It’s Christmas Time

The Christmas lights are lit, the Tree is decorated, and the weather is cold as it should be. Gifts are ready for wrapping, and cookies are the snack of choice for the next few weeks. This is the season to be a little more caring and considerate of others than ourselves. It can also be a very expensive and stressful time for many. That’s during normal times, whatever normal times actually were. The pandemic just seems to circle back around and impact everyday life all over the world. This doesn’t mean we can’t try to enjoy the season in spite of all the bad news. This actually makes me appreciate the season even more than ever. Time with family and friends is as precious as ever. Ring your Christmas bells and crank up the old standards on the radio. I’ll be wishing everyone a merry Christmas whether it’s politically correct or not. It’s Christmas to me, not Generic Holiday Winter something. If you celebrate some other traditional Holiday, then I hope you have a good one. If you don’t recognize any holiday at all, then have a good time doing whatever it is you do. Just treat each other well, that’s enough for now.

We saw that job growth wasn’t too impressive in the news today. I’m not so sure I get a lot out of any of the economic news broadcasted and streamed out to the masses. The media usually seems to have an agenda so process what you hear and see with some skepticism. Here in the colder section of the country we see a lot of help wanted signs and I know a lot of local businesses are running short handed. I also know of some workers that just quit their jobs in hopes of finding a better gig – or they did find one before they quit or resigned. This is one reason I think it’s always a good idea to sharpen your skills and pick up a few new ones. If you can solve problems and get things done you’re usually going to be in good shape if you suddenly find yourself walking away from your current job. You want to be in a position where you have the skills and talent that is in demand – not just where you are now, but where you would eventually like to be. If you don’t have some marketable skills or you’re own business plan to follow now might be a good time to think about what you might be able to do or want to do. I’m watching the stock market tank slightly, but this isn’t unexpected or too unusual. Overall I think we’re still in good shape for now. Defensive stocks are doing ok, maybe we will have a correction in the future. Technology still has a big impact on the market, and on what jobs are in demand.

This looks like it could be a good time to refresh and upgrade my hardware and some of my software. My investment is on those things that help me continue to be productive. I also tend to study whenever I can and try new ways of troubleshooting or debugging software and hardware. It’s how I make a living, but it’s also something I really enjoy. This makes “work” not always feel like work. If there are going to be more lockdowns, then I’ll have a lot more time to catch up on some reading and improving my skills. You can’t just hope for a better situation, you need to make your situation better. This takes time, patience and usually some type of sacrifices such as putting your time and money towards your goals. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the season and maybe unwind a little.

The Omicron news could lead to more remote work opportunities, or necessities. We could see more people walk away from their current jobs either voluntarily or due to some disruption. Those gaps could create opportunities for some users looking for these available or soon to be available jobs. If you plan on doing some contract or consulting work as your new gig, you should review what tools you need, and what might be beneficial to acquire or update/upgrade.

I’ve always considered it a worthy investment to own all my own equipment. Some people would rather use what their company provides. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it limits what you can control. This is why I try to make sure whatever I add to my setup will be a worthwhile investment. This can be in the form of software and hardware, or actual tools that I can use to build, repair, or troubleshoot all kinds of systems and situations I think I may have to deal with.

It’s going to be a lot harder for companies to retain or sign on workers with real productive skills especially if these workers realize that they can find better opportunities elsewhere. If you want to be in such a position it might be a worthwhile idea to get into the mindset that you can improve your situation if you do a little prep work to get ready for something that could be bigger and better than what you are doing now. Money and flexibility are usually high on the list, but maybe you’d like more responsibility that a promotion and bonus could bring.

Right now might be an opportune time to look for a new up to date Windows laptop to support the new OS Windows 11 and start becoming more familiar with how the OS works and how to support any users or applications that will soon move to that platform. A new Macbook might be more applicable to your new or desired situation if you happen to be a content creator or programmer that appreciates the Apple ecosystem and Unix terminal. Swap your older machines over to a stable Linux distribution, and upgrade your monitor setup if you plan to work from home and prefer to rely on a lot of open source development. I’m still using my Pixelbook more than any of my other laptops, but I could benefit for a newer machine myself. I’m fine for now, but I do have to think about what I may need in the not too distant future – especially if this new Covid Variant turns the world upside down even more. North America may not be repeating the earlier lockdown mandates, but if other countries do see a slow down in manufacturing and distribution it will affect other countries including Canada and the US

It’s not just work related items you might need to invest in. We had a few winstorms recently, and I need to keep may chainsaw in working condition. My truck has had a good run, but I think I need to start thinking about a new one. These are all investments to me. These are things that I think will improve my productivity, flexibility, and reduce any unneeded cost that might not be clearly visible at this moment. Sometimes simple things have a large impact. A good desk and chair over time will affect how you work from home.

I’m not saying this is a time to panic, but it is a time to review your current situation and make any adjustments that will maintain or improve your day to day and future ability to be productive and stay safe. I wish you all well during these cold dark days. Keep the coffee hot and enjoy the season.

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