Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thoughts of genome and career pursuits

I was just reading a post by Bernie Latham at Brittle Hum of the Republic blog. It was this one, which describes a New York Times Magazine article by Steven Pinker, which is a really well-written discussion of where having personal knowledge of your own genome might take us as a society, once the price for reviewing and picking it apart is well within the discretionary income surround of the cognoscenti who can use the material.

He then wanders off to discuss how shaken he was when he was being interviewed and the interviewer asked him what caused him to take his particular career path. His stuttering reply then forced him to vow to himself to be better prepared the next time he was asked that question. Do YOU know the answer to your life's direction? What steered YOU to stumble or smoothly run down the path you've taken?

I am convinced my path toward getting my electrical engineering degree at UT, Austin, was finalized by the years I spent in an electronics-specialty Explorer post, sponsored mostly by the engineers at the headquarters of General Telephone of the Southwest in San Angelo, Texas. Well, that, coupled with getting my ham license at 16. Both of those things led me to spend my time with tubes and transistors, capacitors and transformers. My friends were mainly geeky electronics-speaking souls who might just as well mumble things in spoken Morse code as much as they might talk about the advantages of the Williamson amplifier.

Once I had all that firmly in mind, with the viewpoint of what the engineers told us they did for a living, and how we teens viewed their casual ability with the technical details of the electronics we loved so much, I was certain that electrical engineering was for me. Never mind that we were dirt poor, that there were no engineers in my family, that I had to run a morning paper route just to make it through high school. THAT was my goal. [It took a wavering path, with spots of poor performance due to lack of focus, and years of striving to make it all happen.]

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