Friday, November 11, 2016

On My Retirement - The End - Part 1

I wish you all a pleasant Veteran's Day.

UPDATE November 11, 2016 - 2:20PM PST - turned in my equipment at work. Had lunch at Kell's Irish Pub, pint of Guinness, shot of Jamesons 21 year old whiskey, clam chowder and enjoyed it very much.

Took the ferry home on my first and last commute ride from Bremerton to Seattle. Didn't realize I had the radio AND the dash fan on and killed the battery. Ferry worker gave me a quick jump and I zipped off the boat. Got home, trickle charging the battery to condition it happy and having a shot or two of Taliskers. Retirement, is here. Now the hard work begins and as I designate it. I'm a tough taskmaster, too.

UPDATE November 11, 2016 - 8:47AM PST - I am in Seattle. Took the Bremerton ferry over with my car, to drop off my things and retire from my company. Seeing old friends, experiencing nostalgia. So much here has changed since I was in town to work a year ago. Seattle it is said has more boom cranes putting up buildings than any other city in America, even San Francisco. It's noisy, there's a lot of people, many younger people probably in high tech companies. Amazon and Google are right next door. But then Amazon is everywhere it seems, even has entire floors of this building. I have turned in some of my stuff, my monitor, peripherals, my cell phone for being on call. I still have only my laptop and my ID badge which I'll turn in as I leave. Twenty-one years here and so much has changed. I had a family, a wife, two kids when I started here in 1995. I was a tech writer contractor for nine months before being hired on April Fool's Day. Once I leave here today, that is all behind me.

"A new life awaits where you can begin again." Blade Runner film reference. Love that film. I have new adventures. My son's gold mine which he just got the claim on. Video productions with my new equipment. And massive amounts of writing I can finally delve into. All I can say is thanks all and Cheers!

And now, back to reality....

I am crestfallen. But humor will help...some. Trump was voted to be president. America is in disarray. He has damaged us, with more to come. Capitalism will run rampant now. Republicans are in power. I won't say we are doomed, or that some good may come of it, if we don't all die instead. But dark times are ahead of us.

I wrote this blog and the next, part two, last week when I thought Hillary Clinton would win. I voted for Bernie, I voted for Hillary. There was no way Trump, a real sad person for a president, could win. He's Vice President Pence is not a good person either. Both guided by Gods. Trump by money, Pence by a Roman tradition in the Catholic church (maybe the Pope who is awesome most of the time, will have some sway with him).

Please world, wish us luck. Many of us are for America, for the World. Not for capitalism at all costs, not for conservative beliefs, but for progressive beliefs. We want to push the world into a better place, not go back to the defective and delusional 1950s.

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming now, today I start my retirement heading into uncertain and possible miserable times. I will write. I will not be censored. Stay tuned. I will always be honest with you, or you will know if I can not be and I will make it painfully obvious.

Putting aside now for a moment all the dark in our world,..

Cheers! I'm retiring!

I was in the Air Force in the late 1970s. I like to take today off for my years in service, for my friends I knew back then in the service and for the many friends I've lost who have been in the service. So I have today off.

Today is also the day I retire from the general workforce.

I am now sixty-one. How can I be that old? I have stayed mentally young because I have an open mind, I embrace positive change, and I seek truth. I had wanted to retire by fifty but I can't really say that I actually had tried to achieve that. It was more wish fulfillment. Family and life kept me from retiring that young. My own inattention perhaps kept me from it.

In 1995 I had been out of work for months. Fifteen hundred were let go from US West Technologies that January in 1994. But I was kept on, my contact extended for months. Then, I too was out of work. I got a few short contracts, I took on other contract agencies in a desperate attempt to find work, but then things dried up. There were a lot of people out of work that summer who did things just like what I did.

Bills were piled up. Thank God for unemployment as it paid our mortgage. My wife made a little money as a horse trainer but she was stressed out. I was stressed out. Then I got a call about a job but with an $8/hr cut in pay, I turned it down. I had to. Three times over the next couple of weeks they called back about it and I turned it down. Then I got a call from a woman recruiter.

She painted a very pretty picture of a new contract as a Sr. Technical Writer. Suddenly it started to sound real familiar. I stopped her and asked if this was the same job they kept calling me about. There was a hesitation and I knew it was. She then admitted it but talked me into just calling the guy who was the manager hiring and to talk to him.

From that point on as I see it now in hindsight, I was lost. I was hired before I hung up on the phone with her. I called the guy, I went in to see him. I kept hesitating and he finally just said to come in, meet people, look around and then say no if I wanted. So I went in. I accepted the job. I got him to try to raise the pay but they didn't have the money for that. At five and a half months out of work, I talked with my wife about it and ended up taking the job.

Nine months after I started the position, I was hired, on April 1st, 1996. Twenty-one years later, I am now retiring. I have in work there, gone from a subsidiary company, then after being absorbed by the parent company, we then became a part of a four state group.

Originally I had said I would take the job if and only if two things. One, I get my birthday off as I have never, against all odds, ever worked on my birthday. We get one day a year for us and only us and I take it. Although, as my mother was born on my birthday, I have never actually had it all to myself. Which explains much of that mindset.

But, you say, weren't you born on your mother's birthday as you're obviously younger than her?

She had always said that I was God's gift to her on her birthday. A pleasant, sweet motherly like thing to say. My being a smart ass teenager when she first told me this, my response was: I think you should reconsider that because considering I was the gift, perhaps God hated you. She laughed and said, Oh don't say that, you were my bundle of joy."

And at eight pounds, thirteen ounces (the same exact weight my son weighed at birth), it was quite a bundle indeed. When I was born my father called his mother and told her in his confusion that I was thirteen pounds eight ounces and almost gave my grandmother a heart attack.

The other thing I wanted a guarantee on if I took that job was that I would never, ever work for the parents company. This was a thirty person company and I didn't want to work for a big entity. I had recently worked for US West Technologies on a high level development team. It was an amazing opportunity to see corporate workings at such a level. And I never wanted that view point again.

So I took the job. It took me over two years to recouperate from my recently acquired debt in my loss per hour of a sizable sum. But I learned a lot and loved the people I worked with. Then in the last years of the dotcom boom, the manager left along with others. My phone rang so much with calls form headhunters trying to steal me away, I had to stop answering the phone as I couldn't get any work done.

I had wanted to go but my wife was fearful of the months out of work and was looking the current job as a bird in the hand. Others went off, made lots of money, bought hot cars, paid off houses with stock options and so on while I remained.

As each person left, I got their server. I started as a tech writer, but one who could become a webmaster. Then I became by default as other left, the network guy, the DBA, the security guy, the hardware guy, the software guy. I took servers out of the box, physically built them up, installed software, secured them, put them on the network and ran, updated, upgraded, secured them.

At one point I didn't have a manager for eighteen months. I was ordered to see the network assimilated by the corporate group. I was now just part of a team, not what was once a standalone company. Bill Gates stole our president. Paul Allen stole others. We did good work. But the new headquarters in Portland didn't like our little group. We had a bad reputation. Because we did good work. But that's for another time and is part of a previous blog a while back.

I saw that network into the bigger picture. I was derided, ignored, people didn't know me and didn't want me because I was part of a now defunct entity. And yet I continued. Eventually the main money making network in Washington state was part of the overall new network.

The entire company once was hit by a virus and in a teleconference across four states once about it, this being after it was all over, I was derided again. But I was able to point out that of all the parts of the network the only part that was not affected at all was the one I ran. During that time and after I was associated with a group started by our head of computer security. An amazing guy.

I’ve had a secret clearance for nuclear weapons in the Air Force, been involved through the aforementioned company and elsewhere in the past, with cyber security issues and as well being a member from the beginning of our private international Agora, a group started by our head of security for computer security experts and law enforcement, drawing from national and international police forces (Secret Service, NSA, Australian police, Canadian Mounties, etc.).

This was set up by our previous security head in Washington, Kirk Bailey Chief Information Security Officer of UW, whom I worked with in that group for tech setup along with a few others. UW is also one of my alma maters and I worked there for seven and a half years. Worked in the Personnel Office and with the Psychology Department on their Marital Research project and other things.

Over the years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we were given briefings from people like now the famous Richard Clarke (former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism for the United States), the NSA, President’s Committee on the Infrastructure, and so on.

The Agora set up an ad hoc team that built Seattle Police Department’s first cybersecurity unit.

I was a system/network still running that network until we got a new manager. She further restructured things and moved me to another team. A new team of web/internet systems administrators. Finally I would have someone to talk to about my job, about issues and problems.

I am now retiring from that team. I was moved off of it along with many others from other teams in an attempt to build a team of experts on a middle tier team between the initial help you got in calling support, to the engineering teams such as I had been on and am now back on again. That middle level team lasted just over four years.

It is now twenty-one years later from starting at this company. Today is my last day.

The last day working with people I've known for decades. When I delivered the news at the end of our weekly team teleconference, you could hear a pin drop. Then we ended the meeting. I got several congratulations from teammates and one or two, "I'm envious". I will no longer have to deal with corporate issues. No more being, "on call" for problems where a computer could call me any hour day or night for problems.

No more on call. I had my first on call in 1976 in the Air Force for nuclear war. If I got called, we all went to the base, sent of nuclear bombers, and knew that cities were about to be nuked, people melted or disintegrated. Years later I would pull  on call support for medical centers when I worked on the mainframe for two major medical centers in Seattle for their Radiology and Pathology departments.

Then I got his job when I was on call for not cities dying, not people dying, but web sites dying in the middle of the night. People asked me why I was always so calm in this job when I first started it. I could only reply that masses of people wouldn't die, individuals wouldn't die, no one would die, so what's the panic?

Finally, no more on call.

I have for years wanted the luxury of writing at my leisure, or under my self imposed pressure. Of producing artistic things, not technological ones. Of seeking my bliss, not a paycheck. Because working for a company puts you on a fixed income. You do the same things over and over.

Now the sky is the limit. I can turn on a dime. I am the team. My potential now is the sky and beyond, not the corporate boardroom or someone's limited vision. Limited either from lack of vision or corporate restriction. I can delve into art and satiate my desire to follow my passions, my talents, the talents I seem to be best suited for, that have been restrained for so long.

Life now feels...wonderful. Like I can finally breathe, can finally follow my own path. I can post during the day where I want, what I want. I am not restrained by what my fellow workers or executives might see me say online. I can be fully open and honest, restricted by my own good taste and sensibilities.

Retirement. This isn't retirement for me. It is the beginning of actually doing what I've wanted to do, All my life. It is the initiation.

The future is the potential. My energy, my vision, my orientation, my skills, my ability to see, to act upon, to produce...whatever I want.

People complain about retirement. When should it be? Should we raise the age limit. Idiocy. We need to get our economy under control. We need to work toward people retiring younger and younger so they can then turn themselves to what is important to them, what is important to our nation, and humanity. We need to orient them that retirement isn't just vacations, doing nothing, puttering around the garden.

Retirement in that sense is empowerment, self-actualization to do what you can and want to, to seek your true potential outside of the confines of business or government. It should be a point to take risks,

A government should have as focus, empowering it's citizens, raising us as a culture above. It shouldn't just be to maintain, to just keep out heads above water so we don't drown. Days to work per week should be less, hours worked per day should be less. Age to retire should be lowered and lowered until one day you only have to work at all if you want.

However at that point we also need to educated our generations to have a certain orientation at retirement, or in life. To seek passion to produce quality. To seek to better yourself, our nation and the entire human species.

And so I reach for retirement with that all in mind.

I won't be just sitting around on vacation. I have revived my production company.
Stay tuned....

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