Saturday, December 30, 2023

December 2023 Odds and Ends

 1)  We had a very nice, very quiet Christmas.  We laughed a bit, because we had completed the bulk of gift buying before Hammerfall 3.0, so it was not necessarily reflective of our current circumstances.  That said, we all had more than enough.

From The Ravishing Mrs. TB I got  two of Diodorus Siculus' Histories, a blown glass mug and beer from Africa, penguin magnets from South Africa, a bottle of red wine, and an alpaca sweater from Peru.  From Nighean Gheal I got a Japanese dual translation book of short stories for practice, CD of koto music, and a Studio Ghibli movie (Pom Poko). From Nighean Bhan I got a new water resistant backpack (badly needed) which includes a place for a battery bank and built in cord for USB charging (which seems like a really good idea; I am curious how well this would combine with a solar charging unit for power on the go).  From Nighean Dhonn I got The Western Art of War by Victor Davis Hanson which was recommended to her by her college professor (Hanson is a favorite of mine and on a personal note, I love how he has combined Classical Studies and agricultural in California's Central Valley.  Goals.).

All the gifts are both useful and enjoyable.

2)  Yesterday I received my first application rejection from a company - about a week turnaround, which is pretty impressive.  I am assuming this will be the first of many, given the economy we are now in.

I also spoke to a possible consulting lead (a friend of a friend who was super kind and recommended me).  She said she might have some part-time batch record review work in January, possibly 10 to 20 hours a week.  She asked me if I had an idea of my per hour rate.  I did not (I never do).  We did both agree that with the current economy and how companies are reacting, business in general had slowed down (I suspect this will come up a lot this coming year).  She committed to getting back to me after the holidays.

I also touched basis with a friend from the company that brought us Hammerfall 2.0.  She was laid off in June and has been looking since then; over 300 job applied for and nothing yet.

I am assuming this situation will either be over quickly or it will be a long haul.  I am planning for and assuming the long haul.

3)  My sister and The Outdoorsman are out in New Home with their family (including The Brit) to celebrate their wedding anniversary and visit.  This is the first time in 15 years - since we moved - that they have come out.  For Christmas, they gave The Ravishing Mrs. TB and myself tickets to a New Years' Party at an upscale local hotel.  I have to wear a tie and everything.  Hilarity may ensue.

Recently The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I were talking about company Christmas parties and realized we had not been to one since 2015, at least for my work (her work usually does a two hour dinner from a local restaurant; as it is a church, frivolity is mostly confined to Secret Santa and trivia games on Christmas knowledge).  Looking at some of the photos of other companies I have seen online, it seems like many places do the equivalent of a "Christmas Lunch".  I wonder if concept of the corporate Christmas Party is another relic of Economies Past that has simply disappeared and will never return.

Which is fine, I suppose.  Younger me enjoyed the free alcohol and feeling fancy; older me simply can no longer handle it or the noise and activity that goes along with it.

4)  To point 2) above, starting 02 January I have to start coming up with some kind of regular schedule for day to day activities.  Part of that is for my own sanity of course (I do better with a schedule), but part of it is also the fact that it could be some time before another job appears.  I do have things I need to do around here, but I also need to start thinking in longer terms of "what I can do in the event a regular full time job is not forthcoming".  Some of it is honing industry knowledge of course, but some of it is looking at other ways of generating income.

We have already done one round of expense reduction following Hammerfall 3.0 and are doing a second sweep.  Whether or not I qualify for unemployment will have an impact on this (I will not know until 02 January 2024).  And we need to continue to identify dates when specific things have to occur - for example, if I do not have a job by 15 March we will need to find alternative health coverage and get that in place by 20 April to allow the COBRA coverage to be canceled prior to 01 May 2024, when it would start to come out of our bank account.

To be clear, I continue to consider ourselves very fortunate.  Many people are in a much worse position.

5)  With this post and tomorrow's post, I will have accomplished a soft goal I set for myself of posting every day of the year.  There is nothing magical about that of course, and frankly writing this much almost guarantees that not everything is at the same level (or as FOTB (Friend Of This Blog) Eaton Rapid Joe says, "Write something every day").    It does entail a certain level of discipline though, which I likely benefit from.  Doing something even when you do not want to do it is a great way to practice keeping one's nose to the grindstone.

I am inherently lazy and need all the help I can get.


  1. Nylon127:37 AM

    Part of my routine is reading these posts every morning along with several other bloggers so it's appreciated that you have kept up your discipline......:) Fewer and fewer corporate Christmas parties makes me wonder what employers will do with their office space since so many are working from home. Good luck on the main job search TB.

    1. Thanks Nylon12! It is good to know people read; drives me to do the daily discipline all the more.

      The office space issue is no joke for major real estate holders in large cities over the last few months, or even in smaller urban environments. And even if they are able to get people back in the office, there will be a higher level of resentment than used to be present - after all, it has been demonstrated that people can be effective without being in the office in at least some cases.

      I do suspect the "change" in office parties has as much to do with changing mores and risk aversion as it does with economics. An office party in these times is probably a multi-layer HR disaster waiting to happen.

      Thanks for the good wishes on the job search. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.

  2. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Is there the possibility that in your schedule you could make room for editing "The Collapse" to get it ready for book form?

    1. Anonymous - That certainly is one consideration. At the moment I have a slot of time labeled "writing", and that certainly could fit in.

  3. An income stream idea that worked for me:

    After I was left for dead, I had two weeks of vacation scheduled around my now defunct anniversary. I had met a welder a few months before, so I just showed up on Monday morning to help where I could. By the end of the week, we had worked up a process to weld some pallets he was making, thus speeding along his work. The second week was more of a hands on welding and cutting parts for me. That "volunteering" work led to an offer to fix some equipment for a third party. That was the most money I'd made doing side work ever. It also put my skills to the test and opened up other avenues of service. Since the pneumonia, I've had to become a reference book, not a worker bee. But opportunities still are out there.

    I got the idea from "Rich Dad Poor Dad". "Working" for free somehow brought out creativity that had been dormant for decades. Everything seemed to be an opportunity, and I jumped in with both feet. Working with the welder brought me into contact with a new circle of contacts. People I'd never have met otherwise. Don't get stuck with navel gazing. You have a lot to offer. Even some substitute teaching, I'd reckon. (Maybe for a private scruel: personal growth, goal setting, history, Japanese culture, Rabbits Anonymous... )

    1. STxAR - one of the greatest lines from the movie Robots is "See a need, fill a need". And that is a great point - make yourself useful, and work is likely to follow. I am trying to "expand my comfort zone" around this.

  4. Happy New Year, TB. It has been a pleasure to read your blog for another year. I do NOT read it every day, but I catch up from time to time. So sorry about yet another "Hammerfall" -- that's a real kick in the gut. As I've said before, I think I am about 10 years ahead of you. God has blessed me with mostly steady employment/income, but those times when unexpected interruptions came along shook me to my core. There are signs another such event is about to happen, but this time I'll negotiate a severance (and casually mention age discrimination), and simply ride into the sunset (retire) rather than seek another gig. Mentally I am not quite ready, but financially I am, so if it's time, it's time and I'll accept it. Thanks for your excellent writing and I'll keep you in my prayers.

    1. Bob - Thanks for sticking around and reading (no matter how "little", any reading is a time commitment).

      The job loss is a bit unexpected, but (as with the last one) points out that I might have become a little too dependent on a single industry/gig. Perhaps it is time to widen my own scope of work as well.

      Thanks for the prayers, and looking forward to your comments in 2024!

  5. I have thought a built in recharging battery for a suitcase might be a nifty idea but I'm not sure I would want it for something I wear on my back. My current pack is probably 25 years old and in great shape. I'm not optimistic that even the best battery technology will last that long, even with only occasional use.

    It must be an industry thing because I've never worked anywhere that had a Christmas party. We occasionally had summer picnics but never at Christmas. Saying that, perhaps it is a geographical thing due to expected weather.

    1. Ed - I was mostly thinking of when I travel to and from The Ranch. Airport charging is not always convenient and if I decide to watch a movie in flight, it is a pretty big power drain. A direct USB hookup (not all planes have them, although even Southwest is starting to get them) would be helpful. I will also not that I do hike with battery bank and have never had an issue.

      I will say that the biopharmaceutical industry is like high tech in several regards, including how they spend. In some cases companies have also done Summer picnics for families, and perhaps that is where things might settle out in the future.


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