andybeals brought up something in the last thread that I've been thinking about, actually. I sometimes wonder if it just isn't possible (for me, anyway) to have much of a social life, or non-career-oriented hobbies, if I am to remain competitive in the tech job market. Not that I have much of a social life in general, but perhaps due to competition for jobs, I might have to spend even more time on things that are career related. In some of the most stressful times at AV, for example, I had to give up dancing and could only spend about a half hour or so per day practicing piano. I was able to keep up with chorus, but a lot of that was because rehearsals were just a few minutes down the street from the office, we were performing a fair amount of music that I already knew, and memorization wasn't required for performances. I even had to take my cell phone and laptop with me during vacations, even though I'd briefed people on what to do in my absence, just to make sure that things were being taken care of. (I had an argument about that with my friend from the last thread also, in which I said that I didn't really have much choice, because if something didn't get taken care of in my absence it would take much longer to fix on my return.)
On a somewhat related note, I have wondered if I am going to have to make telecom/networking/IETF a hobby, and just content myself with any kind of software engineering work that comes along. As I've written in the past, the networking field just isn't doing that well, at least as compared with Internet search, online advertising, etc. And there's a lot of competition for jobs from people who've been much more active in it than I have over the past nine years. In some ways, I decided to get involved with search engines nine years ago because it seemed as if demand for networking software was starting to slow down. Internet search was looking like a promising field, similar to how networking looked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When the firewall group I was in ran out of money, I didn't want to quit Digital (and possibly risk losing pension, etc.), so that pretty much made the decision for me.
If that happens, I might have to stop taking piano lessons and just work on basic technique (scales and such) for a half hour or so per day. Things could be worse, of course (imagine if I was one of the recent victims of Katrina). I wish this didn't bother me so much.