Don't Panic.

I arrived in the mountain town of Boone, North Carolina, five days ago, my little red pickup Baby loaded down with everything I'd need to start a new Official Graduate Student life here.

Then the kick-ass housing situation I'd been counting on fell through.

Don't panic. Meet grad students, sleep on their couches, join, buy beer for your hospitable hosts. When the couches run out, decide to go camping at the last minute. Keep looking for the right place to live. DON'T PANIC.


Yesterday I was in class with a lot of uncertainties. We're writing a proposal for my university to compete in a Big Important Prestigious-As-Hell Competition. The rulebook is an inch thick. We have almost no idea how we're going to get the proposal done in time.

As I am wont to do, I kept raising problems I could foresee. How are we gonna transport this thing a thousand miles without damaging it? How much of the fabrication will we do in-house? Finally one of the profs said something to the effect of, "Don't panic about that. We'll figure that out."


I realized that every job is subject to these tensions. Do we make it ourselves or outsource it? What tolerance can we get away with here? Do we build it to last for generations, or just to last long enough?

Some part of me has been hoping that these issues would disappear one day. That eventually budget would cease to be a concern, so I could stop worrying about how much things would cost and just focus on how it's made.

But these things never go away. Everything costs something. The job is to deal with these factors, these tensions, without panicking.

Life Flux

Guatemala photos here

Many stories to tell.
The project I was lined up for was more engineering-y than my background and skillset. I worked on it a little, and spent a lot of time making various things. I talked safety, I talked about what tools to buy next, I got the flu, I fixed things, etc. Actually I was sick a lot of the time. Thank the sweet lord for antibiotics.
Climbed the Pacaya volcano in my last week there. Went to Lago Atitlan a couple days. Only a few days in was nice but it gets old quick.
A great experience, all in all. But I am a lot less idealistic about being able to make a career doing that kind of work. Seems like everyone involved is a volunteer, more or less.

The plan was to treat my time in Guatemala as a 'field internship' to earn the last credits of my undergraduate degree. This worked, somehow, and now I'm a few days from graduating with a VCU Bachelor's of Interdisciplinary Studies degree (concentration in Appropriate Technology)
.....and after only 12 years and 27 institutions...... *

So, now what?

The plan is to earn an M.S. in Technology with a concentration in Appropriate Technology from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. This is the only 'AT' graduate program in the country, to my knowledge. Through the Academic Common Market, I am an in-state student, tuition-wise, even though I'm from Virginia. And they have a nice 50s-era Department of Technology building, with what appear to be well-equipped wood and metal shops. They were a big factor, perhaps not surprisingly.

Earlier in the summer, I was working on a really cool prototype of a fuel cell system for a small start-up in Richmond. Great place to work, and I was doing some fun/challenging 3-D solid modeling in AutoCAD Inventor. I was ready to take a more permanent position, defer my grad school admission, and stay on for the fall or longer. They were down, but the money wasn't there to pay me.

So grad school it is. I move to Boone on Saturday.
Eventually I suppose I have to end my career as a professional student. But not yet.

*actually more like 6 years and 5 colleges