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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 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.

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