The Right Audience

Sometimes when you’re frustrated by the message you’re hearing it’s because you’re not the right audience for the message.

Thinking that all the messages you hear are for you is selfish. Thinking they’re only for others is foolish.

Appreciating the message for how it matches the audience encourages a lack of selfishness.

A lack of selfishness is humility.

Humility leads to wisdom.

How I did 24 Semester Hours in One Semester in College

Before I knew the Theory of Constraints (TOC) existed I knew something about constraints.  College for me was something that was done after my 10-12 hour military duties on nights and weekends.  To achieve my career goals I often had to take more than one class at a time. I would have more family time if I selected classes that were complimentary to one another.  

What’s a complimentary class?

A complimentary class is one where the research and learning in one class can be applied in the other class.  It’s a pretty simple concept. Take classes that make sense together. While I applied this as opportunity permitted while working on my associates degree I took it to a whole new level while working on my bachelors.

In order to participate in an Army program for school I had to finish my bachelors in 18 months and make them the most productive possible.  Some of the coursework from my associates had to be redone in that time frame. For example, I had taken the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test in English which is supposed to be worth six semester hours of English credit.  My associates program required me to take English in person, so I did. During the course I asked the professor what my grade would be if I never remembered the rule about who and whom. She told me something like mid-high 90s on the final, and that’s what I got.  I aced all the other questions, but the who/whom rule is something to this day I rely on proofreading tools to fix.

The CLEP and English associates courses didn’t count towards my bachelors either.  So there I was in my second semester as a full-time student. On loan to the school from the Army with a limited window to get my degree and needing to take classes that I’d essentially already gotten credit for.  Thankfully I learned a few things that first semester about scaling-up the amount of complementary classes and took it to a whole new level.  

I took English and Rhetoric at the same time.  Information from those classes flowed well into the international business course that included persuasion as part of the covered material.  I also took a course on cross-cultural differences, small unit leadership and general leadership skills. Research from one class could be used across multiple classes.  It was a lovely semester and it’s a good thing it all worked out too. That was the same semester we had our third child and without a course schedule like this I wouldn’t have finished on time or been able to spend much time being a dad and helping out the family.

SubjectCourseLevelTitleGradeCredit Hours
ENGL2010UGINTERMEDIATE WRITING (CL2)A3
GEO3100UGNATURAL DISASTERS (DSC)B3
LING4900UGCROSS-CULTURAL DIFFA3
MHR3820UGINTERNATIONAL MGMT (DSS)B+3
MS1020UGLEADERSHIP SKILLSA2
MS2020UGSMALL UNIT LDRSHIPA2
MS2400UGPHYSICAL READINESSA1
MS2420UGRANGER PREPA2
MS3020UGADVANCED TACTICSA3
MS4610UGMIL HISTORY SEM (DHA)A3
SPCH5000UGST: COMM CRITICISMB+3

How is this the Theory of Constraints?

As I mentioned before I didn’t know TOC existed.  The term was not in my vocabulary, but the concept was.  Research at school was the most time consuming aspect of that first full-time semester.  Time for research was the constraint. So, I needed to maximize the output value of any of the time spent in research.  I’d like to think that for that second semester I did a pretty good job with that. TOC’s versatility doesn’t extend to just the classes either.  It can also extend to the goals of what to do with the work created during the classes.

Absorbing The World

We’re naturally pretty good as a species as being aware of what’s around us at any given point in time. We’ve also invented systems that allow us to share what we interact with to others who aren’t sharing the same moments of time in the same place.

We call this, the news.

This might sound wrong, but once I had a critical mass of friends on Facebook I stopped watching the news. Those friends filtered the things I wanted to learn about in life. Who was having a rough day. What someone was having for dinner. Who was getting married. Those things were the best and most important news. Someone in a government hall thousands of miles away should always be less important than your friends.

Then the algorithm or interface changed. I no longer saw the news I cared about. I couldn’t set most recent as my default. So I turned it off and looked for other positive news influences in my life.

I came across Reason.com which is the most fair evaluation of politics I’ve ever come across. They write from a perspective that they’re not shy about and the parts of the news they cover are interesting.

I also like tech, so I read Arstechnica about once a week. Today I noticed an article about a man who changed his license plate to the word null.

When he did that he triggered something in the software. You see an empty value in certain systems is known as a null value.

So, let’s say someone got a parking ticket, but the license plate wasn’t recorded when the ticket got entered into the system. It would have a null value. The ticket would be assigned to the license plate with the null value.

Eventually what happened is the guy with the null plate got a ticket. The system associated all null value tickets with his license plate, address, and him. So he ended up getting charged with all the parking tickets that didn’t have plates. $12,000+ worth!

We brought up the article at lunch today among friends and they were surprised to see me so excited about a news article. So I had to explain my excitement. I did so by showing how more parts of our society are expressed in this story than what appears on the surface.

Firstly, we have the concept of parking tickets? Why do we have those? Why are they tracked at the state level? Great questions to be sure.

More questions: Why did this person want to do this? How much knowledge in computer systems did he need to have before he thought of this idea? Did he think this would be an outcome or something else? What was his inspiration?

Still more questions: What is the process for getting this resolved? What type of database was this? Who is responsible for the system running? Who built the system? What does this say about how we choose to interact with machines?

The rest of the news probably covered something a politician said. This though reveals a lot of wonderful questions about our society. I doubt the politician’s word were that insightful.