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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, 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.

    Starting Score:    1  point
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  • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Monday February 23 2015, @06:14AM

    by Common Joe (33) <> on Monday February 23 2015, @06:14AM (#148322) Journal

    I think the +5 interesting you achieved on your comment answers your question. Yes, what you do is extremely useful and much appreciated.

    Thank you.