Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

Workshop Weekend Arduino April 26-27 in Oakland

I’ve been teaching weekend-long Arduino intensive classes with some friends for the last year or so. It’s gone amazingly well. We’ve got another class coming up April 26-27 at Tech Liminal in Oakland.

If you want a huge jump start, join us. Tell your nearly-dorky friend about the class too. As a teacher, I’ve got a $50 discount code to give you: arduteach888

Check it out at

Aio Wireless Referral Fee Split

I’ve been using Aio Wireless for a few months now and I like it very much. Cell service is every bit as good as AT&T for 1/2 the cost.

Send me an email and I’ll refer you to Aio Wireless. We will both get $25 from AioWireless. Write to me at Lee at Lee dat org.

Happy Cheese Weasel Day!

That bit of musical cheese poetry comes from facebook and Charlotte!

Considering Radiation Therapy Technologist as a Career?

This fall I’ll be starting 24 months of school, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. This road began a few years ago when my dad, after seeing a newspaper article on the career, suggested I look into working in Radiation Therapy. The article said that the work was steady and the money good. As part of my road toward becoming a Radiation Therapy Tech, I volunteered in a hospital and figured out very quickly that Radiation Therapy is not for me!

Let me tell you a story.

RTT (Radiation Therapy Technology) isn’t for me, but probably not for the reason you think. Most people think that the danger of the X-rays, or dealing with sick people is difficult. First, the X-rays aren’t an issue: the beam is so incredibly lethal, there are many interlocks to make sure you never get near it. And it’s not dealing with sick people, heck the people are all healthy enough to make it into an 8 week course of treatment. But read on.

In short, I found the job mind numbingly boring, non-interactive, and sad. What I would be doing 4 times an hour, every day for the next 30 years would be quite simple:

  1. bring the patient into the treatment room
  2. strap them down
  3. leave the room
  4. watch the patient on a TV monitor while administering the treatment, my finger hovering over the “di-engage death ray” button
  5. turn the dial every couple minutes to start a different treatment (a treatment which has been chosen by a doctor, not me)
  6. Unstrap them
  7. Walk them out
  8. Repeat every 15 minutes for 30 years

The control room in the hospital’s basement is quiet except for the incessant “bip.. bip.. bip.. bip.. bip.. bip..” of the machine telling you the beam is on. You see, although everything is pretty straightforward, the solemnity and responsibility of firing a huge death ray straight into people’s vital organs (and hopefully missing the healthy bits) requires quite a bit of focus. One mistake could spell certain death for a patient. The room looks like one of those 1950′s science fiction movies where people in white coats operate Big Science machines, which is fascinating and all except that all those movie scenes lasted waaaay too long. This is no exception.

The worst is what happened when I asked two folks that worked there about their work.

I chatted with the nurse and got them in a good mood. Then I asked if they liked working in Radiation Therapy and they said… well, here’s how the conversation went:
Lee: Do you love your job?
Nurse: [hesitation and then] Well……
Lee: Do you like your job?
Nurse: [short shrug]
Lee: Do you not hate your job? (I’m immediately thinking “Oh my god, what if they don’t answer this third question, where the hell do we go from there?!”)
Nurse: Well… [she paused and then spoke slowly and with a bit of sadness] it’s sad when you see patients continue to come in and keep getting worse. And it’s especially bad when a patient stops coming in mid-way through treatment because… well, you know.

And that’s all they had to say about their job. Yipe. :-(

I asked one of the Technologists…
Lee: Do you like your job?
Tech: [pausing to give a thoughtful answer. Then he spoke clearly and slowly, looking me straight in the eye] It’s monotonous. It’s not enjoyable. It pays ok but… [and his voice trailed off. It was time to change the subject]

And that’s pretty much how the tech left it. Yow! This is not job satisfaction.

Your mileage may vary but this does not look like the career for me!

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche

In 2012 I took an Abnormal Psychology class at CCSF. My honors project was a response paper to the book Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche by Ethan Watters. I loved the book and highly recommend it. Here’s what I wrote about it.


Ethan Watters uses four stories to paint a picture about how American culture has a powerful influence on how the rest of the world understands mental illness. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, American culture is shaping how these mental illnesses are perceived and treated.

Americans think about mental illness in a very particular way. This thinking depends heavily on biological, genetic, and environmental factors. But largely missing in this view are the cultural factors that shape the course of mental illness greatly. This isn’t how the ill person sees themselves but how their local culture sees them. For example, the stories told about the origins of mental illness, be it spirit possession or chemical imbalance, have a huge impact on mentally ill persons and can alter the outcome of their disease.

Continue reading ‘Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche’ »

How to I Unsubscribe from ECN Magazine?

I sent the following email today to:,,, and,


I have been trying for MONTHS to stop receiving ECN Magazine in my mailbox. I have asked ECN and their parent company Advantage Business Media to stop sending multiple times. Today I received yet another ECN Magazine. It is clear to me that Advantage Media is inflating their subscription numbers by sending unwanted subscriptions.

I am CCing two of the companies that advertise in ECN, Digikey and Agilent.
Please, please please just unsubscribe me. My account # is xxxx
On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 12:28 AM, Lee Sonko  wrote:

A few weeks ago I unsubscribed from ECN Magazine, one of your Advantage Media magazines. Now I’ve received multiple invitations to subscribe to other magazines in your pantheon. I was serious when I said “unsubscribe me”. I promise to mark EVERY invitation from one of your affiliate magazines as spam. So do us both a favor, unsubscribe me for real. Thank you,

Lee Sonko