A New Direction & New Orleans

April 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

As my interests shift away from politics and toward more creative endeavors I feel it necessary for my blog to reflect these changes. I can’t say for certain what the future holds for this blog, but for now I feel confident that it will survive the currents of my early to mid twenties and whatever weird changes of heart these years might bring. I’m at a unique phase of my life in that I have both a lot of money and a lot of free time. I was planning on saving all of this excess time and money for an older and wiser version of myself. That is, until it dawned on me that time can’t be magically stuffed into a bottle and stowed away for safe keeping. Time is fleeting and sparse, and if you have any of it you should use it. As far as money goes; if time equals money then by simple logic saving cash is for squares. Check and mate.

So here we are.

I just got back from a week long road trip across the country. I brought my girl along because she’s an enjoyable person to be around and because driving with nothing but you and the sound of an FM radio for 20+ hours is a hellish bore.(In particular I’m speaking about that long trudge through Kansas. Ugh.) Most importantly she’s a person who I’ve shared a number of my most cherished memories with. The bond we have is special and she understands me and my desires better than anyone I’ll ever meet.

Anyway, it was while I was on this road trip that I had one of those weird life changing moments which seemingly everyone insists are so commonplace during that period of your life between the ages of 19 and 30. We were on our way back to the east coast after heading as far west Utah and Arizona. We had spent a couple nights in Denver, crashed for a night in Flagstaff, and after a quick cat nap in Amarillo we were headed for New Orleans. I mention all of this because in my mind I had expected Denver and Colorado to be the pinnacle of the trip. I had spent a couple weeks in Colorado during college and absolutely loved it. Something about the entire state just felt “right” and from the moment I left I was craving more of the Rocky mountain scenery. Combine that with the fact that Colorado had just recently passed some rather interesting legislation and let’s say I was expecting Denver to be the trip of a lifetime. I told myself that anything I did after Denver — be it driving further west to San Diego or hitting up the Grand Canyon or whatever — any of that would simply be icing on the grand cake of Colorado. Or would it be a brownie? Regardless…

And in fact Colorado was the trip of the lifetime. I made memories which I will hold onto dearly until the day I die. Some good, some….regrettable (yet it’s still hard to suppress a smirk while thinking about them). To make a long story short let’s just say I experienced some things which are familiar and some which were a bit foreign to me. Hindsight is 20/20 and while I don’t regret any of the decisions I made I certainly have learned a few lessons which will hopefully save me from some problems later on in life. Put simply, Colorado in 2014 was memorable because I made decisions. Never mind whether or not they were “good” decisions. As far as I know my record is clean and I’m still alive (more alive than I was before, in fact). Let the chips fall where they may and so long as you’re still breathing and living a happy life what difference does it make?

But none of what happened in Colorado could have possibly prepared me for what laid ahead in New Orleans. No, there is no experience on earth strong enough to prepare the mind, body, and soul, for the absolute shit storm of emotion that occurs when you fall in love. And notice I did not qualify that statement. Fall in love. As in head over heels. As in 100% innocent, trusting, and vulnerable love. Like when you just look into someone’s eyes when they aren’t looking and find yourself wishing that they would drop everything and spend their life with you. That’s how I felt about New Orleans. And that’s how I still feel about New Orleans. And that’s how I will always feel about New Orleans until I can find a way to return.

I don’t know what it is about New Orleans that attracts me. I mean, I know. But it’s nearly impossible to put into words the exact characteristics of a place which makes it so god damned special. If I can’t pin down precise reasons, perhaps it’s best to guess. Perhaps the best way to understand my infatuation with the city is to toss out my experiences like darts at a wall and hope one of them sticks. Maybe one of these memories in my mind will help me understand. Maybe…

Maybe it’s thick, spicy aroma of gumbo which finds its way into every street corner. Maybe it’s the beautifully flowing voice of two elderly women speaking French in the line at the drug store. Maybe it’s narrow streets and alleyways snaking their way through the French quarter. Maybe it’s the ring of the street car bells as they slowly churn their way toward Canal street. Maybe it’s the homeless man whispering gibberish in my ear as I wait in line for a street car ticket. Maybe it’s the storefront windows littered with pagan dolls and all different types of voodoo memorabilia. Maybe its the fact that, despite numerous natural disasters, the city still lives on strong as ever.

I don’t know what it is about New Orleans that attracts me, but I felt the sort of indescribable pull which very few cities are capable of.

New Orleans just has a special type of life which can’t be recreated or reproduced. It’s unique to the core, and there is an indescribable aura which surrounds the city like a thick layer of steam from a freshly baked pot of crawfish. I can’t describe it and I fully plan on returning to find out what the hell it was about New Orleans that grabbed me by the soul and would not — will not — let go.

Why College ROI Investment Studies Are Worthless

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Payscale recently published a report of the return on investment for just about every American college and university. There’s no doubt that this was an interesting study that may prove useful to many prospective students. Had this sort of information been around when I was searching for colleges it certainly would have affected my decision.

And while the report is interesting to read a mildly informative for prospective college students it’s useless without the right perspective. The first thing to notice is that almost everyone of the top schools on the list has a high percentage of STEM students. Take a look at the top 25 and tally the number of tech schools.

This makes an important point: what you major in is much more important than where you go to school. Take my alma mater as an example. Per the report, Akron grads can expect a 20 year net ROI of $255,300 and an annual ROI of 6.5%. Compare that to engineering grads at Akron. Akron engineering grads can expect a 20 year ROI of $528,300 and an annual ROI of 9.6%. To put that into words, the average Akron engineering grad makes twice as much as the average Akron graduate. I can guarantee you would find similar trends at universities across the country when you compare historically high earning majors versus the student body at large. Perhaps the gap wouldn’t be as large (Akron is a weird situation as tends to accept everyone but manages to maintain a strong engineering college) but there’s no question this is a widespread phenomena.

This is really just a long winded way of saying that what you go to school for is far and away a better indication of potential ROI than where you go to school. This is backed up by Payscale’s data as well as common sense.

tl;dr – Don’t go to art school.

 

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