Work

Working GirlWhy do we work? For those of us that do or have, we’ll say that it has to do with recompense (getting paid), or a sense of accomplishment, or both. Some of us work toward our own version of success, some of us work for society’s version of success, sometimes they are one and the same.

When our version of success and the work we do differs, we’re little more than whores – at best pole dancers performing for a leering audience. We do what they want us to do, and while we may enjoy some of it, we know that we’re just working. And why do we do that? To pay the bills. To make ends meet. Maybe even to get ahead – from what I understand, pole dancing and prostitution can be quite lucrative (someone will take issue with that, but that’s because they’ll miss ‘can be’ in their reactionary reading).

In the end, if you’re not working toward something, you’re just doing what someone else wants. You’re someone else’s bitch. And, likely, you’re afraid of losing that work so you put up with quite a bit from the pimp… or manager. The manager’s job is to get the most out of those they manage, and their manager’s job is the same at a higher level. An hierarchy.

What is the point of work? For some, that’s all it is. For others, it is a labor of love. For those of us who do our work out of love for it, we often don’t see eye to eye with those above in the management hierarchy… but we do it anyway and, as we do, they chip away until we’re no more than the pole dancers.

If feminists can argue that pole dancing and prostitution are exploitation…

Battling The Trinidad Roseau

Bactris major Jacq.I lost 2 pounds of weight in 4 days. And I did it dealing with a Trinidad Roseau (bactris major) clump. It might be interesting to market the “Roseau diet”.

Roseau is, in my best description, weaponized chlorophyll. It’s nature’s answer to botanical warfare, designed specifically to keep out invasive species. Like mammals. Like humans. Like… me. Those spikes that you see in the photo break off from the stalks very easily. They go through the ‘cut proof’ gloves with relative impunity. And they cling together, thumbing their metaphorical noses at the Hedgehog’s Dilemma.

I loved every minute of battling it, and I’m almost a little sad that I’ve gotten rid of most of the clump, on the downhill slope of the battle that it is losing. The only casualty I’ve had is 50 feet of rope (264 lb test) that failed while I was pulling down some with the pickup, “Artsy”.

During the last days of battle, I’d come out of the bush – jersey and pants soaked with sweat. “Picker” from other plants, those annoying seeds that cling to you, all over my clothing and in my hair. I had half a mind to go into a Starbucks down here, order a coffee and sit down while writing in a notebook just to offend a few people, but I was too tired to bother.

There are people all over the world, sitting in offices, spending money on gym memberships, paying tanning salons… when all you have to do… is go outside and work on some land.

Thoreau was onto something good:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

— Henry David Thoreau.

Yes, you’re breathing, but when last have you lived?

The Constant Redefinition.

Kayak fishing at sunrise: NSBIt’s been a busy month.

The Problem

Looking for work is an odd thing for me; so many of the jobs related to software engineering require specializations whereas I’m a generalist with many specialties. Sure, I could fit in at a lot of jobs, but the HR departments may not think so. And whether or not they think so, it may simply not be a good fit for me. So I’ve been doing some introspection, looking around, poking around.

In this article, Liz Ryan makes some valid points:

Five Signs You’re Unemployable, For All The Right Reasons

1. You cannot keep your mouth shut when you feel strongly that your boss or client is about to make a mistake that will hurt them.

2. You have little or no tolerance for the viewpoint “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

3. You hate to be boxed in by routine policies and procedures, by unnecessary measurements and/or by strict rules (like the rule that says you’ll be written up and put on probation the third time you walk into work five minutes late).

4. You have a big idea that’s dying to come out (and that won’t very likely pop out when you’re performing a structured job).

5. You feel that your contribution to this planet could be much greater than what it’s been so far.

With some margin for error, that fits.

So, really, I’m a person with a lot of experience, who has a diverse technical background in a period where HR departments don’t advertise for that diversity, etc. And, to make things more interesting, I want to feel like I have more of a purpose than a cog in a machine.

Granted, we are all cogs in a machine no matter what we do, but I’d like to feel like the machine is going the right way. Oddly enough, someone wrote something great about wanting purpose from work – and I’m not alone. Here’s a link to a PDF on Purpose at Work.

The Solution

The first part of the solution was identifying the problems, and that took a little time. It’s amazing how noisy the world can be, how demanding it can be, and how stuck in patterns a person can become as we grow. It’s amazing how little we can be in touch with ourselves and the people around us if only because we’re stuck in our own little caverns of habit built on expectations that may not even exist anymore.

So I had to identify the changes in myself since I was 16 – I got my first paid programming job when I was 17 (family doesn’t pay). At 16 (in 1987), all I ever wanted to do was become a computer programmer. Since then, quite a bit has happened, but for the most part, I’ve been told by people to tell computers what to do. Since then, I’ve grown. I’ve:

  • Written well enough to be published, and perhaps enough to be read.
  • Spoken at public events, and have gotten involved in things I never would have expected.
  • Gotten to understand myself at a very deep level, which allows me to understand others very well. I can be the diplomat, and more often than not I have been for the good of a project.
  • Seen a lot of software projects, some succeed, some fail.
  • Learned the art of observation, through people-watching and through my photographyAnd the photography has become good enough that I’ve been paid for some.
  • Almost always ended up being the person who researched and wrote things down.

That’s a pretty short list, and it’s purposefully not complete.

So, what am I going to do? First, I’ve already incorporated, which allows me to pursue interests in a more business-like fashion.

That’s about as specific as I can be right now as this evolution begins. I simply needed to write it, if only as a landmark along the way to wherever I end up being.

Musings

Time - The long dark Tea Time of the SoulSitting in the coffee-shop
He writes, inhales deeply
On the cigarette just lit,
Sipping on his tea
Thoughtfully.

It is Earl Gray, sugar
To sweeten the warm tea,
Cream to add body,
Yet it isn’t the same tea
He loves.

He doesn’t like the cigarette,
Dislikes it but likes the habit,
Thinking of the work he likes
As he silently ponders
His working habit.

Tired, Mentally drained, physically
Alive, he sits,
He writes,
He drinks, he smokes
Alone.

Safer alone, no conflict
After a day of conflict. The
Conversation of business
Grates on his nerves
Silently.

Butterfly farms and restaurant yarns
Birdseed worries and
Butterfly scurries
Mean nothing, so
Little to him.

So he sits,
Drinks his tea,
Smokes his cigarette
And writes
The last line of this poem.