Standing at the precipice with nowhere to fall.

I’ve been taking some time out for fast and reflection. I try to do this every few months, although most of time I get lost in trivialities. Into this fell a transcript of a speech by Steve Jobs

‘[...] for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”‘

My answer isn’t very often ‘yes’.

The job I took out of college programming games has turned into a lot of other things. Much of it is IT work, where things could break at any time, often break in the same boring way twice, and you spend half your time waiting for computers. The programming projects I do work on are a smattering of subjects, which are only interesting in their technical execution. Some are actually starting to turn me off.

If we get anything related to games, it’s redemption games, aka kiddie slot machines. Simple economics require that games be short and dead simple – game length places limits on the amount of money that can be earned. Operators want known payouts, which implies that the player’s performance has little or no impact on the ticket payout. I’ve come to the opinion that this is teaching our children the wrong things. There may be equal opportunity, but results should depend on talent and effort, not on the target payout percentage.

Our company is also making a number of products for the gaming (gambling) industry. I’m am independent minded person. If people want to place their fortunes on a die (card, slot, etc) I might recommend against it, if asked, but I won’t disallow it. However, I’ve gotten uneasy with supporting it in my professional work.

I think our paths have been divergent for a while now, but staying put has been the easy way. For years there was the progression from school to school and then to the workplace, but the free change has run out, and I’m feeling somewhat stagnate. I’ve tried to reason that it was only a matter of perception. I’ve tried to reason that I should fix things instead of running away, but obvious fixes don’t present themselves. I tried cutting back to four days; inquired on three and got no response. And while I’ve got things to run away from, I don’t have anything to run towards.

There would be a certain attraction to striking out on my own, but at present I don’t have any ideas that I count to pay the bills. I’m also an anti-social lout, and don’t have any readily available co-founders, which I’ve heard is a very good idea.

There is contract work, but I’m back to building other men’s dreams, and from what I’ve heard it’s it a tough life of scraping by, especially now, when I assume a lot of the recently laid-off have similar plans.

I’ve run across the idea of journeyman. I’ve spent the entire time since college working alone or with few other programmers. I could go off to a well regarded company (and hope they are hiring instead of downsizing) to try and learn from some masters for a few years.

I could go back to school. It would be a shame to throw away a paid off house (the dangers of coming to such paths later in life) I’m not entirely sure that I would be better off going to school than I would be by dropping out of work and focusing on my attention on learning for the same time. The main reason to pursue academics seems to be a career in teaching, but I’ve little precedent that I would enjoy it.

Software is only the best sort of profession I’ve found so far. I recall enjoying the design of Harmony cards, imagining the interplay of mechanics and coming with appropriate quotes or verse for each card. But from what I’ve heard games are a terrible way to pay to bills. A similar reputation surrounds the martial arts. I seem to enjoy writing a little on occasion, but I can hardly imagine how I’d keep the lights on doing that. msphat thinks I should go to seminary, but it’s something that has never occurred to me on it’s own, nor does it seem especially attractive.

Many possibilities would involve moving. Disappointing what communities I’ve become involved in. There is a certain degree of seductive comfort in the place where I am, easy biking to work and grocery store, a paid off house that keeps my continuous expense relatively low, and simply not having to think about a lot of things that have settled in. I pine for a greater ability to work on dreams, but rocking the boat would be a huge effort in making new arrangements, packing, moving, unpacking, etc.

Whine, whine, whine. And then I come back to the ultimate judge. In the end of days, am I more likely to regret taking a chance or staying put. But which way to fall?

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