Tag Archives: retirement

Taking on New Challenges

What keeps us alive? I do not necessarily mean what keeps us physically alive—that can be done externally by machines—but rather what keeps us feeling alive. Alive, as in, the feeling we would get as kids when we first conquered riding a bicycle or when we were teenagers and the acceptance letter for our dream college arrived. Alive, like when we knew we met the person we would love forever and the feeling when we held our children for the first time.

What happens when we hit the major milestones? What breaks up the monotony of the rinse and repeat routine of work and home?

We fall into the routine because it is efficient. We eat the same types of dinner and go to the same restaurants. We watch the same television shows and go to bed at the same time. Before you realize it a couple of weeks have gone by or an entire month has expired or, god forbid, a whole year passes.

We keep telling ourselves that we are saving for retirement so that we can pursue our passions when we are done working. Why? Why do we have to wait until we are sixty five or older to do something that excites us?

The way we can feel alive again is to break out of the cycle of monotony. We need to make ourselves uncomfortable again. Do you remember the first time you walked into a college classroom, sat down, and wondered if you were really ready for the entire experience? If that was acceptable at eighteen years old why isn’t it acceptable to be that uncomfortable at forty?

It’s being uncomfortable with doing something and conquering that discomfort that allows us to feel like we are growing and changing. It’s the reason that at the tender age of thirty six I took up skiing with my seven year old daughter.

Do you know what is difficult to watch? A middle-age father of two trying to make it down the bunny hill without “yard sale-ing.” Or, having your daughter ask, “Daddy, why did it take you so long to get down the hill?”

In the end, however, I feel better about the day I spend struggling to learn to ski than I would about any other activity I might undertake during the winter. I come back sore and, hopefully, not bruised although I have returned with different parts of my body an unnatural blue color. I may be cold on the lift and scared when I tip over the lip of the run, but I drive home with a smile on my face and something new to work on the next day. Isn’t that what being alive is all about?

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Friday Linkage 4/27/2012

April is almost done and it feels like the end of May.  The ivy is pretty green on the outfield walls of Wrigley Field, I have mowed the lawn twice already this season, and the nurseries are full of stock to be put into the ground.

This weekend is going to market my official 2012 start of planting season.  No idea where I am going to go with the yard this year, much to the consternation of my wife but the landscaping is an organic process.  I go where the plants take me.

On to the links…

How to Find Real Food and Make Healthier Choices—Oh yeah, bring on the infographic baby:

Four Things Grosser than Pink Slime—The title pretty much lays it out.

Weed Killer from Dow has A Lot of People Worried—Dow Chemical’s 2,4-D is a potent herbicide that is very similar to Agent Orange.  You know, the stuff that was used to defoliate the jungle during the Vietnam War and is responsible for all kinds of health problems.  Yep, it’s coming to a farm field near you.  Why?  Because the rampant spraying of other herbicides has led to widespread resistance so more potent defoliants are required.  Great.

No Country for Old Chickens—I could not help myself with the title.  Retirement homes for old chickens?  Yeah, you knew it was coming.  If Williams – Sonoma can get a princely sum for a chicken coop than you knew someone would take this step.  It’s the natural evolution of things.

The Barter Economy Coming to a Backyard Near You—I love it when people rediscover concepts and act like it is something amazing.  Where I live—Iowa—we never forgot the art of barter.  Need help taking some stuff to the dump?  Sure, my pickup can be had for a six pack of that new beer you just bottled.  Chainsaw a couple of trees downed in the storm?  Why yes, that bag of tomatoes would do just fine.

First World Problems—Then again, this all seems like a first world problem.

97 Percent of Americans Overestimate Cost of Home Solar—Count me as one of the people who had the $20K number stuck in my head.  As I thought about panels on the top of my house I had used $20K as a benchmark number for any back of the envelope calculations.  Consider me schooled.

With a Shovel and Pickaxe, Seattle Man Rescues Hundreds of Trees—For anyone who does not think that a single person can do some real good, here is a nice little human interest piece to set you right.

Amazing Indian Brickwork—The brickwork on this building in India is simply amazing:

Some of these traditional building methods are perfect for a changing climate.  The “screen” of bricks absorbs the heat of the sun, but it allows for light and air to penetrate.  I have seen similar design concepts in the buildings at Masdar, but the low tech beauty of this wall blows that stuff away.

Friday Linkage 9/30/2011

September has come and gone, football season is in full swing, the leaves are turning all sorts of colors, and I am sitting back enjoying the fruits of my homebrew labor.  With the temperatures dropping into the 30s at night the Patagonia Synchilla fleece has been broken out and my daughter is already sipping hot cocoa.  I love the change of seasons.

In North Dakota, Wasted Gas Flares in the Night Sky—The concept seems insane: burn a commodity for which there is a market.  In a world that is increasingly energy constrained, it is crazy to think that in the U.S. we just flare natural gas instead of collecting it for use heating homes, making fertilizer, etc.  Think about this the next time natural gas prices spike in the winter.

U.S. Gasoline Demand Hits 10-Year August Low—Maybe we do not need as much liquid fuel as we thought.  The combination of recession, high prices, and awareness has led to a drop in the demand for oil that is completely discretionary.  It goes to show how much savings potential exists in the system if people really make an attempt.

The Technology to Cut Greenhouse Gasses by 85% by 2050 Already Exists—Not only is it possible to reduce our demand with cuts in our discretionary energy use, but the technology exists today to effectively cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050?  So, what’s the problem?  Oh wait…Republicans…oil companies…grumpy people…NIMBY…

Want to Make Fuel?  Just Add Water—Maybe there is a future for biofuels if we can get past the current and problematic first generation fuels that divert foodstuffs to fuel.  The world has too many hungry mouths to feed for us to justify filling up SUVs with ethanol made from corn or biodiesel made from soybeans.

The Future of Urban Agriculture—In this video, Will Allen—he of the Macarthur Genius award—shows us what his vision of the future of urban agriculture looks like.  In a world where the resiliency of our food system will be paramount this is interesting viewing.

Eco-Living in Gary—For anyone familiar with Gary, Indiana this is a hard concept to wrap your head around.  Eco-living in Gary?  It just goes to show you that anything is possible.

How to Build a Rocket Stove Water Heater—If you thought building tunnels to let chickens do the garden work was ingenious, you are going to love this how-to on building a rocket stove water heater.  If I were building an off-grid home I would be all over rocket stoves and rocket mass stoves.

The Case for Downsizing Your Home—The article is obviously aimed at people considering retirement, but the same arguments that hold true for people living on a “fixed” income hold true for the rest of us because there is no magic money fairy that raises my income whenever I desire.  In a way, we are all on fixed incomes.