2016 – The year of the rollercoaster

I spend my summer overseeing the expansion and rehabilitation of our concrete jungle. It is quite remarkable how much our civilization has accomplished but I’m left with some burning internal conundrums.

I have worked hard over these past several years bettering myself through education and work experience. This has led me down an extremely fruitful path and is multi directional giving myself many options with no dead ends.

I find it somewhat perplexing that the more money and experience I obtain the less work I do. This is not to say the work I do isn’t difficult but it’s in a different way than I’m accustomed too.

I no longer work like a dog running through the bush with decaying swamp matter up to my knees. I’m no longer fighting for every possible overtime hour so I can actually save some money.

Before I go any further I must point out that despite the aforementioned cons I made at the time what I thought was good money. It was certainly better than other prospects at my disposal and I held onto the belief that I would climb the leadership ladder. Even though I didn’t full heartily believe it..

As time progressed I found other work in my field. I made a little bit more money and had some more expectations. While it was not entirely difficult for myself I learned a lot. Maybe my doubts about the ladder were wrong or maybe it’s just an unnatural progression. Either way I didn’t mind as I would of been alright being paid less. After all, pay cheques come and go but experience lasts a lifetime. Besides, I was having fun observing organized chaos on a grandiose scale.

I then made the decision to go back and finish my degree. While extremely difficult, I made a life changing choice. Working experience can be discounted and dismembered but schooling is absolute.

This brings us to this summer. Prospects were high and all my ducks were lined in a row. Employers were chasing me from all directions and I did what any logical person would do. I looked over all the offers and picked the one that I thought would help me the most long term.

Unfortunately this almost became the downfall of the person I have been for many years and I reverted back to someone that is on there last legs.

For reasons I am still to this day dumbfounded by I had my perfect professional experience record shattered to what I can only atone to was malicious intent.

As someone who was living off debt and money saved long ago I wasn’t able to stand up and fight for what would of been a long drawn out but highly favorable battle. Lawyers are expensive and I simply couldn’t afford it…

This drew out a darkness that had been dormant for almost a decade. A looming shadow drew over my entire being as I was feeling my dream of finishing my degree had slipped away. If I didn’t work while I could my education would be a pipe dream

I put all my eggs in a single basket which was the one thing to do. There wasn’t a reason for holding on to other employers as they were making summer decisions then and only then. One of the perks of working in an industry with airtight no moonlighting clauses…

This led myself to the unfortunate position of being a highly qualified individual in an industry with tons of work and no job. It also didn’t help my cause that I moved from the city back to my small town. Distances that are in absolutely no way commutable even semi regularly. Too bad almost all of my prospects had been there. Irony is a cruel beast..

To put it lightly I was up shit creek with no paddle and a sinking boat. Gotta love my constantly interesting life….

The darkness began consuming myself and almost immediately I turned to alcohol. This was the only way I could turn down the volume of my broken and mutilated dreams. More and more was needed to keep the volume low until it did nothing but turn it to 11.

My fiancé immediately raised a red flag and being the calm rational one in our relationship I could do nothing to quell her fears. My lows were only getting lower and there was nothing her or I could do to fix it. I was trapped in my mental prison with the doors welded shut.

As the days progressed I lightly poked an industry contact that I hadn’t spoken to in a year. If I was going to rationalize my demise I had to scope out all directions and if it blew out in my face it’s not like I could sink any faster. Logic above all else, it’s my personal double edged sword.

Surprisingly my contact was more than willing to take on an out of work surveyor. Not only that but she was ecstatic to do it. The hours were up in the air and the details would be hammered out in a few days. It was something

A few days went by and I began doubting myself as the agreed upon contact day had come and went. Maybe this was another irony that was beginning.

At last my contact called and gave me the details of the offer. I was simply floored by the intensity of it. It was way more than I was expecting and had some serious responsibility. The hours were to be erratic to begin with but settling out in the future.

The next day I began and it would be a true trial by fire. Thankfully I passed with flying colours and had earned my white hat.

It turned out to be a massive blessing both in terms of wage and ladder progression. I was earning way more than what I was used to in previous adventures. My responsibilities were also drastically shifted. I was out on my own and required to make tough calls.

I’m no longer working myself to death but the calls I make now impact not only myself but entire job sites. I can no longer say practically whatever I want but have to be absolutely sure about the information I’m providing.

When I’m on site there is no one else to correct me or to twist what I say into what they think is the correct call. The buck stops at me at least for a period of time. Unless of course my contact over rules me but this is not an instant process.

My career this year has been an incredibly deep and tumultuous ride. I have been tested in many different ways and have come out on top, even though it was by the skin of my teeth.

My story is still being written but as of now I’m thoroughly enjoying the fruits of my labour. Silver linings have shown them selves to me and it’s an experience that will follow me through out the coming years.

My perfect professional record may be stained and I guarantee I’ll have to answer questions about it in the months to come but it worked out highly favorable for myself. Maybe my ironic life is that way for a reason…

Until next time,
JSTRD

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I’m Steel Here

As I sit and ponder my studies in structural analysis I’m in a strange way relating it to my life. For all too long I’ve been torn in several different directions, both in career and personal aspects. It has been a constant state of tension for better or worse. This brings my studies into quite the limelight. A bit odd but quite rationalized on a fundamental level.

If a steel beam is being put into tension on the top then it has to be put into compression at the bottom when bended. This relates to myself as all the tension I’ve experienced put myself into this odd state of compression. Bottling everything up until one day….Everything changed.

Materials, such as steel, have another interesting property called a deformation point. This is where a material has experienced so much stress that it no longer bounces back to its original point. A sad day for a material and it may seem gloomy but alas, not all is lost. Steel especially actually increases in strength past this point (not indefinitely) and this is where my story intertwines nicely.

I hit this deformation point personally. I shook off all my tension and let everything that was compressed out into the open. A glorious day indeed when I could feel everything that was putting negative forces on to me bounce off without a scratch.

I increased in strength exponentially that day and although I may not be the same person any more, deformed though external forces, I am glad I got through it. A more rationalized human being is what has emerged.

The Project

After taking more than a year off to see the real world applications of my half completed degree I’m now officially back to finish what I started. In a brand new city, not knowing anyone here and just being able to focus on my studies.

This time around I can honestly say I’m enjoying learning immensely and instead of just cramming my head full of formulas I can look back on my experiences for inspiration. These are no longer dead end equations meant to siphon off the unmotivated or unwilling. These are numbers that can invoke project changing emotions in those who know what they mean.

I have seen the wonders of these mathematical obstacles when they are used in perfect unison with the project. The sheer joy of contractors and owners alike when things work exactly as they should. Its ear to ear smiles and “good job” for anyone within ear shot. Everyone feels on top of the world and longs for more moments such as these.

I have also seen the terror when seemingly unnoticeable errors in these amazingly simple equations are shrugged off in the design or ordering process. Pushed under the rug and never given a second thought about. These are the devils in the project that create pandemonium that shakes projects to their knees. The life and death of the project hinges not on the big mistakes that the majority notices but on the minute ones that hide, fester and disease the project. These are the mistakes that are the cattle cull of the project.

Wanderlust

It’s been a very long time since I’ve bothered updating this blog. I’ve thought about it on countless occasions and have a plethora of things that I’d love to break down but…those things can wait…

In the past year my life has changed drastically for the better. I threw out most of my stuff, quit my job at an engineering firm, packed the rest of it into a car then moved 16 hours North to a tiny place that most people in the big cities down south don’t even know exist. This may seem sudden for some of those watching but I had my reasons and they were plenty.

Once here I know this is what the missing piece in my life had been. I had gone through life down South almost dreading every day. There was some good memories but as a whole the bad outweighed the good and I had enough. Will I ever return to my hometown? No, I have sworn off that place for good and have zero iota of regret.

Even though I came up here with no job and only enough cash for a few months it didn’t stay like that for long. My set of skills is highly transferable and I realized that as soon as I applied to my first job. Within two weeks I was hired at that firm and sent off to an infrastructure project worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The skills I learned there will help me in my future career ambitions. I learned immense amounts from a senior party chief with tens of years experience in the bush and some tricks to help things along that are quite out of the box on the surface. I also learned office skills from a senior CAD technician that has cemented my resolve around drafting both 2D and 3D modeling. I went from being fairly green in drafting to going on and presenting massive 3D topographic plans that will be forever cemented in the project as signed and completed by me.

My last day with that firm was this week and I was sad to go but bigger things are ahead. In the coming month I will be going back to school even further North to finish my civil engineering degree.  I have the experience now I’m getting the papers.

Until next time,

JSTRD