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The City

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Keeping away from the city and avoiding opportunity.

This past March, I was a judge for a statewide student technology competition organized by the student association Business Professionals of America (BPA). I have done this several times now and have gotten to understand the drill pretty well—further helped by the fact that as a student, I was a BPA member. It wasn't the sort of thing that one would join or avoid voluntarily; enrolling in a vocational or similar program with a “business” focus meant automatic enrollment in BPA as far as I can remember. As a student, I voluntarily participated in a variety of competitions at the local and state levels and even picked up a few awards along the way.

Since my time as a member of BPA, I have driven my career over a variety of territory. My first professional job was in the supervision of a data processing department, where I made sure that the data that we received ran through the right programs to produce the results that we needed to provide the requisite service to customers. I worked also as a systems programmer, building software that would make the IBM RS/6000 (AIX 3.2.5) work better with the other system types found around the company network. From there, I went further into operating systems and low-level applications development, focusing generally on security and then as supporting security on networks. I have dealt with large-scale systems development and building security into complex infrastructure. Eventually I took a turn toward business in order to help close the gap (gulf) between what computer science showed we could do and what actually wound up getting deployed.

When volunteering to judge competition like that held at the statewide BPA conference, such variety of experience tends to be quite helpful. Consequently, I arrive as a volunteer to judge and find out where I'm needed the most that day. Typically it's in the (comparatively) more technical areas like software development or computer networking.

Networking was where I wound up this year, and had a conversation with one of the students after his presentation that I found to be, at best, disturbing.

The student seemed chatty after the presentation, so I engaged him and asked if they were able to stay in Columbus that night or whether they had to pack on the school bus in order to return home after a presentation that ran until after seven o'clock. Fortunately, they were able to stay. That would be nice for the students, able to get out a bit in order to see the city.

“I'm not interested” in seeing any of Columbus, he said. “It's too bad up here.”

Being skeptical that he could have any idea what he was talking about, I asked what he meant.

“Well,” he started, “I'm from Ross County. My dad worked up here and got shot at one morning. He got out of his truck and was walking up toward the building when he heard a gunshot and the glass of a window above him shattered. I don't know how people can live up here. I guess you just do what you have to so you can get by.”

One wacky story and he wants to see nothing of Columbus, as if it's somewhere on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Far be it from me to begrudge someone a preference but an irrational fear being used to drive a policy of living in avoidance of any perceived threat should be confronted. It's nonsense to avoid all opportunity so that all threats can be avoided. It is to suggest that the present circumstance is optimal and any change at all is one for the worse, so hold on to what you've got and wait to die.

Thank you, no.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2007-09-30 08:16 PM
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