Category Archives: Work

That’s a Lot of Engines

I was always taught that no matter what kind of job I’m doing, I give it my best. I never quite understood the wisdom of this until I got my first job with a steady paycheck. The commonly held belief is that there is no need to care too much about doing a good job when you’re flipping burgers, mowing yards, jockeying a register, shoveling horse crap, or any one of the many other menial tasks that people find themselves doing for that weekly paycheck.

While working nearly every job I’ve ever had, I’ve observed coworkers doing the absolute bare minimum necessary to keep their jobs. Not surprisingly, many of them were students. Still being a student myself, I understand that holding down a job while trying to keep your grades up is a monumental task, especially when also trying to balance a personal life into the equation.

What these people do not realize is that such jobs can teach valuable life lessons that will stick with them well into the future when they get their “real” jobs. If employees can’t even expend the small amount of extra effort needed to excel in a “crap” job, how in the world can they expect to perform well in the jobs of with important responsibilities?

If only employers could see first-hand how prospective employees perform in a position of little responsibility, I would imagine they could save themselves a great deal of wasted time and training.

Anyway, I seem to have strayed from the point of this post.

My current job may not be as important as others, but I still take pride in what I do. Our fiscal year at the Murray Briggs and Stratton plant ended today with a record four million engines produced. Another notable milestone is the fifty million engines produced from the plant since it opened.

I estimate that only 150,000 or so of those engines were an indirect result of my efforts, but it’s still kinda neat to know I was a part of it. We even got some nifty shirts to commemorate our achievements with!

The plant shuts down for two weeks at the end of each fiscal year for cleaning and maintenance. Since we produced so well this year, we shut down early and my last day was Monday. Woo!

I Can Actually Get PAID To Do This?

011_paul_grahamOrdinary programmers write code to pay the bills. Great hackers think of it as something they do for fun, and which they’re delighted to find people will pay them for.

– Paul Graham


I read a report on CNN’s website saying that the number of college graduates with computer degrees has been declining steadily for the last four years. I’ve personally seen evidence of this myself, since back in 1998 when I first enrolled in Murray State’s computer science program, it seemed like everyone was majoring in computer science. Now there are fewer than 100 – and that’s not an exaggeration.

The difference can also be seen in people’s reactions. In 1999, if you told someone your major was computer science, their response was, “Wow, that’s a hot field. You’ll be set with that degree.” Nowadays, you’ll hear, “Hmm. Are you actually going to be able to a get a job with that degree?”

It just seems to me that about five years ago, before the dot-com collapse, computer science was the “cool” degree to go into because you could make a lot of money with it. For me, money was never my primary motivation for choosing CS as a major, thought I must say it will be a nice side-benefit. I chose CS because I absolutely cannot see myself doing anything else. I’ve heard it said that if you’re so passionate about what you’re doing that you’d do it for free, then you’ve made the right career choice.

You can hire just about anybody to write something in English, but if you’re a publisher, you hire people who have a masterful command over grammar, spelling, punctuation, and the ability to convey ideas clearly and efficiently. I feel the same can be applied to those who write software. There are a lot of people out there who can bang out code, but successful software companies seek out the exceptional developers who program because they love it, not because it makes them rich.Screen shot 2011-11-03 at 21.08.55

I believe that there are fewer CS graduates coming out of universities than years past because the “money seekers” have moved on to other fields. Programming just isn’t as “cool” a major as it used to be because a lot of people were downsized or had their jobs shipped off to India. Sure, there may be fewer graduates coming out each year, but you can rest assured that the majority of these graduates are passionate about programming, not money – which means less of a chance for an employer to hire an idiot straight out of college.

Check out Paul Graham’s essay, Great Hackers (from which the introductory quote was taken) and scroll down to “More than Money” for another take on what drives programmers and keeps them motivated.

Record Sales

Not often do I write about work, but I figured this deserved some special attention. Despite the sluggish economy and the emergence of several competing restaurants in town, our team at Murray Captain D’s just received an award for the highest sales increase in 2003. We beat out every other Captain D’s in the nation (nearly five hundred) to earn this distinction, and we have the battle scars to prove it! It’s been a rough year full of growing pains, but we’re now getting regular visits from other store managers and executives in the company who are curious to discover how we pulled it off.