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

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge 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.

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  • (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.

    --
    My karma ran over your dogma.
  • (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) Subscriber Badge 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.