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.



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.


Two Sides

I did two things this weekend.  One was uplifting and one was kind of tough emotionally.

First the uplifting one.

My wife teaches high school physics and chemistry.  She is also the robotics club sponsor.  This weekend, the robotics club participated in a competition.  I had not ever been to one of these before and it was quite an eye opener.  There were over two dozen teams, each from a high school around the state and each with a robot that is purpose designed to do tasks specified by the competition rules.

As the teams are making changes and repairs, the intensity is similar to what I’ve seen in a busy level 1 trauma bay at a hospital emergency department    Yet, despite the intensity of the people, everyone is helping one another; tools are passed back and forth between teams and there is a free exchange of ideas as to how teams approached the problem.

As an engineer, it’s a relief seeing kids that did the calculations also using the tools to build the robot.  I’ve seen too many engineers that are good with the math, but not with their hands.  To me an engineer should be proficient in both worlds.

One thing I did see bothered me at first and then made me smile.  While I was watching the activity at another team’s area, I saw a girl punching keys on her calculator and make some notes.  She then grabbed some hex key wrenches and started to work on their robot.  It was quite obvious that she was perfectly comfortable with using the tools, yet a guy on her team tried to step in with, “Here. Let me do that.”  She continued to work, told him, “I’ve got this. I’m almost done.” and she was done in less time that it would have taken for them to change places.

I hope she never loses her confidence and I hope she is going to be an engineer.


And now for the other side.

I spent Sunday continuing to clean out my mom’s house.  90% of everything in the house evokes strong memories and I’m having to give it away or throw it away.  It is not easy, but it must be done.