[nSLUG] Career Change - Part 1

Daniel MacKay daniel at bonmot.ca
Sat Dec 1 09:40:12 AST 2012

Hello all!

I've been tangentially involved with this group, and somewhat less so with many of the members, over the years so I thought I'd update you all on what's up with me.

For the last couple of years I've felt increasingly less satisfied with the intangible-ness of IT work.  There were times when I'd look at my work, and say to myself (or, often, to one of you,) "What have I done in the last week, or month, or year?  I've rearranged some tiny magnetic fields on a hard disk somewhere."

My first trade was plumbing and heating, and 35 or 40 years after working in a building, it's very satisfying to me to drive by or visit that building and say, "It's warm, and the toilets flush, because I made it so."

At some intellectual level, I knew that the artifacts that I was creating (and, we even use the very tangible sounding term "building") are as, indeed more, useful to my clients as their desks and the buildings they were in, but at some other level I was finding it frustrating, tiresome, and in the larger picture, irrelevant.

Also, increasingly, my work was tending towards not actually building these tiny magnetic artifacts, but writing reports, recommendations, implementation strategies, gap analyses *about* the systesms, and this second level of abstraction was making me feel completely detached from reality. 

For most of my life I've had a hobby of publishing Wayves, the LGBT community paper, and that's a tangible thing - at the end of a publishing cycle you have a roomful of newspapers which fly to the four corners of the world, and also stick around forever.  But as of this month, the thirty year span of of Wayves on paper is over and that too, will be an entity comprising only tiny magnetic fields and photons.

And finally, I didn't really like what 18 hours a day at a computer terminal was doing to my body, and I was very much conscious of the irony of sitting sessile at a desk and then paying to get exercise for an hour or so at the end of the day (and going home from that to sit sessile at a table in front of an Internet terminal until bedtime.)

... to be continued.

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