My response to Job Loss

Scott Holmes (sholmes@PACIFICNET.NET)
Fri, 22 Mar 1996 17:29:09 -0800

observations on my own experience. My academic training was in
geography, primarily geomorphology and climatic change but also
environmental perception with some ethnographic studies of circum-polar
peoples. For several years after college I worked as a cartographer/remote
sensing analyst for the US Army Corps of Engineers. I did a lot of
wetlands analysis, some biomass/habitat inventories, and a few studies in
support of archaeological site analysis.

I truly enjoyed the work I was doing but also had qualms about who I
was doing it for. Eventually, however, the position fell victim to the
Reagan/Watt policy on environmental studies. At the time I was still
relatively young and believed what my parents had taught me - work hard
and believe in yourself and you can succeed. Consequently, the first
three stages John mentions were, for me, combined and of little

I suffered some significant economic losses because of this, primarily
foreclosure on my house because it was no longer my principle residence
(I had never missed a payment, I just had to move for another job and
let my sister live there). I mustered what economic support I could find
and started a partnership. We leased some computer equipment (a CP/M
if any of you recall what that was) and started to digitize aerial
photographs in hopes of landing some contracts with planning agencies.
Unfortunately this was a couple of years before anyone had heard of
Geo-Based Information Systems. My partner panicked and withdrew his support.
We lost the lease on the equipment and I moved from Step 4 to Step 2 -

I spend three years after that looking for work. During this period I
regressed to Step 1, shock and disorientation. How could someone of my
abilities and training be so unwelcome in the world. I ended up back at
my parents house: definitely step 3 stuff here - depression.

Eventually, I found a job in an Attorney's office doing data input. The
ad said geographic knowledge helpful (they used county names in their
database). The system they used was an Informix relational database on
a Xenix operating system. After a couple of years playing with this I
got good enough to convince a few people that I could actually program
something useful.

I've been able to eke out a living this way for the past ten years, slowly
sinking deeper and deeper into debt. Once a year Uncle Sam comes by and tells
me to give him one third of my gross for the previous year. This allows
me to stay in debt. So, at this point one could say I'm standing on a
precipice wondering how I can drop out without doing myself further damage.

So, in response to John McCreery's query, I would say that you have
the right pieces but the order of assembly may vary.