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April 20, 2009

13

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

I was reminded of that quote, for some reason, whilst watching this:

Not because of the number of jobs TH has held. There is a difference between traversing a company's corporate structure and performing the same job year after year. More because it occurred to me that technology, in many ways, tends to operate against specialization and comparative advantage.

Due to labor saving devices like computers, white collar professionals often act as their own secretaries as opposed to the older way of doing things where every worker had his or her role. Professionals didn't use to type their own letters. They dictated them to someone who specialized in the efficent production of documents.

Technology has facilitated movement in the job market. With many functions now being performed by software, possession of specialized skills are a less important requirement for many positions.

Oh, and thirteen is the number of jobs I held before the age of 38. I'm almost certainly leaving out a few.

Posted by Cassandra at April 20, 2009 08:22 AM

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Comments

Never wrote a sonnet or died gallantly, but I've done a few other things that Heinlein skipped.

I can't even *remember* all the SSI-deducted-from-pay jobs I had between the ages of twelve and thirty-eight.

Did *too* have SSI back then, Sly!

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 10:14 AM

I don't even want to count the number of jobs I've had before, um 35 (not 38 yet). I also started out officially at twelve, selling newspapers on Sundays in front of the Green Pier on Catalina Island.

That Heinlen quote is priceless. I think I will print it out so I can make sure everything is covered in our homeschool curriculum (except the dying gallantly part. I think that follows naturally from living a good life).

Posted by: airforcewife at April 20, 2009 10:18 AM

Six jobs since 1988. Which is when I started working. That's one per 3.5 years. Interesting. Never thought about it in those terms before.

Posted by: MikeD at April 20, 2009 10:19 AM

I hadn't either.

I've been at my current job 10 years this week.

Before that, I'd be hard pressed to name a job (other than motherhood, which I didn't count in my tally) that I stayed with longer than a year. I believe there are only 1-3.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 20, 2009 10:22 AM

Do they include the military in their stats? I don't remember them included. I have watched that video before.

Veterans not going to take janet napolitano lame excuse.

http://citytavern.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/a-veterans-perspective-on-the-dhs-drivel/

Posted by: Ree at April 20, 2009 10:26 AM

I started to deliver papers at 13, getting up at 4 am in the morning to deliver the Dayton "Journal Herald", now out of business.

Mowed lawns in the summer.

Then worked for the Boy Scouts every summer from 1971 to 1975.
Worked in the women's shoe department for three months in 1977 at a department store (now bankrupt too, is there a pattern here?).
Worked at a semiconductor fab facility from 1977, off and on until 1980.
Was a college TA for freshman chemistry labs while in college (version 2.0).
My first job out of college was in a chemistry lab ( 1 year, then got fired).
Worked for pharmaceutical company for 2-1/2 years
Then another specialty chemical company for 2-1/2 years, then another pharma company for 3-1/2 years.
How many is that?
Worked for another company as a chemist for nine years, 1991 -2000 (they went bankrupt in 2003, getting a little scary here. Fear me!).
And have been working for tricky Frenchmen for the last nine years.

In that time, I have:
changed a diaper (check, many)
planned an invasion (nope, but have moved housekeeping many times. Does that count?)
butchered a hog (mmmmm, bacon; nope)
conned a ship (nope)
designed a building (yup)
written a sonnet (maybe)
balanced accounts (yup)
built a wall (more than a few)
set a bone (nope)
comforted the dying (yes, sadly)
take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone (yup to all that)
solved equations, analyzed a new problem, pitched manure (not even a lawyer, too!), programmed a computer, cooked a tasty meal (mmmm, bacon)
(yup to all that, too, many times over)
fight efficiently (nope, I'm a civilian)
die gallantly (well, they'll have to catch me first!)

I'm not Lazarus Long, but I've been around the block a few times.


Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 20, 2009 12:10 PM

The ironic Karma that caught up with me after 40 some-odd-years with the same company was the off-handed remark on more that one occasion when I had to reapply for my own job; Why did you change jobs so many times and why did you move around so much?

My reply caught the interviewer by surprise on three occasions. When I suggested that it was critically important to understand as many aspects of the organization as possible in all it's far flung geography I would then know when someone was peeing in my boot and calling it rain.

I was ultimately tasked with breaking down my daily routine for 10 working days into discrete functions. Those discreet functions were then parceled out and I was given an early retirement. They didn't want any "Cowboys" out in the field taking away from the power and expertise of centralized management some 2000 miles away in a bunker with state-of-the-art computers and no experience.

HMMMM! Centralized management? Centralized Government? Am I seeing a connection here???

Posted by: vet66 at April 20, 2009 01:05 PM

"Due to labor saving devices like computers, white collar professionals often act as their own secretaries"...several years ago, I heard a software-company CEO say:

"The main thing we have done with the computer revolution so far is that--at great expense--we have converted high-paid executives into incompetent clerk-typists."

Posted by: david foster at April 20, 2009 03:00 PM

Heh :)

That's exactly what I was thinking!

Posted by: Cassandra at April 20, 2009 03:01 PM

I was ultimately tasked with breaking down my daily routine for 10 working days into discrete functions. Those discreet functions were then parceled out and I was given an early retirement.

*snerk*

I was first retired because I was "high-priced" talent. Two months after I hung up my flight suit, I saw one of my buds in the local coffee-to-travel shop and, during the course of the conversation, he told me the Joisey Guard had had to hire *three* additional Instructor Pilots to handle everything I'd been doing.

So, in a way, I'm partially responsible for the burgeoning military budget since 2005.

Sorry, guys.

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 03:16 PM

Criminy. And now you're a "merc" in Iraq. {:D

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 20, 2009 03:24 PM

One of the lines in the video: If you're starting a 4-year college course, half of what you learn will be obsolete by the time you graduate.

A friend of mine teaches pharmaceutical biochemistry at a local University. He tells his students exactly that - so don't bother to memorize things, put all your efforts in learning how to learn new things.

And in another place, I read of a physician saying just about the same thing.

Specialization may be for insects, but try telling that to a neurosurgeon.

Posted by: ZZMike at April 20, 2009 03:34 PM

Yup. And doing pretty much the same thing I did for *mumblety*-seven years in the Army.

Only difference is the color of the flight suit (relax, Sly -- same 27-inch zipper) and the use of Arabic words in the classroom to define such esoterica as "translational lift," "retreating blade stall," and "vortex-ring state"...

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 03:39 PM

...so don't bother to memorize things, put all your efforts in learning how to learn new things.

Reminds me of that old joke about the Economics prof who'd used the same final exam for thirty years.

The questions never changed -- the correct answers did...

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 03:42 PM

"Only difference is the color of the flight suit (relax, Sly -- same 27-inch zipper)..."

Well, yanno........*technically* not the same zipper, unless you removed said zipper from the old suit and used it to replace the one that came with the new one. Which could lead to many other questions regarding factual length of said zipper. Was the *fit* between the two suits exact? Was one suit 'Made in USA' and the other in Taiwan? Which would then lead to more questions regarding different pattern/sizing methods. And if, for argument's sake, it *is* the same zipper, isn't it getting a bit rusty after all these years?
Soooo many questions....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 20, 2009 04:24 PM

How to define jobs, though?

My dad's had three or four jobs, at nearly 60.

Summer ranch hand, soldier, ranch hand for the guy he worked summers for, ranch manager two states over when the old guy's new wife killed him.

In the course of those jobs, he's been an emergency vet, a welder, water engineer, electrician-- building and device-- a mechanic, has managed the genetics for birth weight and ease in relation to average cow size while maximizing sale weight, use to manage the mustang genetics until that became illegal and has also been in charge of training and some record keeping. (Mom helps with all of that, with a focus on record keeping.)

Me, I'm just a dang ranch kid, one fast food job and then the Navy, but I've got more than a decade to go until I hit 38.

Posted by: Foxfier at April 20, 2009 04:36 PM

...*technically* not the same zipper...

You are correct in that it is not the *original* zipper. However, you are *in*correct in that said zipper has a specific National Stock Number and a three-hundred-page book of exacting technical specifications which must be met in the manufacture of each and every 27-inch zipper before it can be issued out under that National Stock Number for incorporation into a flight suit. So, technically, it's the *same* zipper that's been used to keep generations of females fantasizing about *why* the zipper must be precisely 27 inches long, and no shorter.

*assuming faint cherubic smile and gaze of wide-blue-eyed innocence*

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 05:09 PM

...isn't it getting a bit rusty after all these years?

Nup. And neither am I.

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 05:12 PM

"....females fantasizing about *why*...

Oh, believe me, there's no *fantasizing* going on here. *Everyone* knows that the size of that opening is directly proportional to the amount of hot air those who wear such a suit create. A 27" zipper was/is the most inexpensive, most efficient pressure release system with which to quickly and expendiently vent the build-up before critical mass surpasses operational safeguards. Especially given the frequency with which such a build up occurs.

Unless it gets rusty, that is........
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 20, 2009 05:57 PM

Ah. You've had brekkies, then.

Posted by: BillT at April 20, 2009 06:53 PM

Yep, and now, since it was tad warm today in *cough* paradise *cough*........it's Wookie Time.
heh

0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 20, 2009 10:14 PM

I'm 37. I have held about as many jobs if not more.



Some of them being:
Nurse - Massage Therapist - Hospital Corpsman - Barback/Bartender - Waitress - Pizza Delivery - Cocktail Waitress - Nurses Aide - Maid - Shoe sales - Fastfood - Artist/Muralist - Barista - Graphic Designer - Typesetter - Customer Service Rep - Beauty Supply Rep. - Tattoo Artist's Apprentice - Short Order Cook - Telemarketer - Photographer



I would like to add doctor or something in biological sciences to that list.



I've changed diapers too. It's overrated.

Posted by: Red at April 20, 2009 10:59 PM

Heh, I had forgotten that Heinlein quotation, but I've always loved it. Nice segue. Gives me a thought for a post...

Posted by: TigerHawk at April 21, 2009 12:01 AM

Oh, yeah, there was a *point* to this post....
heh

Let's see....since I basically *retired* from the "working world" with motherhood, and, being reminded by a couple that Red mentioned, my total is up to around 18 or 20....I think....to include working at a fish market, school janitor, sports trainer, plywood mill worker, security guard, high school volleyball referee, wildland firefighter, federal LEO, apartment complex manager and "maintenance engineer", oil dock monkey, nurses aide, telemarketer, beach rental maintenance manager and my favoritest (and toughest) job of all -- Mommy.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 21, 2009 02:06 AM

*grin*

You are sooooooo getting a pass for the rusty zipper snark...

Posted by: BillT at April 21, 2009 03:27 AM

I'll check myself against Don's list:

changed a diaper (Have done many times)
planned an invasion (I've participated in the planning for some several military operations, including air assaults)
butchered a hog (I know how, though I have only butchered non-hog animals)
conned a ship (No, though I have handled a canoe)
designed a building (I have not done this.)
written a sonnet (Yes)
balanced accounts (Yes)
built a wall (Several)
set a bone (I have been trained to do this, but have not)
comforted the dying (Yes, as Don said, sadly)
take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone (Yes to all)
solved equations (Under protest, but yes)
analyzed a new problem (Daily)
pitched manure (Many times)
programmed a computer (Used to do that)
cooked a tasty meal (Yes, I love to cook)
fight efficiently (Quite so)
die gallantly (Not yet.)

So... not bad, so far.

Posted by: Grim at April 21, 2009 07:40 AM

"More because it occurred to me that technology, in many ways, tends to operate against specialization and comparative advantage.
Oh yeah...
"don't bother to memorize things, put all your efforts in learning how to learn new things.

<snip></snip>

Specialization may be for insects"...

If you learn little else as a young'un, that alone will serve you well.

Ok, a quick tally of my endeavors at labor during my mis-spent youth would include;

• sweatin' to the oldies as a 10 or 11 year old child laborer in a tobacco warehouse... dad thought it would be a good learning experience
• paperboy
• farm laborer for family -the absolute worst employers, IMHO
• built stables, repaired barns, mended fences, raised stock, learned to grow food and clean game
• tractor technician(plowing, pulling, backhoe & front-loader extraordinaire)
• smudge-pot tech at all hours and a general truck-farm grunt
• waiter-busboy-general maintenance guy in an oh so toney restaurant -I could not bring myself to eat in a restaurant for years afterwards =:-P
• perpetual neighborhood shade-tree mechanic and general handyman
• plate-glass work -cutting, installing, bleeding
• welding and machine work in a machine shop
• security at a hospital -whoda thunk you'd need security at a hospital... trust me, it's necessary
• construction
• electrician's helper
• woodworker and cabinet maker


All before I was 18.

I've not been kidding when in the past I've admitted to Louis L'Amour having a profound influence on me. When I was a very young reader, his stories and his breadth of experience seemed to me to be what every man ought to be.

Anyway, I graduated from high school in my junior year by front-loading classes beginning as a freshman and taking additional classes during the summers. If I could have CLEP'ed out of high school, I would have... I was chewing at the bit to go, go, go.

I had enjoyed sailing on the local lakes as a kid and I wanted to travel and see the world, so for those, among other reasons, I joined the Navy when I turned 18.

Since my separation from active duty and discharge from the service, I've worked in the related fields of electronics and Information Technology, aka IT. I figured it was time to focus.

The last ten of fifteen years I toiled in IT was as a consultant specializing in 3d graphics programming in disparate operating systems and client/server environments. The final five years prior to my accident was spent in project management.

I think I've covered a couple of Heinlein's items. Not all, but there seems to be some time left on the clock. *glances skyward and asks for another day without thumbing the ole SMITE button*

Apologies for the excessive breeze. I had no idea the list would take up so many character when I started. And I still think I'm forgetting things...

Posted by: bt_jack-of-all-bubbas_hun at April 21, 2009 08:14 AM

Waitress
Bakery
Ceramic glazier
Produce packing shed
Bookkeeper
Worked passing out samples of food products like 7-Up and Hostess Twinkies
Managed a health food store
PBX switchboard operator (Answering service)
Office manager for a doctor
cashier
delivered newspapers at Fort Lewis
Mom...the hardest job I have ever had and the one I refuse to quit.

Posted by: Cricket at April 21, 2009 08:19 AM

One of the lines in the video: If you're starting a 4-year college course, half of what you learn will be obsolete by the time you graduate.--ZZ

Does this mean I will get a 50% refund on my tuition?

I thought writing skills and two+two was still four, unless of course we are doing bizarre things with numbers like clock math in Not-base-five...

Posted by: Cricket at April 21, 2009 08:23 AM

"You are sooooooo getting a pass for the rusty zipper snark..."

*tucks pass into hat band*
Not sure why, but I'll take it *On Account*.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 21, 2009 11:34 AM

"pitched manure"


Who doesn't do this at least once everyday?


I forgot to add "Hickory Farms Christmas Help" and "Part-time Framer at Michaels".

Posted by: Red at April 21, 2009 03:57 PM

Does picking up 'Dachshund sign' qualify :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 21, 2009 03:59 PM

"Does picking up 'Dachshund sign' qualify :p"

Heh, with that on your resume', I'd say it qualifies you for White House Chief of Staff.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 21, 2009 04:21 PM

Oh yeah...worked at a chicken farm. Candled eggs, shoveled manure, gathered eggs, fed chickens.

Posted by: Cricket at April 21, 2009 04:22 PM

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