Monday, August 7, 2017

Ruts

I had an interesting, amusing and enlightening moment a week ago yesterday at church.  We've lived in our little slice of Heaven in the Hill Country for coming up on 20 years.  Have gone to the same church most Sunday's for all that time.  Sat in the same Pew all those same Sundays.  It gives me a sense of continuity.

You see, up until we moved here, I'd moved 49 times in my life.  I was 43 and up to that point it had always astonished me when I'd run into acquaintances from a prior assignment,  they had all gotten older.  Their kids had grown up.  When I knew them, it was usually for such a short time that their kids were 1st graders, would always be 1st graders, that's all they'd been.  So, seeing the passage of time in an instant was always shocking.

Now that we've planted roots, I get quite a bit of pleasure out of looking around church and watching time pass at normal speed.  Seeing former students of mine with kids of their own now.  Or seeing that older couple over there celebrate their 50th anniversary.  Or seeing that couple together again at church knowing that one is suffering from one of those "bad" diseases and hasn't been able to make it for a while.

But, we always sit in the same seats, right side of the church,  two rows behind the third pillar from the front on the main aisle.  Always.
We'd be turning into "Our" row from here.
Source

However, last week, Mrs Juvat and I had to work a little bit of scheduling.  The DIL had to visit her father on short notice and asked if we'd watch the Grand Dog.  The Grand Dog is a great dog!  Rottweiller -German Shepherd mix, rescued after spending time on the streets in San Antonio.  Mellow, friendly, gentle, alert and loyal.  

However.....

He does not like cats!  With a passion.

So, having him stay at Rancho Juvat was not an option as we have 3 cats now (Schmedly, Moushka and Mushka).  Mrs Juvat, being the kind loving women that I love, volunteered to stay over and babysit the Grand Dog Saturday night and would meet me at church.

I arrive at Church and spot Mrs Juvat.

But she's not in "Our" spot.  

So, I go and kneel beside her, say good morning to the big guy and sit down.  "How come we're not in our usual spot?"

"We're not? I was looking for Wanda, but she's not here, so I estimated." (Wanda is the lady that always sits beside us, she's there early always and as such is the trail marker.)

"We're one row too far forward."

"Do you want to move?"

Thinking yes, but..."No"

Shortly thereafter another couple comes down the aisle.  They always sit in the row in front of us.  They get to that row, pause, look at each other, look at us, look at the pew, walk back a couple rows,  come back, then sit in the row muttering under their breath.

A few minutes later, another couple that always sits in the row in front of them comes in and the episode repeats itself.

Now, I like church and the continuity of rituals there, I find it relaxing and I can turn off the thinking going on about this or that.  Things that really don't matter, but which generate a lot of stress.  I get some relief from that in church.

So, after causing a disruption in the time space continuum with our physical positioning in the church, I'm starting to enter that meditative stage that I seek.  Suddenly, I'm transported back to Ft Leavenworth and Army Command and General Staff College. Specifically, Sherman Army Air Field which is situated on the flats beside the Missouri River.
Looking down the swale onto the airfield with the river in the distance, the road is where the PT run would take place
Source

This is where the CGSC students do their PT.  Yes, I know, I was Air Force.  Air Force PT is done on a stationary bike, blah, blah, blah.  I did PT with the Army guys in my section, took their PT test, and while I didn't ever max it (with my Neck issues, Situps are not my forte), I was always well within standards.  Call it professional pride, or Fighter Pilot ego....whatever.

But this area of the Fort dates back to when the wagon trains were crossing the country.  The Pioneers would travel up the Missouri River to Ft Leavenworth where they would debark with their wagons and begin their journey to the West Coast or where ever their destiny left them.  
A better view of the swale from the PT area
Source

Right in the general area where the Run would start was a historical marker that pointed to a low spot that went up the hill out of the river basin.  The marker called it a swale and noted that it was the remains of the ruts caused by the wagons going up the hills.  

That picture was what flashed in my mind.

So, I chuckled a bit at that image and wondered why that might have dredged itself out of the primordial swamp that functions as my brain, as yet another couple walked down the aisle and acted confused about seating.

Then it hit me. Somebody thinks I'm in a rut.

Not the gentle rut of Ft Leavenworth, but the nearly vertical walls of  Guernsey Wyoming.
An early view of self driving vehicle technology
Source


That got me to thinking (which I'm probably doing too much of as is).  And I'm sitting at my computer trying to organize my thoughts for last weeks post, when one of those clickbait things appears saying "Ten Signs you may be in a Rut".  

The first thought is how are they getting in my mind and reading the cookies there?  The second is "Somebody REALLY thinks I'm in a rut". So, I click on it.  I know, I know...

Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep (I say "Adequate"), Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep

And I know what the rut is.  Work.

It doesn't interest me much any more.  I mean, I like most of the people I work with or support.  I love what limited interaction I get with the kids.  However, the whole job thing isn't challenging any more, so it's more of a drudge than it used to be.  So, Mrs Juvat and I have been pondering options.  We've seen some financial planners who say we're probably ok if the whole world doesn't go somewhere in a hand basket. 

I'm eligible to retire, but am not sure I understand all the considerations, ramifications, advantages, disadvantages etc.  Having worked continuously since I was 14 with babysitting and lawn mowing before that, this is uncharted territory for me. 

Conquering uncharted territory requires planning and planning requires information.  I have come to realize that we have very well informed and experienced readers here who might be willing to share some of their lessons learned.

  So....I have a request for those readers that have taken the plunge, are there any "woulda, coulda, shoulda's" that you wish you'd taken care of before you retired?  Or other advice you might provide? (Me, primarily, but I think Sarge is thinking along these lines also.)

I'd appreciate it.

Regarding the rut...I watched this video from over at Shaun's place, which helped me refocus on what's important.  It's a long one, but worth it.  Brian was at Holloman the same time I was and was attached to our squadron.  As an attached guy, he was only required to fly 3 times a week, and we had several "seagulls" (you have to throw rocks at them to get them to fly) who would hold us schedulers to that.  Brian wasn't one of those.  Nice guy and very funny, especially after a beer.



50 comments:

  1. Ruts, we have them. Retirement, I can see it on the horizon.

    Much to think about...

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    1. To quote a much used line from Stargate SG-1 "Indeed!"

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  2. I know whereof you speak. I will hit my 20 years at the current post in 4 days. I'm keeping an eye on you. You might just be my lead nav, or maybe my assembly ship... Hit the right waypoints!! I'm not that far behind!

    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c1/jarink/Skins/BirmBlitz3.jpg

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    1. It'll be interesting, that's for sure.

      Speaking of interesting, nice picture, is there a story behind it?

      Or are you suggesting I buy a B-17 and fly it around the country as a retirement exercise? ;-)

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    2. From what I remember reading, old dogged out aircraft were painted like that to assemble their groups over England... Much easier than reading tail letters. I'm starting to look for the assembly area to head off on the next leg of life. If you are there, circling, I'll be joining up when my turn comes.

      But if you find one to fly around the country, I'd crew for you. ;)

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    3. Yeah, I remember seeing something about those doing research for one of my MOH posts. I just thought that, since it was in color and good quality, it might be a recent picture.

      As for the buying one, well there's always the lottery.

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  3. Retirement Planning.

    Why are you considering retiring?
    Do you want to:
    Change your career?
    Move?
    The nature of your job has changed and you want out?
    You have to retire because of age limits? (common in law enforcement)

    I looked at the link about being in a rut, I read all the points, but I would have to say that unless you wish to radically change what your aims and goals are on an almost daily basis, you will find that you are kinda in a rut even if your are in a long term and happy relationship, and you work at job that you enjoy.

    Every talk about retirement will focus on money. NO kidding. Money is important. As people with way more financial credentials than I have have said, your money planning should have started a long time ago, and your income should be well about your expected expenses. If you picture the graph, the real buying power line of your income will decline and the real cost line of your expenses will climb. When they cross you have a problem. Only you can know your money situation.

    What are you going to do with your time when you retire?

    I planned on a hiatus from any sort of work until I got tired of not working, and then I planned on a part time job at the local range and gun store. This plan crashed when I realized I didn't want to be on anybodies schedule. It was not the idea of work that I was against, because I lied about my age to get my first full time summer job at 15 and I have worked all of my life until the day I retired, I want control of my time.

    I read stories of people that retired, then completely reinvented themselves, return to the work world and are hugely successful. That is not me.

    Another point is about family, when you are considering retirement what about your spouse? My spouse is still working, and could retire when she wishes. Unlike me, she enjoys her work, and I also suspect that she is unsure that spending all of her time with me is a good idea. I am only partially joking. I talked to a lot of people that were retired, and I found that almost every couple that retired at the same time ran into relationship problems. I think that for some of them the relationship problems were there all along, and were masked by the fact the working couples don't exactly spend all that much time together, but the greater issue is that retirement means change. The couples that seemed to do well with retirement were those where one person retired, they adjusted, then the other person retired and they adjusted. The adjustment phase became a speed bump instead of a cliff.

    I would sum up here, but I realize that even the smallest attempt to answer your questions would need much, much more time.

    I suggest only that you consider what questions are important to you.





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    1. John, Exactly what I was asking for, thanks! "I want control of my time."

      Precisely!

      I will ponder the rest of your points deeply and appreciate your time.

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  4. Juvat, I am at 220 days and counting until I start the 6 Saturdays per week mode. Been working for a DHS component for the past 8 years after a 32 year Army career. I am also in the rut. The fire is gone. this has been a JOB, albeit for a pretty good paycheck but the it never had the psychic rewards of the way of life of the Profession of Arms. Grab the Gusto. I am not far behind you.
    Btw, Son#1 and family live in Austin and we get out your way just about every visit to TX. It will be some time next year as SNO is boots on the ground in SWA until next year. -Dust. (Old Army Tanker)

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    1. "this has been a JOB, albeit for a pretty good paycheck but the it never had the psychic rewards of the way of life of the Profession of Arms"

      Brother, ain't that the truth!

      Let me know when you're coming round and we'll set up a meet. Best of luck to your son.

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  5. I retired from the USN after 30 years and then did 20 with The Commonwealth of Virginia--and retired again. The second time I was ready (The first not, as if CinCHouse would have let me even). A couple of thoughts: Do not start taking Social Security until after your "Full retirement age" (for me that was 67.5), you are penalizing yourself if you do. I think you "Know" when it's time to retire--at least I did, and yes, as others have noted, that decision needs to be informed by finances. Good luck!!

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    1. Thanks, good advice. The financial planners I visited with said the same thing about SS, so I'll check that one as a "gonna do".

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  6. Great post Juvat. It's never a bad idea to pay attention when the CHO whacks you upside the head.

    Couple of thoughts.

    Many people think of retirement as a golden time when they can do what they want 24/7. Within a short time of retirement they're asking themselves, "This is it, this is all I get after all the blah-blah-blah?" I know retired folks who parked it in front of the teevee and spent their last years in abject misery.

    The money thing is important, but I think it's more important to think of it as a tool rather than a number. What do you want it to do, specifically, and will the money wrench actually fit the nut? It can leverage time, but it can't fill that time.

    Body and mind are not as separated as we like to think. The past year of my life sold me on the "healthy body/healthy mind" paradigm. I'm blessed with having physical labor to do and with being able to enjoy that labor (for certain values of enjoy!).

    I've spent some time paying attention to this guy ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_f53ZEJxp8TtlOkHwMV9Q ) over the last few months and thinking about what he has to say. His Biblical series of lectures is fascinating. I think he makes a great point regarding the "what should I do with myself" question, arguing that it's important to try to make things better for not only yourself and your family but for others as well.

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Stop and smell the roses. Thirty seconds of contemplating beauty can reset the whole day. I used to get cross with myself for being distracted by bugs and flowers and shiny stuff when I knew I "should be working." But I've learned that the CHO makes me notice those things for a reason.

    And of course these thoughts are just speculation as I'm not quite ready to retire. Maybe they're part of my planning process though.

    Good luck, and thanks for prompting some introspection with this post.

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    1. I know that I don't want to stop "working", but as John said above, I want to control my time. But....I don't know what I want that "work" to be. I enjoy woodworking and don't usually have enough time for that now, but I don't want that to be a job. (e.g. "you've got one week to get 10 boxes made"). I've thought about volunteering at the Nimitz Museum and that's a decided possibility, as I like the subject and can relate to most of the visitors. I could pour wine at the myriad of wineries in the vicinity, but I'm not real patient with the pinky extended, "moderate tannins with a hint of licorice on the finish, don't you think?" crowds.
      I'll find something, just not sure what that something is.....yet.
      Thanks for the video link. I'll spend some time there soon.

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    2. As PrairieAdventure said above, there is so much more than the teevee. I continued my hobbies and added a few new ones, I began making decorative clothing using a craft cutting machine and a heat press and it grew enough to where I knew it could be a job, but then it would be a job, so I backed off. (I think that makes sense) The odd thing was that even though I had to deliver X amount of shirts, I didn't have to punch a timeclock, or sign in on a muster sheet. I could organize the work as I saw fit and still control what I wanted to do with my time.
      I will also add that like most things, retirement will not turn out exactly as you expected, and depending on you and what you do it will exceed your expectations or not quite meet them, and sometimes both at the same time.

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    3. Organizing the hobby work as I saw fit would be good. I do want to do more woodworking.

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  7. Can't help you since I've still got 10+ years before I should call it a day, but I got a nice chuckle about your pew fiasco. Good little comedy bit there- each regular pew sitter getting a little miffed, angry, or discombobulated because of one person not sitting in their "assigned" pew. Very Monty Python-ish. Good stuff. Beautiful church by the way. Is that in your town or nearby?

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    1. It's in our town. That picture really doesn't do it justice. It's a very German town, (in my best Sarge voice) "Zis id ze vay ve haf alvays dun it. Zer shall be NO changes!" It was funny, but with ~20 years experience, not unexpected.

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  8. I retired involuntarily from what I'd thought was a career job.
    Ironically, it was a good move, though I was far too young to remain jobless.
    That provided a small nest egg.
    Then I went to a second career that I thought might carry me to retirement age.
    I ended up short cicuiting that when I found my overtime and weekend shifts were for someone else's convenience.
    Fortunately, GS was still working in a job that paid well and she loved.
    The main benefit of that job was it was a reputable financial services firm.
    We had both taken every advantage of employer financial benefits so when she retired seven years later the only necessary adjustments were to my time schedule.
    Of course, there've been some major adjustments the past three years and the current financial picture is in a state of flux, which should even out shortly.
    I believe MB has been convinced she can retire to enjoy the fruits of her labor and, possibly, more of my company.

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    1. Something along the lines of your Lion's Club activities is another avenue I've been considering, maybe not that club specifically, but similar. That's going to take some research into what organizations are viable locally with a function that I value. (Lion's would fit that function role.)

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    2. I've been doing Lions for 35 years.
      Would probably have not met either GS or MB had I not been a Lion (an entirely different story).
      But, yeah, I forget about the "volunteering" because it's almost second nature.
      The key is I keep active doing something.
      The best part is it is doing things I want to do.

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    3. Thanks, "The key is I keep active doing something."
      Agree.

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  9. I was retired somewhat ahead of my preferred timeline and people asked me like it was the worst thing in the world, "What are you going to do with your time?" Like this was a huge problem. Maybe for a workaholic, but I can do nothing better than anyone. I do with my time what I want to do with my time (mostly, there are still occasional social obligations) I stay up way late and watch an old movie if I want, or I get up early (before 10) to play golf. I took up writing and have made $75 on two books that only cost me $3000 to publish, started blogging mostly every day, and have learned to play a mean guitar (make that mediocre playing). We travel, we just relax, I work out, and have found that there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do nothing...but then as I said, I was born to do nothing, it is my gift.

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    1. Well a man has to be good at something, and $75 on writing? I think that Sarge fella got some 'splainin to do!

      It sounds like you found your retirement niche just fine. Well done.

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  10. Well, hmmmm. What to say, what to say.

    John, in his post way above this. is correct in pointing out money is the root of all retirement. But, don't forget to tabulate all the non-expenses you will now have. No more work clothes, no more killing your vehicle working for the man (unless you're getting mileage, travel to and from is a big unaddressed expense.) No more having to do things for work that cost money (like buying lunch or breakfast or dinner out, or coffee machines, snack machines, etc.) It is amazing how much your job really nets you in income. Like how little you net after considering all the costs of the job.

    As to what to do afterwards, well, how involved with your church are you? If you are Catholic, start hanging with some of the Knights of Columbus. Or look up the Order of Lazarus (a bunch of people who just... serve.). Same goes with most denominations. Or, since you're ex-AF, maybe the Civil Air Patrol? Or, as you suggested, some sort of museum service. The Nimitz sounds really neat.

    Really, the question is, what do YOU want to do when you grow up? Have you had any itches in your head that you haven't scratched? Your woodworking could be of use to your church in maintenance, something most churches don't do enough in my experience.

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    1. Good point about reduction in expenses.

      All good ideas, thanks, and your question is the crux of the issue, right now. But...I've gotten a few ideas from y'all. (All of you, in Rhode Islandese)

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    2. That would be 'all y'all' in Southern...

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    3. And, after looking on the link for the Nimitz museum, well, that place is churchlike in its own way. Volunteering there would definitely be good for your soul, and keep up the history of the many forgotten battles (often with greater percentage of casualties than the big European battles) that waged throughout the Pacific.

      Sounds like your woodworking skills and attention to fine detail (can't be a pirot, er I mean pilot, without that.

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    4. True, but you've got to break Sarge in slowly. He knows that Yobosayo means "hello" in Korean, but hasn't grasped that it's Yobosayo-y'all in South Korean. All y'all might be hard on the old boy!

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    5. The first time I went to the museum (OT, they give a military discount and WWII vets are free, as it should be), they said allow 4 hours for the tour. I made it in just under 7 and missed quite a bit. It really is a cool place.

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    6. 한국 주밧 가르쳐려고? 나는 그렇게 생각하지 않는다.

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    7. Are you going to teach Jopba Korea? I do not think so.

      Jopba?

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    8. D'oh! I was trying to write "Juvat" in Korean characters, "Ju" is 주, "vat" has to be changed to "bat" (no "v" in Korean, usually they just make it a "b") so "vat" = "bat" = 밭. My first attempt at that, 밧 transliterates more to "ba" when I was going for "bat."

      Also that first word should have been 한국어, which is Korean language. I was thinking like a Westerner when I wrote 한국, which does mean "Korean" but is more of an adjective as in "Korean BBQ."

      Then again, it's been a while since I was in Korea. We speak English at home. Except when The Missus Herself is angry with me. Those Korean words I should not repeat in mixed company...

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    9. I should have gone with -

      당신은 한국어 Juvat 가르치려고합니까? 나는 그렇게 생각하지 않는다.

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    10. Yes, well...I've NEVER been wrong using Google Translate, Nope. Never! Well, this week. Maybe today.

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    11. Mrs Juvat hasn't ever used bad language. Her "Laser Look of Death" is sufficient to reduce me to a quivering mass of protoplasm.

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  11. Thanks for the post. The commenters brought their A game today. I have nothing to contribute, as although I am not working, I never " retired ". Never worked at one job long enough to qualify. My best wishes that the best solution to your quandary comes to pass.

    Should you find yourself coming to my part of the world, I would be pleased to buy you a drink of your choice and chat a while.

    Paul L. Quandt

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  12. "Ruts"? I think the proper pronunciation is "Rut r'oh".

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    1. It may not be the proper pronunciation of the word, but it certainly is what is usually spoken (in polite company) when someone enters one.

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  13. If I may, Juvat, when it comes time for retirement (for anyone), if money is an issue then it's not time to retire. 'Nuff said there. Ms Alemaster and I retired together, she tired of putting coyotes and drug runners in fed jail down in Del Rio and the corporate bureaucracy of sim world started getting rut like to me. We can do "nothing" very well but that's not for everyone. As a consideration, there is always the FAA Ground Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor, and/or Instrument Ground Instructor Certificates. With your creds you would be welcomed and valued at the CAP Squadron and Explorer Post as a volunteer/mentor and there are a number of local flight schools always looking for ground instructors. The young instructors only want to build time. You pretty much can write your own schedule or let the skill morph into flight instruction if you're so inclined. One of my friends down there is a retired 0-6 mud Eagle driver (I think that's what you Eagle guys call them?) that may have detailed insights as to what's available in the area if you're interested. I'm confident that your decisions will be the correct ones for Ms Juvat and you, good luck, and regards, Alemaster

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    1. Thanks, I hadn't thought of Ground Instructor. I don't think I can pass a flight physical, so I kinda gave up on that avenue. Civil Air Patrol might be interesting also. Something to think about.

      I always called them Dark Gray's, more descriptive and less demeaning-ish. Coming from an F-4 background, I appreciated the ability to do both.

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  14. Can't add much to the discussion, but I would say it IS a family decision. Re seeing folks years later, my best one was a LT in the squadron, used to bounce his baby boy on my knee on occasion... Fast forward 25 years, LT is now RADM, son is now LTJG and flying P-8s... Sigh...

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    1. My best one was our best friends, and little Juvat's proxy godparents, both military and junior Captains when we met at Kadena. He's now a beltway bandit and she's a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army. Sigh.....is right.

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  15. Ask your wife what she would like for you to do if you retire, and no, I'm not talking about a long honey-do list.

    When I moved to western MI to try and see if this guy would work out, (unlike the previous ones) we had a long talk about working and retiring. He has always promoted himself as "semi-retired farmer" due to a life changing accident when he was in his early 40's helping a buddy unload boards off a semi. The take-away was rent the fork lift, save a back. So, he was forced into retirement. Fast forward 20+years of scraping by on savings, moving back to MI to the family home which he had already bought and paid for, and along came I. He now qualifies for SS, although he thinks it is weird/wrong for getting paid money "for doing nothing", yes, he had paid in for many years, and no, he never collected SSI as he didn't fill out the paperwork correctly, and was denied...hint: you need to put down everything, they will not pull your records and read it themselves.
    Anyho, when I came along, we both agreed I would continue to work full-time, which lasted about a year since 1. he would want to go places, and take me along (the whole togetherness thing), except I would only get 2 weeks off a year (new job blues), and 2. I was finding out that driving 200+ miles a day, seeing 6 patients a day, then doing 4-6 hours of paper work (no computers here) is just kicking my butt at my age. So I explored the possibilities, and decided to go "per diem" which means I get to tell my boss when I am available, technically have to work 1 week day a month and 1 weekend a month. In reality, I work 4 days a week, stayed in the on-call rotation (which is not required of per diem's) and make lots more money. No bennies except retirement contributions, but the more flexible time schedule has been wonderful!! Work is happy as they know they can rely on me, Hubbie is happy as we figure out by the middle of the month what time I wont be available for work next month so we can do stuff (plant the garden) or go someplace fun. And when my folks were having health issues, it was easy to just say I gotta go to NY to see the parents. I just had to cover my on-call, which since I did favors for the other gals was easy.

    Money is important, but even more so is what you want. The money will find lots of ways to be spent. And, no, I do not recommend parking in front of the TV or even the computer, that will kill ya quickly, do something to move and work the brain, daily. Write up a list of things you like, and spend time with family/friends. After all, stuff is not the most important thing in life. I'm betting when you retire, after 6 months you will be wondering how you ever found time to go to work. But, you can't quit blogging! :)

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    1. Suz,
      Thank you very much!
      A LOT of good info packed into three paragraphs. Mrs Juvat is very involved in this decision process. She owns a small business in town so has quite a bit of flexibility in the work thing. She has made some suggestions on the what to do issue. Some of which are "interesting".
      Per Diem may be something to investigate also.

      Again, thank you for some good information.

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  16. Maybe there is a J-3 in your future to see what there is to see while going low and slow.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)