2023-08-09 Careers ≠ Life

Ever since my last little adventure, much has jostled around in my mind.

What I Did


My wife has reviewed the last of my as-of-now Christian-themed writings.

First, the domain of conflicts within Christianity, and quite possibly the most unpopular things I’ll ever write:

Then, advanced Christian disciplines, which I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t openly indicate that I do not stay consistent on following:

And, a bit about the past and future of Christianity:


My personal life has been roiling and shifting, mostly through how my personal changes influence the people around me. The ripples we make upon others ripple back to us, and often years later.

Gone are the days when I was a miserable and lonely young man screaming into the wind hoping someone would answer. Age and experience have made me an institution, and my presence with the people who challenge the order I live by weighs heavily on me.

Or maybe this has always been the case, but I was too mid-functioning ASD to detect it.

What I Learned

Careers are funny things. The alternate use of the word is to go at top speed, and it’s no coincidence that the word shares its roots with “careen”.

In some sense, the word “business” has also borrowed from some of the same sources as “busyness”.

Between the two, we’re essentially nonstop busy at top speed. It’s a nice way of reframing the language of “working really hard to get lots of money”.

I’m not being entirely fair. The 3 major domains within a wonderful old board game the sociologist James Cooke Browne built were Money, Fame, and Happiness. The other two are far more dubious, though:

  • What defines where we get happiness? It’s clearly contained within meaning, but that comes only through the journey itself and never really the achievements we stack up. Maybe some people like working nonstop, but there’s no reason to go top-speed if you want to find happiness along the way.
  • How do we articulately measure fame? It may be in the hits we get on YouTube, but that’s a shallow metric, and not precisely fitting. If we’ve made a brand for ourselves, that layer of separation separates us from the human presence we actually are, but it probably doesn’t matter because we’re all faceless names across the internet anyway. And further, our modern society has stratified these domains so heavily that it’s impossible to gain breadth like Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie) and also depth like Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson.

But, nevertheless, that age-old question to children, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, rings heavily for me. I’m now growed up, and still don’t entirely know. Some people say that’s not a bad thing, but it’s definitely more uncertainty than I’ve typically lived under.

Well, I’m not being entirely fair on that one, either. I want to work with computers. However, I’m at a weird crossroads right now because I’ve been getting paid decently-well at an unrelated job I have zero aspirations for (insurance).

The only reason I stick around is because I get enough on-the-clock time when nobody’s around to fart around on just about any tech thing I want to build or learn about. This isn’t uncommon among artists, and was also a pivotal portion of Albert Einstein’s One-Hit Wonder Career, but most people don’t tend to do this within the domain of computers.

An added question mark associated with my work is that I have competing desires to work in multiple possible roles, but each specialization is vastly different, and they’d all require different approaches from right now to get into:

  • Hardware technician and Tier 2 IT work is simple stuff for me, and I could do it if I wanted. However, it’s so easy that I can’t really climb anything, and I already have that gold star on my career bauble already. I’d also possibly get a job that gives me no farting-around time, will probably pay less, and with a bad manager.
  • Software developer work is a good role, but bad timing:
    1. The “AI revolution” is somewhat fizzling, and there’s no “next big thing” to make the tech trends lurch heavily enough to motivate investor confidence. Everyone’s hot for “safety” investments these days until the economy improves, so the Walking Piles Of Money will put their attention into proven and boring stuff like getting a 1.4% yield increase on sawdust-to-toilet-paper conversion.
    2. The software developer industry has become an employer’s market. When I was gunning for accounting right after the Bear Stearns canary started the downfall of government-backed sub-prime NINJA mortage loans, it yielded the same cascade with a different specialization. That was a major reason why I had to live in my car and explored organic farming and window cleaning:
      • The 10-year experienced Specialization Master has to be let go because his company ran out of money. They don’t need many of him, so he finds a paying (and boring) job at 5-year Specialization Journeyman role he can do in his sleep.
      • Specialization Journeyman competed with Specialization Masters so much that he looks for Specialization Apprentice roles.
      • n00b Apprentice has left the job market, Status update: Amazon warehouse
    3. While I was able to withstand the financial difficulties of being a transient while single, my wife is still suffering rippling CPTSD partly from last time we had to live in our car, and I now have 2 children that, while we’d be sufficiently blessed to live in the car in the USA compared to living in a nice home in Eritrea or North Sudan these days, there’s no reason to expose my kids to that sort of hardship without a good reason. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but that which makes those of us afraid of getting killed makes us kill ourselves.
    4. It takes 3-9 months of commitment to learn software development. I need to be sure my plate is cleared before I dive in, or I won’t get past the frustration paradox (that part at the beginning where you suck so hard that your only reward is that you suck less). Once I’ve built some projects and designed some stuff, I’ll be better off, but that goes at the speed of my wayward curiosities and not on any predetermined flight path.
  • I have other hopes to get into technical communication. An old friend from my Commiefornia days clued me into how there are people who talk to the non-geek customers who wear suits and look nice, then go to the geeks and jargon up with them on what the suits precisely need, and stand in the middle to help the geeks build cool stuff the suits like. I have equal talent in reading technical documentation and human social skills (as evidenced by my essays on almost everything ever), so this is literally the thing I’m built for. Now, all I need is somewhere that people want that sort of thing, and are interested in hiring me in that department, and did I mention the timing problem in #2?
  • I’ve had the seasonal ambition that asks whether I’d be able to stomach technical management. However, my personality is insistent enough (see: mule-headed) that I’d probably only succeed at motivating people and hiring/firing directly based on something I actually believe in. I’m still assembling the essay as I feel led, but my general attitude on authority means I’m ideologically incapable of being a devout middle manager. Likely, middle management will become a symptomatic tumor of my success in one of the other 3, so it’s probably wisest to avoid the role for as long as I can humanly sustain.

The beauty of this is that there’s no rush. It’s likely some childhood mental disorder I’ve recently unearthed, but I seem to always commit at least 1-3% of my mind to some sort of ambition that would hypothetically transcend myself. At this point, I’ve obviously succeeded if the internet is still legally around in 70 years, and I just have to tell that delusional obsessive part of me that I’m being delusional and obsessive. Easy.

So, I’m now pursuing a new structured system to dismantle while I still try to figure everything out: math.

What I’m Doing

Working in an insurance office right now, and keeping a home together with a beautiful woman slowly succumbing to the madness symptomatic of trying to maintain two schoolchildren.

With my time beyond that, trying to learn math in a way my formal education has failed me:

  • I’m aiming for breadth, not depth. I don’t need to perform combinatorics in my head, but I do need to explain in plain English what the heck each math “thing” is.
  • This travels a pseudo-path along the route of formal education, starting with basic arithmetic and number theory, then upward into algebra and geometry/trigonometry, then into statistics and calculus, with a likely divergence into applied maths and game theory. Along the way, I’ll keep a jargon-resistant dictionary of the big math words.