Ranting and raving and carrying on

Just a few random thoughts about random stuff. Warning - may contain profanity

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Location: Toronto-ish, Ontario, Canada

Just a guy... Bit of a geek, but who isn't these days?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Slave to the blue pill

God, I hate Ritalin. Well, actually, I have a love-hate relationship with it.

On the one hand, working in a corporate culture which involves anywhere up to 20 or 30 hours of meetings a week (or reading copious amounts of code or documentation), having something to give me a semblance of an attention span is a "good thing". And I wouldn't dream of driving a car any appreciable distance without taking it - the whole distractability thing is a real fucking minus at 120 km/h, y'know? And, since it's an amphetamine-based medication, it's more effective than coffee as a "wake-me-up" in the morning.

On the other hand, I hate the way it makes me feel - it feels like my brain is held in place by glue or steel bars or something. I hate that it makes me a grumpy asshole to others. And I hate that it kills (or at least severely limits) my creativity.

I suppose I'm luckier than manic-depressives and psychotics - in both states (medicated and not) I am lucid and coherent enough to understand the risks and rewards inherent in taking this stuff. It just bugs me to no end that, since my brain works differently than others, I have to put up with taking this shit just so I can "function normally" in society.

While I'm on it, basically, I feel caged, at least mentally. I can feel my brain being "held back", pacing, waiting for a chance to get out of the chemical jail it's in. As it wears off, sometimes I get a really great "Ritalin rebound" - completely manic and insane, but in a "mostly harmless" sort of way.

In a perfect world, I'd be able to get out of the corporate culture, get off the (prescription) drugs, and go do whatever silly shit my brain comes up with. But, unfortunately, student loans and mortgages and all the trappings of society tend to cost a lot of money, which is really only attainable in a corporate environment. Realistically, I could certainly go and work on my own and be a highly-paid security consultant, but I'd still have to live in the "corporate world" - if you're billing a company several thousand dollars a week to perform an IT security audit, they probably are expecting a final presentation that isn't written in Iambic Pentameter. (For the record, I've never given any presentations in Iambic Pentameter, but I did hand in a university course -level geological survey project written that way once. They made me re-write it.)

I liked teaching, when I did it. Well, sort of. Didn't much like the people I worked for (actually, I did, at first, but they treated me rather poorly and basically I grew to dislike them). But I liked teaching - you have a certain body of knowledge you have to impart to the students, so there's a basic underlying structure you have to follow. But there's a lot of freedom in how you present that material. And I like standing in front of people and talking, and answering questions, and problem-solving and all that. But teaching doesn't pay that well either, unless you own the school.

Simple math here - a 6-month course at a "career college" costs around$6000 CDN per student, so about $1000 per month income per student. Pay your instructor $3000 a month, $1000 a month for overhead (space rental, etc.), and anything above 4 students is gravy. Okay, you've got to factor in a front office staff as well - a secretary and a "recruiter". Still, that expense can be spread over multiple courses (if you have them). Basically, running your own college is a license to print money. There are some laws regarding how you run it, of course, but not as much as you might think. Basic fraud stuff, like if a student changes their mind 30 seconds after signing the contract you give them their money back. Also, if you have a college you can't put the students to work in "real" work - for example, if you run a plumbing school you can't make the students do stuff for your plumbing business.

I've actually thought about starting my own "security school" - I have the basic curriculum mapped out, and I believe that I could turn out IT Security professionals who actually knew what they were doing. All it would take would be some startup capital - enough to cover renting some space for a classroom and office(s), buying or leasing some computers, and the first couple of months' salary for the staff (including me) - probably $15,000 would cover it, and that expense would probably be recouped with the profit from the first class you ran.

It could even cover additional expenses by holding evening classes in various computer subjects, both related to the day curriculum and stand-alone special-interest courses (such as a machinima course?). After all, you already have the computers and the space, the only extra expense for an evening course is an instructor.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go run some numbers.......