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Times are tough, pants are tight


Saturday, December 6, 2008


Posted by Courtney E. Howard

When the economy turns south, most businesses reign in expenditures by curtailing travel. It is easy, however, to become cloistered in the office and detached from the industry. I know of what I speak, as I often and inadvertently find myself holed up in my Spokane office, conversing only by digital methods. A trip to I/ITSEC in Orlando, however, saved me from my Emily Dickenson-like existence and put me back in touch with the markets I so happily serve.

I noted a dichotomy in Orlando. On the show floor, enthusiasm, optimism, and hope for future technology advancements, profit increases, and budget expansions abounded. Outside the convention center, the mood was somber, even in a locale that boasts various family attractions. Sure, children cheered, "I'm going to Disney World," but parents' faces and audible sighs told another story. (Did you know that the entry fee for Universal is $75?!)

In the morning, I read of 20,000 jobs lost this week alone and unemployment rates reaching their highest level since 1974. I will admit that when I am working away in my office, this news elicits little response from me, other than a "huh." Out in the real world (if you can call Orlando that), however, the news made much more impact. En route to the convention center, I noted a baker's dozen signs hanging in merchant windows that read: "We are NOT hiring."

As I was sitting in the airport, I saw an interview with a man in Manhattan seeking employment. In the CNN piece titled "Sign of the Times," a middle-aged business executive wore a sandwich-board sign, the heading of which was "Almost Homeless." His story followed the eye-catching headline, and he told reporters, "I cannot afford pride; I need to care for my family."

All this put things into greater perspective for me, so I resolved to try and live on the cheap. I ate inexpensively at fast food restaurants, only to find that in many places, the "dollar menu" is no more. As I was tightening my belt, however, I noticed that everything else was tightening--not the least of which is the rest of my outfit. Alas, I must find other means of saving money during travel; after all, what do I gain in paying more for insurance premiums and health care as a result of saving a buck in a fast-food line.

I am interested in how you and your company are dealing with the declining economy. Let us know here, or in the Command Post online community. Here's to more prosperous times!

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.


Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.


John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.