What’s It Worth

I do unsexy work, with a low bar to entry, that contributes to the development of new technologies. I want to be clear about the unimpressive nature of what I do, because if I am not clear – in conversation, or at my job – if I make a claim that sounds too enthusiastic or too involved, someone will cut me down to size here in never-endingly competitive Massachusetts. Tech-status-obsessed Massachusetts. Especially in my industry, where one engineer will say of another, “Well, I wouldn’t call what he does engineering.”

So let’s be clear: my work is derivative. Secondary. A dull must-have that will never set the world on fire. Nonetheless, it has to be done for the product to arrive at completion.

I freelanced for a couple of decades, so I have a long resume. When I think about the vaccines that are soon to make our lives a whole lot better, I think of the technologies I’ve worked on that have made a contribution.

Videoconferencing. Do you think the scientists and technicians involved in vaccine development, and all their related business functions, use videoconferencing? I do.

Office automation. At the dawn of time, I worked on a mainframe-based calendar system. It wasn’t much different from Microsoft Outlook. Do scientists and related personnel schedule meetings online? Yes, I think so.

Laboratory automation. Oh, yeah.

Industrial automation and control. Yeah.

The power sector. Umm, electricity? Yep.

I make a solid wage for eastern Massachusetts, but not management money; I live within my means, and I save for my retirement. I’ve known plenty of progressive Christians who are on the right side of every issue, who will chastise you for any perceived cultural shortcoming, who never mention that they live in million-dollar houses, and that they spent the first 25 years of their adult lives solidifying their financial position, before making a second career in the ministry or social action. There is no honesty about our economics. There is knee-jerk disdain for ordinary employment, especially if it is corporate, and the people who have it.

Bolz-Weber was horrified, she later told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air,” when suburbanites subsequently started showing up to HFASS. (She said she warmed up to it.)


I know I keep going on about this. I’m sorry if it is repetitive. I’m worrying away at this topic because I need to find some solid ground, some truthfulness about work and money.

Is it somehow innately bad that I spent decades working on those things?

January 13, 2021 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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