I’ve Crossed Over Into…The Retirement Zone

Wednesday was my last day in a job I’ve been doing since July 1, 1993.  You don’t stay in a job for 20 years unless you enjoy it.  And there was a lot to like, including travel and being able to point out something “concrete” (often literally since I was a grant contract manager for infrastructure construction projects) that I was involved in.

Between my last two jobs, there are few cities in Florida where I cannot point to one of “my” projects.  A number of those projects were “firsts.”

The first grocery store in Bristol, across the Apalachicola river from Susie’s hometown of Blountstown about 50 miles west of where we live. The first sewer plant in Key West, ending the practice of dumping raw sewage into the ocean (based on the fact that, in wastewater, the solution to pollution is dilution).

Key West sewer plant

Key West sewer plant – no more poop to ocean

A wood pellet production plant that at the time was the most advanced one in the world, built by a Swedish businessman who used to be in North Sea oil but decided that renewable energy was the future.  (Unfortunately, none of those pellets will be used in the U.S.; they’re all going to Europe to be used in coal plants to reduce coal consumption and emissions by 20%.)

Probably my “crown jewel” was the first “million” (actually, 1.5 million) dollar grant, which brought a $60+ million “dollar store” dsitribution warehouse to an I-10 exit near Marianna and created 360+ jobs.  At the time, the program’s state law allowed a maximum of $750,000 to a local government.  I exploited the technicality that the warehouse property was partially in Marianna and partially in unincorporated Jackson County and so each government received grants to fund infrastructure on “their” portion of the property.  Upper management loved that one.

My personal favorite project is the first “real” poker room in this area. There is an older poker room in the area but it is pathetic. They ripped tout the top section of seats from the indoor viewing area of a dog track, put in maybe 10 tables that look like they fell off a truck on the way from a Vegas dive, and passed it off as a poker room. The new poker room has 20 tables, a nice snack bar, big screen TVs, and all the amenities poker players expect.

But now that I’m retired I’ll have some new projects.  Projects which will benefit me.

I’ve always been somewhat of a hoarder.  Probably because I saw desperate poverty while growing up in the Philippines.  It’s difficult for me to throw away anything that can be used.

I easily have two to three dozen pairs of shoes I’ve not worn in years.  Same with pants and shirts.  I’m going to find a way to put them in boxes and drop them off at Goodwill.

The pantry has cans which are long past their “use by” date.  So that’s going to get an updating. As will the refrigerator.  Who knows what’s in the back of those shelves…. (A few days ago, I came across what I finally figured out was half a cucumber that was at least 30 days old)

There are some “positive” projects on the list.  I’m going to try to read one book, a 400-pager called Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream.”  This was America’s first Viet Nam, and domestic opposition led to the establishment of the Anti-Imperialist League.  The Americans used a form of water boarding on Filipino nationalists.  Yet, few Americans are aware of this conflict.

Even though I went all the way through high school in the Philippines, my school never taught any Philippine history.  It was an “American” college prep school and the history class was American history.  (I believe that after Marcos became dictator, he required that even private schools teach Philippine history.)

Another project is to scan travel photos from vacations taken before I had a digital camera and then post them to my travel photo website.  These include trips to London, Italy, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines (!), and Hawaii, among others.

I’ve got dozens of LPs from the 70s that never made it to CD because they weren’t popular enough.  I’m looking at buying a turntable which will plug into my computer and digitize that music.

And I’ve no schedule for these projects either. I’ve got lots of time and what’s the point of being retired if I’m going to have schedules to follow?

When I’m not working on a project, I plan to keep my poker skills sharp by playing online at some of the new “for money” Nevada sites  Since I’m not in Nevada (and they know this by my ISP address), I can’t play for money until either the Fedral government enacts online poker legislation or Florida gets in on the act and forms a compact with Nevada the way many state lotteries have. (I doubt I’ll ever see the $200 I had at Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet when they were shut down by a U.S. Attorney.  About $100 of that was “profit.”)

One of the Nevada “for money” sites (Stratosphere’s aceplay.com) seems to be home to largely rational players even on the “play chips” side.  They don’t bet if they don’t have a hand or decent pot / draw odds on a hand.
Whereas on PokerStars, where I have been playing, almost everyone sees a flop. And why not, since there literally is noting of value to lose? Someone can shove “all in” with Aces and he’s going to get a call from someone with 2-7 suited who knows he’s probably up against Aces because..hey, any two cards might win. (Although in that example, the Ace have an 83% probability of winning.)

And if the Aces win as expected, the other player’s not lost even one cent and there’s more free chips to play with.  Those folks aren’t playing poker; it’s faux poker, just like the chips they’re using.

At my office, and I suspect other offices, there is a retirement ritual.  Ours begins with the office going out to lunch a few days before the retirement date. We went to a Mexican restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised to see some former co-workers among the two dozen or so folks.

One of them (Kim) was part of the “new wave” of four new grant managers (and I was one of them) who began within a few weeks of each other in 1993.  Kim and two other former co-workers are now working together in another agency which administers federal grants for energy conservation.

My boss used that gathering to present me a framed 30-year service certificate. I had been invited to a quarterly reception with the Governor to receive the certificate, along with other folks who had service ending in a multiple of five. When I learned from a co-worker who attended an earlier reception that the Governor just tooted his own horn and that there was no food, I decided not to attend.  My boss intercepted the certificate when it was sent to my office and I had completely forgotten about it so the presentation at lunch was a surprise. It’s pretty plain compared to the one from the agency…

On my last day, there was a two hour reception. Enquiring minds will have to wait until next week to learn about that.  It was so “over the top” I need a dedicated post to ooh and aah the details.

But I’ve already crossed over into the retirement zone…


9 responses to “I’ve Crossed Over Into…The Retirement Zone

  1. Congrats on retirement. I’m out in the first part of sept. curious about how you handled the party. I’m excited and uneasy about mine.

    • I still don’t feel “retired.” Possibly because of my “transition” of working only three days a week since January. Maybe after one week away, it will sink in that I am retired. I thought I’d have some sort of feeling when I walked out the door the last day…

  2. I left payroll employment for my last 5 years so our experiences were different. Also I have a relatively large family scattered over the State and North Carolina which keeps me occupied more and more. However I predict you will love retirement and not want to re enter the work force. I sure don’t.

    I understand your pride in accomplishment of projects, we share that. I can still drive by one I was involved in and reflect on its origins and my role in completion, it’s a good feeling, a natural one.

    I was involved in Economic Development from 1986 to 2006. Perhaps one day I will write about the successes and the misses (often more exciting than the successes). .

    • My first Monday “retired” and I’m enjoying not having to go in. Slept until 9:30.

      I’m going to order my book from Abe’s today. Don’t want to see if I can run up $25 at Amazon for the free shipping. Book price is the same either way.

      Let’s see if Amazon come to Tampa bay area…. Not sure why they think a center in Florida is needed. I’ve never had a problem with shipping time. Or do they just need more warehouse space due to all the customers?

  3. http://www.amazon.com/b?_ref=career_Loc&node=239366011
    Conspicuous absence in Florida, the deep South and the Caribbean . The proposed site abuts 75 in Apollo Beach which has high unemployment and quick access to TIA, the Tampa Port and the same in Miami. No doubt it will reduce their freight costs.
    All that being said I think someone has a screw lose if they think the Sun City retirees , and out of work phosphate/ag folks will supply them a stable workforce. Someone in upper management may just want to live there themselves (as is frequently the case in site selection).

    • Apollo Beach…when I was at DEP, we gave the County (or maybe it was the City) a grant for a sewer plant there. That was probably 25 years ago…

      I got to wondering about the “young pup” who was the assistant to the Tampa sewer department director in the 80s. I figured he’d be the sewer director now. Turns out he went into drinking water and is now Tampa water department director. He should be ready to retire too soon…

  4. I can understand why governments at all levels want those “high paying” jobs, but the fact is there is a huge segment of the population that will never ever qualify of such jobs. And better those folks have a “low paying” job than no job at all.

    Even with the sales tax, I expect Amazon will be cheaper than the brick & mortar stores, which will still complain. I see where Best Buy is now trying to do something about the “lookers” who come to the store to paw merchandise they’re considering and then buy it online. I’ve never done that. All the info I need is online; I don’t need to hold it to make a decision. Clothing, I could see…but not, say. a flat screen TV.

  5. Sounds like you’re ready for retirement. I think it’s good to have a list of projects but put no pressure on yourself to get them done in any particular window of time. That would be too much like work! Congrats!

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