Monday, December 6, 2010


OK, it’s Monday, staring down the barrel of the surprisingly rare (particularly this time of year) full five-day work week and actually surrounded by eerie silence since the vast majority of the office is attending an off-site town hall meeting (which I too was advised to attend, but the combination of just enough busywork plus a certain surety that I would get nothing out of it has kept me at my desk), so what else can I tell you about the white-collar wonderland side of my life?

Two things, actually, completely unrelated and supremely strange in their juxtaposition with one another. I’ll start with a legitimately positive development, for which I will belabor the introduction to give you time to recover from a well-deserved gasp of surprise. When I got back from my New Mexican excursion last week I found a brochure for a conference waiting on my desk. It had been addressed to my contracting boss and he passed it along to me, and I looked it over to find the details of an upcoming two-day local conference on cloud computing and its future at the DoD. I interpreted the brochure’s presence in my workspace as my boss insinuating that I should attend the conference if I were so inclined, and I told him I was exactly so inclined and he made the proper managerial ministrations to get me signed up and the registration fee paid for out of our contract budget and so on. So next Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be megadosing on hotel coffee and enjoying a brief respite from my regular workaday environs in the Converted Closet of Doom.

There's not enough punching in the world for how much I hate this family.  Yes I know they are fictional marketing creations.  Still.
The funny thing is I will also truly be paying attention and quite probably taking notes. You might wonder why the Defense Department would be willing to devote two whole days to figuring out the fastest way to Photoshop hideous family Christmas cards or how to watch DVR’ed reality tv on the road, but despite what Microsoft has been peddling in what seems like basically every commercial break of every show I watch these days, those usages have little if anything to do with cloud computing. I won’t get into what exactly it does entail, but suffice it to say it seems to be a future trend getting closer every day for large-scale organizations (and there ain’t no bigger one than our own lovable military-industrial-complex-supporting arm of the government) and it could end up having a major impact on my current job position in one of two ways: either I could slide off this contract because everyone wants to utilize cloud computing more and I’m the custom web application guy, or I could be very busy because everyone wants to utilize cloud computing more and I’ve managed to position myself as somebody who knows a little bit about cloud computing myself. Personally I feel a little better about the second scenario so I think I’ll give it a whirl.

When it occurs to me to grouse about how slack my job is for reasons other than its inherent boringness, the thing I grouse about is how I do so little and what I do is all old hat, so I’m never challenged and I never learn anything. And again, that’s nice when I’m feeling last but potentially worrisome when I think about not working here forever – because who else besides a monolithic, last-gen technology user like this office is going to want my last-gen skillset?

And so of course that question also came into play towards the end of last week when one of my old friends and former co-workers asked me if I would be interested in changing jobs, because he recently started at a new gig and they are still hiring. This would be a much hungrier private sector type of set-up where I would be frequently (if not constantly) challenged and learning new things and keeping up and so on. There’s no denying that it’s tempting. I have my litany of major and minor complaints against this place, and my friend’s employer sounds like it would not only be more skill-sharpening but arguably a more fun environment (both working with my friend and being in a more casual environment in general) and the compensation would be roughly equivalent (potentially, anyway) but there’s also the aversion to doing anything new where I’d have to relearn a bunch of corporate ropes and start as the lowliest newbie, and with a new baby on the way in the spring it may not be the best time to radically alter other parts of my life, although it’d be slightly easier now than six months from now … I’m still pondering, obviously, and I can’t promise I’ll make any progress on it anytime soon. All I know for sure is I’m definitely not quitting the current job until I get back from my free conference, dangit.

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