Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 1668

We were out of oatmeal this morning, so instead of going to the store and getting a new box, I just went out for breakfast instead. I hadn't been to this place for a while, so I was curious if it was still the same. The menu looked the same, but when I ordered my familiar omelet, something looked different. Yup. There was less of everything. Another restaurant had discovered portion control. Everyone seems to be doing this these days. They'll put a little less in the box, or a little less on the plate and hope you won't notice. Retailers and manufacturers seem to know that their customers hate price increases, but will readily accept getting a little less for the same amount of money. Personally, I'd rather pay a little more and get a decent sized portion, but that's just me. As I continue to grow poorer, maybe my attitude will change.

I spent most of the day working on my new website project and getting my July invoices out. There were short trips to the post office and pharmacy to pay bills and pick up prescriptions, but that was about it. It's hard to get very excited about doing websites these days. It seems like every new project I get is less profitable than the previous one. I know I need to stay competitive to stay busy, but pretty soon these things won't even pay the electric bill.

It's not just traditional website design that's in decline. I saw an article the other day that said the average annual income for published authors showed the sharpest decline ever recorded during the past five years. There are well respected authors all over the world who are making less than the receptionist at an average law office. I think it's pathetic. Indie music, self-publishing, ready-made Wordpress themes, high resolution phone cameras, and a host of other innovations have created a tidal wave that is washing away folks like me. I think my financial adviser is tired of hearing me complaining about money. "Why don't you just switch to designing apps for the iPhone," he asked me the other day. It was hard to explain that creating apps was a completely different business model than being a graphic designer. Even if I was able to master the coding issues, I think my head would explode if my role in life was to come up with the next Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga. 

I remember one year while I was going to college, I has a Summer job working on an auto assembly line. The pay was pretty darn good. I think now that the era Henry Ford ushered in with the birth of the assembly line might have been the best of times. There was a genuine need for lots and lots of people to put things together for people to buy. People bought tons of the newly affordable refrigerators, cars and light bulbs that were flooding the market, creating more jobs and more assembly lines. Wages gradually went up, since there were no robots to replace the people. The people and the jobs were actually necessary. This is what created the middle class.

Now everything is different. I've been inside huge factories where I hardly saw a person at all. Robots did everything. Automation systems are replacing people at every level. Your job is next. Sometimes I think the only thing people actually make these days are more people. We're still having babies, but what are they going to do when they grow up? They can't all be artists selling handmade jewelry on Etsy.

I'm not sure what my answer to living in an automated world will be. It's easier to think about tomorrow. I'll definitely be going back to my favorite restaurant, where I'm fairly sure that the quality and portion sizes haven't declined. I'll pick up some tasty food for the weekend at Central Market. I might even do some work.

Today's Dalmatian of the Day was one of ours. She went to the Rainbow Bridge on this day in 2004. Rest in peace Greta. You were one of a kind.

Greta is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day