Sunday, December 18, 2005



Double nickels!
Old Fogie!
AARP bait!
Nursing home...
Old fool!
Where am I?
Who am I?

What can I say? I used to think 65 would be the magical year. The year I would "retire" and begin to loaf. Well, I've been loafing and more-or-less retired for 2 1/2 years already. So even 55 lost its import in that respect.

What is notable about this, for me, anyway, is that now we can get our hands on my lump sum pension from Brand X. Once it's in my control, I don't have to worry about the managers at Brand X (and its successors) looting it for their own bonuses, like what happened to United and soon Delta. No matter what the news says, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Program will only cover 80% of your former pension, and there's a cap for total benefits - and, worse, you can't take a lump sum.

I've already sent in the lumpsum cashout paperwork to Brand X and know the exact amount due - a shocker! With my 401k accounts, we'll have enough set aside to live comfortably off the interest for the rest of our lives. Why the hell not retire!

This is due to fifteen years of really exorbitant salaries (on top of ten years of fair to middling paychecks), while dumping as much money as possible into the 401k account. Unlike most of my coworkers, I kept my 401k reasonably conservative and weathered the tech stock crash without too great a loss. It has since fully recovered and had begun to grow again.

Today, we drove down to Ninilchik and up into the Caribou Hills to look at some property. After three days of warm weather, the 20 mile road was reasonably driveable (even if a bit icy). At the end of the road we had to get out and walk a few hundred yards in to see the lot. The trail was very icy, and there was no way to get a good grip, so we slip-slided along very slowly. The view from the 5 acre lot was awesome - Cook Inlet and all the volcanos. I imagine it would be even more stupendous on a clear sunny day. The problem is that the property was stripped of any vegetation, with no buffer from the neighbors. Also, it was right next to the parking lot for all the outlying cabins, where people park their trucks and trailers and travel the rest of the way by snowmobile. Several of the neighbors had sled dogs, which were howling the whole time we were out there. I couldn't believe we were so far out from civilization only to see so many damn dogsledders. Forget that one.

Yeah, yeah. You're not a real Alaskan unless you are a dog musher, and all that BS. But no one thinks of the impact on the neighbors who have to endure the dogs howling day and night. The only time it is really quiet is when they are out mushing. I can think of no worse hell than having to live near a dog musher. Yet they don't give a damn about their impact on their neighbors. They act like they deserve special consideration because they're keeping alive an old Alaskan tradition.

We've looked at four different properties now, all with different positives and negatives. There is a fundamental conflict between finding land with a decent view and land we can afford. Of these four, only one more-or-less meets the bill. Trouble is, it's too expensive. Somewhat more than we really wanted to pay. Still, we've learned from experience, that it is probably worth going ahead and investing the extra cash - it will pay back in time, if we ever want to sell.

Z made a really nice birthday card for me today. They are always hand-drawn with a clever or witty note. These mean more to me than any gift.

I moved on a bit in my lesson book today. I even played half an hour without the rubber fingercot on my left forefinger. I played early, while Z was still asleep, so I got to use the PC tuner/analyzer. It really helps to find the right notes. I still need to do a lot of work on moving my fingers from string to string without losing the beat or missing the notes.

I've been brushing up my rusty music theory too. I found an excellent site with lots of music theory supplemented with extensive historical information, authored by Dr. Brian Blood: .

There's so much to learn... but what else have I got to do?

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