Friday, March 27, 2015

Update for March 2015

Greetings, everyone!  It's The Humble Fishe, back with an update.

I've had a couple of jobs since the last post, but they didn't work out very well.

One was working for McDonald's.  That last a month and a half.  I got tired of being treated like an idjit by certain customers.  Management was good, and I have a good reference from the franchisee, so not all bad.

The job I had after that was for a company that transports freight train crews to and from trains and their yards, or depots.  The job was fine, until I was promised 60 to 70 hour weeks for taking a trip to Nebraska.

I went up with one other crew member, and I ended up working two trips while there, and he ended up working none!  He wasn't happy.  Neither was I.  Granted, we did get paid a base salary, so it wasn't all bad, but it was a far cry from what we were promised.

I felt unsafe working for this company, due to the "far out afield" nature of the job, and I didn't feel comfortable being out on some lonely side road, somewhere, with the current state of management.  Basically, I don't like liars, so that's that!

I'm working with a job "head hunter" who works for a local temp agency.  The job is long-term/permanent, but hasn't contacted back the head hunter at the moment of this writing.  Spoke to the person today, and was told the aforementioned; so here I stay.

My phone service will probably be shut off soon, probably after tomorrow.  Great thing to happen on a weekend, eh?  I owe over $1000, and if I had a full-time job, my salary, along with my spouse's, would be enough to bring it up-to-date, and then re-manage the lesser amount that would result monthly, as a result of catching-up the balance.

I'm trying to remain positive, even though the above problems keep me at depression's edge.  I've fought *that* monster for years, and for the first time in a decade, I'm winning!

Let's hope this holds out, as I have designated 2015 as My Year For Positive Change!

So here's hoping for 2015!

Warm Regards,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Update and Some Thoughts On Education, Learning Disabilities, and Other Relevancies

So I'm reading this cool Commentary from Fortune by a one Clara Shih, CEO of a firm called Hearsay Social (

The company seems to provide social media solutions to business.

Ms. Shih's article was on the growing trend of the "Internet of Things," essentially a term identifying the state of how people are connected to each other via the Internet, phones, and other networks through the use of devices like smartphones, smart watches, health telemetering devices (Like FitBit, Polar, and other "fitness" devices that monitor heart rate, strides, and the like.)

That was one facet.

Another was the mention of how current health and fitness devices are moving forward from simple measurement, toward being enabled to provide real time solutions for health issues

Shih suggests: "In 2015, well evolve from simple measurement, tracking, and analytics to offering prescriptive action. An example: 23andMe, funded by Google and Genentech, is already working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it can analyze your DNA to provide you with hundreds of health reports that accurately predict whether youre prone to certain illnesses or conditions. Another company, Halo Neuroscience, is developing technology that stimulates your brain to boost memory and cognition (Disclosure: my husband Daniel S. Chao, M.D., M.S. is CEO at Halo Neuroscience.)"

The last part of that quote got me to thinking, so I looked up Halo Neuroscience.

I've suffered from memory deficits and cognitive learning disorders since I started school. Kindergarten--where I was yelled at and castigated in front of my peers because I "scribbled" in my coloring books. Read: Early Hand-Eye Coordination Problems.)--started the ball rolling.

When a teacher of preschoolers resorts to yelling, and your impressionable peers observe you being scolded by your teacher... Etc. You get the idea.

I was pretty a social outcast in elementary school, which, for me, was K-4.

Fifth through Twelfth wasn't much better. I barely graduated with a nearly flat 2.00 GPA in 1984, and, even with a "Learning Disabled" diagnosis, I've found very few, if any, "reasonably decent" resources available to me that can help me overcome and enable any latent abilities that couldn't be developed during my younger years.

So I look up Halo to see if some real science were being done to try to understand if light electrical simulation of the brain can increase learning ability. (The name of the technique is Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, or tDCS.)

This link from Halo's blog explains the technique:

Some results seem noteworthy. However, New Scientist, in a 28 November 2014 article, is, perhaps, a bit more sobering (always a good thing in science.)

Link To New Scientist Article:

Why I'm interested in what science can do for me is due to the fact I'm nearly completely fed up with people, and is the reason I'm not doing well academically in schools.

Colleges, Trade Schools, Technical Schools, you-name-it! I've attended them all and have never been able to apply myself enough to be able to succeed.  Or get the help I've needed, regardless of effort!

So what gives?

I mean, I want to succeed! Badly!

Which is why I'm interested in science and what it can do to enable me instead of me being disabled.

However, science is only one part of the entire matter-at-hand. The other part of the equation are the instructors, government agency counselors, and staff of the institutions I wish to attend!

Case-in-point: I'm attending a certain Missouri technical college for Computer Networking back in 2011. This particular educational track was decent, at first, but when I finally started to attend the actual Networking classes, everything was fine until I had to do a particular type of IP-Addressing Mathematics.

We were given a given range of Addresses, then we had to figure out what ranges were available for the given problem. Well, I couldn't do it. At all. My brain just doesn't function in certain situations unless extra time is spent with me on the problems.

Most instructors, one would think, would be delighted to assist a student attending what is, essentially, a Community College; albeit one with very specific and highly professional curriculums.

However, I wasn't enrolled in the Auto Mechanics curriculum, or the Cat Diesel Technician program, or the Heavy Equipment Operator programs, either. My field of interest is Information Technology, or IT.

I Love Technology! I would've enjoyed some extra time talking with someone for whom I, initially, had the deepest respect, about technology, the latest equipment and industry t However, that was before the incident that shattered any idea of my being able to be successful at that school.

Here's what happened: After struggling for twenty minutes, I was called up to do a problem on the board, and said I couldn't do it; I wasn't understanding it. So the instructor looks at me and says something to the effect of: “Well, I can't dumb down the class.”

I was quite shocked to hear those words come out of an instructor who was nearly the same age as me (46 or so, give or take), essentially insult me in front of a majority of eighteen-year-old-average young men and women.

I asked for help continually in that class, until one day when the shit hit the fan in a way I've never experienced before in higher education, and hope to never experience again, anywhere!

I had been having problems with certain learning issues all week, and was trying, unfruitfully, to speak to the instructor alone for a few minutes so I could highlight my learning issues and what I felt could be done to accommodate them.

Privacy was non existent, as instructors shared offices, and I didn't feel it appropriate to have other non-department personnel involved, possibly interrupting me if I said something they didn't like, etc.

I finally had to confront—and that's really the only word I can use to describe this, as this person possessed an extremely confrontational type of personality—the instructor at their desk, during class time, because I had absolutely no other choice.

I was polite, but firm, and was not yelling at all. I presented my case, regardless of others present because I had a verifiable and real need for accommodation so I could succeed . We bantered back and forth for a few moments, every student in the class watching, and the instructor just completely lost it and blew their stack at me!

Instructor proceeds to storm out of the classroom, straight to their department head—the head of the entire IT department—yelling something like “He's Out of Here!

To say I was a bit put out is putting it mildly. I've paid for my classes with my student loan and grant monies. I expect professionalism and assistance form instructors in a state-run college. I wasn't mean. I wasn't disrespectful. Still, I was treated with contempt, ill regard, and made to feel less-than-adequate, then, essentially, thrown out with the trash!

I did fine in my Honors Composition class. I did fine in my Computer Hardware—essentially an A+ Hardware Certification prep class—class. Got an A in it, actually. All these classes worked. Why? Because the instructors were concerned about their students and acted like adults, not temper-tantrum-throwing, older teenagers!

I didn't go back to school until January of 2013. Keeping this short, I attended a small “real university” for a change, my first time at a school with tenured professors who had their own research projects of varying kinds.

I liked the overall experience, but, as I was attending under the auspices of Vocational Rehabilitation, I was, by their own internal policies—which I tried to have altered slightly to accommodate my needs but without success—made to Attend Full Time!

Full-time attendance—for Financial Aid considerations—is a minimum of Twelve (12) Credit Hours in Missouri. I knew that I was going to have trouble keeping up with that heavy of a load, regardless of the classes. I could have taken all “easy electives” and still failed—which I did!

In this last case, it was the government agency of Vocational Rehabilitation that failed me, by making me attend classes full-time, instead of part time. Confusing the issue further is the fact that this was supposed to be a test semester to see what issues, if any, I might have attending future classes.

All this fuss to just get a degree!

So just what have I learned from all the foregoing? Quite a lot, but I still have nothing brought to fruition.

Lessons Learned

1. I must not interact with instructors of a particular temperament, who are inflexible. Being Learning Disabled by itself, denotes a need for flexibility in instructors and curriculum.

2. Govenment agencies, when utilized, must not have inflexibility in internal policies which by their very implementation and nature, Disable Instead of Enable Me, Their Client!

3. I am, probably, going to have to rely completely on the private sector for success. However, without a degree, this is proving to be very difficult. Some things have to be learned in an ordered fashion, as in a classroom or small study group, and I, at the present time, do not have access to the former, or know of anything local to the latter.

Summarizing, unless I can Become Enabled through whatever means are available to me—public or private—and I can actualize (make work in real life) those means—I will, in all equal measure, continue to experience failure.

Thank You For Reading

Monday, November 17, 2014

McDee's Is Done - On To Other Things

This is an update to the post I made back on 8/28/2014.

I got a job at a local McDonald's, but had to quit after I realized just what the job was doing to me.

I'm not fond of my work history.  I've had great difficulties in keeping work for long periods of time.  This has been the case since I was old enough to work.

I started working at age fourteen (14), when I was in middle school, which, for me, was grades five-to-eight (5-8).

I started work as a dishwasher, emptying trays of uneaten food into trash cans, and putting the dishes into the big, square Hobart dishwasher the school used in their kitchen.  I did this for two years.

After middle school, I attended high school for four years, starting work in my high school kitchen when I was fifteen, doing that until the middle of my Junior Year, when I decided I needed more free time during the lunch hour for socializing and other matters.

It remains to be seen whether or not I will be able to overcome this problem.  I just turned 49 and I'm still much the same person I was when I graduated from high school; perhaps a bit wiser, but regarding my work-keeping abilities, much is unknown to me.

And it's not just a work ethic.  I have a fantastic work ethic, but I just have troubles with keeping pace with such a fast-moving society, at least in the professions where this is the norm.

I keep asking myself:  "Why can't I just find a slower-paced job that I can keep for more than a year?"

I haven't really found the answer to this.  It's frustrating, knowing that other people around me succeed where I have always failed.  They "stick it out" while I have continuing problems.

This is why I'm starting a book project, something that is purely intuitive and creative--something I've always felt I had inside of me, but never really 'put on the line' to see if I could do it or not.

I'm in need of something, however, to help my interim bills, and I do have some applications out.  Still, I'm skeptical, and don't put much faith in the 'standard jobs' that everyone else has.

I've never been able to fit into certain, stereotypical roles in work that this country has, and feel I'm a bit out of my league.  Not so much that I'm unable to work, just that I haven't found the right type of work, locally, that would set me apart and be able to be recognized as an expert in that field--something I desire highly!

So here I am.  Again, unemployed.  Bills needing to be paid.  Not enough money to pay them.

And eager, ready, and able to work in whatever field someone might have available to me--if it's the right one and I'm able to both keep up with the work and deal with the people involved.

The entire thing is, to me, becoming a headache!  A long, drawn-out, migraine of an existence in which I'm tired of fighting.

So, Laws of Attraction, Universal Love Constants, KNOCK ME OVER, BABY!  I'M READY TO GET OFF THIS TREADMILL!

Love and Light,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

When The Summer Ends - A Mini Memoir

The sunshine's gone, the days grown short, I say goodbye to all my newfound friends.
I get like this, each time of year, whenever summer ends.

I get choked up, because I know, this time will never come again. I may not meet these folks as time goes on, as the summer ends.

Summertime is full of folks, fine and stead and true. Summer makes hearts beat as one, as few seasons do.

One may be rich, one may be poor, or somewhere in-between. Summer's warmth doth soften all, and makes one equal on summer's scene.

I remember when winter's chill, ended come the spring. Spring's a cousin, once removed, but still heralds summer's king.

Oh what Joy! Abounden Now! As the reign begins! Winter's over, Spring is done! Let summer now begin!

Summer Reigns! What a reign it is! All here may agree! Summer's mighty, benev'lent Kingdom, hot, sticky, and free!

That is what the summer is, and what it's been to me. But childhood's end is bittersweet, and so I share with thee.

When my time of impish joy, youth, and revelry. Ended 'ere I became man, and went to work to earn my fee.

Boy! Have I worked, and worked some more, out along my days. Now, abreast the years, at forty-eight, do memories pass my way.

Mem'ries of a joyful past, back in my days of youth. Makes me realize back then, I found a pure and simple truth.

When one is young, and well-tended-to, by parents who do care. Who sallied forth upon the sea of life, our young burdens to bear.

We, as lucky children, who, together, summer's magick share!

That's what came to me just now, and allowed a glimpse back thro' the twain. I'm feeling a bit younger now, even as the season wanes.

Though, even now, as the parks close up, and camping does wind down. The summer shops, they're closing now. Up and down this resort town.

Autumn comes on thickly now, firstly quietly. Then crescending to her blust'ry swells, blowing away summer's king.

And I grow sad, and tear a bit, out the corner of my eye. Because I do feel so deeply now, what really has passed by.

My Childhood Gone? Oh, yes, it has, now for nigh-on many years. Replaced by tensions, hopes, and strifes, I had not in my younger years.

But still I've managed to hold on, to a magick, Great and Old! I still have my youthful audacity, and I can say now, large and bold!

There will come a day so very soon, when I will celebrate with my family and friends! That time when we will never think, of when the summer ends!

©Copyright 2014 Stephen Andrew Brown. "Firefishe." All Rights Reserved. Please use proper citation guidelines when quoting, such as MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



So So Happy & Full of Joy!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Mid-2014 Mid-Year Update



Well, so what have I done this year in 2014, from January-on?

January to April - Enrolled in Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri) in a Computer Information Systems Bachelor degree program, with a Minor in Geographical Information Systems.

Funding: Funded by a Grant from Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); one requirement being that I attend full-time.  Due to my Learning Disabilities, I found this to be problematic.  I suggested half-time, to which I was told that I could not receive the grant if I did so.

Decision:  Due to time-constraints--caused by the imminent starting of the Semester, I took the funding, along with a Stafford Loan for about $5K, for personal expenses and some computer items that were not covered by the VR Grant.  This took my student loan debt to $35K, where it will stay until paid; I am not getting anymore federal student loans, as I find, at least for me, they have been a waste of time.

I am Learning Disabled.  For VR to make me take full-time classes was an improper decision.  A request for reducing my load to half-time was denied.  I feel I have been discriminated against by this agency.  I will probably have to file a complaint, and take the agency to court, if an agency hearing cannot resolve this problem as I perceive it.

I bear no ill-will toward the agency, itself; it helps people most of the time.  It has helped me in the past, but personal circumstances and family issues intervened that I could not perceive, so I faltered when success should have been attainable.

I have called the agency and indicated that I am still interested in vocational training.  I have been informed by the head of the local office that it is felt that I have been helped as much as the agency can help me; I have suggested alternative training--stressing Registered Apprenticeships--but since there are none of interest in my area, this track has met with failure, at least for now.

I feel apprenticeships could be formed if enough people showed an interest, or at least, a few showed a great deal of interest.  They require a number of people who are qualified for the area of interest to be willing to participate and provide training.  The type of apprenticeship I am interested in is termed, according to the federal apprenticeship database, "Geographical Information Systems Technician. (GIS-Tech, for short.)

There are virtually none in the United States.  If they exist at all, they exist in Canada or Europe.  I am now beginning an exhaustive, individual state search for these types of Registered Apprenticeships.  I am hopeful, but exceedingly skeptical.  This is a fairly recent listing in the federal database.  I may have to start my own agency--to be able to receive grants-- that specialized in starting Registered Apprenticeships, especially in the GIS field.  This may not be as easy as I would like it or expect it to be.

I also view certain aspects of my attendance at Lincoln University to be fraught with difficulty.  Due to the necessity of full time attendance, I was forced to juggle classes when not one, but two classes were cancelled due to lack of participation.  These were GIS classes.

The only one left that was available was the senior-level class, which is usually taken as the last class in the series, outside of field-work projects.

I managed to convince the department head of the GIS block to allow me to attend, primarily due to my having had exposure to the software the class was going to be using, and a small amount of prior experience.  They took me at my word, and gave me a go.  I failed.

I will not ask to be placed in an advanced-level class again unless I am able to provide my own portfolio of the type of work required; I gave it my best shot, but was not able to keep up with the rest of the required classes with a full-time load.

To make up the differences required for full-time attendance, I added two music classes, Introduction to Music Theory, and Choir.  Choir was a performance class, of which two concerts were required attendance.

I did okay, as I'm musically-oriented, being able to play piano a little, some woodwinds (flute, clarinet, saxophone), and harmonica (I have my own set of performance-grade harps.)

Still, I can't really say much for the instruction.  Too many egos getting in the way of any really true success; and those egos were not completely my own, although I do account for throwing something in the mix.  The entire environment wasn't conducive to true success.

The choir director didn't have any humor in the classroom at all.  All seriousness and no humor; very much a disciplinarian.  Outside of the classroom, the professor was affable enough.  Still, I did not do well in this class because of the tightness of emotion and no humor.

I'm just not that serious a guy, and need a bit of levity to keep things from blowing up in my face.   I felt like I was imprisoned for that 40 minutes of choir class, when I should have felt like singing a musical or two.

Also, as a choir member, the only music we sang were Christian Spirituals; can you say, "boring?"  Absolutely no spirit in the place.

I attended the first of the required concerts, but was having so much trouble in classes toward the end of the semester, I did not attend the final concert as it would not have made any difference in my grades.  I was also quite sick of the entire experience, so I negated the performance in front of the graduating seniors.  I just couldn't face anyone with any more of my failures.

I wish I could say that this was different.  I get tired of academician egos, and I tire of my seeming inability to articulate--and get--what I deem appropriate to accommodate my personal Learning Disability needs, as well as provide for my own, inherent desired for academic fulfillment.

I am tired of state agencies not being able to help me.  I tire of my constant poverty that prevents me from getting better psychological assistance to help me overcome my learning and personal problems.

I am intelligent.  I am not stupid.  I am not necessarily "slow," but there are issues--primarily mathematics--which stifle me and compound my ability to do other things.  The math issues correspond to an equally difficult time with certain aspects  of critical thinking, which can only keep me back and not moving forward.

I see other people who don't have these difficulties, and want to emulate their experiences, at least as far as succeeding in college--and Life--are concerned; I do not wish to be a clone, however.

I am articulate.  I can express myself very well in words and language.  I do not do so well in Algebra or other higher mathematical disciplines, and although I have an intense interest in the Sciences, this lack of mathematical development will always keep me at arm's-reach of success in this area.

I have taught myself a modicum about computers, but I am limited to the hardware level--IE, putting things together, assembling things, etc.--when the money-making areas are primarily in software development; I understand programming concepts, but it has been a very long time--since the late 1980's--when I last did any real programming.

That, and the instructor I had at Lincoln University didn't really do a very good job of teaching; that's not just my sentiment, many others in the class expressed the same concerns.

University-level computer programming should have a lot of structure, and should follow the book that is provided, to-the-letter.  This leads to consistency and the development of good programming habits; the class I attended provided neither of these, as the professor utilized mere handouts taken from the $100.00 text book the class was forced to buy! (Thank goodness I got my money refunded via book-buy-back at the university bookstore!)

I'm sticking to local, "community" colleges where people respect adult students!

However, I don't believe I will receive this where I currently reside.


So what about jobs?  I'm working on obtaining one, and may have success, soon.  My goal is to keep my job for one year, something I have not succeeded at yet.  (My record is 7 months, done in my Senior year of high school back in 1984, at a small IGA grocery store in my hometown (long closed.)

This my update.  I will do another as I feel necessary.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

MoBill Android App Review

This app has great graphics!  I really like the interface, choice of button shapes, colors, etc.  A lot of thought went into the designing of the GUI portion of the software. I give this part of the program Five Stars.

Another excellent feature of this app is that it has a real embedded help menu. Most apps with a help button simply link it to a function that opens a web browser, opening the developer's home page. It's nice to have an embedded help list, so I really like this feature. Five Stars.

Embedded Calculator Feature, Available As Stand-Alone Function or Available in Sub Menus: Five Stars! (I can't speak highly enough about this one. Some apps link to an on-device, secondary calculator, which is cumbersome in a financial app where numerical calculation is desired at the record-creation entry point. The addition of an embedded calculator like this one fills this gap beautifully!)

The last thing I will review is the way in which the developer has chosen to add additional functionality to the app: AdFree. This doesn't work for me in many ways, either from a practical viewpoint or a philosophical one.

The Practical: Having to register with an ad service provider for extra functions is cumbersome. Mosts developers simply don't require this. Also, this particular app has the ad glaring at you at the very top of the app when it launches, drawing your attention, nay, "sucking you into" the advertisement at warp speed!

Some of the ads displayed have button-like, shaped graphics which are easily confused with app function buttons. I found this de-enhancing to proper app navigation, making the app somewhat unintuitive to someone new to the app.

The Philosophical:  This is more of a pet peeve of mine than anything else. I simply do not like advertising in phone applications like this one.

This a budgeting app, designed to help one keep tabs on their expenses.  It's not a game or a social app where advertisements might be expected.

Also, and this is the most glaring flaw as I see it: To enable advanced features, one has to register with a third party ad-provider, AdFree.

I don't agree with this kind of application development. Android is rife with advertisers, and others, that want people to believe that profit can't be made without a glaring, flashing banner adorning the various pages of phone apps.

I also don't buy into the "App Subscription Model" for an application whose primary purpose should not require it. A registration fee for additional dev support and feature enabling is fine. This is how most devs float, and makes sense, practically and philosophically.

However, combining both with as heavy a dependency on an ad service like AdFree, does not.

App Ad Factors: One Star

Final Total: Four Stars

Summary and Suggestions:  Get rid of AdFree! Re-write the code to more uniform standards of marketing, such as the "free app with advertising and limited features/paid app with all features and no advertising" model.

Also, ditch the ad-subscription marketing model. It's outdated and annoying as hell! Most users aren't going to pay a yearly subscription unless you're a magazine publisher offering original content or some type of professional service.

Keep the excellent graphics! This dev has an obvious talent for GUI design that captures the user. It caused me to download it and give it a try, merely from looking at at the app icon in the Play Store.

Thank you for the opportunity to review this app. I appreciate and pay for excellent quality software. I believe that the suggestions made in my review can, and will, help this app to become a winner in the market.

Best of Success,