Focusing on things that I've not talked about - at least, not as extensively - in my previous "25 things about me" post
- I considered being a philosophy major in early college. Contrary to what many fellow Christians might expect, my philosophy classes did not cause a crisis of faith for me; and I actually think that they helped strengthen my faith in the long run. Philosophy classes cover both religious and anti-religious ideas; and like any class about a controversial subject, they can be taught both ways depending on the teacher - such as my teacher being a good Catholic man who had no desire to attack faith in God, although he did throw in some attacks at my Mormon faith in my conversations with him after class. He didn't change my mind, but he did familiarize me with (what were to me) opposing arguments; which I actually think is valuable in and of itself. Thus, I don't mind hearing them.
- It was not the religious parts of my first philosophy class that interested me (or the anti-religious ones, for that matter), but the parts dealing with politics and economics. I have long been fascinated by political philosophy, and I have actually been interested in politics since middle school; and so I found my greatest satisfaction in that class, at those times when I could talk about political philosophy and economic systems. This was what made me want to major in philosophy at the time, although I eventually decided against it, after deciding that the "tail-chasing" aspects of philosophy were not for me, and I opted for a more lucrative major instead. (More on that later in this post.)
- I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my first psychology class, since I was expecting the class to be more about counseling and treating psychological disorders - things which were not for me, since I don't have that kind of personality. I found out, though, that this is only one small part of psychology, and discovered that there were a few other parts of it that overlapped with business (my major of that time), which caused me to eventually want to become a market research analyst. (More on that later in this post.)
- The only class that I've ever received an "F" in was a class called "Accounting Systems." It was only required for the accounting major I was pursuing at that time, and was not required for any other business concentrations. Although I had received "A's" in both of my principles of accounting classes, the Accounting Systems class was different; and convinced me that I wasn't sufficiently interested in the details and procedures of accounting to do well in such a job. My experience in that Accounting Systems class was so negative, in fact, that I refused to take the class over again; even to wipe away the "F." I ended up switching my major to a few other business concentrations before finally deciding on a marketing concentration, so that I wouldn't have to take that class again.
- When I graduated from college, what was the first thing my church asked me to do as a volunteer calling for my church? Financial bookkeeping, also known as accounting of a basic kind. I've actually become quite good on the church's accounting software, which was helpful to me in restoring the self-confidence that I had lost somewhat, after the bad experiences with the Accounting Systems class.
- Despite all of these things, I had a positive experience with my finance classes; including ones heavily focused on financial statements made by accounting systems. This may have been due to the analytical nature of the classes; and I particularly enjoyed the finance classes that were rooted in economics. I was an economics minor, so that's not surprising; but I did elect to take a lot of economics classes that also had applications to finance, because I had so strongly considered being a finance major. (Finance wouldn't have been the right major for me, I hasten to add; but I was glad I got some good exposure to it nonetheless, because it's a good mathematical kind of subject, which trains you on how to think about numbers.
- When I got a bad grade in a college calculus class (which was later changed to a better one, for reasons unknown to me); I left the class thinking that I was not very good at math, which was a crushing blow for someone with the career plans that I had at that time. So naturally, what's the first stable job I land when I graduate? A math tutor! I don't tutor very high levels of math, but there's plenty of demand for the lower levels; and it's made me feel like something of an "expert" on the subject - in a small way, at least. (I expect my friends who majored in math are probably laughing right now, and I can't say I would blame them, even - I'm not really an "expert," and I admit it freely. I just feel like one sometimes.)
- When I was in high school, I wanted to study computer science in college; but gave up on this after some experiences with Advanced Placement Physics classes in high school. (AP Physics was a good class for me, but it convinced me that this was not a good subject for me to study further.)
- During college, I switched majors several times; considering history and political science early in college, then becoming interested in philosophy and economics, and then going later into math and statistics, then accounting and then finance, and finally marketing. I think I finally ended up in the right major (although I have second-guessed it at times due to my economic situation), and I think it was probably a good balance for me between fun and practicality.
- I don't have the kind of personality to succeed in sales, given that I am an introvert (and not very outgoing); so it has struck some people as strange that I majored in a subject like marketing, which is often perceived as a subject that strongly requires a very outgoing personality. It made sense to me anyway, though, because I was then thinking about going into the research end of things, and I was fascinated by the social science aspects of the subject. (Parts of it are very psychological.)
- I have long dreamed of becoming a professional writer, but I have not pursued this dream to any degree thus far; although I have kept up with reading and writing fairly extensively in my spare time. I take comfort in the fact, though, that marketing is probably a reasonably good major for a professional writer to have; and I comfort myself with the possibility that this could still happen at a future portion of my life. Communications and liberal arts classes have helped somewhat in this regard, I should note, particularly as I considered careers in advertising and public relations - careers which I still think about at times, even when I wonder if my personality is well-suited to them.
- If I had not been motivated by practicality in my choice of majors, I might have chosen a major like linguistics. A linguist (in the academic sense of that word) is not necessarily the same thing as a polyglot, which is someone who knows a lot of languages (although many linguists do know several languages); and I have been fortunate for the opportunity to pursue this as a hobby in my spare time, since my graduation some years ago. (If I can't afford to study it in school, then I try to study it independently instead.)
- Besides my native language of English, the language whose linguistics I have studied the most is probably Spanish. Spanish is the most practical foreign language where I live (which has allowed me to pursue speaking it with others more), and so I thought it would be the most useful foreign language to study the linguistics of in my spare time. My French reading has been focused, by contrast, on political philosophy (rather than on linguistics); and so I have already read Montesquieu's "De l'esprit des lois" ("The Spirit of Laws") in the original French now. (This is a book which influenced the American Founding Fathers.) I have also done a similar thing with Xenophon in the original Ancient Greek, (and some Plato in the original Ancient Greek), and I am now doing a similar thing with some other Plato works in Greek. I am also reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Discours sur l'origine de l'inegalite" ("Discourse on the Origin of Inequality") in the original French - but that's a subject for another post.
- Since beginning to read Montesquieu's "De l'esprit des lois" in the original French, I've had a lot less time for blogging than I used to have. If you're wondering why my output has gone down in the last while, that's why - I've been living off my backlog of posts written long ago.
- As I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog (including in a previous version of the "25 things about me" thing), the most unusual foreign language I've studied in my spare time is Ancient Greek. I learned this partly because I wanted to read some works by Plato in the original Greek, and partly because I wanted to know the origins of some English words. Nonetheless, my most important reason for learning Ancient Greek was to read the New Testament in the original - a project that I've still not started. (I will first be reading some stuff by Plato, and will not feel ready to begin the New Testament for some time.)
- Besides my study of Ancient Greek (which is the original language of the New Testament), I have also enjoyed a few other aspects of Biblical studies - such as the history and archaeology behind it, which provides some interesting insights into the Good Book. I am confident that one day, when I start reading the Greek New Testament, all of the hard work that I'm doing right now will pay off for me in ways that it hasn't had time to do yet. (In the meantime, it provides at least a few interesting insights; and it is definitely fun as a hobby for someone like me.)
- At the time I write this, I am a professional math tutor at Yavapai College; which is a part-time position that leaves me lots of time for reading these things. I often have gaps in my schedule of anywhere from half an hour to two-and-a-half hours; and I make full use of it to read to my heart's content.
- I make it a goal to do a particular amount of each kind of reading per week; partly because foreign-language practice is best done consistently over a long period of time. If you want to practice multiple foreign languages as I do, you have to juggle them somewhat; because if you focus entirely on one of those languages for any extended period of time, you'll be likely to lose your fluency in some of the others (something which I don't want to happen). So it's Spanish linguistics one day, French political philosophy another day, and Ancient Greek philosophy another day - with some days combining them together, when I have a particularly large amount of free time that day.
- I also do much English reading each semester, for topics that don't fit neatly into practicing one of my foreign languages. Besides reading in (and about) the Old Testament right now, the current focus of my English study is William Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England." (It's just one other item that I juggle, in trying to pursue all of these goals.)
- I suspect no amount of reading will ever be enough for me, as I'll never be entirely satisfied with the knowledge that I have. There are always more things to learn and more things to read, and my personality won't allow me to be satisfied with these accomplishments for very long.
- I can be just as zealous about doing this reading on vacations, as I am about doing it during the school semester (which is also my work schedule, since I'm a math tutor). I've been known to take some time off from it during vacations sometimes, but I've sometimes felt bad when this happens, as though I'm "not accomplishing anything" during that time. (Sometimes I think I need to let myself be more satisfied with the reading that I do.)
- I sometimes feel that I'm switching back and forth between things a lot - and not only with my foreign languages, but with different periods in history as well. It's something of a strange feeling, which may be the inevitable result of the way I structure my reading. I read Ancient Greek philosophy simultaneously with reading eighteenth-century political philosophy, for example, and watch documentary programs on television about anything from the Spanish Conquest to the 20th-century Cold War - causing me to switch back and forth between periods all the time, as well as between languages.
- Because of the sheer size of the books I try to read, I don't often get through many books in a single year - getting through two or three of them in a year feels like something of an accomplishment for me. I like to think that their quality makes up somewhat for their small quantity.
- Because of the above quirk of not getting through very many books, I don't often do book reviews on my blog; often preferring to review movies and documentaries instead. This is because I actually have a chance to get through large numbers of movies and documentaries to write reviews of; which is something that doesn't happen as extensively for me with books.
- I never went to graduate school, partly because I worry about my ability to handle the stress of law school and other kinds of graduate school. Nonetheless, I like to think I've been getting a good education anyway; with the free time that my part-time employment has given me - and for a much cheaper price, too. (University prices are through the roof these days, so anything I can do to cut down on the expenses is good for me, in the short run and the long run.)
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Previous version of this "25 things about me" post