar.

I was watching the news about some research PhD’s at Stanford were doing, and one of the researchers was a New Zealander. I’ve never been to New Zealand. As far as I know, I’ve never met a New Zealander. But I am a big fan of  The Flight of the Conchords.

My thoughts when this genius PhD was talking? I bet he’s hilarious. I didn’t pay attention to his intelligent thoughts at all, I just waited for the punch line. It never came. (But in my head I think he was just SO DRY that I didn’t get it. Genius New Zealanders and they’re hyper-intelligent humor, it’s just too smart for me.)


I’ll add two things that I thought were funny from that day teaching those kids.

My co-teacher for the day was quite a bit shorter than me, so one of the students walked up to us and said, “hey, why are you so much shorter than him?” That kid is bound to be a scientist. The slighting of my co-teacher continued when we received thank you notes from all of the students (the teacher made them write these) and one of the students addressed my co-teacher, a male, as “Miss.” Awesome.

The other funny thing was an example of how I need to learn when to be sarcastic. Well, I don’t need to learn that, I need to actually do what I know I should.

A little girl came up to my co-teacher and I, “did you guys go out to recess?”
Me: “Yeah, we were at the four-square tearing it up.”
The little girl, very sadly, “oh, I looked for you guys and didn’t see you.”
I am an a-hole.


What’s the point of this scatter-shot Weekly Wacko? Self-made stereotypes make PhDs much more personable. And, I’m an a-hole.

Weekly Wacko (10)

I wrote this maybe 2 weeks ago because I wanted to voice my frustration over unknown work stuff. So this post is more like a diary-entry than my usual thing. Anyhow, it’s a big news thing for me so I wanted it to be able to go back and read it x years from now and be able to say, “ohhh, I remember young Brad, he was dumb, and he smelled funny. I’m glad I’m not him.”

Goodbye Silicon Valley, Hello Houston

At work on December 9 (2009) I got an email from a guy in Houston. I had applied for a job down there a while back.

A little background – the economy has affected my company as it has so many, and the original assignment I’d been doing since being hired was cut. My last day doing that was September 30th. Since then I’ve been bouncing around to short-term assignments and looking for a long-term one. It has been incredibly frustrating because I have not known when/if I’ll be moving, and I figured if I ended up on company overhead for a while then I would be out of a job.

I had received some word from Houston before which led me to believe they were interested in me. And the job description matched pretty well with work I had been doing before so I felt pretty strong about my chances.

On December 9th I talked with my potential future-manager and I asked a few questions about the work. He didn’t know much about what I would be doing exactly (programming stuff). This worried me because how does he know I’m a good fit if he doesn’t know better about what I’ll be doing … But, one bright spot from the conversation was that he said he’d decided to hire me and then realized he’d never once spoken to me. This either means he’s a really bad manager, or my recommendations from the other folks I’ve worked with were good. Actually now I’m worried about that, too.

I’m not sure how evident this is in other things I’ve posted – but for random people reading this I’m a glass half-empty kind of guy.

Anyway. I am still unsure if I’ll get the job – paperwork stuff has to be sorted out. My potential start-date as of right now would be January 11th which doesn’t give me much time left in California.

When I move to Houston I want to move to a place where I’ll have roommates. I really like having my own space and apartment, but I took a long time before I made any friends and I don’t want to repeat that.

I got in bed last night and pictured myself in bed the night before my first day of (potential) work in Houston. That’s a very depressing thought.

New work. New home. Don’t know anybody. Have to prove myself. Not sure if I can do my work well. Won’t know the co-workers quirks or what they’ll be like. An outside of work-project I’ll be doing – it’s part of work but it’s during my free time (read: lots of unpaid overtime). I’m worried about how I’ll perform with that as well. To sum it up: oy.

Also, I’ve liked the Silicon Valley way more than I thought I would. This is the 10th different place I’ve lived and usually I don’t miss or really appreciate a place until I’ve moved. I think being unsure if/when I’ll move for the past three months has had the silver lining of helping me to appreciate California sooner. Also, I figured from the start I wouldn’t be here for too long so I’ve tried to get out and do a fair amount.

Anyway – I’m just venting and expressing my frustrations. If the job works out it will be really nice to know where I’ll be living for at least a year (the assignment length). Also I went to college in Dallas so I could drive up there to visit some friends. And my sister really wants to go to South by Southwest (SxSW) in Austin, so we can meet there for that. AND, Houston’s not too far from New Orleans and I’ve never been there. I call this paragraph: glass half full ish (ish being the radio version of a certain s word).

I’ll say this in person as well – but I want to thank JMinnie and Theresa (who you may have seen write comments on the blog) for putting up with me and helping to make California as fun as it was. And all of the folks I met through them as well.

Enough sissy stuff. I’m going to watch porn and “Die Hard” and play “Grand Theft Auto” right now. All at the same time. And shotgun a beer. Boo yah.

This is an update – on Friday December 18th I found out some good news. I am going to start in Houston on January 25th rather than the 11th, and my work is going to pay for some of my relocation costs. Sweet!

Wish me luck random strangers, and people who know me who read this.

Good-bye Silicon Valley, hello Houston!

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