Category Archives: Rants

The Naysayers Were Wrong About Pokemon Black and White

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I recently set out to add another installment to my series on The Right Way to Play Pokemon, this time focusing on Pokemon Black and White. It had been a few years since I’ve picked up and played either game. But from what I remember, this game was pretty big, and the selection of pokemon was immense, so I carefully researched recommended team members and even went as far as doing damage calculations to ensure that these team choices would work well. Then, I set out to test my findings on a copy of Pokemon Black.

I have fond memories of Pokemon Black and White. In spite of this, the fifth generation of Pokemon receives a disproportionate amount of hate from certain segments of the community. If they were to be believed, gen 5 was the worst generation of Pokemon, and a person would be better off spending their money on something different.

Hearing all these complaints, it sounded as though they were talking about a different game than I remembered. But then again, it had been years since I’ve played the games, so maybe I remembered them wrong. But as I did my research for to prepare my article, the complaints didn’t match what I was actually seeing.

These games seemed fantastic.

For starters, the selection of Pokemon just for the playthrough was huge. Not only that, the game was intentionally designed so that only new pokemon were available for the player to capture prior to the post-game, making players come out of their comfort zones and try something new.

Because, you know, Pokemon. That game series that’s known for its themes of science, technology, exploration, and making new discoveries? These versions in particular even went as far as to ensure that the games didn’t just boil down to the typical old experience of picking Charmander, catching Pikachu, then playing through the game with the same-ol’-same-ol’.

Video games are about challenge, after all. It’s not much of a game if what you’re playing is the same comfortable experience every time. We decide we want something new eventually, so the Pokemon series is only going to get so far by repeatedly pandering to a sense of nostalgia. Life isn’t just about looking back, it’s more about looking forward.

Not only that, the experience was very balanced. Just from researching team selections, one would get the idea that GameFreak saw to it. These games were packed with pokemon that would have made excellent team choices. The starter pokemon, as well as many pokemon you can catch, were varying degrees of great. Lillipup? That’s a great pokemon, available at the outset. Drilbur? Great pokemon. Sigilyph? Scraggy? Joltick? Archen? Petilil? There are so many pokemon that would make great team choices, that narrowing down the selection to just a few was a challenging task.

To make things more interesting, GameFreak redid the exp. formula so that low-leveled pokemon gained more, while pokemon that were higher-leveled gained less. This meant that freshly-caught pokemon could easily catch up with the rest of your team, making it harder to dismiss certain pokemon by reason of not already being a member of a team for a long time. It also made it less likely that pokemon that haven’t been performing as well would fall behind. Better yet, it also helped to keep your team from becoming overly centralized around just a couple battlers that would otherwise continually get high amounts of exp. because they’d win every battle. And to make it easy for lower-level pokemon to catch up, it’s easy to gain levels from wild Audino, which frequently appear.

Then there are the themes. To start with, the game opens up with a coronation:

 

I don’t know about you, but that intro really makes me want to play the game. Who is the guy in the freakish robe? Who are the sage-looking guys who look on? Who are those two women who also seem well-designed enough to be of significance? Who is the green-haired kid, and why is he being declared king? What is going on? If you want to find out, keep playing the game!

Pokemon Black and White actually have a story. I’m usually pretty cynical about stories in video games, as they usually amount to hack fiction that serves as little more than a pretext to continue playing the game, as though the game mechanics didn’t do a good enough job. Pokemon games usually don’t have much in the way of story outside of “you’re a boy in a red hat who beats up an evil team on the way to becoming champion”, so it’s a change of pace to see a Pokemon game that has a story, and a surprisingly well-developed one.

The source of conflict is a man who runs an organization that sets out to free pokemon from humans. He sets up someone else as leader so he’ll have someone to hide behind and act through as the man behind the scenes. His organization also challenges what players have been doing in Pokemon games for years, making them think about what they’ve been doing all this time. It’s more complex than just a case of “bad guy wants to take over the world”.

Also of note is the story involving the character of Bianca:

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As cheerful as Bianca looks, her story isn’t as cheerful. While most characters in Pokemon have the support of their parents, Bianca set out on her Pokemon journey against the wishes of her dad. While it’s easy to write him off as a stodgy curmudgeon, he is actually very protective of her, and considering that she projects vulnerability all over the place, it’s easy to see why.

If you’re used to chasing dreams because of so many games and movies that encourage you to do so, the conclusion of Bianca’s story hits like a dose of reality. Bianca finds out that she’s not well-suited to her goals, and that her endeavors were almost certain to end in failure, however enthusiastically she may have tried. For how cheerful the Pokemon games usually are, that’s a difficult lesson to have to contemplate. Oftentimes, people learn the hard way that they’re not well-suited to their career choices, and a person might not end up doing what they want to do, however much they may have wanted to do so.

Adding to the replay value is the fact that the seasons in Pokemon Black and White change depending on the month you’re playing the games. This can change the accessibility of certain areas and items depending on when you’re playing, and can make things slightly more or less convenient. A player can actually stand on a snow bank that otherwise wouldn’t be there if it weren’t winter in-game! Not only that, there’s a different tileset for most overworld locations depending on when you’re playing.

That’s well beyond what’s necessary for a game that’s already huge, and adds yet more replay value to a game that was already gushing with it.

Conveniently, there’s a battery indicator on the HUD on the bottom screen. As in, an indicator of the battery level of the system you’re playing on. That’s such a great convenience, that I wonder why more games didn’t implement it, and why more games don’t do it now. And not only that, it tells the time. And the strength of your wireless connection.

Come to think of it, why do these games get dumped on so heavily? When was it that these games came out? What does the Wikipedia article say?

pokemon bw release dates.png

Oh. That explains it. Pokemon Black and White were released when the hipster movement was in full-swing, and it was considered trendy to dump on anything mainstream, regardless of how high-quality the products may have been.

But hey hipsters, you got to dress in trashy clothes and bash on stuff that was actually great. That’s what you were going for, right? If so, mission accomplished, you missed out on some excellent games just so you can be a snot.

Stop hating on things just because a bunch of other people have arbitrarily decided with one accord to bash on it. You have a brain, use it.

So far, this article has only considered the first Black and White games. After these games were released, there would be direct sequels. While Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were basically re-tiles of Sun and Moon, and GameFreak is famous for releasing¬† Kanto remakes, with Black 2 and White 2, new areas have been woven into the setting, which made the games feel like a new experience, even though the setting was the same as in the previous games. What’s more, the pokemon selection has been amped up by integrating older pokemon before getting into the post-game. Lucario fans, rejoice.

While most Pokemon games start you off in a small town without a pokecenter or gym, but with a convenient professor’s lab, BW2 starts you off in a decent-size town with it’s own gym and pokemon center, and the professor’s lab is located somewhere far off. That’s right, Pokemon actually tried something different. Not only that, the main character’s mom is a retired pokemon center nurse, so there’s an explanation for why she’s able to heal your pokemon that goes beyond mere game mechanic convenience.

Also, Challenge Mode. The sequels give you the option to play a harder game. That’s great for players like me who wanted an additional challenge. The only complaint would be that it’s only available in one of the two versions, and not before the post game, but the sharing of unlock information can make this available to players with the other version regardless of whether they’ve made it to post-game.

That’s right, there’s a feature that enables the sharing of version-exclusive features with someone who has the other version. That’s another feature that hasn’t been implemented into a Pokemon game since the fifth generation, probably because a lot of petty naysayers dumped on its many attempts at innovation, resulting in the GameFreak that we see today that seems hesitant to try anything new.

There’s also Pokemon Dream Radar, which allowed players of BW2 to have tons of items, pokemon with hidden abilities, and legendary pokemon, right at the game’s outset if they so choose.

So many exciting features, and such well-made games that are packed with content. Why does anyone pick on the fifth generation of Pokemon?

Oh yeah, the hipster movement. That’s another one of those fads that I’m glad is over.

If you’ve made the choice to actually play Pokemon Black or White, you have chosen well, and you’ve done well to resist the discouragement that comes with all the undeserved hate that these games get. If you’ve yet to give them a try, you’ll find that they are true gems in the 3DS library.

I’m smarter than your dog.

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Have you ever been driving down the street and you see one of those cocky bumper stickers that says something like “My dog is smarter than your honor student”, and you thought to yourself, “Man, how arrogant can people possibly be?”

Okay dog owners, if you’re so proud of your inbred abomination and are so sure of its abilities, then how about having a go at it? I actually did graduate with honors, so if you want to compare what your dog can do with an actual honor student, then let’s see you put your dog’s smarts to the test. Not that I expect your dog to compete with even an average kindergarten student in terms of intelligence. If your dog can write compelling essays, interpret data from a scientific study, and perform integral calculus, then we can talk.

What’s that? Are you saying that that’s not reasonable to expect from a dog? That’s just my point. Just about any human student, regardless of education level, is smarter than a dog, and if a dog were to enroll in a public school or community college, the expectations of its owner would be shattered, while the poor animal wouldn’t even be able to comprehend what was happening to it. Though if a college were to offer a course on learning to crap on paper, then perhaps your dog really could rock that GPA.

Dogs aren’t just stupid, they’re annoying. Sometimes, I’d walk down a street in my neighborhood, savoring the sunshine and the gentle breeze, when suddenly it’s ARF ARF ARF Here come some genetically-engineered pile of muscle and teeth! You might be saved by the chain-link fence separating you and the monstrosity, but not if the heart attack it causes gets you first.

Is this what dog owners mean when they say that their dogs are smart? Then, after the dog nearly scares you to death, the owner comes out and yells at it, as though they expected anything different from a degraded wolf that is biologically predisposed to barking at everything that moves. Dogs are even worse in the city, where people are just about everywhere, so dogs almost always have something to bark at.

If you’re considering getting a dog, understand that there will be days that it will annoy people who just walk down the street, who will then entertain fantasies of shooting the thing.

That might even be what the dog wants, too. Dog breeds are various degrees of degradation of the wolf specie, many of which continually tremble, labor to breathe through bunched-up snouts, and in some cases, they even spontaneously die.

poodle.jpgIts entire existence is pain.

Humans have monkeyed with nature, breeding a range of detrimental characteristics on a victimized specie for our own amusement.

And they still aren’t very smart.

Stop complaining about learning math.

One of the most annoying things that I hear in an academic setting is someone asking a math teacher “when am I going to use this in life?”

It’s even worse when the math teacher doesn’t seem to have an answer for them, or they don’t seem to want to answer. The teacher has a perfect opportunity to explain their efficacy to society and at the same time smash one of the stupidest and most persistent questions in the history of academia by answering it with a set of well-made observations, but they don’t take it. It’s a tragedy.

The reason people ask this question is because they’re not in the mood for something that doesn’t give them an immediate dopamine rush, and they feel justified in dismissing something abstract, the application of which isn’t immediately evident to them. They’ll happily play complex JRPGs on their phones wherein they manipulate multipliers to give a statistical advantage, but when it comes to learning basic algebra, it suddenly becomes a chore. Then, afterwards, they’ll brag to one another about how bad they are at math because for some reason that’s something that they’re proud of.

You don’t learn math in school because someone is going to make you use it in your theoretical job, you use it to prove that you’re not an ignoramus. As a potential employer sees it, if a person is good at math, they are good at following procedures and solving problems, which is pretty much what math is. As hiring managers see it, if one applicant knows integral calculus and the other is a D student that barely passed high school algebra, and they’re both asking for the same pay, he’ll pick the one that’s not a doofus, even if the job doesn’t require the use of calculus.

The fact is, knowing more advanced math makes you more competitive.

When a person asks when they’re going to use the math that they’re learning, what they’re demonstrating is that they don’t have much insight as to how competitive they’ll have to be in a job market where having a college degree doesn’t guarantee one a well-paying job shortly after graduation.

People who think that math is boring simply don’t know about the history of math. You may have heard about the Pythagorean Theorem, it’s the geometric formula that goes something like this:

a2 + b2 = c2

The Pythagoreans were a gnostic cult, which means that they believed that there was an advantage to be had in keeping certain information secret. If the Pythagoreans had it their way, they’d have kept the formula to themselves. They actually killed someone after one of their members leaked the formula to someone who wasn’t in their sect. Knowing this, it’s kind of hard to want to credit the Pythagoreans with this formula, as they would have left us to try to figure it out on our own.

So yeah, someone actually died over this. And now a bunch of disinterested kids are doing what they can to get out of learning it because they think it’s boring and they don’t comprehend how being better at math can make them more money in just a few years.

People say that they like science and technology because they want people to think that they’re smart, but when it comes to learning the math that scientists, engineers, coders and technicians must learn, they’re suddenly reduced to being mere hapless witnesses staring at the dry-erase board in the front of the classroom with glazed-over expressions.

If you think you’re so smart, prove it, and learn some math.

The Agony of Paper Towel Dispensers

This might seem at first blush to be yet another E/N post about something that doesn’t really make a difference. But when you’re in a public restroom, when the stakes are high over sanitary conditions, it matters more that paper towel dispensers work properly.

For some reason, it seems like I’m the only one for whom these dispensers will work. The ones I’m talking about look something like this:

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You see it, right? It says right on these machines that you’re supposed to pull down on the paper towel with both hands. When done right, the next one loads, and that’s one less surface in an unsanitary restroom that we have to come into contact with. But hold on, the one in the picture uses an illustration instead of words. So, there’s even less of an excuse to mess this up.

Yet, people still do. Oftentimes, some meathead will go in, do his business, then after washing his hands he’ll yank down on the towel with one wet hand, tearing away at the towel, and leaving the next guy with the onus to turning the knob to get the next towel to dispense.

We don’t want to turn the knob. It’s usually a moist germ farm which, upon contact with it, would necessitate washing one’s hands again.

Why even install mechanical paper towel dispensers in the first place? Why is so much mechanical complexity even necessary for something as simple as providing paper towels? You know what would be a lot more efficient? Just leaving a stack of paper towels on a shelf. It would be a snap to just take one, and it would be much easier for the janitorial staff to replace them. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is the easiest one.

And no, I don’t want to dry my hands with those blow driers. You know which ones I mean, they’re the ones where you hit the button with your elbow to get it to run for a few seconds. They also have the motion activated driers, but you’d have to nearly touch your hand to the machine to get them to work. Then you’d have to rub your hands beneath them for about a minute-and-a-half, then maybe they’ll get dry, but not likely from the air supplied from the machine itself, but from the friction of rubbing your hands together.

The makers of those blow driers must know that they’re junk, because they went an made an “improved” version: the jet drier. Those ones blast your hands so hard that you can see an indentation from the air blowing from the machine as you put your hand under it. Is all that force really necessary? I don’t want to get stretch marks just from drying my hands.

If it’s really worth getting your hands dry, then sometimes it’s worth sacrificing a few trees. I know that the pretext is saving the environment, but when I’m in a public restroom and my hands are wet, it’s paper towels that get the job done right.

I know I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately, so I think it’s about time I present a solution: to spread those paper towels around. It goes like this: If you see a public restroom that uses garbage mechanical dispensers or those smug air driers, make note of it. Then, next time you visit the establishment, take some paper towels with you and set them out. It might be somewhat inconvenient, but you’d be making public restrooms slightly more bearable for the rest of us.

“Good morning” is your opinion of the morning.

When it comes to greetings, “good morning” is among the worst. To understand why, you’d have to do as I often do: analyze things more than necessary.

For one thing, it doesn’t wish well to the recipient. It hardly even acknowledges their existence outside of the very fact that the statement was directed towards them. What it does acknowledge is the time of day, and the speaker’s opinion of it.

What makes it potentially insensitive is that “good morning” doesn’t even consider the opinion of the hearer. How would you know that that person’s morning was good? What if it wasn’t? What if that person had to rush their daughter to the emergency room in the middle of the night, and after a couple suspenseful hours, discovered that she had cancer? Is it a very “good morning” for him?

Sometimes, mornings suck. Not every morning is great for everyone. I know what someone might say in response: “But I wanted them to feel appreciated, like someone is happy to see them. Is it wrong to make someone know that someone really cares about them?” If that’s what you mean to say, then say that. The main deterrent to doing so would be that it would take more words than a banal acknowledgement of the time of day. Sometimes, something that’s worth doing takes effort. Do you actually care?

Stop abusing communication with ritualistic blurbs. If you have an intent, learn to properly express it.

Sometimes, you’ll see someone at work that makes a point of saying “good morning” to whoever they deign to. There’s someone like that where I work, and he said “good morning” to me. Out of legitimate concern? No, to fish for reciprocation, because when he didn’t hear me say “good morning” right back, he started mumbling something while trudging off. To give you an idea of the kind of self-centeredness that would take, there have been god-emperors that have not felt entitled to an obligatory salutation.

By the way, when someone says “good morning” to me, I usually say “good morning” right back. Sometimes, when you respond in kind, that’s just what it takes for someone else to realize how silly they sound, and they know to feel embarrassed.

I know I sound like I’m making a big deal out of something that really isn’t one, but there was something that happened recently that got my gears grinding. One time, when it was early in the morning, I was approaching a gas station to use their restroom. As I did so, someone sitting outside spoke a loud “GOOD MORNING” at me. I suspected that she worked for the gas station, so I didn’t pay it much mind. After entering, the man behind the counter also directed a loud “GOOD MORNING” at me.

At that point, I suspected that it was made a company policy to direct insincere greetings at random strangers, and for a moment, I pondered just how glad I was that my job didn’t have me work with the general public.

But then, I tried opening the restroom door, but it was locked. There was a sign on the door saying that it was locked early in the morning for some reason.

What gives? They wish me a “good morning” with all the false enthusiasm that they can fake, but they don’t care enough about my health and well being to leave the restroom open for me? If you won’t extend to me the courtesy of using your facilities to relieve a sore bladder, then why should I care what your opinion of the morning is?

At that point, I actually considered going out back to take a leak there, but that idea was quickly decided against when I discovered a police car stationed in a nearby vacant lot, in line of sight of the back of the gas station. So, they keep the restroom locked, and an officer is ready to swoop down on anyone who would go out back? Seems like entrapment to me.

I really don’t know why so many people like telling me that the morning is to their liking. But they are welcome to their opinions, even if an opinion that is overly general and not even grammatically proper. The correct way to express the opinion would be “It is a good morning.” Upon saying this, the listener would be put in a position to ponder just what informs the speakers opinion as to what makes a morning good. Perhaps they think it’s a good morning because they don’t like rain, and it’s not raining. But, agriculturally speaking, rain is necessary and therefore good to have. A farmer might have preferred to have more rain, so their land would be more profitable. Not everyone has the same opinion.

One could say the same thing about “good afternoon” and “good evening”. It’s the same half-hearted ritualistic greeting, just different times of day. For some reason, mornings are easier to pick on. I suspect that that’s because there’s a caffeine deficit to tend to.

Just for kicks, here is a list of things that can make my morning better:

  • Having my coffee, eggs, and toast prepared. Especially coffee.
  • My second mug of coffee.
  • Video games.
  • More coffee.
  • (redacted)
  • Another cup of coffee.
  • Catching something rare in Pokemon Go.
  • Another cup of coffee at around noon.

These would improve my view of a particular morning. Not that I’d feel obligated to share an unsolicited opinion of it. I certainly wouldn’t expect random people walking down the street to care what that opinion would be.

Smoking is stupid.

There are a lot of smells that I hate. One of them is cheap laundry detergent. They add abrasive smells to them to make people think they are making their clothes cleaner, to the point that they’re so strong that they slap people in the face. Then people start wondering why they start breaking out, and there’s suddenly this epidemic of chemical sensitivity that leads to the purchase of “free and clear” products without the eye-watering smells.

476416.jpgThe kind of thing you should have gotten to begin with.

You might not actually have “sensitive skin”, it might be that your body has had enough with the cheap-o laundry detergents, and it’s trying to tell you to stop.

Another smell that I detest is most perfumes. I don’t know where women got the idea that wearing perfume made them more attractive. They didn’t get that idea from me. The problem is marketing, which is behind a lot of stupid purchases. To make matters worse, people get used to the smell and think they need to use more for the same effect, while the rest of us are overwhelmed by their eye-watering stink.

I know I said “most” perfumes, because some aren’t that bad. But that’s not intended as an escape clause so you can still wear your perfume on the chance that you’re not wearing the kind of trash that men actually have a problem with. If you want to smell clean, take a shower and stop covering up whatever smell you’re trying to hide.

What was it I was going to write about? Oh yeah, smoking.

Smoking is stupid, and people need to stop doing it. Even people who smoke say that they want to stop doing it, but they find it hard because they have an addiction. The fact is, nearly everyone recognizes smoking as addictive to begin with, with labels on the packaging itself serving as warning. If the packaging on the product that you consume contains a warning from the Surgeon General telling you that it can kill you dead, then maybe you shouldn’t have consumed it to begin with. But people are so short-sighted that something so obvious didn’t serve as enough of a deterrent.

People talk of addiction as a disease, now. Except that it isn’t, and those with addiction can stop using this victimhood platitude. Real diseases don’t require constant purchases in order to be maintained. If anything, they usually lead to the purchase of products in attempts to cure them, or at least alleviate their symptoms.

If you want to stop smoking cigarettes, just stop buying them.

I know how addiction goes, it makes you really want to do something. I know that some might be thinking, “That’s easy for you, because you’re not addicted to cigarettes.” The reason why I can put it into practice is because I have self control. Here’s the thing: you can decide not to do something, even if you really want to do it, and it’s better for your character if you realize that your self-control benefits you or society as a whole.

There are so many deterrents when it comes to smoking, but there are also many incentives to not smoking, like having more money. The median price of a pack of a certain brand of cigarettes including tax by state is around $7 (source), which was a lot more than I expected. If a person smokes a pack a day, they are flushing $49 a week down the toilet, or $210 a month.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind taking home $49 more a week in pay. With that kind of money, a person could buy a brand new video game every ten days. It would also help if you want something to eat besides macaroni and cheese.

I wouldn’t care so much about whether other people smoke if it weren’t for the smell that came from them when they did it. But their problems become everyone else’s, and complaining about it on some web page is a more pro-active solution than just “dealing with it”.

Speaking of, it’s ironic that when someone says “deal with it”, what they mean is just the opposite, which is more like “just shut up and take it”. I’m not going to just take it, because when I recognize a problem, I do something about it. And when that problem is you, you’re close to wishing you were someone else.

Smokers “deal with it” by going outside to smoke, because they know that no one else likes the way they smell, and they are being considerate of other people. Just kidding, they go outside because it’s a rule, and they don’t want to be punished for breaking it. Most restaurants don’t have smoking sections anymore, because they weren’t enough of a solution for the rest of us. So, outside with them. But when they go outside, they position themselves right by the door, so the wind blows their smell inside. Where there’s a way to defeat the intent of the rules that are in place, people can be counted on to find a way to do so.

Worse yet, the smell clings to just about everything that smokers go near, ruining the smell of clothing and even the upholstery of your car. It would be nice to go home to get away from it, but that’s hardly likely if you live in an apartment building, because when you open the windows to let in some fresh air (actual fresh air, not just spraying canned smells), there’s a chance that someone is smoking just outside, and it blows right in.

Because natural selection isn’t acting quickly enough on smokers, tobacco companies add various deadly chemicals to their products, because apparently tobacco companies don’t like smokers, either. Here are a list of a few common additives:

  • Acetone – An industrial cleaning agent
  • Ammonia – a household cleaning agent
  • Arsenic – a poison found in pest control products
  • Carbon Monoxide – an odorless toxic chemical
  • Lead – a toxic metal that causes neurological damage
  • Naphthalene – a toxin used in pest control products
  • Nicotine – an addictive additive conductive to growth of tumors
  • Tar – used to pave roads

This is the point where you realize that trying to get someone to quit smoking is like trying to convince them that huffing arsenic is a bad idea. It’s obvious to most of us why it’s a terrible idea with no benefits to speak of, but you’ll occasionally come across someone who will hear it and, taking another puff, would say “Yeah, so?”

In that case, what you’re up against is the sheer force of stupid. I encounter it frequently. Stupid drives with less care in the rain instead of more, views lottery tickets as an investment, thinks RAM is something you can download, makes financial decisions based on daily horoscopes, and pays to use YouTube. And stupid smokes.

Smoking is stupid.

The False Narrative of Electronics Technology

I’ve attended a 2-year trade school majoring in Electronics Engineering Technology. It’s been a couple years since I’ve graduated with honors, and even though it pains me somewhat to write this, I feel as though it might benefit someone if they are considering majoring in the same thing:

I feel as though I’ve been sold a false narrative concerning Electronics Technology.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the program or that I wouldn’t choose the same thing if I were to go back in time and choose from the same school’s list of majors. However, there is a noticeably wide disparity between what students majoring in the subject expect in terms of earning potential and the reality that awaits them after they’ve walked across the stage.

I admit that I’ve read about it somewhere online, but largely chalked it up to someone making some poor choices with their degree. But after having had experience with several employers, the disappointing wages that I’ve seen discussed seem consistent with what I’ve seen out in the field.

First, the expectation. I know that a lot of people see the word “engineering” in the title of the program and assume that the degree prepares the student for a career in electrical engineering, wherein it’s not unusual to make around $90,000 a year right out of college, possibly even more. That’s some buy-a-car-and-own-a-home money, right there. Of course, it’s reasonable to be skeptical that someone would rake in that kind of dough right after graduating with a 2-year degree; Electrical Engineering is far more challenging and is a 4-year degree (that’s not unusual to take 5 to 6 years to finish).

A more realistic expectation would be to have the understanding that Electronics Technology prepares one to work as an Electronics Technician, and for how difficult the coursework is, one might expect to make something like $50,000 a year right out of school.

Was that what you were expecting? Here comes the disappointment: the typical hourly rate for an Electronics Technician is from $16 to $20 per hour.

That’s it. Around $34,000 a year. I know someone who makes that kind of money as an automotive technician, and he doesn’t even have a college degree.

That’s a disappointing amount of money considering the kind of hard work it takes to get a degree in EET. While most people are put off by the more complex math and only take the algebra courses needed to graduate high school, Electronics Technology has you learning whole new numbering systems. While most people are happy just to have a computer with a high clock speed, Electronics Technology has you learning about computing architecture and networking. Are you ready to learn about the alpha and beta ratings of transistors (and then not likely use this information in your job)? The trigonometry course that’s required isn’t like high school trig; on the college level, it’s a whole new ball game. I even went beyond and took a calculus course. From what I can tell, even engineers rarely have to use derivatives and integrals.

And for what? To make just a few dollars more than a new hire at an upscale gas station? Even now, I’m barely getting by in an apartment, and currently don’t have a car. I didn’t just get a super-hard degree, I did so with honors. Something seems wrong, here.

I’ll give you an idea of just how hard it is to be an EET major. There are majors in the college that graduate about 25 out of the 25 students that enroll in them as freshmen. Other majors seem to do well at retaining their students. For EET, it’s different. It’s not unusual for freshmen to drop like flies in the first month of the first semester. It’s likely that only around half of freshmen make it to the second semester. They often fail out due to poor grades, or withdraw because it turned out much harder than they imagined.

If you’re curious, those that stick around often make fun of those who don’t make it. Even those who withdraw within a month of the first semester are joked about as far in as year two.

It seems that only about a third of freshmen make it as far as the second year. Those that do usually make it to graduation. It’s not that the coursework is any easier, but those who make it to second year demonstrate the diligence necessary to see it through to the end.

Their reward? They become qualified to make 16 Snickers bars an hour at some place that can fire them for forgetting to plug in their static strap. Of course, they’re being taxed, so they’d be taking home less than that.

I know that the market decides the value of one’s skills, which is a highly nuanced topic, but how is it that something that’s so hard to become qualified to do pay so little money?

Don’t get me wrong, I do like my job. Still, there’s something disappointing about getting into a sort of “smart-guy” field and getting really good at it only to discover that there’s not as much money in it as you thought. There’s a false narrative surrounding Electronics Technology, which one would expect a school’s guidance counselors to feed into, but is self-enforcing by the expectation that if something is really hard to do, the outcome of accomplishing it must be much more desirable. One lesson that one can learn from this is that a more difficult path doesn’t necessarily mean the rewards are greater.

Knowing this, would you still major in Electronics Engineering Technology?