family history and genealogy

Tag: working

The Grandfather from Central Casting

Samuel Kubrin When my great-grandmother Taube Kurdabrin disembarked from the S.S. Finland on June 25, 1905, she carried her first-born son Schmuel in her arms. He was one year and six months old. Because small children lack agency, they generally make poor subjects for portraiture. I prefer instead to pick up my grandfather’s story in his middle years. We see him above with his third child, my Uncle Jay, who has just caught a fish. The photo is cracked and stained. The world it portrays has vanished. People work miracles now with Photoshop, but I don’t believe in retouching old pictures. Flaws appear in every image and every life, and they are worth noting. The patina tells a story all its own. Continue reading

My Foot on the Pedal of Progress

Transcription using cylinder phonograph copy. By The drawing is signed, 'Electrical World, N.Y.' [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons I’m celebrating the acquisition of a new piece of electronica—an AltoEdge USB foot pedal. This little gadget connects to my Mac via a USB interface and controls the ExpressScribe software I use to play back my oral history interviews as I transcribe them. The pedal and software combined take the sting out of a difficult job and boost my productivity in a key area of my enterprise. They also provide an object lesson in change, which is the underlying topic of all history. Continue reading

Something Durable and Luminous

Long after my family history is finished, after the writing is done, after my book is published (or not), after all my relatives and I myself are gone, our voices will still be audible in digital recordings. Our words will also be legible, provided anyone takes the trouble to dig through my files. I have no idea how posterity might receive this archive. I’m still grappling with the oddity of this situation in the present. Continue reading

Return to Officeland

Calgary, Alberta at dawn looking south from Crescent Road. Photo by Chuck Szmurlo. Wikimedia Commons.

 

My hiatus after being laid off in June didn’t last long. As soon as the old job ended, I landed a small contract, editing reports for a structural engineering company. It was only part-time, and I worked from home.

Then I picked up a new contract in downtown Calgary, editing reports for a major energy company. This job naturally brought about my return to officeland. Continue reading

Getting Laid Off

Empty chair. Badudoy, Wikimedia Commons.

Last summer I had an experience that millions have had these last few years—I got laid off. I was working at the time for the Technical Publications department of a software company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Word got out that the director of our department, a woman I’d never met, was coming to Calgary to visit our little outpost.

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