Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Getting old

Getting older is painful

Yesterday I practiced soccer for about 20 minutes during lunch hour at work. I’m still fairly flexible, which is good and bad. Good because I still feel young and muscular. Bad because some of that flexibility means I’m more prone to injury, especially in my hands and feet. As the foot doctor said once: “See how I’m twisting your ankle this way? You shouldn’t be able to do that.” He recommended that any time I play soccer I wear ankle braces. I can understand that given the uneven and bumpy playing surfaces in the central Ohio area. The hardwood floor of our gymnasium, although flat, isn’t the most forgiving surface. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak I cannot put weight on that heel because it hurts so badly.

Should have, could have, didn’t

Sometimes I wish I knew more about investing. Well, maybe not more about investing but I wish I had the instincts others have when it comes to investing. I can stuff my brain full of knowledge but I can’t apply that knowledge at the right time then that knowledge is just taking up space in my brain that could be used for a song or vivid image. My 401K is diversified, which keeps things balanced. Index funds have traditionally been the best performers but whenever I consider consolidating around them they dip while other markets do well. Stock purchases and stock options from my former employer are crap. Both options packages have strike prices well above current value of the stock, with a break even point higher than that (unless you are the CEO, thanks asswipe). Every time I think about re-entering the stock market I remember a line overheard at a dinner conversation “the market can’t be all winners, we need those losers too”. That for the most part is true. Someone has to buy stocks before they tank, someone has to cover the shorts, what goes up will come down. Most smart investors are in it for the long haul while making obvious short term gains to improve position. For all my technical expertise my brain cannot efficiently manage beyond safe liquid investments. Hopefully that will change as I get older and spend less time on career and more time on the future.

Career?

As I get older it will be increasingly harder to compete with the college graduate and foreign person willing to work for a portion of my salary. These fresh lumps of clay haven’t been twisted, obscenely shaped and hardened in the fiery kiln of business like I have. They haven’t experienced the politics and sometimes sheer idiocy of the common job experience. This makes them exploitable, where I’ve seen it all before. Instead of questioning why proven technology and years of experience are being thrown out the window in favor of something different, these lumps of clay will rush into the fight and code and code and code. They’ll make mistakes along the way and code and code and code around them. When all is said and done a new system that does a little bit more than the old system at a slightly cheaper up-front cost while most folks that will use the new system will suddenly realize the old system really wasn’t that bad.

I’ve considered a career in management, although that prospect is less appetizing than fighting the kids and foreigners. Not only will I still have to deal with managerial idiocy above me, I will have to enforce and disseminate it to those beneath me who probably think (and perhaps do) they know more than I. Maybe if I stay for the long haul I’ll gradually go insane; then ascend to upper management where everything will suddenly make sense. Then I’ll be too old, have to retire and will spend my remaining days on the xNet2 arguing politics and wondering why our hockey and soccer teams still suck.

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