Content Vampires

I have little tolerance for publishers who have the temerity to bombard me with advertising even after I have paid a subscription fee to access their content.

I’m fine with two revenue streams, but please, tone down the ads to “unobtrusive” after I’ve paid my fee.

I’m talking to you, Ventura County Star.

Vacation and retirement

I am starting to realize that, once you reach a certain point in your career, the idea of a “vacation” or “personal time off” becomes a polite fiction, not unlike the forty-hour workweek.

Perhaps this is the reason that “retirement” as a general concept retains its popularity. I feel like I’m saving up all of my vacation hours to put toward the day when I no longer need to work eleven, fifteen, or even eight hours a day, 5-7 days a week.

To me, the ideal retirement would not be the lack of work, but the twenty-hour work week, a schedule that would allow me time to think, time to read, time to pray, and time to write.

I intend to start that before I reach 57. I have no idea whether I’ll be successful at it, but it is what I am working toward, and, frankly, what is keeping me going on those days when I close the computer at 11pm after having opened it at 5am. I doubt I can sustain my current pace of work much beyond that time without putting myself in therapy, in hospital, or in a pine box. I know that sounds a bit melodramatic, and admittedly, it could be andropause talking, but it’s how I’m starting to feel.

History is back

A great problem with too many of us is that, subconsciously or otherwise, we bought into this idea that the tectonic political changes of 1989 had brought about a world where the rules had changed. This is the essence of Francis Fukuyama’s treatise “The End of History,” but the problem went even further. We began to believe that the normal rules that applied to business, to markets, and to nations no longer applied.

In the end, we will find that history does not end, even if sometimes it seems to take a sabbatical. Despite a flirtation with the contrary, the past decade has proven that the world is not on a path to liberal democracy and global markets: Russia is still the rapacious yet insecure bear; that China is still the nation and culture of Confucius, Mencius, Sunzi, and Mao; that businesses must still make money; nationalism still trumps globalism; and that markets cannot soar forever purely based on exuberance and a near-term lack of better investment alternatives.

History is back, and if you don’t watch out, it will maul you. It’s a great time to be an historian.


Patch of the Month: Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol

My Life Scout son Aaron was elected as leader of his patrol in the troop our Council is assembling to represent Ventura County at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

Soon after, the patrol named themselves “the Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol.”

Against all odds, I managed to find them appropriate BSA-regulation patrol patches. As you can see, the patch above shows a goldfish clearly in the act of procrastinating. The patrol will wear this with pride, along with all of their other insignia and regalia, as they journey to the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve this month.

I can think of no more appropriate insignia with which to launch this new feature. Each month I will highlight a patch that is of personal interest and significance.

Working From…

Working from Peter’s Tex-Mex, Beijing.

The biggest upside to my job is that I have reached a point in my career where technology and my position enable me to work from anywhere.

The biggest downside to my job is that I have reached a point in my career where technology and my position require me to work from just about everywhere.

So when I read an email from a colleague with a more conventional work geography that on Friday he would “WFH,” i.e., “work from home,” naturally, that made me think of all of the places from which I find myself working. As a result, I have begun to use a much richer range of acronyms to describe where I work.

My current glossary is as follows, based on frequency:

WFHWorking from Home – I’m at home, but I’m working. Really.

WFHOWorking from Home Office – At home, at my desk, doors closed, head down, ass up; not just sitting in the kitchen reading email on my phone or sitting on the back porch thinking about a client while watching the seagulls argue.

WFCWorking from Car – Stuck in traffic, or somewhere between major cities, probably on a conference call. Or two. Or three. I spend so much time working from my car that my wife has taken to calling me The Traveling Salesman. I know: sounds like the set up for a dirty joke.

WFAWorking from Airport – Trying to get everything done before my flight because a) the space between rows on the plane is too small for me and my laptop to occupy simultaneously, and b) I like to look out of the window.

WFPWorking from Plane – Will happen just as soon as a) I can afford to fly first class and b) I get tired of looking out of the window.

WFL – Working from Lodging – Some kind of Marriott. Brewing coffee. Probably not fully clothed. “Do Not Disturb” sign on door.

WFLOWorking from Local Office – They’ve found me a cubby. I’m trying to fit.

WFSWorking from Starbucks – Strictly for the baked goods and the Wi-Fi. Probably in China

WFTX – Working from Taxi – Holding on with one hand because there are no seatbelts. Definitely in China.

WFTWorking from Train – Roomy seats. Easy pace. No hassles. Arriving on time. But no Wi-Fi (oh, darn!)

WFMWorking from Meeting – Probably should be paying attention, but shooting off some emails anyway.

WFCOWorking from Campout – In a folding chair just outside my tent. I probably should be whittling or something. Hold on while I remind this scout to ask his Senior Patrol Leader.

WFRVWorking from RV – Somewhere beautiful, friendly, and comfortable. I love the hum of generators in the morning. Folding chair, lap table, under the awning.

WFOBWorking from Onboard – I’m on a boat. I’m working. Yes, I’m insane.

WFSSWorking from Son’s School – Getting condescendingly indulgent looks from High School kids, appreciative glances from overworked librarian. Wearing a tweed coat. Pretending to be the new history teacher.

WFULWorking from University Library – I can’t decide whether this is making me feel young again, or REALLY old.

WFPLWorking from Public Library – Watching a homeless guy read Kierkegaard’s Either/Or while talking to the ghost of Regine Olsen.

WFBWorking from the Bar – Email and Margaritas. Pathetic imitation of Hunter S. Thompson or Somerset Maugham, depending on part of the world I am in.