A Changing Situation

Or, Caught by the Boom and Bust

The American economy has always had it's boom and bust cycles. It seems that the enthusiasm for technical innovations and the internationalization of the world economy has only made them shorter and deeper in the last quarter of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st. As the first decade of the 21st century progressed I continued to work at MCN. My wages were OK and the work, if somewhat routine by that time was at least interesting and satisfying. I liked and respected most of the people I worked with and lived in hope that the company would be successful.

During this period, I learned to work with Linux.One of my duties was to create shell scripts in support of our engineering team. I was lucky to be tasked as our build master. I created and deployed candidate builds to our staging and production servers. I tested the builds using Selenium IDE scripts that I modified as needed to smoke test the site. I created scripts that tested parts of the installation chain and had the pleasure to have them enshrined in the build process. This positioning allowed me to act as the filter between Engineering, IT and QA. I generally used scripts built by our IT guy, but when needed to I was able to generate my own or maintain those he had originated.

As the decade aged, it became obvious that we were in for an economic storm.During the run-up to the recession, the inevitability of a big fall was overwhelmingly evident. The banks were pushing questionable loans out the door at a ferocious rate and the housing prices were going through the roof. It was obvious that something was about to give, and in 2008 it did. A waved of high profile bank and insurance collapses shook the world economy to it's very roots. Like a house of cards blowing away in a stiff breeze, the shaky structure of the world economy cracked and shattered in a remarkably short time. MCN rode it out for the first year, but by early 2009, the money was getting short and the investors were getting shy. The result was a contraction of the company, and in March of that year I was laid off, along with about half of my coworkers.

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