Post-Graduation Crossroads

Note: I will add a few links later.

APRIL 2 2009 UPDATE: Links are added.


I know I haven’t been blogging much lately even though I have much to say.  I think I should have more time in the next several weeks, because I’m now done with college!  Yay!  Well, not really.


Sure, I’m very glad I’m done with classes.  But with graduation comes the lack of anything to do, unless I have a job.  Unfortunately, there is no “glide path” to smooth the transition from college to the workforce.  The plan was for me to look for a job this past quarter.  Not surprisingly but dismayingly nonetheless, I have failed to secure a job at this point, in large part because I haven’t been able to send out as many applications as I would’ve liked.  Part of this is because I was busy, but most of it is probably more because I’ve been lazy.  So now my choices are to continue living in San Diego on my own saved money, which I don’t have much of, or return to Fairview to live with my parents for free.  Though I strongly dislike living with my parents, the lack of an income stream leaves me little choice but to do so; if I were to live in SD with no income, as I did in summer 2007, I would probably exhaust my savings, as I did then, and I have no desire to repeat that outcome.


All else being equal though I would’ve much rather had stayed in SD, because of a promising internship opportunity I found at the California Wolf Center in Julian, in the mountains about an hour northeast of San Diego.  I met with the internship coordinator (and overall Center manager) a week ago.  Besides learning all about wolf behavior, animal husbandry, facility maintenance and upkeep, education and administration, through the internship I would have the opportunity to do research, which is the activity that by far excites me the most.  I could do studies on behavior of wolves – which would be awesome since my top research interests* are in the behavior of large social predators, such as lions, hyenas, and… wolves! – AND… if I could complete a successful research project and publish a paper, that would give me a tremendous boost in applying to graduate school, one that could perhaps overcome my less-than-ideal GPA (3.0, and my major GPA might be even lower… yeeks).  And of course it’d be a great learning experience as well, both in terms of wolf biology and in terms of how to do scientific research (which, I readily admit, I’m still shaky on).


The catch to all this?  The internship is unpaid, and my parents would be unlikely to give me free help (I tried asking them a few days ago and they reacted angrily in the negative), and since in order to do the internship I have to live in San Diego, in order to live in San Diego I have to get a paid job in San Diego that could sustain me, and then I could go work at the California Wolf Center on whatever days I have off.  So that’s my goal right now.  I will apply to jobs everywhere of course, but my ideal outcome is to find a job in San Diego.  Because I want to do research at the Wolf Center during the summer, I’d need to find a job in San Diego as quick as I can so I can start on my internship ASAP, but I’m hoping that I’ll be back in SD no later than the beginning of June.


I have other reasons for wanting to return to SD as well: the weather is nice, beaches are fantastic, cost of living is probably slightly cheaper than the Bay Area, and I feel like I haven’t nearly finished exploring and getting my fill of the city yet.


So right now I’m preparing to move back to my parents’ place in the Bay Area.  But at this point I’m feeling a lot like General Douglas MacArthur in World War II.  After being forced to withdraw from the Philippines, MacArthur famously declared in March 1942, “I came out of Bataan and I shall return.”  Two years later he fulfilled his promise and returned to the Philippines.  I will return to San Diego, but I’m really hoping it won’t take two years.  Something on the order of two weeks would be much nicer.




*I’m also very interested in the behavior of large social herbivores (e.g. Cape buffalo, elephants, bison) and their antagonistic relationships with the large social predators that, in some extraordinary cases, are starting to adapt towards hunting them. (Lions preying on buffalo and elephants in the Okavango, as seen in the National Geographic program Relentless Enemies and on BBC’s Planet Earth, is a great example of what I’m talking about, and that’s one of the top few topics of interest I very much want to do research in.) I’m also very interested in antagonistic behavior between competing social predators – lions and hyenas being the classic example, and again a top research interest of mine.

Illinois 5th Congressional District Special Primary Election

The upcoming special congressional election in Illinois’s 5th Congressional District is a good opportunity for us liberals and progressives to finally reclaim a seat that should be ours.  IL-5 is solidly Democratic, but for the past six years it’s been occupied by former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D), whose politically-motivated centrist leanings are unbecoming of such a blue district.  Now he’s out and we have the chance to put a real liberal in his place.


My pick out of the bunch is Tom Geoghegan (pronounced “GAY-gun”), because he seems to be the strongest liberal voice for more active government that truly reaches out and helps ordinary Americans get on their feet.  Here’s the most compelling parts of his explanation of why he’s running (emphasis mine):


For years we’ve heard the doomsayers: “We can’t afford Social Security.” “We can’t afford ‘single payer’ national health.” One thing we all learned from the $700 billion bailout: We’ve got the money to do all of this and more. At the moment, the Federal Reserve is literally printing money, to give not billions but trillions to banks and financial firms. To the people of this District, the banks and others have gotten their money. Now it’s your turn.


For years, the conservatives have said: “We can’t do this. The money isn’t there.” Well, the money is there. It was there for the Iraq war, a colossal waste of money, and for the bailout, the first half of which has been a colossal waste as well. And if we now have the government pick up non-wage labor costs with the use of general revenues, we will in fact make it cheaper and easier for our companies to hire. This is in fact the best and most realistic approach for a long term recovery.


In my campaign, I will have a single minded focus on the economic security to working Americans, that’s why I so strongly support the Employee Free Choice Act and other changes in our labor laws. And that’s why I support policies that will reduce the debt of working Americans. Overall, the plan I am setting out here will help make our country more competitive.


I’m a strong supporter of President Obama. Yes, I strongly support his program to repair our infrastructure. Even so, we don’t have to pave the streets with gold. If not the meltdown then the bail out should have opened our eyes. The real fiscal stimulus has to be the kind that brings financial security to the middle class. The message of this campaign is: We’re moving beyond the bailout. Now it’s your turn.


Geoghegan’s overall message is strong, compelling, and very in keeping with the idea of an activist, affirmative government: There IS money in the federal government, and I’m going to deliver it to you, the American people, because it’s YOUR turn.


Besides his overall narrative, Geoghegan also takes the best stances on the issues: single-payer health care, nationalize the banks, stronger Social Security, etc.


This is not to say that the other candidates would be sucky moderates.  While I don’t know enough about this race to make a judgment one way or the other on my own, people on Daily Kos who do know more about this race than I do have praised pretty much all the putative front-runners, including Michael Quigley and Sara Feigenholtz, as genuinely strong liberals/progressives.  So we’re almost certain to end up with a winner.  And that’s a rarity in American politics, even in Democratic primaries.

MARCH 3 2009 UPDATE: Additional info on Daily Kos regarding local liberals’ feelings on the candidates can be found in the comments section of this entry.


MARCH 3 2009 UPDATE II: The winner of the Democratic primary is Mike Quigley.  While I’m neither surprised nor disappointed – Geoghegan always seemed to be more of a long-shot, Quigley was the closest thing this race had to a frontrunner and he’s a solid liberal who, by all liberal Democratic accounts, should be great in Congress – I am sad that Geoghegan placed rather low on the field – 7th out of a field of 12.  Well, best of luck to Quigley – he should easily win the general election in this heavily Democratic district – and here’s hoping that Geoghegan runs for something again in the future.