Retired But Busy

If you read back in the blog, you’ll see I retired.

Retired is not “doing nothing”.  Rather, it’s “doing what I want, when I want and on my schedule”.

My wife asked me to coach the robotics team at her high school.  This is from 2:30pm to 4:30pm, three days a week.  This is a volunteer position.  There is a lot of learning going on during these time; using tools, problem solving, team work and “engineer think”.  I feel this is an important thing and I will be there unless I’m deployed or my family needs me.  This is my chance to give back to the world.

I’m driving a school bus on field trips for multiple schools.  These days start with my inspecting the bus around 7:30am and since the schools finish up at 2pm, the buses are always back to school by 1:30pm.  I’m doing this 2 or 3 days a week.   This gives the kids a chance to see things outside of school and gives me a chance to see that the future world will be in good hands.

And, I’m busy catching up on the house maintenance that got deferred while I was working full time.



Engineering and Cooking. Part 2

I had some higher priority projects require my attention, so it wasn’t until last night that I tried using a dutch oven as a panini press.

It works.  I had to fill the dutch oven with about 3 quarts (3 liters) of water to get both sandwiches compressed.   If you cook only one at a time, less water would be needed for “squash duty”.

My wife liked it.

What I did:  I put four slices of my homemade sourdough bread on the counter and lightly brushed the top side of each slice with olive oil.  I flipped the bread over and spread a thick coat of thousand island salad dressing on each slice of bread.  Then on each slice of bread, I added, in order, a thin slice of Swiss cheese, a couple of thin slices of turkey, a piece of cooked bacon that had been broken in half and a leaf of spinach.  I then put  the bread slices together to make two sandwiches.

To cook them, I put the sandwiches into a skillet that had been heating over medium heat and placed the dutch oven on top of the sandwiches.   I cooked each side for about 5 minutes.



Engineering and Cooking

Tomorrow, I’m going to find out if a skillet and a dutch oven can be combined to make a panini press.   I’m going to try cooking the panini in the skillet while using the dutch oven, maybe with some water in it, to replace the press.

Unless I find something more interesting, the recipe will use some of my home made sourdough bread, thousand island salad dressing, thin sliced turkey and swiss cheese.

Recently Retired Life

It was one week ago today that it was the last time I drove my yellow 1950 CJ3A the 43 miles to work and drove the 43 mile return trip…..I hope, to never have to do that drive again.

It’s been just one week, but  I’ve noticed one major change in how I do things.

When I was working, vacation was used to regain enough energy to be able to go back to work.  My vacations had two phases.  Phase one lasted a couple of weeks and that was “I just want to sit around, not think, not drive anywhere and not do anything”.  My wife and daughter would have to drag me out of the house.  If the vacation was long enough, I’d get into phase two of my vacation–getting out and doing enjoyable things.

I was thinking that first few weeks of my retirement would be the same–a few weeks of “phase one” before getting into “phase two”.   This has not been the case.  I seem to have moved right into “phase two”.  I guess I know I don’t need to hurriedly regain my energy stores.

So far, I’ve been; running three times in the nearby dry riverbed (reminds me of when I was in college), doing a huge amount of house cleaning, cooking all sorts of new and amazing meals and completing a whole lot of yard work.

Once I get the house cleaning and deferred maintenance (painting) done, I’ll start in on the projects that I’ve been saving up.  Along the way I’ve also been collecting the needed tools and parts to complete them without a major expense, so that will be nice to stay busy without spending a lot of money.

The other thing I’ve been doing is helping my wife at her high school.  She’s the robotics team coach and she “drafted” me to be a mentor.   I’ve only been doing it for three days now, but it is pure engineering and problem solving.  Even more important than my passing along knowledge, will be passing along the passion for engineering.


CJ3A and Retirement

Next Tuesday, unless I’m back to Puerto Rico, will be my last day at the telephone company.   My employer says I must retire in person, so if I’m on military leave, my retirement would have to wait until I get back.

November 11, 1991 was my first day of employment at the telephone company and October 31, 2017 will be my last day at work.  I drove my yellow CJ3A to work on my first day of employment at the telephone company and I will drive it to work on my retirement day.  It seems only proper to do so.





I mentioned to a TV station engineer that I’m retiring.  They offered me a job before I could even catch my breath.  We were running 8:14 minute miles at the time and it was over 100F degrees (almost 40C), so “before I could even catch my breath” might have been one or two minutes….but still…….

Apparently that engineer told someone else who told someone else, and so on.  I’ve received telephone calls from three other companies asking if I’d be interested in coming out of retirement to work for “them”.

Yet another engineer (he does consulting work for sewer system operators) has asked if I’d be interested in writing software for computers that control sewer systems.

My wife mentioned on her Facebook page that I’m retiring and somewhere she must also have mentioned my commercial driver license and school bus driver certificate because I’ve received telephone calls from two different friends of hers…both are school district student transportation directors and both are asking if I would like to drive a school bus.

My wife has already said how nice it will be for me to come down to her school and help mentor the high school kids in the robotics club.

I still have my government “portable hospital engineer” job and I am still a substitute school bus driver for the elementary school that our daughter attended.

Can I have a 5 minute break between retirement and un-retirement?  Please?


Besides the car repair “hobby”, I have some geeky hobbies as well. dynamotor1

It’s called a dynamotor.

Cars/trucks/planes had 6 volts, 12 volts or 24 volts available, but not the 50 volts to a couple of thousand volts needed to operate the vacuum tubes of the early mobile radio equipment.

The first generation of equipment to convert low voltage DC power to high voltage DC power was a motor that was attached to a generator.  It was called, amazingly enough, a motor-generator. It was perhaps 30% efficient.

The dynamotor was the 2nd generation of equipment do this.  It is still a motor that turns a generator, but it has combined both the motor and generator into one unit.  It is about 50% efficient.

This one takes 6 volts and steps it up to 500 volts and was built during World War II.

If this has no irreparable damage, I’m going to refurbish it.

Why am I doing this?  I guess just to see if I can do it.  And, if I can do it, I’ll see if it will operate some old radio equipment