Los Angeles Journal

The Prelude

Well, another year has come and gone and I am to return to the World Science Fiction Convention this year in Anaheim, California. I am beginning to look forward to these outings every year, I get to see areas of the world that I would not necessarily visit myself given the choice. Certainly Los Angeles is one of those such places.

It is Friday, 2 days before I am to leave, at work, I am feverishly trying to finish up so that I can have my portion of the computer program I am helping write work. This is a contract with Canadian Pacific railways and we are working on a program that will track clients and their train car orders. It is fairly complex and not a small project. They are doing what many companies are frantically doing, that is, removing the old, central computer that everyone uses to using a bunch of smaller computers (PCs) to handle their business needs. The solution works well but it is not simple to implement.

The interesting thing about this project is that more than half of the individuals at our work site do not even work for “CP”, scarier still is that half of those contract people are not even from Canada. It makes me wonder as to the economics of the situation. There must be a great deal of money at stake to fly people into Winnipeg every two weeks and keep them in apartments in the city. A side effect of this arrangement is that I have had a chance to talk to other Computer Consultants from these various companies and hear what they think of the industry, with the potential of assisting me in determining what I should be doing with my life.

I am in the process of making myself “mobile”. I have determined that the purchase of a house was a mistake, so I am fixing that by selling the house. Over the summer, I have been attempting to clean up the place, painting the exterior, landscaping, etc. It is very difficult to do this by oneself, true, I do live with my sister, but let's face it, she does net have the intimate relationship with the house that I must have. It would have been better to sell the house in the spring but I was not happy to do so as I really wanted this other work to be done first.

My sister has also occupied much of my time over the past few months, last year, living in Saskatchewan, I really did not have much time to talk to her but this year, being back home I have had much more opportunity to get to know her better. She just graduated from her Hair Dressing course she took over the last year and we were quite proud of her. Having said that I am a bit pragmatic about the situation because I know that she can do better for herself, she just needs a bit more self-confidence. But look who is talking.

This whole problem with NOT “getting off the pot and do something” seems to be one that afflicts this family in spades, mother is not happy with her job in Owen Sound at the local food bank so she went and took training to become a home care nurse but has not yet used this to leave her position. My other sister seems to be upset at her job (though she does not ever seem to be happy at her job – yes, yes, look who is talking) but also seems to be incapable (or scared, most likely, as we all are) of doing anything about it.

Then there is the view that if you don't make mistakes by “taking the leap” you don't learn anything that I was discussing with a gentleman from Vancouver to Los Angeles, but I am getting ahead of myself.

I managed to finish about 9 PM on that Friday, however, I was not finished to my satisfaction so as soon as I got up the next day I went in to continue. I had to leave to take Brenda, my older sister who is married (not living with me) out for supper. It is always a challenge to pick where to eat for her as she is a bit afraid of trying new things (especially since she has heard about some of the places I have tried). I have always attempted to eat at different locations whenever I go out, as a matter of fact, the “Friday Lunch Group” has been regularly meeting at different locations for 2 and a bit years now. This is a group of people that I initially met at a project in the south end of the city. We have kept together every Friday and have a lot of fun. Oh, in case you are curious, we tried a Korean place in Osborne Village (similar to the “Village” in New York in terms of culture, though on a MUCH smaller scale), it was not that good, will not go back, but, we gave it a shot. Next time will be a bit different … don't know where yet, normally decide a few days ahead of time.

After supper I had to go back to work to finish things up so that they could be used while I was away (that is, others could use the bits that I was working on without serious problems, or even fix them). I finally left work at 2:00 in the morning. My flight was to leave at 2 in the afternoon. To make things not much better I had to check to see if I received any electronic mail because, being away for a week, I wanted to ensure that no serious problems would ensue while I was gone. What is this that I am talking about you ask? Well, I am still the Chair of Technical Services at a local Community Network (FreeNet) that is going strong. I have taken a lot on myself over the years, this is another thing I am attempting to divest myself from as much as possible to make myself “mobile”.

Ever since my trip last year to Glasgow, again for the Science Fiction Convention, I have been thinking about where I would like to work. With CP, they are moving to Calgary for the second phase of this project. There are a few options with this, if I wish to go, I could do so either with my current company or with another company that has been soliciting my services for about a month now, offering a significant increase and pay and, perhaps more importantly, a bit more respect. I have a difficult time understanding my own personal worth and this leads to my services being taken for granted by employers and others I do work for. I find that I will work hard at whatever I do, no matter what I am paid, a raise does little to increase my work output (as I am already pretty close to 100%) but it does make me happier to do it. My current company does not seem to want to make me happy. Sure, they are nice people, but I feel I am being taken advantage of. My current company also wants me to move to Calgary. To make things even more complicated, the time when the Calgary trip is slated to start, January, I was hoping to take a six month working trip to England (I miss it). Now, how this would effect my employment with either company is unknown. But the other thing is: Do I care? Will I have a tough time finding another job? I don't think so. But, security is a nice thing…that seems to be the problem, complacency seems to atrophy oneself. Why bother if I am comfortable where I am? Without change, one stagnates…

It is about six o'clock before I finally sleep, getting there was a problem even after all the computers had been turned off, I guess I am excited about the trip.

⇒ Continue to Los Angeles - How I got there - Sunday, August 25, 1996