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posted by martyb on Sunday February 22 2015, @01:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the stayin-alive-stayin-alive-♩♪♫♩♪♫ dept.

Peter T. Kilborn writes in The New York Times about the generation of the baby boomer programmers, engineers, and technical people who are now leaving the bosses, bureaucracies, commutes and time clocks of their workaday careers to tackle something consuming and new, whether for material reward or none at all. “Retirement gives them the opportunity to flex their experience,” says Dr. William Winn speaking of a postchildhood, postfamily-rearing, “third age” of “productive aging” and “positive aging.” Nancy K. Schlossberg calls men and women who exploit the skills of their old jobs “continuers" and those who take up something new “adventurers.” Continuers and adventurers make up the vigorous end of Dr. Schlossberg’s retirement spectrum, opposite those she calls “retreaters” who disengage from life and “spectators” who just watch.

For example, 75-year-old Seth R. Goldstein, with four degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from MIT and retired for thirteen years, still calls himself an engineer. But where he was previously a biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda with 12 patents, he now makes kinetic sculptures in his basement workshop that lack any commercial or functional utility. But his work, some of which is on display at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, has purpose. Goldstein is pushing the envelope of engineering and hoping to stir the imaginations of young engineers to push their own envelopes. For example "Why Knot?” a sculpture Goldstein constructed, uses 10 electric motors to drive 10 mechanisms to construct a four-in-hand knot on a necktie that it wraps around its own neck. Grasping, pulling, aligning and winding the lengths of the tie, Mr. Knot can detect the occasional misstep or tear, untie the knot and get it right. Unlike Rube Goldberg’s whimsical contraptions, Mr. Goldstein’s is no mere cartoon. It works, if only for Mr. Knot.

According to Kilborn, people like Goldstein don't fit the traditional definition of retirement, which according to Webster's Dictionary means the "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life." Retirement implies that you're just leaving something; it doesn't reflect that you're going to something," says Schlossberg. "But it is really a career change. You are leaving something that has been your primary involvement, and you are moving to something else."

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  • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:14PM

    by Gaaark (41) on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:14PM (#148089) Journal

    Before he retired, my dad built (with a bit of help from my brother and myself) a steel and concrete sailboat, 60ish feet long. When he retired, he sailed it down to Florida with my mom and brother... they sailed it around a bit more, then sold it. Now they golf (side note; he just got a hole in one about 2 weeks ago!).

    When i retire, i'll probably spend more time sitting and typing and googling and .......maybe some gardening?......

    I even have the song i want played at my funeral... []
    ...simply because it is a beautiful, morbid (not the best word to describe it, but too lazy to do a thesaurus search) song.
    I am not religious, but my sister will think i 'turned' at the last moment because of the song, lol.

    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:22PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:22PM (#148090) Journal

    What do [Old] Techies do After They Retire?

    I invoke Betteridge's law of headlines.
    ( know it makes sense... grin)

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:38PM

    by VLM (445) on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:38PM (#148093)

    This would have made a fun ask SN question. I suspect I'll just keep on surfing pr0n (probably GILFs by then, if not great-grand-GILFs).

    Semi-seriously though what about the meme that all professional-tech-IT type people are ageism-d out by 50 or whatever. There may only be a couple million in the field, but theres like 30 million who entered the field, got kicked out, and are still alive, and still quite capable of tech work. Happened to my dad, kinda, after he lost his full time office job, its off to permanent part time consulting. He had enough saved up anyway. He worked his last full time day in his 40s and never "really" retired, up till months before he died he'd take on a small contract here and there, decades later. I'm probably going to do the same, although more or less intentionally by design rather than having fallen into it.

    So if no one over the age of 40 will be permitted to be employed in IT, and dudes live till they're 80, I predict a hell of a lot of "non-full time" employees just putting in contract work. Gray hair means you'll get fired from a corporate job never to be rehired cause you're too old/expensive, but white hair makes you a rockstar contractor billing $200+/hr.

    Something I never really understood about contract work, still don't, entirely, is my dad contracted at this one collections agency for a decade, and given what he charged, the bottom line is it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper just to hire him, even with benefits and all the other costs. Yet they paid up, per hour. I guess the option to fire is worth some money, but it must have added up to like a hundred thousand bucks over time, and they never did stop contracting with him. And its not like it was an exclusive contract, either. Business people are sometimes very weird with how they treat money. A $20/hr employee is inherently evil and greedy because thats so much over minimum wage, but a $200/hr consultant is inherently worth it for the sole reason that he charges $200/hr. Its a weird world.

    In comparison, I do have relatives who stopped doing everything after retirement other than change the channel on the TV, and ended up with alzheimers diagnosis, and I strongly wonder about the chicken and egg effect of that. Even if I get an alzheimers diagnosis some day, I bet not watching Fox News 16 hours a day will add decades to my life anyway.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Sunday February 22 2015, @04:43PM

      by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Sunday February 22 2015, @04:43PM (#148122)

      The total cost of contracting over and over for a decade may have been higher, but I imagine for any given budget year the cost of a contract worker was lower than the cost of hiring someone. A full hire might have cost any given manager a chunk out of his bonus in any budget year. That's why short-term thinking is destroying corporations. If it keeps going long enough, you get things like IBM where it is today.

      (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday February 22 2015, @06:21PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday February 22 2015, @06:21PM (#148142)

      We had a "contractor" who we kept around for 10+ years at double salary - most years he got 1800+ hours, other years he got more like 600. All in all, would have been cheaper to hire him at normal rate and pay 2000 hours a year + benefits, but he liked being able to tell the company "sorry, not available until June" if he wanted to, and the company liked being able to tell him, "sorry, nothing for ya right now" when they didn't want the cash outflow. Win-win. And, I (full time) got to pick up and do his work when we needed him but didn't have the money.

      🌻🌻 []
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by SDRefugee on Sunday February 22 2015, @09:39PM

      by SDRefugee (4477) on Sunday February 22 2015, @09:39PM (#148219)

      I retired in 2012 after doing computer support/network admin since 1991. During a period of unemployment in mid 2004, a friend who volunteered with the local Redcross chapter told me that they needed a "computer janitor" to keep their aged Pentium II whitebox systems and an old Dell Windows 2000 server up and running, so I paid them a visit. I was just what they needed, and for about a year, I *was* the local chapter's "IT Department". I managed to get a bunch of their really old systems upgraded, and got their server upgraded to Windows 2003 SmallBizServer.. In late Sept 2004, I was asked if I'd be interested in going down to Florida, as Redcross national was clamoring for IT types to help support the hurricane recovery that year. I said "Sure!!!", and got sent down to Port Charlotte Florida to provide tech support for a Redcross service delivery site.. Even though I was a volunteer, when you deploy on a national disaster, Redcross provides your transportation to/from the location (Flew Delta from Las Vegas to Atlanta, then to Tampa), and a per-diem for incidentals.. To keep myself busy now that I'm retired, I again volunteer with the local chapter, although not as their "IT Dept" as they have contracted support thru Redcross national, but as a member of the DAT (Disaster Action Team) We're the volunteers who get called by the Fire department when a house/apartment fire occurs, and we provide immediate lodging/food/clothing for the impacted residents.. I'm also signed up to be deployed to any national disaster like I was in 2004.. Nice to do something to help other people...

      America should be proud of Edward Snowden, the hero, whether they know it or not..
    • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Magic Oddball on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:25PM

      by Magic Oddball (3847) on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:25PM (#148235) Journal

      pr0n (probably GILFs by then, if not great-grand-GILFs).

      "Grandchildren & Great-Grandchildren I'd Like to Fuck"?!

      Leaping from the original "Mother" to "Girl" brings little girls to mind.

      Maybe the safest option would be to just tick people off and use HTWNW (Hot Thin White Normal Women). Hey, at least that can't get you arrested. >;-)

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:58PM

        by VLM (445) on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:58PM (#148246)

        LOL usually the G in GILF stands for Grannie for anyone curious

        I need a redundant array of HTWNW

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:29PM (#148514)

      Companies see no value in older people because they devalue leadership anywhere but the CxO ranks. Older people skeeve them out, as they have the experience to call bullshit on their fantasies. That's why they need to hire consultants to bail them out. They are ignorant fools and deserve to be taken for every cent. And, yes, I'm posting anonymously, as I am one of those "older" consultants that cannot seem to buy a job (which I would appreciate in terms of better benefits and not having to pay/dick about with my own payroll and business taxes).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:31PM (#148516)

        Oh yes, before all you "You must suck, if you can't find a full-time job" folks start typing, I do get work. In fact, more than I can often handle.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bziman on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:39PM

    by bziman (3577) on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:39PM (#148094)

    I frequently talk about my impending retirement, and people freak out because I'm so young and won't I get bored and yadda yadda? But they misunderstand me... I don't mean to sit on my ass doing nothing for the next forty years. Rather, when I say retirement, I really mean that I shall have achieved financial independence and will no longer need employment to feed myself and provide myself with healthcare. As it stands now, I've got ten times as many things I want to do as I have time for, simply because I spend so much time working... I maintain a good work life balance, but forty hours a week is a lot of time that will be better spent working on my own projects, rather than someone else's.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:53PM

      by VLM (445) on Sunday February 22 2015, @02:53PM (#148098)

      Mr Money Mustache, is that you? (And note to everyone else, thats a pretty good summary of his lifestyle/advice blog, a little more practical than the archdruids report or whatever)

      Observations of my grandfather and great uncles are after you set up a scheme to pay the bills, there's a whole world that most can't participate in, that's a hell of a lot of fun, and profitable, although not grind out a middle class or better living level of profitable. This is a big problem / competition for small business owners, if my retired uncle will weld stuff for little more than the consumables for the sheer challenge of it, if its a job he likes, that makes it hard for a young kid to try to earn a living in a small business. My grandma taught calligraphy for what rounds down to free, which makes life pretty rough for a young full time art teacher trying to get a paying gig. My grandfather also had a weird hobby of cutting down trees for people, that was basically revenue neutral (the costs of bonding and insurance are pretty high and ate practically all his revenue, which he really didn't care about, I guess he always wanted to be a lumberjack). Something I've considered is I saw the peasant like poverty of academic life and laughed in its face when I was a kid, but after I'm "set" financially I could totally see academics. "You're asking what am I supposed to do with a history degree? F off, I'm retired, so when I get sick of it I'll watch Jeopardy, that's what I'll do with a history degree" Maybe I'll go back and finish that chemistry degree, theres no jobs, but I obviously won't care. Probably should have dual majored back in the old days anyway.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Sunday February 22 2015, @03:35PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 22 2015, @03:35PM (#148113) Journal

      I couldn't agree more. I was partly forced into early retirement (at age 55) due to having to care for someone who has severe medical problems but, nevertheless, the quality of life that one can enjoy if you can achieve financial independence is not to be under-estimated. I was lucky in that I had a good pension plan that will mean we can live comfortably - not extravagantly nor without having to watch where we spend money - but I do not have to work to eat or stay warm and secure. The biggest problem today, IMHO, is that life for many people is centred around having to work hard for many years just to live at a basic level , with no opportunity to invest in their future. Then the government suggests that, as we are living longer, we should be working longer whereas we should be looking at getting some quality time with the ones we love or doing things that are important to us. Yes, I understand the need for taxes and the increased cost of welfare for all these people that are living longer, but there is little incentive to live longer if all that will result is that you have to keep running on the treadmill until you can no longer benefit from those extra years.

      Once you have retired, the next most important part is keeping the brain and body active. And that's where my technical interests and hobbies become more important to me.

      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 2) by AnonTechie on Sunday February 22 2015, @08:12PM

        by AnonTechie (2275) on Sunday February 22 2015, @08:12PM (#148185) Journal

        Well, my situation is somewhat similar and I largely agree with your comments.

        Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by janrinok on Sunday February 22 2015, @03:13PM

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 22 2015, @03:13PM (#148107) Journal

    Some of them - well, me at least - support an online news site.

    It keeps me up-to-date with happenings in the tech and related worlds, it certainly keeps me busy for a fair chunk of my day, and I enjoy feeling useful. (Whether or not I'm justified in that feeling I will leave to others to decide...)

    I also still program (c++ and python), but mainly for my own interest and benefit. Also, I still enjoy tinkering with hardware. My latest projects are a simple GIS project designed to be used centred on my home and the land immediately around it (rather than having to install a major GIS package, a db, and loads of graphic data which is overkill for such a simple project), and using an Arduino to build a large-key keyboard device to enable a handicapped person to control TV, satellite receiver, computer etc. There are loads of multi-device tele-command gismos, but I haven't found one that is suitable for someone with very limited manual dexterity.

    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by SuperCharlie on Sunday February 22 2015, @05:12PM

    by SuperCharlie (2939) on Sunday February 22 2015, @05:12PM (#148131)

    The word "retire" is such an evil thing to say to someone or to be. Think about it out of comtext. To retire something is to take it out of use and technically discard it. I am 52 and I have no plans of being discarded. Maybe my usefulness will find other venues, but do not call me retired, it is insulting. I think we all need a purpose, no matter what age. We need something to get up for, something to achieve, and I think "retire" is a corporate psychological, subliminal message that we are promised as a land of milk and honey that is nothing more than a discarded death sentence. Up to my final hour, I will create, I will find wonder, I will figure out and experiment and I will achieve. I will not be "retired".

    • (Score: 2) by ah.clem on Sunday February 22 2015, @07:44PM

      by ah.clem (4241) on Sunday February 22 2015, @07:44PM (#148175)

      +1 - Colleagues equate "retirement" with being "kicked to the curb" and that is how it feels until you get it figured out. Captain Dunsel, as Kirk was referred to. It can be a tough transition if it happens suddenly and you have no plan. I achieved my financial goal around the same time I developed some serious health issues, so I took an early retirement from IT. It was frightening to go from productive human to "the old guy". So I started working on my plan. Although I still have some restrictions, I am indulging my passion for astronomy, physics, electronics, music and travel. I even incorporate them at times; for example, I have an opportunity to go to Australia and Tasmania and will be taking observing gear with me. I will be in the high desert for a few weeks this summer doing astrophotography. I have been designing a 20" Cass and look forward to seeing it built, as well as a GEM mount with a GOTO system I have designed and will build. I study, write and perform music much more frequently than I had while working and I am able to travel 100's of miles to listen to a favorite symphony or opera without having to worry about being back "Monday morning". I am volunteering some time to the development of an educational website due to launch early next year. I may or may not take on consulting, but I have no desire to go back into a high-stress environment. Right now, my life is very good, and when my wife decides she would like to stop her career full-time, it will be even better. I honestly feel quite fortunate, but we both worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to make it happen - there is no free lunch.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22 2015, @09:19PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22 2015, @09:19PM (#148211)


    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22 2015, @10:15PM (#148231)

      Shut up Ethanol

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by gishzida on Monday February 23 2015, @12:05AM

    by gishzida (2870) on Monday February 23 2015, @12:05AM (#148258) Journal

    If you're really a "techie" you never retire... The opportunity for the application of your hard earned wisdom is expanded... whether that results in "money in your pocket" is irrelevant.

    I got "downsized" as a "network administrator / general specialist" four years ago at the age of 57.... this was my third or fourth "career" [previously a machine parts inspector in a rocket factory, a CNC programmer for inspection machines at the same rocket factory, an assistant test engineer in an electronic test lab, then finally 15 years in networking] Now I'm fooling around with commercial embroidery machines which are effectively multi-needle CNC sewing machines. I create designs, digitize the designs, and run the machines (have two).... examples see: [] ]

    I still get to fiddle around with tech stuff [Wikimedia on Virtual Box, Xubuntu on an HP net book, and sometimes do small consulting work for individuals] but what I don't do is to be a consultant in any of the areas I used to be an "expert" in...

    Why? If you haven't noticed [or learned yet] -- most of those consultants who get hired by upper management to tell you what to do are liars [or story tellers-- upper management love story tellers]. Consultants wish to maximize the profits of the company for which they work... If a paperclip would fix the problem, they'll want to sell you a fourth generation paper attachment widget... which costs four to 12 times as much as the cost of the original. A consultant's "truthiness" is usually of varying grade but they all are liars just the same... One of the reasons I got "downsized" was I can't tell a lie which in the corporate world is a mortal character flaw. I won't lie. -- not to kiss up to an idjit manager nor even to save my job. Imagine then how I'd do as a consultant: No client {or upper management type] wants to hear the 14 ways they have in fact screwed the pooch.

    Now I don't worry about any of that. I let someone else do the selling and focus on solving design issues in a clever way and refining the production process.

  • (Score: 2) by hellcat on Monday February 23 2015, @01:01AM

    by hellcat (2832) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 23 2015, @01:01AM (#148266) Homepage

    Bismark invented the whole idea of retirement in the 19th century, in order to sustain the bureaucracy and military. Our extended life span, changing shape of society, and the advent of technology means that "retirement" no longer applies. Time to throw it out and start fresh!

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23 2015, @03:23AM (#148297)

    I saw one of those in action. Tied any knot you want. Bow, four-in-hand, five-in-hand, false granny, Windsor, Schmindsor. Unfortunately it was set to "Alcatraz Ascot" by the push button salesman.