Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not dead

Just...pleasantly busy. You could say that I've failed retirement, such as it was.

A ham radio buddy of mine called me (oddly enough, not on the radio) a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I was still considering a return to employment. I told him yes, but that I wasn't looking very hard at this point.

Honestly, after 6 months of looking, I'd reached the conclusion that a lot of us aging propeller heads do when we find ourselves seeking employment after 50--the tech world no longer has a place for us. We're viewed as relics of a bygone age. Besides, why hire us, and pay the salaries we command, when you can hire a kid fresh out of school who knows next to nothing but will work 80 hour weeks for comparatively nothing because they have to feed the student loan monster? Or someone a few years younger than me with a mortgage and kids in college and desperate as hell, willing to work for half of what they made in their last job because it's that or lose everything?

Bitter? No, I've just had my fill of being interviewed by people I can work a circle around without working up a sweat, just to see the job go to someone half my age with 25% of my skill. The next time someone in your company complains that your IT department can't get anything right, take a good look at all those fresh, eager, inexperienced faces. It isn't their fault--it's the penny-pinching bastards who made the hires that are to blame. Got to make those quarterly numbers, don'tcha know. God forbid I miss my bonus, I have country club dues to pay.

I've got nothing against new graduates or those who are early in their careers. I've employed a lot of them over the years. But I was one, once upon a time, and no matter how good your education, in the real world you are worth zero until you make the firm money. Few of them can do that reliably for the first few years of their career. Lord knows I couldn't, although I thought I was God's Gift To Computing. As a manager, you pull them along, teaching and coaching, making an investment in them in Year One so that they will hopefully spend Years Two and Three making at least some contribution to fixed costs. If you're really lucky they stay for Years Four and Five and really contribute to the bottom line, after which they get poached by a company that's smarter than yours and is willing to pay market rate or better for young talent.

OK, rant off.

So, my buddy was driving down the street and saw a sign in front of a local business advertising for a system administrator. Well, that's about half past old-fashioned. He thought of me and gave me a call. I wasn't worried about the job being something "well below" my last position. I've proven everything I feel the urge to prove to the only person I need to impress at this point in my life. Now, it's about keeping active and making a bit of money to fund my too-expensive hobbies. Why did I have to get interested in guns?

He wasn't able to get the phone number, so I got in the car and took a ride. Sure enough, there was the sign and it had a web site on it. Back hone, I checked it out and there was the job. So I shot them a resume. I wasn't going to get very invested in it; I was long since over that activity.

The next day Son and I were at the Southeastern Old Threshers Reunion when my email dinged. Lo and behold, they wanted to know when I could come in for an interview? How about 2 that afternoon?

Sorry guys, it's Son's birthday, and I'm busy. So we go back and forth. The Independence Day holiday was almost on us, so by the time we worked out a date, it would be nearly a week. Worked for me. As I said, I wasn't going to get too invested in this. Besides, they sounded a little overly interested, so I deemed it to my advantage to slow things down.

So the days pass, and eventually I go in and talk to them. It seems to go well. Nice people; small but interesting company. A couple of days later, the owner wants me to come back in for another talk. This was on a Saturday. At the end of it, I walked out with a job in hand.

For the record, I'm not running anyone's IT department, and that suits me just fine. I'm not working full time, and that suits me as well. I am making more, per hour, than I made in my last job, and that definitely suits me. I'm going to be doing various sorts of tech support for various client companies of the firm--anything from "I can't print" to "Time to upgrade the company infrastructure".  By my standards, none of it is going to be difficult. As I put it to Mrs. Freeholder, I could sleep through most of it.

The point is that I get out of the house two or three day a week, give or take. I have some imposed structure on my time, which I have found is something I need. It's too easy to get up in the morning and sit in front of the computer until noon, fiddling with this and that. Apparently I'm still not grown up enough to impose that on myself just yet.

The money will allow me to pursue my interests, as well as renew some charitable interests we had to cut back on when our income took the "retirement" hit. We now know a little more about what to expect when we retire for real, so we're going to do some more things to prepare for that eventuality. We will continue to spend less and save more, probably investing a little more aggressively.

Obviously, I won't have as much free time as I did, but I hope to manage it better. I was wasting a lot of it in "non-productive" activities, and that I need to stop. I have to learn to impose that structure I need myself, because one of these days I do intend to retire successfully.

Just not quite yet.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Driving a ground rod

Ground rods are one of those facts of life that anyone who deals with them usually dislikes. Whether you use a sledge hammer, a rotary hammer or you're Conan the Barbarian's little brother and you can tote a electric jackhammer up a ladder to do the deed, driving them is a pain.

While I haven't tried this myself, it's an apparently near painless method of getting one of these long thin beasts into the ground. The only downside I see is that you aren't going to get it below ground unless you dig a pit.  

Friday, July 07, 2017

More on the battlesight zero

(Via Gunsite on Facebook)

A while back I wrote a bit on the subject of what distance to zero your AR. Just for giggles, here's some more information from Robar on that subject. It's some good stuff, so take the time to read and digest. I'd pay particular attention to the part about the ranges at which you can expect the 5.56 round to be more vs less lethal. That's some handy to have information there. I have an old article I clipped from Shotgun News years ago, this jibes with it 100% on that subject.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Knot on my watch

I've heard knots called "an orderly tangle of lines". While that might be true, the knowledge of a few useful knots is something that is highly useful. You never know when you're going to have to tie down that thing you just purchased from the big box store on your trailer, for example. Or tie down a tarp over a hole in your roof after a tree lands on your house in a storm. Maybe you just need to tie a hammock between two trees to enjoy a lazy summer afternoon.

A guy can dream, can't he?

The Geek Prepper has an article with a link to some AMazon resources if you feel the urge to spend, and a nice printable card with useful basic knots on it if you don't. Unfortunately the card doesn't tell you what the knots are used for, so you have to figure that out yourself. Or you can look at this list of 10 of the most useful knots "that hunter should know". Or the 20 knots "that will keep you alive".

Just don't tie any grannies, OK?

Sunday, July 02, 2017

I have got to close some of these tabs

(As usual in this situation, I forget where these come from. I'm sure more than one was from Michael Bane on Facebook.)

I was hoping to write about these items in some more depth, but the two weeks just past and the week coming up make me wonder if a job hasn't sneaked up on me without my knowing it. :-) Although, on a serious note, I will be interviewing for one in the coming week, so wish me luck.

In the meantime...

How to Escape From Zip Ties. There is also a link to a much longer video on escaping from illegal restraint in general. It sucks to think that we may need to know these things, but with society in a mad dash to hell, you never know.

Learn Anything In Four Steps With The Feynman Technique. One of the serious geniuses of our time, physicist Richard Feynman was also noted as one of the greatest teachers of his time. This is why.

This is a rat hole I can go down for days. I love WWII history, and can't get enough of any facet of it.

Analysis: What Civil War 2.0 Looks Like. Yes, back to that unfortunate subject. Sorry, but until it isn't important any longer it's important.

The Philando Castile Shooting and Some Advice for My Cop Readers by Greg Ellifritz. Probably not what you think it's going to be. Spoiler--there was enough herp going around that night for everyone to get smeared with it.

Gabe Suarez on yelling during a critical incident. Gabe's an iconoclast and he keeps on being one here. But he's an experienced iconoclast, so it behooves us to consider what he says.

Racial Differences in Self Control. Yeah, if this one gets the publicity that Herrnstein and Murray's "The Bell Curve" got, it's going to start one major shit storm. I'm not a researcher, but based on what little I know about vetting studies they appear to have done most of their homework.

Any way, there's some stuff to entertain yourselves with. Enjoy.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I ran across this article this morning. It has three interesting points about the changing face of gun ownership in the US. It seems 2/3 of us have our guns for self defense these days, which is something of s shift from the historical reason of hunting. 38% of us keep a loaded firearm easily accessible while we're at home. Well over half of gun owners only own a pistol.

As Michael Bane has pointed out many times, these are hallmarks of Gun Culture 2.0. New gun owners are motivated by self defense needs rather than the traditional reasons for gun ownership that Gun Culture 1.0 felt. They see the crime on their streets and in their neighborhoods. They understand that the police usually respond after the deed is done. They have internalized the message "You are your own first responder."

Another important aspect of this is that we as freedom loving individuals are winning. More people are "getting it" than there have been in decades. While Moms Demand Bloomberg's Money may be making a lot of noise, they're not making a lot of headway, and that's a Good Thing.

I like Winning. Winning feels good, and it lets me know that it's going to be a lot easier to teach my putative grand kids how to shoot when that time comes.