Carl T. Holscher fights for the customers.

Category: Introspection Page 1 of 22

Personal posts

Wheel of Hammers at the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska

Slow Vacation

As an experiment, I did a vacation recently where I went somewhere warm with bodies of water and did basically nothing but read books by those bodies of water the whole time. I know many people had figured out this kind of vacation long ago, but it was my first time, and I can report that it ruled. Try it if you haven’t. Maybe you don’t like reading and it’s an all-video-games vacation. You do you.

Laura Olin > 183: He stole forsythia.

This is my entire plan for our upcoming vacation. Renting a house on a lake, with a hot tub. Reading. Lounging. Writing. Relaxing. Slow days and even slower nights. Finding a comfortable place to curl up and slow down.

If we need some excitement, we might go wander an antique mall. For the weekend, we are going to Philadelphia to the Museum of Art. But we’re not planning to sight see or making big lists of attractions.

Whatever we stumble across, we might investigate. (Did you know there’s a Wolf Sanctuary in Pennsylvania?) If we drive by a weird sign for an attraction, we’re going to see it. I love stumbling across weird things.

Hammer Museum, Haines Alaska

When you see a Hammer Museum in Alaska, and you’ve made time to explore weirdness, you’re rewarded. I did not get to go into the Hammer Museum because we were on a cruise’s timeline. But walking by it was fun and I enjoyed the giant hammer.

20′ tall hammer at the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska

Take restful vacations. Play video games the entire time. Read a book you’ve been meaning to get to. Finish the three books you have going so you can start something fresh. Binge all of those movies you’ve been wanting to watch or catch up on your favorite TV show.

Finding some place that’s not your house helps to shift your perspective. There’s no dishes to worry about or cleaning to do. All of the little things you notice around your house vanish when you’re in another space. Whether it be a hotel room, house or cabin rental, or if you enjoy camping, sleep out under the stars and sit by the fire.

Slow down. Breathe. And immerse yourself in something you truly enjoy.

On Thanksgiving, I commend you

For all of you who have to go to Thanksgiving day, I commend you.

For all of you who have to deal with family who don’t raise you up and celebrate you for who you are and what you’ve done, I commend you.

For all of you who wake up in the morning filled with dread, whether you’re getting into a car getting on a plane or simply opening your bedroom door and traversing the stairs into the din of Thanksgiving preparation, I commend you.

For those of you that today is the day of morning and loss for the family used to have, I commend you.

For those of you who are filled with excitement and jubilation at seeing the family, you have either by birth, or by choice, I command you.

For those of you who are waking up today and it’s a Thursday, I commend you.

Welcome back to Low Stakes Ramblings as I Watch Star Trek After Work

Ted Lasso has been a fixture in my house for a long time. We watched the first two seasons all at once, once they were available in their entirety. Then we worked our way through the most recent (and final) season as it aired with the rest of the world.

As the weeks went on and the characters I knew and loved only matured more and more as their personal growth continued. No spoilers because many people may not have had time to complete their journeys and this show is too precious to take anything away from it.

This show has been a solution to the problem of the 2020s. It’s been a bright light and a relentlessly safe and positive place to dwell in a world that has been anything but.

We are now watching the series again from the beginning to reintroduce ourselves to our friends on the pitch for the second time. To meet them and see them as old friends, knowing where their lives would take them.

Ted Lasso is a salve. It’s not a cure, but a medication I look forward taking and hope to never develop an immunity.

It struck me tonight, as I was watching Star Trek: Strange New Worlds why I love this franchise. I grew up as a The Next Generation kid so Captain Picard is my captain. I watched the show originally piecemeal as an episode would re-air on network television. I had never seen the entire series until Netflix got the rights and I could make my way through it. I binged it over the summer and fall of 2011 (which is somehow 12 years ago???)

Some of the episode didn’t hold up. I enjoyed the space jellyfish, found the Just Say No to drugs episode and didn’t care for the episode which revolved around the crew getting stuck in the holodeck for one reason or another.

But as I laid in bed tonight, watching the latest version of my beloved space show, I connected with my friends on the pitch. I love Star Trek because it’s positive. Because it’s a happy show where problems are solved and the world, while terrifying and deadly, is still full of good people trying to do their best.

Sure it has its problem. It’s not a perfect show but a reflection of the world. There’s still bigotry and hatred. There’s plenty of war and generational struggle to overcome. Just because our crew doesn’t need money to pay their bills doesn’t mean there isn’t inequality and class struggles.

As long as there are new treks to the stars, I will ride alongside my friends in space as I have my friends on the pitch.

Beige monitor displaying Windows 95 on a wooden desk.

Work and Loyalty

I am an Elder Millennial, born in 1981, and was raised by Baby Boomers. I was raised to value loyalty and putting in work for an employer and being rewarded for it. I learned the value of working my way up through an organization and proving myself to the company. I was taught my loyalty and hard work would be rewarded.

When I graduated high school in 2000, it was immediately off the college. College would give me the tools I needed to get a good job and to be able to provide for myself and my family. I would have a degree, the key to freedom and financial success. I went to college and dutifully got a Bachelors of Science (in Communications, specially Creative Advertising).

I was lucky and privileged enough to leave school without student load debt. Something the same degree today would absolutely not allow me to do. It’s not even worth comparing what an undergraduate degree costs to an in-state resident in Virginia anymore. (Hint: It’s tripled!)

I had that all-important slip of paper that would spell success as an adult. I graduated in 2004, the economy wasn’t great. (When has it ever been?)

Finding work in a creative field, like Advertising, was a pipe dream. So I fell into IT works. I took a job where I spent the next 12 months replacing computers with newer computers. I spent my days in a basement next to a steak house smelling grilled beef and loading Windows XP on to Dell computers for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

This was always going to be a temporary job, even with the slight prospect of being hired full-time. Eventually, this contract ended and I was back out on the market looking for more work. Little did I know I had chosen my career path not out of some carefully thought out plan.

I needed work, I was good with computers and enjoyed working on and with them. I needed to pay rent and buy gas and food.

That’s how I chose my career path. Not out of some well-thought-out plan or meetings with advisors or guidance counselors. I needed money to live and I had time and skill I could trade for money. That is all there was to it. Trade time and effort for money.

Real, Adult Jobs

As I got “real, adult jobs” I thought the name of my employers would mean… something. Little did I know that chosen career path in IT meant never really working for the company where I spent 40 hours per week. No, I worked for some other entity. Sometimes nameless and faceless, other times more real, but just still largely anonymous. I thought the names of places where I worked would carry weight. I was excited when I was working at/for Honeywell, GE Lighting and Industrial, Wachovia, and City of Richmond government and later the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Labor (DOL), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The Atlantic Media Company (home to The Atlantic magazine.) Despite meeting some very interesting people, the names on my resume never mattered for my next role.

Where I worked and who I worked for were two different question. I learned slowly that working for people who never saw you, and unless you did something bad enough to get yourself fired, were never going to know your work. It didn’t matter if you came in and won employee of the week 52 straight weeks, or if you showed up, did barely enough to get by, and do it all again tomorrow.

None of it mattered. Don’t even mention performance reviews or exit interviews. Those were largely tales I was told growing up. I was here one day and gone the next, no exit interviews. For performance, I was expected to. Whether I did or not… well, if I wanted to avoid getting chastised from afar, I should continue to perform. But there was no benefit for good performance, only avoiding poor performance.

The illusion I held in my head about loyalty and working to impress those above me no longer had a place in the world. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. It’s one I wish I had learned sooner.

Loyalty is Dead.

I changed jobs about every 3 years. That has been the amount of time where I feel like I’ve learned absolutely everything I could in a position that was never going to change. The nature of contract IT work is you’re hired to fulfill a certain task. Placed into a box to perform the same set of tasks over and over and over until the end of time. You can only reset a password, troubleshoot Microsoft Office, or remove malware or a virus from a computer so many times before you lose your mind.

So I changed jobs. That’s how I got my raises. I was never going to get one staying where I was. Even if I wanted to be loyal and work hard, there was no reason to continue to do so where I was. The only way to get ahead is to change jobs. Work somewhere else and ask for more money than the last time.

I went looking to compare and despair at the cost of college and when I graduated Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. According to page 11 of July 2004 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s report on Tuition and Fees at Virginia’s State-Supported Colleges & Universities, tuition and mandatory fees in 2004, the year I graduated, were $5,138. According to page 12 of the 2021-2022 version of the this same report, that same cost is now $15,028. This cost is for Full-Time In-State Undergraduate Tuition and All Mandatory Fees.

When I graduated in 2004, I was barely making enough money to live. I don’t think with the costs of the same education is now three times more valuable today to command that price tag. This doesn’t count finding a place to live, food, and expenses of living, all of which have also risen substantially.

The AAA’s survey of gas prices hit a new record of $1.753 a gallon on Tuesday

Gas prices hit another record high – Mar. 30, 2004

Record gas prices of $1.75… As of this writing, they’re hovering right around $3.00 a gallon in Maryland.

People are graduating college today with mountains of debt before they even start out in the world. They’re entering world having paid three times what it cost my for the same four-year degree.

What advice would I give someone entering the working world today?

I don’t know if I would have any advice worth listening to. I don’t have kids. I am married and we have two incomes. Just as I learned the lessons of working in a world that no longer existed, the world I entered work in no longer exists. The cost of college today is astronomical compared to when I graduated for the same degree.

Today I wanted to go on an adventure.

“In the Garden
Sit Quietly in My Presence”
RND 3-28-1945 to 3-3-2018

Today’s adventure needed to happen. I needed to get out of the house. I needed to not be inside anymore. I needed to go do something out in the world and be among trees and be among birds, and just be among something different than the four walls inside of my house.

I started looking at thrift stores. I thought maybe I wanted to go have an adventure that was a treasure hunt to see what unknown and untold trinkets and treasures and items I might stumble across in my wandering’s, but as I looked around, I realize it was just another building another set of four walls. Another place the felt like my house filled and cluttered with things things I knew things I didn’t because I never would at the end. It was just more stuff.

So instead of going and standing among other things and other peoples things from other people, I decided to do what I often do and think about what I wanted to eat.

So I went to our favorite little sandwich shop and got a Susie’s special and then as I was sitting with it there in the car alongside the root beer because there’s something about adventure in repair that just go together in my heart, I remembered we have a fantastic garden near us.

You can just go for free. It’s part of our county park system. It’s something that my taxes help support and it’s just a free resource I could just go to. I can be outside among the birds in the trees and whatever plant life there is this time of year. Or just sit there and eat my sandwich and look out over the little lake so that’s exactly what I did.

I drove to Brookside Gardens and I sat in my car and I ate my sandwich, and I watched the gaggle of geese that were being fed by one of the other patrons. There were a couple of ducks and turtles that were also out, trying to sun themselves in a little bit of winter sunshine that was coming down through the cloudless sky.

I ate my sandwich and I drink my root beer and I grabbed my camera, because the proper adventure can happen in real life or can happen through a lens, because you never know what secret there are.

I saw a beautiful bird among the marsh grasses took a number of pictures of it don’t know what it is. I’ll have to get back home in consult the buckle birds to try to figure out who it was. I saw when I walked further on Pastor geese and ducks and turtles, saw some cardinals fall from chickadees and finches and then I saw a big bird.

It soared from somewhere in the distance and landed on a tree branch where your pie, but just across from the path from where I was standing. I slowly got my camera out slowly crept towards it. I did not want to disturb this magnificent beast but you can never be too careful, so slowly walked up to below, and tried to angle around to get a decent a photo for this beautiful hawk wasn’t completely obscured by all the brown brown branches it was standing in a few photos will see if they turn out to be anything in the few moments before his giant wings open. He just took one powerful flap of those wings and soared off into the distance. Out of sight.

This post was written by speaking softly into my air pods sitting on this bench at the park.

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