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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: 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.

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  • (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.

    • (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."