These Times

Todays post is more reflective as I have been thinking about lots of stuff lately.
First, career-wise – I love my job and I love my choice of careers.  But as I look back, its amazing how thin the line between what has become and what could have happened is.  I was reminded of that again strongly when a former college professor of mine came to town and had lunch with about 18 of us from our company – all alumni of South Dakota School of Mines and Techonology (Americas BEST value – only school in America where the cost of 4 years of tuition is less than or equal to starting salary)…but once I again I digress.  You see, even though I have been fascinated by computers since a 6th grader hungrily typing in games from BYTE magazine onto our VIC-20 at home or the Commodore PET at school, the in-vogue thing to do when I started college was the double major of Electrical Engineering (EE)  / ComputerScience thing – it made sense – expand your possibilites, only one problem – I didn’t get EE – it did not click with me and just about derailed me completely – I still have occasional laughs at me trying to figure out Delta or Y circuit problems – being particullary stubborn, it took me awhile to figure out that EE was not for me, and making the journey to that very same professors office to sign my drop card was hard for me.  I regrouped and got back on track to focus back on Computer Science 100% mainly because I was fortunate enough to be with the group of guys of the engineering fraternity of Theta Tau and its hard to stay down too long around those guys.  They gave me stories and laughs to last a lifetime.  But how do I pass on what I learned in college to my kids?  Some very hard lessons learned at college on a variety of topics (relationships, finances, and priorities) that need to be learned on your own and yet, I hope I am strong enough to let my kids find their own way and learn these lessons without interfering and making things worse.  And how does a father best help his kids find a career that they will love and want to better themselves at every day (and hopefully make a living at as well 🙂  Tough questions to ponder as a dad on this beautiful fall day.
So, tough fatherly ponderings aside, I have to admit that many other more optimistic things have been bouncing inside my head the last week or so
  • First, a former colleague at my previous company recently went thru scary experience with his son having heart surgery and all of us thrilled and exhilerated after hearing that all has gone excellent at the Mayo Clinic for him and his family – always hard for me to hear of families going thru that as having 2 kids of my own, it just hits me hard thinking of that happening to my kids and the fear I would feel – so I was greatly relieved to hear of their great news.


  • Earlier this week, I listened to Warren Buffett speak on his companies purchase of Burlington Northern and how convinced he is that Americas best days ever are coming around the corner – and as I listened to him speak of obstacles are country has gotten by in the past, he convinced me as well that with our liberties, natural resources, and strong will – that our country will rebound and rebound strongly.  He referred to his 30 billion dollar purchase as an "all-in bet on the US" – as a poker play, I love the reference


  • And I love my industry and these particular years of it – is there a better time to be in Computer Science than now?  I mean, multi-touch devices, GPS plotting capabilities everywhere, the ability to manipulate not just gibaytes of data anymore but terabytes, people hacking their own Wiis, phones, cameras – the ability to learn new information from the sharing of thousands of strangers on the Internet willing to share examples, tutorials, user groups, even advice on great sites like StackOverflow, what more could we hope for? – Is there any other industry as open and helpful as ours?  My son and I have been playing with an Open Source tool called Scratch developed at MIT to help people design games – its been hilarious and a great experience for the two of us.  I’ll have gone fron saving programs on audio cassette tapes when I firsted started developing to working on green screen dumb terminals to who knows what in the next few years.  Retire?  are you kidding – hell, I hope I am developing software when I am 80 – at least part-time anyway…..don’t get me wrong, I hope to squeeze in more vacation/traveling time in the future but I hope I am not looking forward to crossword puzzles and watching TV full time in 15 years
  • And work is going great, our company Innovative Systems develops telephony software for telephone companies across the US and we do it very well.  We are involved with IPTV now as well after partnering with settop box maker OpenTV of San Francisco a few years ago.  I never would have dreamed of finding a company like this in my very own back yard ( as I grew up not 10 blocks away from here).  Our CEO is a software developer himself, and I work with many strong, dependable co-workers that makes looking forward to more success with them all the more enjoyable.  Makes having the occasional after-work beers more fun celebrating our accomplishments.   Another lesson for the kids – life is too short doing what you do not enjoy.
OK, so far my lessons learned I hope to effectively share with my kids are:
  1. Things are worth what you pay for them (that goes for college as well) – my wife and I both paid our own way
  2. Every decision has a cost
  3. Finding work you enjoy could become the most important thing you do – if you aren’t happy doing what you do – its hard for anything else in life to fall into place as it should  – besides, its also biblical, (Ecclesiastes 9:10 if you don’t believe me  🙂
  4. Invest in yourself as your earning power is your greatest investment (this is Warren Buffets but I will borrow it as well)
Well that’s all I got so far, its not much I admit but I still have more time – I am 41 but I feel like I didn’t really start to wise up until I was 28 or so – maybe I am abit slow but I am getting there – but that in itself is a gift as taking a long time to mature means that I love playing video games with my kids at night before bedtime – my daughter and I like to play Wii Resorts Frisbee Dog, my son and I battle with Wii swords – this generation of parents can interact with their kids with cell phones, games, Twitter, Facebook, whatever in ways other generations may have been more separated from each other – I think these times we live in are something special but maybe every generation feels like that
May your fall days be filled with brats, burgers and cold beers.

About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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