I Had Many Jobs

I can’t even list all the jobs that I had, but I wore many hats when I was still working.  I read that the average person will have 12 different jobs during the course of their lifetime, well I shattered that curve, as I had 17 jobs before I ended High School.  My first job was working as a solicitor, I walked around the neighborhood selling seeds (vegetables and flowers) door to door that would be delivered through the mail.  The company gave me some sample packets of seeds and a catalog that the potential customers could browse through and then order.  It wasn’t a bad job, but eventually you would exhaust the supply of relatives and neighbors and then the job ends.

I lived in Milwaukee when I was young and I made money shoveling driveways, which was not steady work, but Milwaukee does get a lot of snow.  I had a lemonade stand and I raked leaves for money in the autumn.  I also made money cutting lawns and my dad also paid me to help paint the house.  I had a paper route, but I spent all my money on the ice cream truck.  I worked as a pet sitter and a dog walker.  In High School, I got a job working as a busboy in a restaurant and then I worked as a bagger for a grocery store.  I worked at the country club as a golf caddy and also as a valet parking attendant.  My older sister paid me to watch her boys, but I was like the worst babysitter ever.  I worked at a car wash and I also worked on a garbage truck.  My dad paid me to be his helper when he got jobs to install antennas.

After High School, I got a job as a furniture mover working for a moving company.  I worked as a janitor, cleaning office buildings.  I had a job as a vacuum cleaner salesperson.  I worked in a carpentry shop and I worked in a machine shop making rollers for the newspaper printing industry.  I had a job that required me to assemble a crew of boys and canvas different neighborhoods for newspaper sales.  I worked as a swimming pool installer and I also worked as a landscaper.  I worked as an order filling clerk in a company that sold legal supplies.  I worked in a plumbing warehouse and in a steel mill.  I worked as a mixer in a place that made frozen cheesecakes.  I worked in a factory making roof trusses.  I worked in a cosmetics warehouse and I worked on the receiving dock at a shipping company.  I worked as a stacker in a factory that made clay targets that people use for shooting practice.  I worked as a helper in a panel shop that required me to do many different things, like degreasing panels with this nasty stuff called panther piss, helping the painter, the carpenter, the wiring technicians, driving the truck for deliveries, but basically just being the gopher.  I spent a lot of time hoping around from job to job till I finally matriculated 7 years later after getting out of High School.

After graduating college, I had at least 30 different jobs, but most of my time I worked as a consultant, so I often had 3 to 4 different jobs in a year.  The job titles that I held don’t fully describe what I did there, or what kind of companies I worked for.  Once I had my associates degree in Electrical Engineering, I started out as a drafter not knowing much, but learning how things are done.  My next job, I was called an electrical designer, which was a step up from being a drafter.  The drafter was basically told what to do, but the designer was in charge of identifying and organizing how electrical drawings were being produced and in order to do this job, so you had to understand relay logic and be familiar with power distribution.  I had some understanding of the relevant standards, including an introduction to the National Electric Code (NEC), so the equipment could be designed safely and this is where I first worked with Computer Aided Design (CAD).  This job was basically working with temperature controls, but there were also some actuators involved in this system.  My next job was also working with temperature controls for hydrogen furnaces.

When I got my fourth engineering job, I was an experienced designer understanding how all of the equipment worked together in a system.  I knew what the components looked like and singe I was good at investigating which parts were tied together, I was assigned to do a lot of reverse engineering on existing systems that lacked documentation.  This company had rooms full of equipment that they needed to keep running, but because of the poor or total lack of electrical schematics on these systems, it made maintenance a nightmare.  I had to reach into control panels to find out which wires were connected to what items and basically crawl around everything, till I could produce the necessary control system documentation.  During this time, I went back for my bachelor’s degree at nights, and then they gave me a raise.

Working as a consultant, requires you to be an expert on day one when you start a new job, as you are hired for a specific job and there will not be any training for you.  After working for this medical device manufacturer, I got another job working with a company that made several kinds of weird products and one of these produced an electrical charge that removed barnacles from the bottoms of ships.  The other products were also a bit strange, but they involved equipment for the water treatment industry.  I then got a job that involved mixing rubber for the tire industry.  I worked with weighing equipment, blending and material handling conveyors.  The next job I got was working in the quarry industry creating one-line diagrams for motor controls that were mostly conveyor systems, but I also helped to design a lime kiln and a crusher.

In my next job as an electrical controls system engineer, I worked in the Liquid Crystal Display manufacturing market on prototype machinery for this assembly line in a clean room.  The system had just become operational when I got this job, but it broke down often and I was there to tweak it when necessary.  Several different Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) were tied together on a Data Highway and working in conjunction with a Wonderware SCADA system and there were several other operator interfaces tied into this system along with some stepper and servo motors.

In my next job, I worked as an instrument engineer creating installation drawings that showed how all different types of instruments were to be mounted and connected.  In the following job, I worked on gas-fired batch annealing furnace projects for the Steel industry.  In my next job I worked on several ion exchange membrane water treatment projects.  In my next position, I worked as an instrument engineer again on a pharmaceutical project where I worked with the Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID’s) incorporating interlocks to meet designed control system specifications.  My next job as a controls system engineer involved a lot of travel and they sent me to South America, Europe and different parts of the US to program their machinery, which included tobacco drying ovens and thermal oxidizers.  I am certain that this post became too long and that I have lost every one of my readers talking about my career, but I am retired now and I have never held a job for more than three years.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #152 which asks, “What do you do for a living?  If you are retired, what did you do before you retired?  If you’re currently unemployed, what did you do before becoming unemployed?

That Depends

I spent $645 on gifts this year for others, but I also bought myself two gifts which put me way over the average gift spending amount.  I ordered Dave’s Picks Vol. 41 – 44 for myself, but I won’t get the first set of disks, till sometime in January and the rest will be shipped out according to a schedule during 2022.  Vol. 41 is a 1977 show at the Baltimore Civic Center, Vol. 42 is a 1974 concert at Winterland in San Francisco, and I am uncertain what the other two shows are.  That was a bit of an indulgence on my part, and I have enough CD’s, but I am certain that I will enjoy this grateful Dead music when it arrives.

For those of you who actually read my posts and are aware that my ankle got infected, I thought that something might have bitten me, so I decided it was time for a new bed.  The bed I have is 33 years old and it was time for me to get a new one.  I ordered the Puffy Mattress and a bed frame with a headboard, and it should be arriving tomorrow.  I am excited that I will soon be sleeping on a cloud.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #149 which asks, “For this year, do you think you will end up spending more or less than the average amount of $1,004 on holiday gifts?”

Something Meaningful

My blog might seem insignificant to many people, but without it, I wouldn’t have anything meaningful going on in my life.  I am hoping that this is a passing phase and that my life will change for the better, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.  It is possible that I could hit it big in the lottery, but that is also very unlikely, so my blog helps to get me through the day.  It is a good thing, as it keeps me out of trouble, it keeps my mind active and I have several virtual friends that I communicate with.  I guess it could be described as being an inexpensive hobby that I take part in every day.  I am a paid member of WordPress and I rarely skip a day of writing, thanks to all of the wonderful challenges that other bloggers host.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #147 which asks, “What’s the best thing you’ve got going on in your life at the moment?”

I Stopped Eating Fish

I am protesting the fishing industry after watching a documentary which showed how they are destroying the world’s oceans.  The oceans are the origin and engine of all life on this planet, and at the moment, they are in extreme peril.  Industrialized fishing practices are a primary threat to marine life worldwide.  1/3 of world’s wild-caught fisheries are depleted because of overfishing.  Over 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.  Hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic waste and other marine debris from discarded and lost fishing gear enter the oceans each year.  As much as 40% of the world’s catch is bycatch of unwanted non-target species.  An estimated 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals are killed annually in fishing nets, not including the numerous sea turtles, birds, sharks, and other marine life also killed by unselective fishing practices.

I can see advantages to both scenarios of either being the big fish in a small pond or being a small fish in a big pond, but they both depend on the pond.  I consider myself to be a small fish in the WordPress blogging pond, which is a relatively big pond, but it is broken up into small communities.  I don’t interact with many bloggers who are not in my community and by community, I mean those who respond to the same prompt challenges.  I am certain that there is a lot of stuff going on around WordPress that I don’t know about and I probably would not care much about, so it is as if the like-minded people have drifted into these communities.  One of Fandango’s favorite sayings is, “Whatever floats your boat” and I see that as being applicable here, as a fish whether it is big or small, the only thing that really matters is their happiness.

If the water in the pond is conducive for the fish to thrive, then it should be happy.  The advantage to being the small fish is that they may be more agile and able to adapt if their environment changes, but they always have to be on the lookout for that hungry large fish.  The large fish can be viewed as being like the king of the castle, but it is likely that all of his subjects despise him and when he dies, they will hold a big party.  The large fish will not need to worry about being eaten, but it also needs more food than the small fish, so it must try not to eat everything that it sees, or else it will be the only fish in the pond with nothing to sustain it.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #146 which asks, “In your opinion, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Or perhaps a big fish in a big pond? Why do you feel that way?”

We May Never Recover

Fandango is concerned with the fall of the American democracy, because of all of the gun violence, political extremism, and racial, cultural, and social unrest out there today and he is asking us to weigh in on this.  I don’t know how we got to this point, but it is really bad now and we went from being the United Stated of America to being the Divided States of America.  Everywhere you look, it is staring you in the face and it feels like a powder keg ready to explode and we are all knocking on Heaven’s door.  I can’t even talk with my family anymore, as they are all Republicans and they see things very differently from me.  I don’t even know where to begin, but we are deeply entrenched in political polarization between the Left and Right with no middle ground between the two parties.  I like to blame Trump for all of the problems that the US is facing now and it was probably the Hillary Hating that he started which caused this country to fall apart.  The gulf between Democrats and Republicans keeps getting wider and as people lose trust in the government, they are more inclined to their loyal support to the party that they think will dig us out of this mess.

America has survived a Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, which both fractured us, but things that were once set in stone, seem to be slipping away from us now.  Issues concerning voting rights, abortion and gun control keep us separated along with racism and I don’t see any of these problems being resolved in the near future.  It is easy to say, “Why can’t we just all get along”, but when people take extreme views that involve hatred, we keep sliding further apart.  There are enough reasons for this country to stick together as there are for us too be divided and we need to focus on those issues like China trying to take over the world, Russia interfering in our elections, Iran trying to secure nuclear weapons and what ever that idiot in North Korea is up to.  Only the future will tell if we are heading towards hell in a handbasket now, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a very rosy picture for us at the moment.  One thing for sure is that Trump is not America’s shining light, as he is only concerned with his own interests.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #145 which asks, “If you’re American, do you concur with my assessment that our country is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket?  Or do you believe that everything is hunky-dory and America’s light is shining as brightly as ever?  If you’re not an American, based upon what you’ve read, seen, and heard, do you feel that America has, indeed, faltered?  Or do you think that America will weather this storm?”

Perplexed

I don’t understand the whole tattoo phenomena, I don’t have any and I don’t want any.  I think it exploded into popularity after Pamela Anderson got her barbed wire tattoo when she starred in the 1996 film Barb Wire.  In 2014, she finally came to her senses and had the barbed wire tattoo that wraps around her left bicep removed.  One day when I was visiting my nephew, his friend stopped by to show him a new tattoo that he just got.  This guy was loaded with tattoos and I asked him how many he had and why he had them.  He took his shirt off and his body was covered with colorful ink and he pointed to each of his tattoos.  He told me that this one was worth $600 and that one was worth $400 and altogether they were worth over $3,700.  I corrected him and said, “You mean that you paid over $3,700 to get these tattoos, but since you can’t sell them to anybody, they aren’t worth shit.”

I know that gang tattoos, prison tattoos, Russian mob tattoos and Yakuza tattoos have meanings, representing various achievements that they have accomplished, but I don’t find any of these to be attractive.  I am sure that people have their reasons for getting them, but it all seems so senseless, painful and expensive to me.  They must have meanings, but I could probably find the same reasons in clouds that are floating by and not have to be permanently scarred for seeking reason.  I am going to leave you with the Rolling Stones song ‘No Use In Crying’ from their 1981 album Tattoo You.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #144 which asks, “Do you have any tattoos? What is the meaning or significance of them? If you do have tattoos, do you have any regrets about any of them?”

Loss of Spontaneity

Getting old sucks because you can’t do what you use to do, or go where you use to go when you were younger.  I have so many more prescriptions that I take now than I did before, so I can’t just go out and do things without proper planning.  The pills are not a big deal, but packing up my medications that need to be refrigerated is a hassle.  I have a portable cooling device for my diabetic injection pens, which I can take with me when I travel.  I got the Frio Insulin Cooling Case which is a reusable, evaporative cooler that is activated by immersion in water.  It can supposedly keep my medications at a cool enough temperature for up to 45 hours for me to take them with me and I can reactivate the cooling case anywhere where water is available.  My sleep apnea requires me to take my machine along with me if I travel and I have a tiny portable unit that does not take up much space in my luggage.

20 years ago, before 9/11, the word extremist never bothered me, as that was basically a problem that resided in the Middle East, although we had our own Timothy McVeigh problems here, but 9/11 made me realize that there are a lot of dangerous people out there lurking in the shadows.  My priorities have changed over the years, but since I never had any children, I have never had to be responsible for anyone else but myself.  Now that I am divorced, I need to make some friends, because doing things by yourself takes away a lot of the fun.  I have had enough “me time” being confined during this pandemic that never seems to end, so I find myself wishing I had a special friend.  I try to put my alone time to good use by blogging and some of the people that I associate here with are very nice, but I need more that a virtual connection to be happy.  When I was younger, I never minded doing things by myself and it was easier to make friends before everyone started socially distancing and wearing masks.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #143 which asks, “How much have you and your priorities changed over the past twenty years?  If you’re on the younger side, answer from the perspective of the past ten years or even five years.”

Why Or Why Not

I got my first Pfizer Covid vaccine on February 16th and my second dose on March 10th, and I had no problems with either of them.  I got the Super Flu shot (Fluzone High Dose) which is given to patients that are 65 or older on September 8th and my arm swelled up for 3 days after, which my doctor seemed to think was a normal reaction.  On October 18th, I received my Pfizer booster vaccine and this shot put me out of action for at least 4 days.  I had body aches, a sore throat and all I wanted to do was sleep.  When your body tells you to rest, you are forced to do it.

The more people that decline to get vaccinated, the more likely this pandemic will continue, and this virus will be allowed to mutate.  Some of these unvaccinated people don’t see Covid-19 as being a threat, but since January 4th, 2020, 748,176 people have died from this in the US and worldwide 5,010,000 have passed away.  Some people are concerned about the vaccines’ side effects, but most people don’t experience any of them and usually after a few days you are back to normal and protected from a deadly virus.  Others don’t seem to trust the vaccines at all or the institutions behind them, and this may go back to the 400 African Americans Tuskegee Airmen that were experimented on who had syphilis, where researchers inhumanely provided no effective care so they could study how the disease advanced in these participants.  Other crackpots belief in at least one of several different conspiracy theories.

Vaccines remain by far the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, particularly faced with the extremely contagious Delta variant of the virus that can cause infections even among those fully vaccinated.  Despite vocal opposition from some, vaccine mandates have been effective at shrinking the rates of the unvaccinated and convincing the reluctant to roll up their sleeves.  The mandate has stirred protests and opposition to the mandate could potentially lead to thousands of U.S. workers losing their jobs.  Everything is crazy and the world is heading into the crapper.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #142 which asks, “If you have already received your initial COVID-19 vaccinations, are you intending to get a booster shot when it becomes available to you? Why or why not? If you have yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, are you intending to ever get vaccinated? Why or why not?

Spontaneity and Stability

To live my life without a plan, or to become steady and unchanging, that is the question, although not for Hamlet to consider, this is what Fandango is asking today.  Would it be better to live a life of spontaneity, or one that is structured with stability?  Life is much too short to take away all the fun, so spontaneity sounds good to me, but without any type of plan, I could face eviction and end up living in my car.  I guess this is why Fandango refers to this as a provocative question, because there is a lot to think about here, and it is a tough one today.  I have fallen on hard times before and I lived in my car and I went to Food Banks to receive free food, which I am not proud of, but when the economy is bad, sometimes you have no choice.

Let’s get to the real question which is actually 3 questions and they are, “Do you consider yourself today to be more of a spontaneous person or more of a stable person?  Which characteristic in others, spontaneity or stability, do you prefer?  Why?”  When I was young, I never thought about my future and I had a live for today philosophy, but as I got older this changed.  Since the only stability in my life comes from Social Security deposits to my checking account and these payments are supposed to last for as long as I live, I will get by.  However, I read that Social Security benefits will be depleted by 2034, which is only 13 years away and if that happens, I will be in trouble.  The benefits will not abruptly end, as they will still be able to pay 78 percent of the benefits that I was entitled to, and if that happens, I will need to tighten up my belt a bit.

I am very accepting of other people, especially since I don’t have to support anyone else besides myself, so I have no preference if others live their lives with spontaneity or stability.  I can see advantages in both, as without spontaneity the world would be filled with robots, just going through the motions and this would be a serious loss of expression, which would affect music and art, but it would be better for the bottom line and then maybe my Social Security benefits would last longer.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #139.

Beyond My Control

There are many things that happen in my life which I am not satisfied with, and when I feel that I am not able to cannot change or influence these circumstances, then I am forced to accept them, which is another way of saying that I have settled.  However even though I accept the things that I can’t change, I could come to a compromise on stuff that is beyond my control and that would mean that I have settled on this stuff.  If I had a partner who was not perfect, but they made me happy, then I would be accepting their flaws, but if I stayed with a partner just so I didn’t have to be alone, I would be settling on a miserable life with them.  To summarize that, I accepted something that made me happy, but I settled on something that made me miserable, so I accept Joe Biden as being the President of the United States of America, but when Trump held that office, I settled on this being out of my control.  I was never OK with Trump being in charge, and I put up with him because he won the election over Hilary.  I never accepted him as being able to lead the country down a path that wasn’t for his own benefit.

If you are willing to settle for something, that means that you don’t mind getting the second best when you know that there is something better out there.  There is always a choice for different ways that you can live your life and one would be to drop out and give up, but there would be very little enjoyment in that.  Next is for you to choose between accepting your life for what you have made out of it, or settling with what life has given you.  It is easy to accept things when you know that you have done your best, but that should not stop you from questioning that maybe you could do better, but when you are happy, you should be grateful that things have worked out for you and this is the time for you to be enjoying your life.  Many people will settle for second best, even though they would have preferred something else.  These people will always be questioning their happiness, because they will sense that something is lacking.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #138 which asks, “Do you see a difference between settling for things and accepting the way things are?  If so, in what way are they different?  If not, why do you feel settling and accepting are the same?”