I heard some interesting news yesterday after missing a day of work on Monday: my former manager is leaving Company O. to return to his home town in India and work with a tech startup there. When I got the chance to ask him why he decided to do this, two things were on his mind. He and his wife are worried about their aging parents. He wants his children to have the cultural experience of growing up in India, rather than the United States. Both concerns are understandable, and I certainly wish him well in the endevour. He was my manager at Company O. for four years and I will miss him.
I find his choice to be troubling on other levels, however. I fear that the computer software industry is currently vulnerable to foreign competition. The industry heavily depends on resident foreign nationals from India and China. To see several of my former colleagues at Company O. return to India over the last two years to pursue opportunities there suggests that a period of U.S. dominance in the software industry is ending. Where do my employment prospects fit in with that change over the next thirty years? I don't know, and the uncertainty bothers me.
I also have to wonder what this means in terms of the broader immigrant experience in this country. My Mom's family came to these shores about a century ago... and through my Mom I get a strong sense of how cultural assimilation in the first half of the last century affected my ancestors. To live in America and become an citizen of this country was a desirable thing. I am not convinced that this is an idea shared by my colleagues, however. For them, the United States is a convenient place to work, but they do not seem very interested in assimilation past a certain point. They would ultimately rather return to the culture that formed them than recreate that culture here in miniature.
I am left with questions: Is this because these men and women are skilled professionals, capable of earning an affluent living in their native lands rather than blue collar workers who were my ancestors? Does this have to do with some bourgeois decadence found in modern society? Does it rather have more to do with the strong European roots of American culture, roots shared by ancestors, but not my current co-workers?
In a completely different vein, Harri3tspy wanted to know what's on my soundtrack. Here it is:
- Genesis, "Dance On A Volcano" - My favorite song off my favorite album by my first great musical love.
- Lyle Lovett, "Family Reserve" - I find myself thinking a lot about family lately... and how there are less of us than there used to be. This song explores that idea beautifully.
- Etta James, "At Last" - Mrs. Geek and I danced our first dance at our wedding to this song.
- Sting, "Russians" - I recall listening to this song when I was about 17 years old while hearing an acquaintance discuss the sexual exploits and preferences of several people we knew in common. It was a moments when I suddenly became aware of a world around me that I could only previously guess at, coloring my outlook for some time to follow.
- Bob Mould, "Poison Years" - I returned from a weekend at home with Bob Mould's CD "Workbook" during my Junior year in college. While I was playing it on my roomate's stereo in the dorm, a friend from across the hall marched into our room and said "Dr. Geek, where the hell do you hear this stuff?" It was then that I first knew my musical tastes were somewhat more eclectic than many of my friends.
- Alvin Youngblood Hart, "France Blues" - Despite being a blues, hearing this rendition of the song never elicits anything but joy from me. Alvin Youngblood Hart and Taj Mahal compress a century of blues and Afro-American-influenced folk music into a few short minutes.
- Johnny Cash, "Delia's Gone" - This song (and later the CD it came from) made a Johnny Cash fan out of me. Masterful, absolutely masterful.
- Liz Phair, "Johnny Feelgood" - I once recall having a rather heated discussion with a friend over this song. I argued that lyrics like "it kinda has become an obsession to me/I hate him all the time/but I still get up/when he knocks me down/and he orders me around/ícause it loosens me up/and I canít get enough/and Iíd pay to spend the night with him some more" implied literal violence as a part of a sexual relationship. She argued that the violence was more of a metaphor for the force of feeling while being lovesick for the first time. At the time, I felt the fool for missing the point... but now I'm not so sure. Listen to Flower on Exile From Guyville sometime... Liz does not shy away from the explicit.
- Faith No More, "The Zombie Eaters" - For some reason, this song always takes me back to a Saturday morning in my college dorm room, lounging in my pajamas.
- The Police, "Synchronicity II" - I spent Christmas vacation one year in high school sitting on my parents' sofa, reading "The Foundation Trilogy", and listening to Synchronicity on vinyl over and over again.
- The Black Crowes, "Twice As Hard" - I worked on an assembly line tape wrapping wire splices in computer cables the summer when this song was popular. Letting it run through my head as I worked kept me sane when all you have to look forward to at 6:30 in the morning is nearly 8 hours of silence, 30 minutes for lunch, and about 3000 computer cables.
- Harry Connick Jr., "Let's Just Kiss" - Mrs. Geek knows why.
- Chris Cornell, "Preaching The End Of The World" - This song was a comforting soundtrack when I was feeling VERY lost amidst the depression of dissertation writing.
- Garbage, "Temptation Waits" - Something about Shirley Manson singing "You come on like a drug/I just can't get enough/I'm like an addict coming at you for a little more" still gets me.
Finally, Mrs. Roboto writes about Tin Ceilings and Square Footage today. I love a good tin ceiling, and I applaud the home renovation efforts of Mrs. R. and her husband Pete. Hearing them talk about buying and selling real estate put me in a real estate funk though. Her tale reminded me of what so many others around us have said about buying real estate in our area: buy a small place, fix it up, wait a couple years, sell it, and buy a bigger place. Repeat until sufficient space and equity have accumulated that a) it is possible to have children, and b) they can be sent to schools in a good school district. I don't have time for that! I don't want to still be paying on a 30 year mortgage when I'm 72, damn it!
on 2005-03-02 at 1:23 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond