I’m Doing What for a Living?
My name is John Wieriman. You probably don’t remember me. I was somewhat shy and quiet in high school. I have a story to tell. First of all, how many of you had your lives go off in a completely unexpected direction after high school? I thought I had my vocation well charted but you know “stuff happens”. So here is my story in four parts.
What I really wanted to do with my life after high school was to be a musician. I would have loved writing music for the movies. However, I was a realist. I figured this profession would more than likely lead to my living above someone’s garage rather than to fame and fortune. So I went to the University of Minnesota and discovered psychology. I thought “this is for me.” Here is a profession with stability. I took all of the psychology courses available. I went on to the University of Texas where I received my Ph.D. and got a job as a psychologist at Brainerd State Hospital. So for the first ten plus years of my life everything seemed to be as it should.
After several winters of 20 below zero those 90 degree days in Texas did not seem so bad. So I packed my bags and headed for Texas. Unfortunately, finding a job as a psychologist was not as easy as I had expected. For over five years I did odd jobs including working manpower for minimum wage while I applied for psychologist jobs in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Now I blame my inability to get a job, in part, on my Minnesota upbringing. Certainly I am not the only one to experience this. First of all, people in Texas thought I talked funny. Ya sure, you betcha. Some of youse guys know what I mean.
Second, being from Minnesota I was honest. So when someone asked me during an interview what psychological tests I gave I answered “I’m not aware of any psychological tests that help people get better.” I was a true Minnesota dust bowl empiricist. I believed in face to face conversation and behavioral checklists.
Third, we all know Minnesotans are humble. When you apply for a job in Minnesota you say things like “Sure, I received a Noble Prize but all I did was extrapolate from the works of others.” Texans are known for bragging. In Texas you say you are twice as good as you really are. So here I am at an interview saying I am half as good as I really am and the interviewer is thinking I am exaggerating by two. Do the math!
Certainly I was stupid for leaving one job without lining up another but I had a good resume. If you do not mind a little Texas bragging, here are some of the things on my resume. First of all, I received a fellowship to the University of Texas by having high scores on the Graduate Record Exam. I was at the 99 percentile on the quantitative section and on the special test in psychology I scored two levels above the 99 percentile. While at Brainerd State Hospital (BSH) I created a program for chemical dependency called “Time Structuring” that received an award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. I used my quantitative skills to set up a system of program evaluation that enabled BSH to become one of only seven multi-services (psychiatric, chemical dependency, retardation) hospitals in the United States to be fully accredited. I also devised a survey and evaluation form that allowed Brainerd to be one of three areas in the state of Minnesota to receive funding for a special correctional program. I taught law officers in northern Minnesota how to deal with the mentally ill. I chaired a state-wide conference on program evaluation. I spoke before the Minnesota legislature. While chairman of the Minnesota Research Psychologists in Public Service I instigated the first comprehensive study of following state hospital patients in the community. However, none of this was good enough to land me a job in Texas, but before you feel sorry for me wait until you read Part Three.
I applied for a job with the U.S. Army at Health Services Command in San Antonio. They were tracking 16,000 army medical personnel by hand. They heard of something called a personal computer (this was the early 1980’s) and thought there was a better way. Any of you in Data Processing? I don’t want to give away any secrets but when it comes to computers, the poorer your interview goes the smarter they think you are. They must have thought I was a genius because they hired me on the spot!
I became their one-man Data Processing department. I started up the mainframe in the morning and took the saves at night. In the meantime, I created a menu driven system for inputting data, cranking out reports, and even threw in a way to get to the source code from a menu. I eventually received an award (no money!) for saving 500 man-hours per month. This lead to my next job in New Orleans with Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC).
At WCSC I became the database administrator for new software called Oracle. If I were smart I would have bought stock in the company. I attended Oracle’s tenth anniversary in Chicago where I was told that Oracle doubled their profits every year for ten years. Do the math on that!
Eventually I became the Chief of Data Processing at WCSC with several programmers under me including two with master’s degrees in computer science which brings me to Part Four.
I know it was a long time to get to Part Four but here is the part that affects each and every one of you. One day I got out my college transcripts and added up all of my credits in psychology classes. I came up with a total of 96 semester credit hours in psychology. Then I added up all of my college credits in computer science – zero. So I thought, “What if I had skipped college and went right into computers following high school?” Do you know that I would have had a ten year head start over Bill Gates! That’s right. So instead of boring you with the story of my life, I would instead be coming to my 50th high school reunion with a check for a million dollars for each and every one of you.
P.S. If you like my humor, go to Jay Alexander (My alias) of Covington Louisiana on Facebook or try the following link:
A CONTRIBUTION FROM CLARK ANDERSON
I feel enormously blessed to have attended North High during what some consider to be the Halcyon days of education. Perhaps some of you would agree that what we learned at North prepared us for what would become our life journey. If the old adage holds true that luck is created when preparation and opportunity collide, then we were fortunate to have been provided an abundance of both at North. Then added to that, the opportunities to participate in a rich and broad range of activities such as music, sports, clubs, theater, and other special events, created further impetus to face future endeavors. For me the added warmth and social camaraderie of friendly Polarites, fostered by a stimulating and warm learning environment, provided the boost I needed to persevere, and move on into my future years. I especially loved being elected and serving as North High Band president.
After benefiting from the kind mentoring of Mr. Villas, and Mr. Alm and the preparation provided by the rest of the North High faculty, I went on to graduate from the U of M with a dual major in trombone and voice with a minor in theater. I was elected president of the music department’s chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinphonia of America. During those U of M years I performed with the Concert Band Ensemble, the Football Marching Band (marched in the Rose bowl that year), Chamber Singers, Men's Glee Club, Opera workshop (singing several roles), and the Orchestra. During my U of M years and beyond I also played gigs around town, with my own combo, and other Groups as well. Then, during the summer months, I would go on the road with other groups on tour.
After graduation, I taught High School Band for six years, and then was recruited to help establish the first College jazz program in Canada. During those teaching years, I finished my graduate work at the University of Miami (thank God for Sabbaticals) where I also taught one of the vocal jazz ensembles. In 1970 I married the love of my life who also happened to be a Professor (school of Nursing). We have one daughter who followed in our footsteps- becoming an educator.
During my full time teaching career at Humber College, I designed and taught over 20 different courses and taught many performing ensembles like vocal jazz ensemble, small jazz combos, and big bands, as well as teaching, theory, Jazz History, and film music. We were also able to bring in each year at Humber College, high profile jazz artists for clinics, master classes, and concerts. Among them Duke Ellington, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, and Oscar Peterson to name just a few.
After more than 30 years of College teaching, my wife and I retired from our academic posts. We left teaching on the same day - Sept. 1st, 2001, and have not looked back since. Both she and I wanted to try something new, something that we could share together, so we enrolled in art classes and became painters. Since leaving teaching our winters are spent in Naples Florida painting with a group of artists from across the US and Canada. Last year we celebrated our 40th anniversary by flying to Rome, on to Cairo, and then did a Nile cruise. If there is a travel gene we must have it because our list of destinations has grown very large over the years. For me, life has been exciting and rewarding with few regrets.
Mark Twain once quipped “life is just one damn thing after another.” I must admit there were times when it held true. But on the whole, life has been good. Here is wishing all of you, happiness, good health, fulfillment, and contentment in the golden years to come. I want to close with an aphorism by Ashley Brilliant “we may not be totally perfect, but parts of us are excellent.” Peace
PS When life deals us lemons, make lemonade.
Kathleen Sheridan Mitchell
Would You Believe It?
So you wanted my story in a short version huh? Well there is no short version because I have lived too long, but I will tell you some of what happened in my life after leaving high school…I always thought I was a popular well known girl in school and then 50 years later reality set in… especially when people said Kathy who? Great for my ego huh!
Well what can I say except that one day I sat down with my big ego and I wrote my life story, The very first line in the first paragraph I said “ Perhaps if I put my story down on paper I could move past nostalgia and self justification and become a more honest women!” WOW was I proud of that line…great story!! Fifteen years later I came across this “story” (or book of fiction I guess I could have called it) and as I sat down to read it I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard…more honest woman eh…I told three lies in the first paragraph alone!!! Well I guess that’s where I was during this time of my life, still trying to make it worthwhile.
But what I have to say today is important and whatever I did yesterday is not who I am. I love my life and now that I look back…I could never say it was dull for sure, lonely maybe…but never dull.
My life really started in 1989 when I found a whole line of abuses directed towards women. Maybe parts of my life prepared me for some of this, maybe not, but what I did find was, I gravitated towards those who others seemed not to see…the invisible and isolated women and youth of our society.
Do I have regrets? Sure there are some, but for the most part…”Heck NO!!!” Would I want to live parts of my life over? Once again “Heck NO!!!” But would I? If that is where God needed me to go that’s exactly where I would be. I loved working with the same women and children that God has said we need to help…my life has been changed gloriously because of this. I am not rich nor am I even well off, but I am rich in memories and the lives I have seen changed. (yaw, I know puke… puke… puke…but true)
There were times when I went to work in areas that sounded like the Midway at the State Fair…cars honking, motorcycles roaring, men yelling at young girls and other girls being beaten. I worked the auction block of our society where women and girls were being bought and sold at an alarming rate. Human Slavery/Trafficking is still alive and well and is second in crimes next to drugs and guns. Girls the ages of 10 and up taken from their homes when they should still be in school. Young girls who are being sold to men for their own sexual gratification.. Nothing gave me more pleasure than to rescue even just one girl from this horrific crime…to see one predator put in jail.
I may be retired now but I continue the fight…to educate communities…youth…women and men about the atrocities of Human Slavery. I could go on and on about this but not enough time and space. Someday I may even write a book, and maybe you will even read it. But right now:
This is my story and I’m sticking to it!!!!