Wednesday, March 27, 2013


    Maybe it's something about turning 60 this year, or maybe it just feels like I've had enough of the salt mines, but I've given notice at work that I'm retiring.  Financial advisers seem to be pretty unanimous in feeling that my paltry 401k, or whatever it is, will not put me anywhere Millionaire Acres in the game of life, but as I noted in a Christmas letter a couple years back, what I need more than money right now is more time.

    I was hoping to make a low key exit.  Though I've worked at my place of employment for over 30 years and of course have made friends there, I just wanted to be the fellow to just ride off quietly into the sunset.  Just my style.

    Alas, I was asked to give a two-month notice and as soon as I did that, they posted my job--with my name next to it.  I wasn't expecting that.  So every day since, and I mean EVERY DAY SINCE, at least one person has come up to me with congratulations and the inevitable questions.  When is your last day?  Is Wendy retiring too?  What are you going to do?

     OK, my last day is April 30th.  Wendy is NOT retiring, despite having worked longer at the same place of employment (we actually commute to work together).  She's still younger than I am by about three years.

     And I don't know exactly what I'm going to do other than having promised to watch grandson number one for one day a week after grandson number two arrives.  And number two is due any day now.  I do have a to-do list at home that would easily carry me into the next century.  And I'm still young enough, I think, to try something else in life.  My bucket list includes publishing something in the fiction category.  Maybe I still can wax creative in my golden years.

     Anyway, I say goodbye to my work area pictured below.

  That's actually my desk on the right.  I share the office with a colleague who does much the same work I do.  He's just a little less neat.

  Though I won't be earning a steady paycheck anymore, I'm using the last few checks I'm getting to amass a little travel fund for the wife and myself.  Now to figure out where to go.  Maybe out to Washington DC to visit son number 2?  Or maybe eventually take another trip overseas, possibly to Ireland this time.  After our difficulties in Paris I kind of want to stay some place where they speak a reasonably recognizable version of English.

   Or maybe we'll just find that sunset when Wendy retires and ride off together.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Little Hiccoughs


 I've been AWOL from the blogosphere lately, mostly because my wife and I got a break from the frigid temperatures laying siege to Michigan with a trip south to sunny Florida.  As with the vast majority of our trips, I do all the planning so we can save a buck or two.  That means driving long hours while fighting traffic and fickle weather.

     But I can put up with a little hiccough here and there so long as we don't suffer any major catastrophes, which we didn't.

     Now check out the picture above.  That's an alligator at the Shark Valley Visitor Center in the Everglades sunning himself on one of the pedestrian walkways by the observation tower which you can see in the background.  He wasn't there when Wendy and I walked to the tower.  He sauntered out onto the walk while we were enjoying a 360-degree view of the grasslands.

     Our tram tour guide  tapped a stick loudly on the concrete, then prodded the gator himself with the stick, trying to urge him along.  The only response he got was a hiss from the recalcitrant reptile.  So we were directed to walk past him single file, which we did.

     Wendy went first.  She was worried that her exposed ankles, white as they were, would too closely resemble chicken meat.  But I was close by, ready to the tackle the alligator if he should try to pounce.  Or I could just get one heck of a photo first, then tackle the gator.

     Thankfully, the alligator was more interested in the sun then in the tourists passing by.

     Later on in our trip we attended the South Beach Food and Wine Festival.  This was the highlight of our Florida excursion and we spent dearly for the privilege of attending food demonstrations presented by celebrity chefs, even upgrading our tickets so we could sit close to the stage.

     But, another hiccough.  No sooner had we entered the festival when my wife was shooed away from the very seats I had paid so dearly for.  I confronted a festival worker, explained how I'd paid extra for the front row seats, and she relented, telling us to sit nearby so she could watch over us.

     By the way, this wasn't the first time I worried about these tickets.  Originally, the tickets were e-mailed to me and they disappeared from my in-box shortly afterwards.  Then I found out my e-mail account was hacked.  When I arrived in Miami Beach, I made my way to the box office and explained my concern that somebody else had printed off my tickets.  She gave me a fresh set of tickets and made it so these were the only ones that could be used for entry.

     So maybe the snafu occurred in the ticket exchange--I don't know.  But we got to sit in the second row for a presentation by Andrew Zimmerman, a well traveled culinary expert whose claim to fame partly rests on his consuming the genitalia of various animals.  No samples please!

     Before his show started, the festival organizer invited all those in the cheap seats to come forward and occupy the unoccupied seats in the premiere section.  What??!!  I paid beau coup bucks for these seats.  I wanted to stand up and shout, "No.  Go back, go back.  I forbid you to come forward"

     Then after Zimmerman was done, southern chef Paula Deen took the stage.  The general admission ticket-holders were told to vacate the premiere section.  A festival worker we had not encountered before started checking those seated around us to make sure they had the proper pass.  They all held up the lanyard which they had been given, but we had not.

     She then came to us, telling us to show her the special pass and when we told her we didn't have one, she  beckoned us to leave.


     The alligator was easier to deal with.