Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"I've been working on the railroad,
all the live-long day"


I have certain regrets about my educational and career choices to this point.

Poking around the job listings at CSX, BNSF, and UP, I've noticed that no one who works in the railroad industry seems to make less than $20 an hour -- even while undergoing company paid training and apprenticeship. While the hazards of being a carman or freight conductor might not be my first choice now that I have a family, the notion of being a signal worker roadmaster has a real attraction to it even now. Driving around to various right-of-ways, climbing up on signal towers, making sure signals are wired properly -- it all sounds interesting.

I've also been considering the advantages of working as an electrician. While there is a lull in new home starts at the moment, working in a building trade at least offers the opportunity to free-lance and do maintenance or remodeling work for other folks -- and if need be do it cheap too. If I had been a double-e in college it would be even easier to become a contractor and run my own business.

Of course, there's also cooking. After watching one too many episodes of Triple D on hulu, I keep thinking how fulfilling it could be to own and operate a restaurant... or even a vending cart. Cooking is basically just chemistry on a macro rather than micro scale, and people always want to eat -- and eat what someone else spends time preparing for them. Of course, it does seem like a large percentage of restaurants fail in their first few years, but there's always chef-ing for someone else.

When I was in middle school and high school I never gained any particular insight into what I would actually like to do for a living, or what any particular careers might offer me. In college I was (among other things) not really even cognizant of the possibility of graduate study or its potential usefulness for careers other than professor (at least in the natural sciences). Now, eight years out of college, still paying for said college, and trying to support a wife and child a do-over looks quite attractive. The question is, having failed to define or pursue a goal up to this point, will I be able to do so from now on?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seven hundred words.

Upon re-reading yesterday's post, it is apparent that I haven't practiced this writing thing enough recently, and that it's not quite the same as riding a bike. We shall see if I can do anything about that in the days to come.

Even without reading back through all that has been written here, it seems to me that the posts here have often emerged out of... angst? Put simply it seems that since entering (what has been for me) marital bliss, and no longer being on the prowl as it were, I have seemingly lost most motivation to write. While perhaps understandable, I have some regret at not leaving at least a little documentary evidence of the past few years. Starting yesterday we'll see whether we can rectify this.

And besides, I need someplace other than facebook to post about how adorable CrazyOne is.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Somebody (well, more accurately the "Progressive Change Campaign Committee" PAC, according to sourcewatch.org an offshoot of moveon.org i.e. a tool of currency speculating mogul George Soros) has been spending a lot of money on internet video advertising recently for a commercial about the recent legislative events in Wisconsin. It's fine propaganda, designed to elicit sympathy and compassion for the poor apparatchiks who are being forced to pay less than everyone else in the state for health insurance, but still a little more than they are accustomed to. I was really... amazed really by one woman who appeared in the commercial and said with a straight face "this is class warfare".

I guess I didn't think that even the most ardent left-wing folks in this country these days were in the habit of actually using dusty old Marxist terminology. Even if Marx wasn't dead this current situation turns all the philosophical underpinnings of socialism on their head anyhow. It's not the peasants and workers who are being "oppressed" here -- it's the apparatchiks.

On a tangent -- globalization obviously exerts downward pressure on wages for workers in this country, with the unskilled or less educated worker being most severely subject to this phenomenon. In the short to medium term, assuming the USN (or PLAN) maintains the sea-lanes and world-trade continues, we can expect wages for workers in nominal terms to be relatively stagnant until living conditions throughout the rest of the trade-linked world rise to closer to our own. Of course, there's one class of worker who are entirely unaffected by this downward pressure on wages -- government workers... a public school teacher, or bureaucrat, or EPA inspector -- none of them have to compete with lower priced workers in other countries. Instead, they subsist on the overflow of the productivity of all non-government workers. Yet they of course object to the notion that they ought to be subject to the same decrease in income that everyone else in the country must deal with.