It’s been a year of blogging badly so I might as well end it with a Christmas letter. I won’t excuse my absence from these bloggy pages; I have repeatedly warned my readers that I blow hot and cold. I am either all in or all out. For most of 2016 blogging has been off the agenda.
In April, I traded my secure well-paying job in St. Louis Missouri for a risky venture in Santa Fe New Mexico. It was a crazy move. The money was about the same, but everything else, benefits, long-term prospects, working conditions, and career opportunities were worse. I didn’t care. I was coming up on six years in St. Louis: my longest stretch in any job, and I was looking for any opportunity to move.
I’ve changed jobs a lot over my long so-called career. I’ve left voluntarily, I’ve been downsized, and I’ve been fired. Being fired is the most dramatic and educational of the three. I was fortunate to be fired from my first “serious” job. I was young, dumb, fearful, and easily taken advantage of. Getting fired fixed all that. You don’t understand the working world until you’ve been fired. I’d recommend it for everyone. Getting fired provides lifetime immunity to one of mankind’s most crippling conditions: fear of change. I don’t fear change; I seek it out. Moving to New Mexico was a change for change’s sake. The only thing unusual about this move was a fixed destination.
In the past, I went where the money was. This time my wife was largely responsible for the location. She was tired of apartment living in St. Louis. We considered buying a house in the area but we didn’t view St. Louis as “home.” I wanted to live somewhere in the affordable mountain west and she wanted somewhere warm. Santa Fe was warm, mountainous, and, if my new job went well, just barely affordable. So we sold off our bags, packed up my photography gear, and moved west.
Things did not work out. My new job imploded a week before closing on the house we were building. For months we had watched the construction and we were just about to move in when the deal collapsed. I almost enjoyed the predicament. On my birthday, I found myself, unemployed, homeless and uninsured, but at least I had my health! Never undervalue your health.
We scrambled and quickly moved to Bozeman Montana to stay with my father. Since my mother’s death three years ago he has spent his summers in Bozeman alone. He was glad to have some company and we were glad to have a place to stay while I resumed the chore of looking for another job. I didn’t mind our summer in Bozeman. We hiked a lot, visited Yellowstone a few times, drove up to Glacier National Park, visited Missoula and Butte, and took lots of pictures. I also spent many hours scanning, restoring, and annotating old family slides. I found some real gems like this shot of my mother as a young teenager with baby “Tommy.”
It took me a few months to find another job because I refused to consider contracting or benefit free employers. Programming jobs are plentiful but programming jobs with stable employers that offer good benefits are not as plentiful as they used to be. Programming’s halcyon days are over. Modern trends are all negative and I fear that Trump will not make programming great again. In thirty years AI systems will replace all but the most brilliant and creative of programmers. Corporate IT drones, like moi, will join the dinosaurs.
Fortunately, being an old fart, I no longer care about long-term trends. I will be comfortably dead before global warming melts the ice caps and drowns coastal cities. I will also be retired and parasitically feasting on a plethora of millennial and gen-X funded social security programs when AIs decimate the ranks of ordinary programmers. My only concerns are short term. So I was pleased to find a good, benefit endowed, job in Meridian Idaho. Meridian is a growing suburb of Boise. Meridian is not as attractive as Santa Fe but the beauty of Idaho’s landscape matches New Mexico’s. Idaho is actually more mountainous than New Mexico and housing is more affordable. The funds we were about to plow into a New Mexico house will instead buy a larger fraction of a larger house in Idaho. It’s not the mountain state we aimed for but the skiing is better, (it’s a winter freaking wonderland outside as I write), plus the Pacific coast and Yellowstone are both within an easy drive. It will do for now.
In the coming year, I will strive to blog more often. I see many stark raving diatribes in your future, but as Hillary voters just painfully discovered,1 the worm does not always turn as expected.
- It was tempting to use the word “learned” but deplorables of the left have no need of learning; they already know it all?↩︎