Thursday, March 22, 2018

Career Plateau?

Today as I was driving to work, the thought suddenly hit me "What if this is high point of my career?"

I overall enjoy my job in a way that I cannot think I since at least 2008 - the work is engaging, there is plenty of it, my coworkers are pleasant, and the company makes it worth my while to show up every day (and work some on the side as well).  My commute is not what is has been since 1996 in terms of mileage and time. 

At the same time (as regular readers are no doubt aware - painfully so) this was and is not ever what I would consider to be my "ideal" career.  Not that I know what the ideal career looks like (although I have a rather long list of things that it is not.), but just that sense of this is not quite the bullseye I was hoping for.

Yes in the back of my head I find myself always hoping or secretly thinking that somehow that magic window will appear and I will be able to step out of this and into that.  But what if that day never comes?

That is the risk, of course - you get halfway through your career (more than halfway through your estimated life) and all of a sudden you realize the horizon you thought was so far away is coming at you faster than you expected.  The mountains are rising out of the desert and the bypass you assumed would be there - perhaps the maps even told you would be there - is simply missing. 

What then? 

It is a hard realization, that the blue sky you always saw in front your career has disappeared and maybe there is no more "up" to be had, only a leveling out which might extend out until the day you decide to land.  And the second realization you make is that such a landing will have to be a hard, conscious choice - not a gentle descent into the ethereal "next". 

I hope it is not like that.  I hope I continue to enjoy my job, that it still has upside potential and that my landing will be as happy and straightforward as I would hope it is.

But, sadly, I still am having to pack the parachute.  Because you never know.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Would I Miss Most?

In the event of a societal breakdown, what would I miss most?

Yes, I know, the usual things - electricity, hot and cold running water, regular food, all of that.  I get that and understand it.  But life is not made up just of those items.  What would be the little things that I would miss that give a zest to my life?

Well, the Interweb, for one.  Or least parts of the Interweb, the parts that let me talk to my friends and read interesting things that the talk about and the ability to look up an number of things.  Yes, I have plenty of books to fall back on - but I would loose plenty of my friends in the process.

Coffee, eventually.  Coffee was the one thing I missed in Japan.  There is just nothing really like a cup of it in the morning and a good book on a quiet morning.

Light - although I suppose that falls into electricity.  We take our ability to see anything before or after sunrise for granted any more.  If the day largely started and stopped at the sun, imagine how much less many people would get done (on the bright side, how much more they would sleep!).

Good toilet paper - goes without saying, I suppose, but there you are.

An abundance of friendly pets.  Given the worst case scenario, the friendly sorts will either be eaten by animals or people (read up on sieges of cities and see how animals fare).  I take for granted the friendly dog or cat (or rabbit, in my case) that I might see when I am out about walking. 

Finally, the ability to go to a book store.  In a major event, the knowledge of centuries could be wiped away (see previous comment about the Interweb).  What will be left but memory and hard, physical books - if you can find them (although given our current state of affairs, I expect they would be unlikely to be too damaged).  And by default, almost no new books (except for the rather depressing annals of The New Dark Age).

What do you think you would miss?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Dying Refrigerator

Our refrigerator is in the slow and ugly process of dying.

It has been happening for about two weeks now.  First we noticed that we no longer had ice.  Then we noticed that our frozen things were not quite as frozen, so they migrated to the outside refrigerator/freezer. 

So I called a recommended appliance guy, who very kind and said that while he did not do that kind of work, he could recommend someone else to us.  I called him this morning and stated the problem, hoping it was a failing compressor.  I described the symptoms.

"Well, I have bad news for  you my friend"  he replied.  "Would that that were the problem."

"It is not?"

"No.  I talk to three or four people a week and they have the same problem.  You have a freon leak."

"Can it be fixed?"

"Not really.  You have to completely remove everything with freon running in it and put it back it.  Parts are not so much, but labor is.  You are looking at the equivalent of taking your car in and having the engine replace.  About $5000."

We discussed the rather said state of repairs for my model (LG - never get an LG.  We have had two of their units fail and they essentially cannot be repaired).  There is one repairmen in my entire area and their honoring of warranties - 1 year, parts and labor - is not really helpful since we have been here four years.  So this evening was spent moving things from inside to outside and "culling" what would not go (not a bad idea, as it turns out - refrigerators can tend to be refuges for items you would not otherwise dispose of).

Suspecting this was the case - or at least the thing was failing - Nighean Dhonn and I went to The Orange Big Box Store to look at replacements.  After out tax return and after paying for the coil replacement and AC on the Van, we have just enough to cover a baseline steel model with the optional ice maker. 

On the one hand, very thankful that the tax return came through right when it was needed to cover what needed covering (Thanks, Lord).  On the other hand, things always seem to come up just when you get a little money.

And our Stove/Oven is an LG as well.  And now I am looking at that with a concerned eye as well...

Monday, March 19, 2018

What if....Unexpected Retirement?

My friend and fellow blogger Reverend Paul over at Way Up North mentioned, almost in passing in a post, that he had suddenly retired - not something he had planned for, but something that had just happened.  Which got me to thinking, of course (lots of things get me to thinking) about retirements that you do not plan to happen so early but happen any (as with my pal GPS at Act 2 Ministries, who is having to retire due to health reasons - and he is a mere 3 years older than I).

Oh, we are planning for retirement in all of the usual ways.  But those ways are all based on the concept that I probable have a minimum of 10 more years of work or so (the minimum I would need to reach the lowest rung of Social Security).  So what if retirement comes in unexpected and early?

Let us have a moment of honest clarity, shall we?  In a lot of ways I am precisely the sort of person that at some point, it makes sense to move on down the road:  I am older, I am a higher end salary earner (due to 20+ years of industry experience), and at some point my job can be done by people for less money (less experience of course, but that is always not a consideration).    The best case scenario is, of course I would be able to find a job - maybe not at my level and not where I want to be, but a job.

But I am a realist as well.  And I know (at this point in my career, all too well) what people tend to think looking at a long timer for a position: Why were they fired?  How long are they really going to stay?  Can we afford them?

And so, as an afterthought, the resumes go unanswered and the call stop coming.

I could find something in that case, I am sure of it.  But will I be in a place that I want to?  Re-entering on the ground floor of anywhere at my age is hardly the sort of thing that makes one jump for joy or get excited.

To be clear, I am not (so far as I am aware) in danger of being let go or suddenly retiring by force.   But I am also at a point where if I do not consider this an option and act accordingly, I am ignoring at least one possible outcome.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Of Taxes and Salvation

Dear Friends,

GPS' posting Friday has hung onto my mind like a bulldog - not necessarily the subject matter per se but the immanency and underlying tone of the message.  If you will humor me for a single posting, I want to offer a plea for your salvation.

I am not an apologist.  Nor particularly am I an evangelist or anything else that someone might claim as a spiritual gift.  I am at best a servant and hopefully (if you have found me and stuck with me all these years) your friend.  So allow me to talk as a friend whom at best you will listen to as someone who greatly cares for you and at worst you will humor as a crazy uncle whom you respect even though you find him tiresome at times.

Let me start with a proposition  - on taxes.

In calculating my taxes for next year, I put in certain amounts of data based on my current income and taxation levels and in return I get a number.  This number tells me if I am on track to overpay my taxes or underpay them, in which case I will owe additional money at the end of the year.  Now as most of us do not like to have to pay at the end of the year, we will adjust our withholding amounts to cover the additional money.  We do this based on the information that tax code has provided us - at worst, we find that we owe not money and at best find out we either mis-calculated or did not account for additional deductions and so receive a larger refund than we expected.  The most wrong thing we could do in that situation is be in possession of the information - even if we cannot account for everything - and choose not to act.

In a very small and broken way, this is like Christianity.

Christianity is the relationship of a God, a personal God, who has passed along information about the Nature of Himself, our own selves, and the future.  In this case, He has let us know through His word The Bible (the tax code, if you will) of the fact that there is a debt for the upcoming tax year, a debt which we - if we do our calculations correctly - realize that we have no ability to pay.  The debt, of course, is sin, an failing to live up to the standards of a Holy God. 

But much like the calculations and deductions we look for at tax time, there is good news for us as well:  the debt has a way to be paid.  It is a  simple one really: the originator of the code, God, sent someone to pay the bill that we could never pay, no matter how many deductions we searched for or exceptions we tried to argue.  His name is Jesus and he had the unique qualification in history of being both God and man:  as God, he could live a perfect life and fulfill the expectations of God and as man, he could understand and take upon himself the sins of everyone else.

The Bible, if you can think about it this way, not only the tax code but also the tax calculator I mentioned above.  It tells us what is owed and then also tells us how what we owe can be paid in a very particular way, just like payment of our own taxes has to be in our country's currency instead of just any method of payment:  through belief in Jesus as God's Son and believing that He paid the price of our sins.

There is more, of course - much more, an eternity of more, but just as the tax calculator simple instructs us how we can change our deductions so the first step of salvation is fairly straightforward.  From there, like most things, finding someone that deals in tax matters and helping you understand them - for taxes an accountant, for salvation the Church - is the next best thing you can do.

Two more points and I am done:

1)  The tax code, like every human construct, is an analogy.  But it is also a very simple version of Pascal's Wager, which asked the question "If you lived as if God was real even though He was not, what would you lose?"  In that sense very much like taxes for the coming year:  if you paid based on what you believed was going to be owed, the worst surprise is that you are not surprised at the end of the year.  The best, of course, is receiving a refund (or as it is called in the Bible, eternal life).

2)  Death, like taxes, comes for us all.  It is the one immutable fact about our lives.  It is true that one can say that God does not exist, or that there is no afterlife at all.  But much like taxes, my belief in what I owe or do not owe does not change the law's pronouncement that I owe it - and that the government will eventually collect. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Few Words From...Oswald Chambers

The Master Will Judge

"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ..." (2 Corinthians 5:10)

"Paul said that we must all, preachers and people alike, 'appear before the judgment seat of Christ'.  But if you learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ's pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work of God done in you.  Live constantly reminding yourself of the judgment seat of Christ, and walk in the knowledge of the holiness He has given you. Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are.  One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you.  Bring it immediately into the light and confess, 'Oh, Lord,  I have been guilty there.'  If you don't, your heart will become hardened through and through.  One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it.  It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll.  No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin.  No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit,can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin.

'If we walk in the light as He is in the light...'  (1 John 1:7).  For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie."

Friday, March 16, 2018

Guest Posting: Acts 2 Ministries

Today's post is actually a re-direct to my friend GPS at Acts 2 Ministries.  I have known him for...hmm....35 years?  36?  (Hard to tell at this point and probably not all that relevant).

He has written a pretty powerful commentary on the potential for the Rapture in the not too distant future.  As I often have pretty strong feelings about the end of society as we know it and the end of the world, I feel that I should pass it along to your attention as well.

Yes, I understand we are not to set dates (and he acknowledges this as well) and if July comes, my belief will not be shaken.  But he writes with a passion about being saved that I believe needs to be shared.

(Full disclosure:  I am a pre-millinial pre-tribulation believer.  So this is right up my belief alley).