Growing up, I was the kid that took his toys apart – just to see why each toy did what it did. Predictably, I didn’t do a very good job of getting them back together again. But I was extremely good at sorting out the parts into category piles. The large screws went in one pile. Small screws in another. Springs. Batteries, sorted again by type. Plastic molding, sorted by size and then by color. Literally, I drove my parents up the wall with antics like this. This carried over into my bookshelves, my backpack, and any boxes I packed during family moves.
Anyone who has ever seen a location that I am living in, would swear that a tornado had just ripped through it. But that was quite untrue. Each location of debris was a pile of “something”. It looked like a disaster zone, but the cold reality was that I knew what that pile represented.
When I got into the United States Air Force, I did the same thing. I would go into the Plain Language Address files and arrange them alphabetically. I would look for duplicates. And I documented every change I made. For those that are not aware, PLA codes are how military communications traffic is addressed. Think of it as a seven character alpha-numeric IP address for each unit, base, and squadron. My second year (of the three I was at Sembach), my commander complimented me on the organization of the file and my documentation. As my reward, I was given control of the ACCMPS (where I worked) Tape Library. I did the exact same thing. I organized the tapes by age, determined the older tapes that needed to be removed from the system immediately, and eventually pulled off a swap with an Italian NATO squadron for new tapes (we gave them a pallet full of unused punch cards). I created a logging system where tape errors would be noted. Any tape that got a high number of errors, was removed from the system and replaced.
Me and my organization disease. After I left the Air Force, I worked on a handful of Tape Library positions throughout the DFW area. None were that satisfying. Everything was already organized. I moved over to Database and Systems Administration – and I found an entire world just waiting to be organized, cataloged, and filed. And every job I took, I did just that. It was appreciated in some sectors – not so much in others.
I still play with databases today. I have a database of every MLB season dating back to 1877. Every player’s hitting and pitching record. Every all-star appearance. All the stats for the post-season. And I updated it regularly throughout the season. Still working towards being organized and cataloged.
Being a professor, I don’t get that much time to catalog everything and organize materials. I spend too much time barking at the back of students’ heads with instructions that they never listen to – and inevitably ask about two days prior to the assignment being due. Occasionally, I get a student that is a model of efficiency, organization, and cataloged work materials. I marvel at how well these students are put together. I envy their free time to organize everything in a way that makes sense to them.
Lately, I have been thinking of pursuing a Masters degree in History, so that I could teach classes in History. And I realized that I was actually making a mistake. I like things to be organized. I like things to be cataloged and placed into an appropriate slot. I needed to chase down a Masters in Library Sciences. This would be the second time I have moved towards an MLS. The first time, I was disappointed with the push that was made to keep me in technology services. Now, I’m pretty sure I made mistake in not obtaining that degree. Don’t get me wrong, in moving away from the MLS degree, I was able to complete an MBA program instead. That, coupled with my Masters in Information Systems Security and my Bachelors in Computer Sciences with an emphasis on Database Management…I can see where all this fits together now. And I can actually see a career path that will set me into a challenging environment – where organization and cataloging items remains king — but is diverse enough to allow me to continue to foster my troubleshooting skills I have acquired in a long Information Technology career.
The strange part is that it came to me while reading through Cat Treadwell’s “A Druid’s Tale”. In a section entitled “Open or Closed” – I had written a few notations in my own journal about what I was reading. One of the remarks I had made was:
…are you really understanding the Path you are on Tommy? Are you searching for that ‘something better’ and just haven’t realized that you already had your feet on that Path?
It took me a few times in meditation to realize…my comment was correct. The career path of Librarian uniquely suits my skillset. As odd as it sounds, my love for books and technology let me stand in between those two opposing points of view. I am unique in my perspective there…and the time to step into that breach is now. A request for information regarding the MLS programs at both UNT and TWU has been sent. Its time to pick up my own gauntlet.