Career’s End

From my gun collection: an electron gun, extracted from a cathode ray tube

After years of fearing the consequences of corporate RIFs (“reduction in force”), aka layoffs, and having survived a dozen or more of them, I had finally reached the point where losing my job would have a lesser consequence.  I had built up my savings in anticipation of some future retirement and was now working for the sheer pleasure of it.  

I had always declared that if the work became tiresome or that I was no longer learning things, I would move on to something else.  But those conditions never happened, and at age 65, a time when many decide to hang it up for an easier day, I found that my company was still interested in what I had to offer.  I continued my happy employment, pleased to be paid for work that was valued.

That changed this last summer, when the company was acquired by a venture capital firm that offered a stock premium in exchange for taking it private and pursuing a new business plan. I hope that the company will thrive and continue their pioneering transformation of the print industry from analog presses to digital, but I will not be there to see it.  

My ride along that road has ended, as the new management has deemed my color imaging scientist position no longer required.  Though I will miss the technical challenges and problem-solving, this actually works out well for me.  

I had been wondering how to transition to part-time status in order to more fully engage in the activities promoted by my travel-addicted partner.  Further, I have no shortage of personal projects that have been put on hold over the years, and new ones that are still being formulated.  I contemplated what would happen if the daytime hours suddenly became available to pursue them.

I am currently finishing up my work for the company and clearing my office.  Decades of projects have left behind strata of artifacts: notebooks, schematics, prototypes, presentations, test prints, research papers, and a myriad of business cards of professional contacts. As I encounter them, I must perform a version of triage:  discard/recycle, preserve for whomever next takes them on, or claim them for my personal scrapbook, including the “distributed computer museum”.  It is all a trigger for nostalgia.

I don’t have time for reminiscing now though.  To plow through it, I make the unreliable promise to review it again later, when I can properly share it with the people that I worked with, and the families that lived through it.  I will attempt to craft a proper story around each artifact.  Maybe they will serve as an informal history of the life and times of what has been a wonderful and fascinating career. 

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