Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Saturday, July 31, 2004

"Surround Yourself with People Smarter than You"

Another very busy, productive, and fun week has passed. The summer is quickly coming to a close...funny how time DOES fly right by when you're having fun! In about a month, it'll be back to the grind of graduate school...yippee? We shall see. I know I'll have wonderful professors, as I took courses from them last semester.

One thing does concern me, however. Our department chair, who also actively taught classes (and was my advisor, too!) left this position last month to pursue a new journey on the mainland. I do understand that people need to do what's right for THEM, I respect that. In lieu of this, a sort of quandary has risen within the department. We literally have just ONE faculty member who is experienced in Vocational Rehabilitation counseling; all others are either focused on school or community-based counseling. A bit of an unbalanced situation exists. Thus, this one professor appears to be set to cover for the departed faculty member. A very daunting task indeed! In order to accomplish this, scheduling issues have become reality! How can one person teach X number of classes? By extending day, by this I mean staying later than usual to accomplish teaching X number of classes. What does this mean to me? I've happen to lucked out and have a class that would have been taught by the departed individual (I say this with as much sarcasm as I can muster up!). So, I'm excited that someone else has taken over the responsibilities of teaching the course, but! Guess what time it'll be? From a manageable time of 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm, the course will now be held at the ungodly time of 7:05 to 9:35 pm...NIGHT time, people's bed time, time to enjoy re-runs of Friends time, time to unwind from a long day, I could go on and on, but you get the picture! And here I thought 4:30 to 7 pm classes were pushing my limits, this takes it to a whole new level. But, like everything else I've had to experience thus far in life, I'll learn to deal with it and make the most out of it (with exception to Trigonometry, of course....failing to pass that twice...boy, that DOES say something about my mathematical competencies!)!

On that lovely math note, a funny thing happened this week. In a conversation with my boss, Dr. Skouge (Jim), he asked me how many pages were in the book that I had compiled for him. I proudly answered 51, as I had meticulously added up all of the pages in the separate books that were to make up this one book. No sooner after ending that conversation, I realized that I left out an entire book from the tally! So, later in the afternoon, he confirms the pages, "There's about 50 pages total, correct?" "No, I made a mistake in counting and there are really about a hundred pages," I replied. "How could the number change so much?!!" "Math isn't a strong point of mine!" And I keep establishing that point very well, even as I grow!

"Observation w/ a thought from the peanut gallery" of the week:
Monday, "Bob" (real name edited to protect the integrity of this person, and to protect myself!) comes in, and mind you I hadn't seen him in at least a week, and reports "I got mixed up and forgot my wife's birthday is THIS week instead of next..." Now, please know I have much respect for "Bob," but....usually a wife's birthday would become planted in the forefront of one's brain, upon getting married! Maybe I'm wrong...I still have much, much to learn and discover as my life evolves.

I completed even more transferring of video from external hard drives and onto mini DV tape. I think I've filled about 20 thus far, which equates to roughly 20 hours of footage, provided that my math skills aren't totally askew! Jim produced a bunch of media for a distance learning course he's in the midst of teaching now, and our aim is to move all of this edited video off of these drives so we can use the space again for other projects. Out of the 50+ pieces, I think there's only a handful left to be completed. And it's always a good thing to know that you and your boss are on the same and point, on Monday Jim and I exchanged pleasantries and proceeded to engage in discussion about what had transpired the week prior (while he was away) and what would be going on this week, along with other thoughts that we wanted to share. So, Jim declares, "I want to have a system where I can easily find shows...something that will allow me to say 'hey, where's the episode featuring Sterling?" and you'd be able to pull it up easily." To that, I happily handed him a detailed log containing the tape number and everything on the tapes, some including specific time coding information. So, slowly but surely I'm beginning to be smarter in how I do things. I like to have things in an orderly fashion, so maintaining this log seemed like the right thing to do.

On Monday, I learned that I'd be on my own for the better part of the week; I'm getting more and more comfortable with this...of course, I'd much prefer company and a guiding presence around me, but I enjoy being as independent as I can be. This summer, I've broadened my horizons and views as to what I can accomplish on my own; I KNOW this will have a positive impact on my life from here on out.

Jim alerted me that he probably would be heading back to the Big Island (Hawaii) on Friday, to visit the children of Miloli'i, as their summer fun program would be concluding. I showed him the work I had done with the photographs, meticulously converting each one to black and white and adjusting the brightness/contrast so that each one looked as best they could. I was happy to demonstrate that, yes, I could finish tasks (no matter how large, or small) on a timely basis. In any case, he was pleased with the work I had completed and expressed his appreciation for my taking the time to do all this...then he proceeds to say the words, "Hey, you know, I have an idea..." When those words are uttered, that usually means someone has come up with yet another task for you to tackle. I was all ears. He, hesitantly (I think), asked if I'd consider converting even more pictures to black and white! The 3 magic words that got me completely on board were not "do it now!", but rather I want to bring books "for the kids." Here is an excerpt from an e-mail correspondence I had with him this week, which will provide a better insight as to my thoughts as they relate to this:

"I had a very productive day at home. I attacked those pictures like there was no tomorrow! In a weird sense, I feel a sort of connection with these children, even though they have no idea I exist, and I know nothing more of them than faces in pictures and video. Anyway, I was motivated to do FOR them, so I'm very happy to share that I finished the entire album of "Kids on Cams" in black and white!!! I even put the book together and converted it to PDF file."

So, when it was all said and done, by Thursday afternoon, a book of 101 pages was being printed up; each child would receive one as a gift from Jim. Hopefully they'll enjoy it and have it to share with their families as to what they did during the summer of 2004.

On that note, I must mention the secretary of the Special Education department, Effie. Effie was extremely helpful all week long, no matter what my request she was more than willing to help out...from making sure time sheets were in on time, to providing me with paper for our printers, and finally actually printing up the book for Jim, she did a lot. We thank you for your help!

One day, one of Jim's colleagues, Dr. Rhonda Black came in to say hello and requested the address for my blogging site. I was happy that 1) She knew of it; and 2) She actually wanted to take time to check it out! So, I happily jotted down the address and provided it to her.

I do hope that people are reading or will be reading my entries in this blog. In another conversation, Jim had mentioned something to the effect that "it's nice to know there's someone on the other end enjoying what one writes." This is so very true. For one, I do take the time to thoughtfully construct what I write for the week, and I do try and make it as interesting as possible! I'm one who appreciates the fact that time is so precious, and why waste time reading something that is boring or has no value/meaning to you?! So, I make a conscious effort to compose these entries in a way that is entertaining, interesting, but yet conveys some sort of message. Everyone will interpret the message in their own way, but my hope is that you DO end reading this with some thought or idea that you might not have had prior or at the very least, a smile comes across your face.

And, I'm still awaiting my first batch of comments!!! I'm one who enjoys feedback. And, I'm more than willing to correspond with any of you out there reading this...if you e-mail me, I WILL respond.

Before I end for the week, I must address my title of this entry! On Thursday afternoon, while Jim was in a mode of controlled chaos, I tried being as helpful as I could, and to that he uttered the idea that his dad instilled in him, which was to "surround yourself with people smarter than you." Idea being, too often people are too ego-driven to admit that yes, in fact they don't know everything nor can they do everything...I can see how this holds true, and it does make a whole lot of sense. I'm don't posses natural smarts, I certainly won't win any awards on the merit of my mental abilities...I KNOW that. I need to put in significant time and energy to produce intelligent work. When I look at friends I have, good friends and acquaintances alike, I see that, yes indeed, I have surrounded myself with people who are way, way smarter than me (in a natural sense) and those who will impact society at a much deeper level than I could ever imagine. Indulge me, if you will, as I briefly attempt to illustrate this: Taron, a law student at one of the most prestigious Law Schools in the country, Georgetown; Aaron, a medical student at one of the most prestigious Medical Schools in the country, Mayo Clinic; Rachel, an intern/researcher at a hospital in Boston, Leilani; a double masters student in Human Services and communications, who does more things in 24 hours than I could do in a week; Adam, a future medical school student - ALL of these individuals are awesome and the common bond we share is that we were all once members in the Hui Po'okela Chapter of Mortar Board at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (an honor society at the University, promoting the ideals of leadersship, service, and scholarship). Of course, I didn't name every single member whom I met and served with, but the picture is clear...they are ALL smarter than I'll ever dream of being. My sisters...oh they'll sure love reading this, I'll write it anyway...they're doing extraordinary in their academic studies at their colleges, one in Oregon and the other in Spokane, Washington...Lynn carries an absurdly high GPA and looks to complete her undergraduate work this December, which means she'll have finished in 3 1/2 years!!!! Lori's constantly making the Dean's List and doing excellent work at school. My friends from back in the day....Dan's doing great things in New York at a major sports enterprise, constantly doing great things for them (and on the brink of taking his personal life to the next level, congrats on that, buddy!!); Brent's a cop in Chicago, he completed his graduate studies in a year; and Ed, who is a graphic designer for the USPS in Oklahoma. Other friends or people who have supported me are just as smart as the next person, too numerous to list here (VERY briefly...Doug, who has so many life experiences and fisherman stories that he so generously shares with me; Ann, the guru of disability services; Dr. James Little, a great advocate for persons with disabilities; David, who knows more about restaurant management than I'll ever know; Aletha, someone with a rich knowledge of Autism and the passion to do all she can to provide the best services to students with autism; Jim, the boss (what more could be said!); Sterling, who knows more about serving persons with disabilities so they may access computers more effectively, etc etc. Oh! and of course my parents...what more could I say?! What happened to the notion of my inheriting their genes?!

In any case, the question becomes, what does all this mean?? Simply put, I'm, perhaps, THE luckiest individual to have established a connection of sorts with ALL of these people, and many more! So, when it's all said and done, the only way I can view myself as "smart" was in the way I associated myself with others. You never fully understand how good you have it until you take the time to actually "smell the roses." At this stage of my life, the roses are smelling quite nice, and they're on the verge of blooming, if only I'm willing to keep watering them and caring for the ground in which they reside. One common thread amongst all of the individuals mentioned above: Hard work. I know that in order for me to do the little good I'm hoping to achieve, I'll need to work just as hard as the next person, if not harder. Am I willing? Yes!

Random photograph of the week:

Brian wearing a LiveSTRONG rubberband in
support of Lance Armstrong's fight against cancer.

Welcome home, Lori! And yet, to think 21+ years ago, when my dad said, "You have twin sisters!" I literally said something to the effect of, "Nooo, it can't be! I want brothers!!!" The feeling still lingers in the deep, deep realms of my brain....only kidding, really I am! See a picture below of the welcoming:

See how happy I really look?!

Earlier in the day (Saturday) I got a haircut:

"Anything will be an improvement!"


  • At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, thanks for the shoutout Brian, although I'm more happy to be the first to comment on your blog! Nice haircut too! ~Taron


Post a Comment

<< Home