More on That in This Post

A couple posts ago, I wrote:

Part if it is that I may be moving further west and simply not visiting this particular cranberry-harvesting spot in future years (more on that in another post).

Today, it became rather more likely that I will be doing just that. At my most recent job, I interviewed for a software developer position. I was informed that there would be some on-call duty to support mission-critical software in those cases where front-line people can’t resolve the problem, but not much.

While I positively loathe on-call duty, I’ve managed to shirk it in the past by taking pains to release only well-tested software, and engineering in reliability to the code I write (e.g. designing things so that if components fail, the consequences of the failure tend to be less severe and self-healing). My code would sometimes fail over a weekend (nobody writes perfect code), but never badly enough that I’d get called to put out an emergency fix.

Such shirking works if you’re a developer (and employers love it; it means you’ve written reliable software). But for a sysadmin, it’s basically impossible: emergency response is a core part of the job. It’s one of the reasons I got out of systems administration and became a developer. One of them: I also simply find the creative aspect of designing and writing code to be intrinsically fun in a way that messing with system and network configuration parameters never can be.

Anyhow, it turns out that the position which had been advertised as a developer job (and which I had been hired for) had morphed into a systems and network administration one in the months between when I interviewed and when I was hired. Or so my boss said this afternoon, and I have no real reason to doubt him; he comes across as basically an honest guy.

I just wish he hadn’t assumed I’d be OK with that just because I mentioned having been a systems administrator in the past. I never mentioned the part about getting burnt out doing it, because I didn’t want to appear negative.

I’m resigning the position. There’s really no alternative. When I burned out on systems administration in 2002, I was so thoroughly burned out that I adopted what I call Rule No. 1: no more systems administration, no matter what. It’s a good rule, and a necessary one: I’ve come to despise systems administration so much that any stint of it I do, I’m fated to be resentful and do a terrible job. I’ll just end up getting canned for poor performance within a year, anyhow. Then I’ll have to recover from that. Better off to nip the problem in the bud and get out now. I call it Rule No. 1 for a reason.

I guess the moral of the story is that there is simply no good way to mention past experience in systems administration in an interview. Either you signal a whiny, negative attitude (if you mention being burned out on it), or you signal a willingness to do systems administration. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

At this stage, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it was a mistake for me to get a computer science degree so many years back. I’ve almost never had good high-tech jobs, and the few good ones haven’t lasted. As the old saw goes: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So it’s time to get truly busy with the difficult process of moving on from high-tech work. What that will be exactly, I don’t know yet, though I do have more ideas than I’ve had in the past.

What I will say is that it probably doesn’t make much sense to continue living in the Seattle area:

  1. The availability of tech work is why I decided to move back to this area, and that point has now been mooted.
  2. The Seattle area has become increasingly expensive; given how my new income is going to be significantly reduced, I’m better off living someplace more affordabole.
  3. The above is particularly the case given how I don’t think Seattle is really that great a city; it suffers too much from too many decades of poor planning and lack of vision. There’s not enough large parks near the urban core, and Seattle’s mass transit is decades behind most other West Coast cities.

All in all, I’d love to live in a place like Portland, if my allergies weren’t so bad there, that is. Portland has Forest Park, and great mass transit. I can’t have both the city and nature like that in Seattle; I must choose one or the other. If compelled to choose, I will choose nature every time. Conveniently, that’s also the option that involves a lower cost of living.

So it’s likely I’ll be moving further away from the big city, probably to the Olympic Peninsula, though it’s still very early in the visioning and decision process and that could easily all change.

Trump Pulls a Rabbit out of His Hat

Make no mistake, the new NAFTA deal (now rebranded USMCA) is a rare policy win for the Trump Regime. I may walk it back when more details are known, but it really does seem to be a positive accomplishment, incorporating provisions to at least ameliorate some of the worst things about the NAFTA.

The question now is: what will the Democrats do in response? Will they dig in with reflexive opposition, and end up hurting themselves? If they do, they will ironically be much like Trump with his reflexive opposition to anything and everything that Obama did, just because Obama did it. They will only do damage to their party’s prospects—and they will deserve the damage.

It’s a good thing when governments take the position of the working class, instead of just the position of the ruling elite, into consideration when making agreements. If you can’t admit that, you’re obviously a political phony who cares more about partisanship than anything else, and any criticisms you make about the GOP putting party over country will ring hollow.

Yes, it’s inconvenient to admit one’s opponents just got something right, particularly when the opponents have the level of overall general vileness that the Trumpists do. However, as Bertrand Russell once observed:

Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

And once one gets over the initial flash of inconvenience, it becomes evident that this is actually a huge opportunity for embattled Red State Democrats. If they play this thing right, by praising the new trade deal as a much-needed win for the working class, they have just created some much-needed campaign ammunition that they are not being reflexively anti-Trump when they do things like block his odious and unqualified Supreme Court nominations.

It’s rather harder for those further left to openly praise the new deal, of course. There’s a solution there, too: keep your mouth shut about it. Support it quietly, not loudly. Be loud in your criticism of Trump’s many evils and quiet in your praise of the few good things in his generally awful agenda. There’s ways to propagandize without lying, and those ways tend to be the better ways (see the Russell quote above).

Or try total honesty for a change, and openly say that:

  • NAFTA was weak in the labor and environmental department,
  • The proposed changes will be an improvement,
  • The centrists in your party enabled the likes of Trump by passing anti-worker deals such as NAFTA in the first place, and
  • Your politics can deliver positive accomplishments like renegotiating bad trade deals without all the fascistic bigotry and authoritarianism of Trump.

If you’re really any sort of leftist (and not just a professed one), none of the above should be all that hard to do.