Where Lionel trains are made

Lionel is an iconic American brand, and I often hear people refer to it as a made-in-the-USA company. But it’s been a long time since that’s been where Lionel trains are made. Or at least the majority.

It turns out Lionel has a bit of a history with that.

Read more

Job hunting on your own vs. using a recruiter

A former coworker contacted me last week. He’d been employed in the same place for the last 16 or 17 years and he couldn’t remember how to look for a job. Who better to ask than a guy who’s changed jobs 9 times in the same timeframe? One obvious question to ask regards job hunting on your own vs. using a recruiter.

In fairness to myself, government contracting causes a lot of job-hopping. And in fairness to him, the game’s changed a lot since the last time he had to play. IT Recruiters existed back then, but back then when you wanted a new job, you found it yourself.

I still use both methods.

Read more

High side vs low side

High side vs low side

The other day I heard a reference to the “high side vs low side” of a computer system in a podcast, and the speaker didn’t stop to clarify. Worse yet is when you hear “on the low side” or “on the high side.” I came from the private sector into government contracting myself. I wasn’t born knowing this jargon either, so I’ll explain it.

Read more

How to succeed as an IT contractor

I met a young IT contractor a little while back. His talent was sky high. So was his potential. And his rawness. It’s not my place to go into great detail about that rawness, but one thing I noticed about him was that he had a very self-defeating attitude about him. It shouldn’t have been hard for him to succeed as an IT contractor, but he was his own worst enemy.

Several times he started a statement with, “If I don’t get fired,” or something to that effect.

It occurs to me that perhaps my experience as a contractor would be helpful.

Read more

The phantom tech worker shortage

I saw a story yet again about the tech worker shortage, and the backlash against H1-B visas. Reading the comments on Slashdot, I increasingly got the feeling the shortage is a mirage. The people are out there, but the matchups with job openings aren’t happening.

My experience may be anecdotal, but it mirrors this. Read more

What your health insurance company doesn’t want you to know

My wife is a Type 1 diabetic. She’s the type of person insurance companies go out of their way to deny coverage for, and while I suppose I can say I’m used to them not covering her without a fight, I’m not exactly good at fighting the system. What I’ve learned the hard way is that you need to make sure, every time you change health insurance, that you have at least 12 months’ worth of certificates of creditable coverage. And don’t expect them to tell you this.

You see, the more you don’t know, the more they can deny coverage and rake in profits. Health insurance isn’t about health, you see. It’s all about profits. Read more

No, using an emergency fund to pay off credit card debt isn’t a good idea

It seems like I’ve been finding a lot of financial questions online lately. I guess that’s good–it means people are thinking. The best question I’ve found this week is whether you should use your emergency fund to pay off credit card debt.

Mathematically, it makes sense to do so. But one thing I remember hearing time and time again as we were paying off massive quantities of debt was not to empty bank accounts in order to do it. The reason for it was simple: Life is unpredictable. Read more

Another benefit of not having debt

I’ve written about how not having debt gives you power, though I can’t find the particular post at the moment. But I remember when I got my first mortgage. I went to a party, and my boss was there, along with my five other bosses, and the big boss got this look in his eye when I said I’d bought a house. That look in his eye said one thing: I own you, and I can do whatever I want to you.

And he did. From that day forward, all of the assignments nobody else wanted fell on me. Anything that was destined to fail went to me. And the cycle followed me from job to job, then stopped, like turning out a light, the day after my wife and I paid off our mortgage. It was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen. One day, I was the guy who got assignments at 3 PM on a Friday that were going to take me 8 hours to get done–and they had to be done by 8 AM on Monday, and one day, I wasn’t that guy anymore.

I tested it again this month. I turned down a job that offered me a $7,000 pay cut. Nothing unusual about that, right? Not in this case. In this case, rejecting that pay cut meant I didn’t have a job anymore. Read more

Is it better to be a consultant or an employee?

I ran into a former supervisor from many years ago at the local Home Depot this evening. We had a pleasant discussion. It reminded me of a question I asked, right around the time he and I last talked. I asked whether it’s better to be a consultant or an employee.

Here’s what I would say to my 2005 self if I could, somehow. I present it here since I know someone else must have the same question.

Read more

How I decide whether it’s time to stay or go

Some of my coworkers and I are dealing with a crossroads in our respective careers. It’s caused us to have some conversations. And since I’ve moved around a lot more than anyone else in my office–I work with a lot of people who’ve spent their entire adult lives working for two or fewer employers–I’ve taken some questions.

I’ve never really had to think about whether it’s time to move on. I just seem to know. But I think now I realize how I know. Read more

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux