Retirement Man on the Go

When I’m in Phoenix to visit my father at the assisted living facility, I stay at his house, rather than at a hotel, so I can leave a lot of things there, including items forbidden in the plane cabin — a can of shaving cream, shampoo bottle, etc. This makes it possible to avoid checking a bag at $25 each way, and instead I spend $35 to upgrade my seats and board flights in a lower-numbered group that assures me space in an overhead bin for a carry-on bag.

The catch is that my old bag is a bit too big to reliably get past scrutiny at the gate. So I went in search of new luggage at a sprawling “outlet village.” Nothing at the Samsonite store was right at all, and even if it had been, almost everything was over $200, even after a 30% discount. Upon leaving, I saw a Brookstone store across the way with a “closing — everything must go” sale in the window. I went inside and immediately my eyes fell on exactly what I was looking for.

It’s shorter than a standard 22-inch carry-on bag, but at 70% off I couldn’t resist getting it for only $36, and it’s working out very well, assuming it holds up. Something else I’m doing to pack as lightly as possible, and with TSA security in mind, is leaving my laptop at home. I found an inexpensive Android tablet with a unique design that does the trick. The 8-inch Lenovo YOGA 3 Tab with 2GB of memory.

I love this thing! Construction quality is superb, and the sturdy built-in stand makes it useable as a laptop alternative. It has only 16GB of storage, but a cheap 32GB microSD card, combined with outstanding battery life, takes care of downloading many hours of Netflix videos to watch during a flight. I used only 8GB to hold more than enough for at least two round trips. Netflix, and the technology to deliver and display content, have come a long way in the ten years since its streaming service was introduced.

Fueling Around

One of the many — many! — things I had to do during my last trip to Phoenix was see about getting my father’s old car started. Why he didn’t trade it in when he bought a new car a few years ago is something I don’t understand, but so be it.

The car is a 2001 Ford Focus wagon with under 13,000 miles, and because it had been sitting in the garage for a very long time, that’s only a thousand miles per year. Heck, I used to run twice that much, averaging 40 miles per week on foot!

I already knew from my previous visit the car wouldn’t start. I had checked the oil and the antifreeze, but when I turned the key to accessories there was nothing. Using an ancient battery charger my father bought as a joke gift for my mother 50 years ago — that she did not appreciate — I charged the battery. It took and held the charge.

The engine cranked but it wouldn’t catch. So a couple of weeks ago I had the car towed to a garage. Thanks to a small engine repair class I had taken, I knew the problem had to be in the fuel system. This video link should start at a point that shows exactly what the garage found. Starter fluid got the engine going, but the fuel pump was shot.

The Beginning of the End

My working life started shortly after my 16th birthday, and I went full-time immediately upon graduation from college 40 years ago. I’ve been with my present employer for the past 36 years, and one month from today I shall be a retired April Fool.

Fortunately my health is fine and I’m jumping out of the workplace door, rather than being pushed, as has happened to many technology workers of my generation. I had long been thinking about taking early retirement a year from now anyway, so I’m really not moving the schedule up by all that much.

And yet deciding to call it quits was a very long and difficult process, and none of the reasons behind it are happy ones, so I will not be celebrating the event. Any doubts I had about my decision vanished when my father’s health declined suddenly and he needed to be placed in a nursing home. Flying back and forth to Phoenix to deal with this crisis has been a job in itself.

What will I do with my time after the situation with my father settles down? Honestly, I don’t know yet, but as this blog has shown I have a lot of varied (albeit nerdy) interests, and I’ll find ways to have some fun.