Ask A Bastard: Lost Posts Edition

Thanks to last week’s edition, I’m 99% sure of what I am I going to do. By the end of the year, I’m going to apply to there different schools for admission into an MSW program. The CSSP program, while awesome, isn’t really what I should be doing (or really, what I want to do). The money issue is only of concern in regards to what sort of private-practice or teaching I could do. Thank you, everyone, for providing me with the direction I needed.

Now I need to finish what I started. Onto the questions:

Aerin asks:
-Why did you choose Beloit for undergrad (apologies if you’ve discussed this before). Were there other schools you were looking at/investigated/applied to?
-Do you know the story behind your middle name? Just out of curiosity

As for Beloit, in my senior year at LT, I applied to four schools: Loras, Ripon, Knox and Beloit. My parents sat me down and forced me to write out my apps to all of these schools, and a few more, even though I was talking about going to a community college and then transferring to a four year school. My parents shot that idea down. They both said, “You’re going away to school.” When I kept pushing, they both told me about their college experience. My dad’s words stuck with me: “I got a scholarship to any school in Illinois, and we could afford to send me anywhere. I couldn’t afford the boarding and the books. We can send you away, so you need to go.” So I went.

I visited all four and Marquette. I was going to apply to Marquette until my dad pointed out where Jeffery Dahmer lived. That, and the consistent smell of stale beer, nixed Marquette.

I visited Loras first. Small rooms, a bad radio station and a psych department that didn’t interest me. I went to Beloit during the Prospective Student week. I met about five people who stayed in touch with me over the year, who took me to parties and my first late night IHOP trip. Beloit also gave me a huge scholarship. I knew then and there that I was going to Beloit. To be completely sure, I visited Knox and Ripon.

Knox, your Alma Mattar, was next. The tour was boring and the chalkings seemed flat to the ones I saw at Beloit. My dad and I just kept saying, “it’s no Beloit.” I spent the night at Ripon–my host was boring. He didn’t take me anywhere and he said, “most people just stay with their own friends.” He didn’t even take me to the cafeteria for dinner.

The next morning, I spoke with a football player and philosophy major. He told me a story about being pelted by food by Beloiters during a home coming game. I thought to myself, “this place sucks so bad, I want to throw food at you too.” When I got home, I called a bunch of people and said, “Beloit it is.”

I never looked back. I never regretted my decision. Beloit was the best decision I made in high school–and helped me become who I am today.

Von also asked about my middle name (Anton). Here’s that story.

My maternal grandfather was Anton Paul Pristo. My birth was difficult (foreshadowing!) and I had to be delivered via c-section. Because my parents weren’t sure they could have another child, and how much my dad loved my grandfather, they named me after both grandfathers. Martin Gleason, my dad’s father, died in 1961, long before my dad met my mom

Von also asked:

Seriously. How much damage could I have done to my vocal cords by screaming for like 2 hours non-stop? Could it be permanent?

It’s possible that you will develop nodules on vocal chords, but considering that you did give up smoking I don’t think you have done any permanent damage. If your voice starts to squeek or you’re hoarse after a week, you should see a doctor. Repeated, long term shouting can seriously damage them. What on earth were you shouting at for two hours? The Cubs?

That’s it for this week. Please, please, please email or post more questions. It gives me something to do on Monday morning.

Ask A Bastard: Turning the Tables Edition

So it appears that my friend Aerin is the only one with questions this week. Because of the low turn out, I’m going to turn the tables. I have a question to ask–and I hope you all give me some pointers.

First and foremost we have the following: Aerin asked If you were e-mailed at work by a co-worker and asked to “pray at the flagpole” – – how would you respond? What would you do?

If I got the email from a coworker that I didn’t know too well, I’d write back and say, “Thank you for thinking of me in this; however, I don’t believe that this particular event is congruent with my public and private beliefs. I wish you and yours the best for your event.” If it kept happening, I’d politely ask that they stop sending me this. I have to be polite to my coworkers–especially if I am going to deal with the promotion stuff–but I don’t have to follow their beliefs. If it was from someone I knew, I’d say, “Um. Really?” In a phone call. If it kept happening, I’d go to supervisors, deputies my director, and eventually, the media. I say the media because as a State worker, I do not believe that we should be taking company time to endorse a particular religious belief or philosophy. Fact is, I have walked out of prayer meetings before–they were for my Union, not for any work function–and I will do it again. I’ve also stated that if it keeps happening, I am going to dress up like a pirate and go as priest of the flying spaghetti monster.

Aerin also asked Also – is arguing on the internet really a waste of energy?

Honestly, I think arguing itself is a waste of energy.  I’m just addicted to it. I think debate and rational discussion is useful–but far too often it deteriorates into bickering and arguing.

I’m reading comments in certain threads wondering exactly how to address the situation… I also know that after this, I’m headed to the Republic of Dogs to discuss my position regarding the political divide.

Now for my question: How do I figure out what to do about grad school? I have debated going to grad school (for an MSW then a PhD) or Law School for years. Now I’m just confused about where to go. If I want to keep working with kids, the MSW is the most useful degree to have. But now I am thinking of a Masters from UoC’s Computer Science department. Given the economy and the threats to my field (a good number of people on the right want to eliminate my job because it’s a “waste”) I do think that it would be good to diversify. I also have a plan to integrate the Comp.Sci degree with my interest with my clients. I just don’t know what the hell to do or how to figure it out.

So, help a brother out. I’ll buy you a beer.

Ask a Bastard: Super Productive Edition

Today I’m not just answering your questions. Today I am also completing my intakes AND mailing out letters to clients who need to attended group on Saturday. I rule.

Lets get to the questions:

AG asks: Given the state of the union,the 2008 Presidential election should be a run away train. Why haven’t the Dems pulled away from the pack yet?

This could be an entire post. If American’s paid attention to the news and to politics the way the did to sports and TV, this election would already be over. We don’t–and we won’t–because our lives have become overly complicated and stressful. The bias for conflict in the 24 hour news cycle doesn’t help either. The media focus on, and analyze, stories that dwell on conflict between the parties. They do not analyze the stories in terms of truth or fiction.

I also believe that there is a certain amount of deep seated, almost unconscious, racism affecting our society. Talking about race in our country isn’t easy, and to a certain extent, I do not believe it should be easy. It needs to be a deep conversation where all the sides engage in self-analysis–not just knee-jerk reactions.

We also have a fascination with War Hero’s and the Vietnam war. This adds to McCain’s mystique for a number of people.

At the same time, there is also the issue of polling. Some of the polling data appears to be skewed in that they are not polling the youth vote. Gallup has stated that they use Cell Phones and target 18-35 year olds, and to my knowledge they are the only big pollster that does so.

Then there is the issue of the poll’s methodology. Because the polls ask, “If you the election were held today…” undecided/independent /key demographic are pushed for an answer. When pushed to answer a question, most people answer with the name off the top of their head. Please note I said most. Not everyone.

So, tl;dr version: American’s don’t pay attention. The media is all over the place. Polls may not be accurate.

Aerin asked two questions: What do you do if you feel you’re coming down with a cold?


Was there even a global relations class/teacher at our high school? That sounds vaguely familiar. What did they talk about??!?

There was indeed a Global Relations class. We talked about current events and had to debate current topics. The teacher was the great Ms. Widing. I ended up writing and debating the Northern Irish Question…

When I am getting sick, I do complain for a while. Sometimes a few days, sometimes a week. I try to drink more fluids, rest more and eat healthier. I also avoid my coworkers, and if I have a fever, I call off work and work from home.

At a certain point, I say, “I’m done with being sick,” and I either go to work or go to the store and buy items high in vitamin C. I did this last year when I had strep throat. That was a bad idea. I almost passed out on the way back from the grocery store.

Seth asked: What do you do to interest a kid who simply doesn’t care why they’re in school?

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Without the basics of food and shelter, you can kiss anything else goodbye. That being said, schools can do somethings to alleviate those basic needs.

1) Breakfast and hot lunch for the kid.
2) Find out what the kid likes and tailor individual lessons to said kid.
3) Work with the school social worker to help provide services for the family.

I remember a feature I heard on NPR eight years ago about an educator who was struggling with the low reading ability of kids in her Texas classroom. She found that most of the kids in her classroom loved cowboys. She then based her lessons on cowboys–including Louis L’Amour’s series. This principle can be applied to this kid as well. Find out what this child does like and tie it into school.

A lot of psychiatrists may push for medication, arguing that they are demonstrating signs of clinical childhood depression, especially if the child is irritable. This is a piss poor idea. The kid needs social work services, not medication.

So, first focus on the fundamentals, then tailor his or her education based on their outside interests.

That’s what I got this week. Turn in next week when I answer more of your questions.

Ask A Bastard: Chrome Edition

I have a lot of comments to read, think about and respond to.  However, Ask A  Bastard deserves its day in the sun as well.  AS for the Chrome Edition…well, I’m running chrome off a flash drive.

First from Itanya:
What should I give the Husband for our Fifth Anniversary?

Here is what I know of Husband: Secular humanist, nerd, and die hard Cubby fan. He is also patient, sweet and thoughtful. From that perspective, I think anything you get him that has a degree of thought to it will be well received and appreciated.

I see this going down a few roads. Budget concerns are something on everyone’s mind lately, so I think buy Cubs tickets for a home game would be impossible (but highly recommended). Likewise, a new video card would probably go over well, but without knowing his rig, I can’t really help.

Downtown Portland is another option. In my brief three day stay in your fair city, I had a wonderful time in a fancy hotel which also walking distance from some fantabulous food. There are also a number of wineries within a few hours of downtown Portland. If the Husband drinks wine, then I whole heartedly recommend finding a deal on a winery with a hotel or B&B nearby. Gifts are nice, but experiences are better.

If you still want to get him a physical token of your love and affection, then I think you’re drifting towards the nerd realm. Maybe these with a poem about how he is your light? A fancy dress shirt with cuff-links?

Since I do have to give a final recommendation, I’d say go for the experience over the product. The Experience, getting away from things and enjoying each other’s company, would good for both of you. The Experience cannot be lost or stolen. In the end, I think having each other is far more important than anything at Think-Geek.

Second, but never second place anywhere else, we have VON:
If my mind is blown, how can I ask a proper question?
See, VON, the question comes first. The mind blowing answer comes second–though if I really wanted to blow minds, I’d answer questions before they were asked. I’m not psychic (or psychotic), but I can still blow your mind with the proper question.

So let’s say you figured out the question, and my answer was so spot on that your mind was blown. Then what? You may be stunned for a week or two, but the world we live in is so banal and cynical that the mind I had blown would be brought back down to earth. It would only be a matter of time before you had another question of pressing importance for me to answer.

Fellow 10-year Alumni SaraQ asks: What is with my recurring dreams where my chance to go snow skiing gets thwarted (last night, by a wedding and thugs who stole the bride’s ring)?

It is your unconscious mind telling you that strapping wood or fiberglass planks to your feet and racing down a mountain is a bad, bad idea. Your brain is telling you to solve mysteries and beat up thugs rather than put yourself at risk of DEATH. Seriously, skiing is bad. Really bad.

And last, but not least, we have Aerin:
If you could go back 10 – 15 years in a time machine, what would you tell yourself? What would you not tell yourself? (besides buy google and yahoo stock and sell at the high).

How have the years changed your perspective on high school – or has your perspective changed at all? Do you think that you went to a good high school? (Just curious, we went to the same high school but I know that different alums I’ve spoken with have different perspectives on it)

I would tell myself to read more and speak up all the time. I would tell myself, “just because psych is easy for you to Grok, you should still really do your assignments.” I would tell myself to spend more time with my parents.

I have shifted further left the older I have gotten. My perspectives have changed in that I think we have a lot farther to go to have a more egalitarian and equitable society. Also, much to the disappointment of my Global Relations teacher, I don’t think that simply providing evidence in a well crafted argument is enough to sway people’s opinions.

However, the basis of who I am stems from high school. If it wasn’t for LT and Snowball, I never would have developed the confidence to come into my own and do half of what I have done today.  So yes, I think we went to a fantastic high school.  Our education was excellent and the extracurricular activies let us put our skills into practice.

That being said, I would never go back to high school now.  Nor would I go back to college.  Where I went to school was perfect for me at each age.  There’s no real reason to go back…


…except one. I have one regret from high school.  I should have asked someone out sooner than I did.  Other than that, I’d say I made out pretty damn well.

More questions next week people. Ask away!