I filled out and submitted my CAO application early last week. On the form, I was asked to describe my qualifications and history in one thousand characters or less. Being the occasional idiot that I am, I skimmed the question and set myself the task of writing one thousand words. I came away with nine hundred-odd quality words on myself that I am going to publish here because I really think it’s a shame to put them to waste:
So here I am, possessed of one thousand words with which to convince you, the admissions officer, that I am indeed the best new thing since sliced bread arrived on our selves. I’m perfect. I’m a paragon of manly virtues; strength, softness, intellect, sternness, empathy, grit, humour, intensity, mellowness, modesty, pride, determination, nerve, verve, spunk, steadfastness and a strong jaw, all in one neatly packed five-and-a-half foot frame. Wow, go me.
Nine hundred and twenty four words left.
I am a geek, an enthusiast and dabbler. I love photography, astronomy, computer and network administration. I can argue Kirk versus Picard, contrast theism and atheism, argue the case for solipsism while professing a perversely ironic love of nihilism… but in each of these fields I remain the interested amateur.
I can construct a functional camera from a cardboard box and a sheet of photographic paper, have run small but productive photograph businesses on two continents, North American and Europe, organize photoshoots, exploit novel shooting techniques, retouch and manipulate images at the level of fashion magazines, but I have not a single formal accreditation certification that will testify to my skill and interest. I crave that.
In Las Vegas, the City of Sin, I was a wedding and children’s photographer who worked with unique and varied clients from every corner of our green Earth. My work from this period has been published related magazines based in Boston, Singapore, Tokyo, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Closer to home in rainy Ireland, I employed myself as a landscape and architectural photographer who specialized in the unique medium of near infrared light. These are fancy words for sticking a twenty euro filter onto the front of my lens and taking thirty second exposures, but it really does give me an incredible and unique image. I love the subtleties of materials that reflect and absorb different colours at different wavelengths and working out how to creatively integrate them into a composition.
I am local armchair expert in stellar formation. I appreciate the nuanced difference between a quark and neutron star, grasp the absolutely monumental importance of the possibility of an extant salt water ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa, but I don’t have the technical knowledge, the detail, the discipline, grammar and all the associated education that permit me to confidently lay out my ideas.
Six hundred and eight words left.
Call it trite to say it so, but I really have had an interest in space since childhood. My earliest memories are of watching science fiction films on television and being enthralled by the space shuttles in Moonraker, the Guild heighliner in Dune and yes, the good ship Enterprise, in Star Trek. I saw the Challenger disaster unfold on live television at the age of five. In the same year, I was held spellbound by Sir Patrick Moore’s coverage of Giotto space probe’s historic flyby of comet Halley. In 1989 I didn’t sleep during the two days of Voyager 2′s closest approach to the gas giant Neptune.
My interest has only burned brighter through the years. I keep abreast of the latest developments and discoveries in space science, stay in touch with the staff of NASA’s myriad imaging teams, have worked myself on calibrating and processing archived space probe images and occasionally pick my jaw back up off the ground at whatever new stunning revelation concerning our universe comes out this week.
The third part of my triumvirate of interests is network administration. In a brazen show of practicality, I have educated myself as a Linux system administrator. I’ve set up, administered and indeed continue to administer several Linux based networks. I’ve worked with Ubuntu – I am a Ubuntu Certified Expert, little meaning that the title holds, worked with Gentoo, Fedora, Suse, Novel and Red Hat proper. I’ve delved into OpenBSD for commercial and personal network and management. As I write this monumental monologue, this magnificent manuscript that sings praises to me, I am connected to a laptop in Nevada and simultaneously copying its contents to Amazon’s web services, formatting a connected pen drive and berating the owner for her lackadaisical approach to regular remote backups.
I have spent a decade, on and off, working with Linux and Unix systems. Occasionally I have even been paid for doing this.
At the end of it all, this is who I am. My formal education track is virtually nonexistent: Acquire Leaving Certificate. Start a job. Quit job. Travel world. Come home. Repeat. After a decade of this cycle I am presented by long-term unemployment with an opportunity to better myself. My preferred courses fall into three general areas as covered by all of the above, and I believe that I will be a fantastic addition to these courses, even as these courses will be a fantastic addition to me.