I’m at the tail end of both my Thanksgiving weekend and at the tail end of our “thankful for” series here at Engineer Blogs. Was it predictable? Yeah, a bit. But I didn’t care. I think it’s important to remember what we’re thankful for and writing posts week after week usually means our writers are clamoring for something a bit different. And since I am at the end of the week, I have to get to write something different, but then try and be different from all my co-writers. When I think about that, I am not particularly thankful…Ah well.
Though my article title could use some work, I’m trying to get across that I’m glad to be alive right now. Yup, right here. Right this very minute. And all the things that led me up to this minute in my 28 years of life so far. This has been a fantastically rich time to be alive; I realize I am particularly lucky to have won what Warren Buffett calls, “The Ovarian Lottery”. The basic idea is that of the now-7-Billion people on the planet, I was born a scientifically inclined white male into a loving 2 parent family in a middle class neighborhood in the US and had the opportunity to go to college and study electrical engineering after a great public K-12 education (in other words, if I step outside the US…I am the 1%). But wait, there’s more! Let’s see what else I have won! Wait no, that sounds horrible. Let’s instead think about it as the other things I’m grateful for, having been born at the time I am.
- The State of the World — Namely, that there have not been any mandatory (US) service wars, as there had been in previous generations. Aside from my pacifist nature, the fact that I don’t have to worry about getting shipped off to a different country to fight in a war (unless I choose to, of course, it’s not like armed conflicts have gone away in the US…), means that I’ve never had my education or working time interrupted by serving in the armed forces. It also means the work I’ve done in my relatively short career has not needed to be in the pursuit of a military goal.
- Jobs — While no one will look out over a crowd and proclaim the job situation in the US and abroad is wonderful, it’s definitely better for engineers than other professions. And this brings me to my next point about being alive at this period of time: I am lucky to be a capable, young electrical engineer, when there are many complaints about not being able to find the right STEM workers (real or not). The fact that I could move jobs relatively easily, even in a rough economy such as now, is very encouraging to me and something I’m grateful for.
- Electronics are everywhere — The trend of embedded devices and the use of electronics in nearly every appliance and gadget we encounter really helps me sleep at night. If there are more items that require electronics in them…that means more jobs for people who design electronics! When I compare this to 50 years ago, it’s a drastically different situation. Sure, the guys back then were inventing some of the key technologies we still use today. That’s pretty cool and I would have loved to invent a transistor that would be named after me. But in a much more practical sense, why not have a slew of opportunity in front of me as opposed to a slew of roadblocks? I have many different tools at my disposal for solving problems with electronics, sometimes quite easily (well, it’s never easy. But maybe straightforward). For that, I am grateful.
- I have the internet — Yup, the internet. Kind of corny, right? But it has made a large difference in my life. I can access knowledge not readily available to many of my predecessors, up to even 10 years ago. I can order and have electronic components in hand the next day, from a marketplace of thousands of vendors, from all over the world. I can connect with kindred spirits on multiple media (Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Email and more!) in order to discuss problems and advance my hobbies and career. Hell, I have an internet radio show about electronics with a guy from Australia! One that gets distributed to thousands around the world, some in extremely remote locations. How would that have been possible even 10 years ago? I am able to connect with like minds and try and further our field, either on this site or many of the message boards I participate in. None of this would have been possible. None. I am grateful for the internet and am grateful I will be able to continue to receive the fruits of its bounty.
Now sure, there are lots of downsides to being a member of the workforce and being born when I was. The recent “Great Recession” and the systematic shipping off of many manufacturing industries comes to mind; I really could have done without those. But in the grand scheme of things, they’re really bumps on the road and I still find that I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced many of the things I’ve experienced.
So, since this is the last “grateful” or “thanksgiving” post of the season, do you have anything you’re thankful for that you haven’t already posted somewhere? Do you think there is a better time to have been born? Or perhaps you don’t know a better time but disagree with why I think the time I was born was so lucky?
And finally, let me add that I’m grateful to all the readers of Engineer Blogs, especially those who leave comments. I love hearing from you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving (stateside) or that you have the opportunity to pause and think about what you’re grateful for in your life, wherever you are.
I’m also grateful to Creative Commons artists on Flickr, especially Extra Ketchup for the picture I used at the top.