Rusting Away At The Wheel

The hot rusty days of summer are here again. These are the days when I can take advantage of the nice weather and get a lot of things done that I know I need to finish before the temperatures start to drop and the wind brings in storms from all directions. Last year we spent almost a week on generator power on two occasions. In total it was about 10 days, it was cold both times, and when there wasn’t lots of water and mud, there was snow and ice to deal with. The fireplace was not very efficient and so that will be upgraded before the end of summer. My generator did all right in the beginning, but I had to use a much larger one to run the whole house – which required frequent trips to refill the tanks.

The snow blower is ready and so is the generator for winter – unless we need to use it before then. I did go through each and had to replace spark plugs on both and change the oil.

I still need to run both every once in a while and keep the fuel stable. For me, the best time to get ready for winter is in the summer. These last few years have really underscored the need to prepare for anything.  I’ve experienced times when a generator is hard to find, usually after or during a bad storm. You need to maintain it, and you might want or have a few items on hand to repair it before some of those parts are unavailable or just out of stock in your area.

Luckily once we had power up and running on the generator we still had internet access to allow family members to work remotely from home. We have had a few Internet outages and had to use a cellphone as a hotspot, but that might not always work if there is zero electricity or all communications stop working due to a widespread outage. They are all possible scenarios even during normal times, but these aren’t normal times. Between Covid19 (pick your variation) spikes, goods shortages, and costs rising on everything including food and fuel, its not a bad idea to prepare for a rainy day.

I had Covid earlier this year, it wasn’t fun, but I think it was less spectacular than advertised by the media. It was much like a normal Flu. I ended up working at home through the whole thing, but if I get it again I think I’ll try and rest more. Who knows, maybe I’m immune now or maybe I’ll work through it again. Everybody seems to have a summer cold or allergies, but only a few are wearing masks. The lock-downs and mask mandates are over and I don’t think we will see them again unless there’s something more significant than a surge in reported hospitalizations. I didn’t go to the hospital, and most people that I know who were sick or tested positive didn’t go, so I’m not sure any of the recent numbers reported are even close to accurate. I think a lot of people are desensitized to the whole panic and over-sensationalized news media hype.

Monkeypox is the new item of concern if you follow the media. It also looks like the media is gearing up for another Fall Covid19 spike. For myself, I’m more concerned about the rising costs thanks to a surge in fuel prices, shortages, and supply chain issues. When you see firsthand how all these factors affect your local grocery store trips, you’re getting a much more close to home feel for how things are truly going. I didn’t think peanut butter would be in short supply and it was. I had some stocked up which was handy but I had to throw some out due to the recall. Most people will have some emergency medical and food items stashed away, but a lot of items will go bad. We all eventually figure this stuff out. Everybody has been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another. Life was disrupted and changed forever for many.

The work from home transition, followed by the wave of resignations, retirement, and eventually job eliminations underlined reliance on Internet access, remote work solutions, cyber security, and new work processes – some that were productive, and some that provoked a lot of resistance to traditional work management. I read opinions on Work From Home productivity vs in-person collaboration. My own experience proved that most workers I know can be more productive and efficient working from home. The often toted “In person collaboration myth” is kind of a joke if you really just go into an office to sit in on a Teams call. I think there are a lot of tired traditional management systems that need to be updated. Some jobs do require hands-on and in operation physical presence – for now, but not all.

Automation is quickly catching up and overtaking some of these manually driven operations. The same goes for the move towards using artificial intelligence systems to guide and do a lot of data intense decision making. I see a lot of nervousness forcing some in “soon to be redundant” positions quickly scrambling to learn new buzzwords and appearing to embrace the coming tidal wave of modernization. It’s not new, it’s just newer. Anyone see any typewriters around?

Just when you thought learning how to do a PowerPoint presentation would enhance your skill set everybody starts asking for live updating dashboards based on real time spreadsheets and specialized databases – which might not qualify as an actual database.

The Cloud still seems to be the most frequently abused buzzword, yet we still see internal IT departments dishing out “custom build” locked down laptops hosting older applications to scattered workforces more as a job security factor than leveraging a nimble tech savoy workforce that can work efficiently from any Operating system or device as long as they have browser support. I would have thought Office 365 and Azure AD, AWS, or Google Cloud would be more prevalent by now.

At this moment it’s not a bad idea to get your head around analytics if you see signs that your career is heading down that path – even if only marginally or indirectly. If you work for yourself you probably are already way ahead of slower moving traditional entities. Think about multitudes of nonproductive scheduled meetings that rapidly erode any useful funding that could if streamlined thoughtfully and efficiently produce impressive results. Well, we’ll have to wait for the AI to tell us how to do that. I’m sure there’s an algorithm that will eventually design a robot to facilitate the desired goal. Such a robot and/or AI might replace many unsuspecting casual observers or participants of many meetings.

Meanwhile the bright young minds of tomorrow will probably just abandon the traditional workforce and start homesteading and creating media content for the niche groups or the masses of the future. We still need someone to do the actual work or services. These are members of the workforce that traditionally get undervalued and unappreciated. They are also the people who know how to make things or fix things without the need for endless weeks of meetings and messages. (Who still uses e-mail?). If all you need is a phone you’re either very talented or very lucky….probably both. This might be an opportune time to learn how to fix or possibly oil that every robot needs…spare parts. Think of the Rusty Tin Man who can’t reach his own oil can. You might have to come in to do that.

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