Apaches at the stockade fence;

Apaches at the stockade fence; post-apocalyptic renegades in the engine room?

I was sitting in a borrowed conference room at the Bridgespan Group in Boston last Thursday, and was just getting ready for 90 minutes of frantic pre-meeting HTML tweaking, when a forest of IMs popped up on my screen: all my office-mates were let go that morning. I was on the phone with Kate as they started coming in, and she describes my reaction as a kind of frantic Ned Flanders shriek: “Oh, my, GOD!” (waving tongue and squirrelly hands included.) Hearing about it on IM was eerie; like getting bulletins from a beleaugered stockade on the frontier as the Apaches force a breach in the picket. MawPlunkett: Keep firing, paw! This-here cabin’s our last holdout! And the powder and shot ain’t a-gonna last!

Everyone’s going to be fine; in fact, some profess to be ecstatic at the change. And it’s not unexpected; after three rounds of layoffs, anyone whose billability is low for several weeks running can see the black clouds on the horizon. It’s sad, though, and spooky, and I find myself wishing for a world in which everyone has happy, stable jobs that they don’t have to worry about keeping.

Between the layoffs, having been in Boston and Philly for a week, and not having a place to live, I’m feeling disjointed right now. Amtrak seems to agree with me; we’re stuck behind a derailed train right now, creeping from Newark into New York at five miles an hour with no lights or air conditioning. When I walked forward to the cafe car, I saw a Hassidic man bowing and praying with a scripture box bound to his forehead. Another man had an actual hand loom set up in his seat, and was weaving a patterned blanket from twenty strings of yarn coming from a messenger bag under his seat. Maybe civilization is collapsing, and the train is being run by a Mad Max punk with a mohawk, a coral necklace, and chunks of motorcycle tires riveted to his shoulders.

Should I stop learning Java and start learning how to throw a sharp steel boomerang?

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