Contractor life: the paying waiting room
I'm now officially self-employed, working on technical writing contracts for two high-tech companies in the Vancouver area. Although I've done that sort of work on the side for nearly a decade now, on and off, I now depend on it for my livelihood. (It helps, of course, that my wife is a math teacher -- as close to a guaranteed lifetime job as it gets these days.)
So today I went to a local medical lab for some regular blood tests. A number of people waited ahead of me. It was busy. I sat down with a sheaf of reading and proceeded to teach myself about cellular digital packet data (CDPD), a method of transmitting and receiving data using a wireless modem (often attached to a laptop computer) through the analog cellular phone network -- essentially worming the data packets into the blank spaces between voice cellular calls.
I knew next to nothing about CDPD or any other mobile wireless networking technology before I started the editing contract, but there I was, waiting in the medical lab foyer, making notes on the printouts and charging billable time while doing it. I've never been paid to wait for a medical procedure before.
If you're interested in wireless communications -- or telecommunications in general -- I'd highly recommend the book The Race for Bandwidth by the late Cary Lu (Microsoft Press, 1998). It's a great introduction to the subject, whether you're technically minded or not.
Finally, as a bit of trivia, today (February 16) is the forty-second anniversary of the day Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. Those U.S. sanctions are sure working well, aren't they?