Land down under

Fly down on saturday, arrive monday. At least i was not jetlagged. Still, a day of my life disappeared. Today, i leave late friday, and arrive… early friday.


It will be good to get back to regular work.

A lot of people are looking hopefully

At president Trump, in the wishes that they will get their old jobs back. Well, some may.

Many of those jobs, though, they’re gone. And they won’t be coming back.

In the last- oh, thirty years, I have driven a forklift. Driven a crane. Some big cranes. I have done cabinet work. I have packaged sheets. Toilet paper. Made locomotive engines. Carved hams. Boxed donuts. Forged parts. Machined parts. Used every kind of machine tool you can possibly imagine. Made tools that didn’t exist before I made them. Worked with the best and the worst industry had to offer. I’ve never been a “Master” at anything, I do something for a brief time so I understand what is needed, and then I move on to the next job. This has been my life for a very long time, do one job until I understand it well enough that I can make a robot do it, and then do another job. Literally hundreds of things I have had to turn my hand to, a dozen or more different things in a year. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, probably any smart person could do what I do, possibly better.

But nobody wants to. Most people want to go to work in the morning, come home at night. They don’t want to gallivant all over the place and have to learn a different discipline every month. And this is kind of the problem.

I worked with a guy called Amigo who was a carknocker. His job was to pack wool into railcar bearings, and keep them oiled. Inland steel had hundreds of them. he had a n old shop truck and it had an electric pump in it, and he would drive around and oil all the bearings. Took about a week, then he’d go back and start again. This is what they looked like.

When I was still working there Inland decided to replace them all with timken berarings. They were sealed, less maintenance, and lasted much longer, even with almost no maintenance. Amigo was heartbroken. What would he do? Where would he go? Well, he retired before it became an issue. It took them many years to make the change. But Amigo had a hobby, he liked to mess with old TV sets. He took a couple classes and he got good at fixing them. He died before solid state took the industry over completely.

He was upset about it, but he eventually overcame his fear and learned to do something new. And this is how life is, you learn to do something new. The idea that you can learn to do one thing and do it forever is an idea that has come, and gone. I know two MD’s that now run a golf course together. Doug Turnbull went from criminal justice to refinishing firearms.

if you think you are an old dog, and you can’t be taught a new trick, you are right. Those jobs that Trump will make, if he succeeds, are new jobs, many of them, and you will have to learn new things. If you were prepared to do that, I’d think you would have done so under Obama, but if you want that new gig, you will have to do so under Trump. Get off your heinie and do it.

Incidentally, to all those people who are enamoured of the notion that robots will do everything for us, let me assure you this: The amount of effort required to get ONE robot to do ONE thing reliably is LARGE. it isn’t robots that will take jobs, but automated kiosks at the mall, automated order takers at fast food joints. The key is, don’t have that job. The jobs to have are the ones where personalized service is appreciated and has an intrinsic value. Be thinking about that when you are planning your next move.


Both drained and filled me. I have- literally- not eaten so much in years. I’m happy to be home. I’m pleased to be done with that for a while. I hope to be able to dot a couple of I’s before I hit the road again, we’ll see how that goes.

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