Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Mindless Ranting About a Reluctant Spring & Staring Into Oblivion

This year we seem to be having a reluctant spring.  April has become my favorite month in adulthood.  As a child, it was June because of the obvious parole for the summer from the jail of education.  I hated school.  September was my least favorite month—the resumption of my sentence of 12 years of primary and secondary education.  I remember looking at golden rod with extreme hatred.  Not only did it bloom during worst month of the year, it appeared on the cover of the damned yellow ruled tablets that my mother bought for me to do my home work.  Oh the hours that seemed to be devoted to working in a golden rod tablet.  


356 + 247 =  603  (22 seconds)  

9162 – 4739 = 4423 (19 seconds)    

5193 / 17 = 305 with a remainder of 8  (78 seconds)

537 X  692 = 371604 (78 seconds)

I timed myself doing the above problems by hand…something I haven’t attempted since 1975, the first year I owned a calculator.  I was quite proud of the fact that I remembered how to do long division, who cares that it took 1 minute and 18 seconds? 


North America
South America

The term Eurasia didn’t exist back then. 
Sentence diagramming:  Oh forget that!  I would have to consult a book.  Then in the later years  Spanish  Que hora es?  Mis zapatos son de color marrón.  And algebra,  do the odd problems 1 through 153.   

Problem 1    a + a =

Problem  3    2a + 7a =

Problem 5   4x + 3x + 17x =…..

Problem 13    sin (x) (3a +5b)z+ Σ0N (log(atan(θ)) / (bN +dN) N-1 =

Problems 1 through 5, I could understand.  Then I would get lost somewhere between 7 through 11.  Beyond problem 11 the mathematics looked like problems from a parallel albeit extremely advanced universe. 

So yes as a child, June was my favorite month.  But then I became an adult (well I got big anyhow) and left the jail of education for the long sentence of prison of an occupation.  There were no longer paroles every summer.  June lost its glitter.  My favorite month moved to May for a while in my younger adulthood before I had MS.  With the onslaught of MS came an intolerance for heat.  Hot days make me feel like I have a hangover.  So my favorite month moved to April.  The temperatures are more moderate, there is a lot of rain which I love, and the leaves start to bud and break out.  I love when the trees look like they have been spray painted with a pastel green.  So April is now my favorite month. 

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Well this year March came in like a lion and went out like an angry lion.  While I was down Georgia, south western Pennsylvania had a tornado and tennis ball sized hail on March 23.  Ever since, it seems that we have not had a spring but rather a clash of winter and summer.  Too cold one day…then too hot…then a nasty storm and too cold again.  It has been in the mid 60s when I left for work and snowing when I come home.  Back and forth, Old Man Winter and Hot Ass Summer duking it out while spring lies bleeding on the side of the ring--a casualty of the conflict.

So April, my favorite month seems to be slipping through my fingers and so far I have seen little sign of spring.  This April also marks the end of my occupational prison term.  I am going to be released April 29th  and what is left of my working life is hemorrhaging away, and to be honest, it is frightening.  I have never been one to dream about retirement and all the wonderful things I can do.  Retirement was always something that I brushed off.  I will look at it in a couple of years.  And a couple of years always kept rolling on ahead for another couple of years and I just put it off as an unpleasantry (Did I just invent that word? It has a red squiggly underline.) to be faced at some indeterminate fuzzy date off into the foggy beyond.  Let’s not trouble ourselves with that now.  Then six months ago I got pissed off with work and decided it was time to go.  This is not the way to do retirement planning! 

I still want to leave work, I am tired of their bullshit, a crisis every moment of the day.  But on the other hand, I don’t think that I want to be retired either.  Good God, where did all the time go?  Well there is the crux of the situation, it is not retirement I fear…it is old age. 

I have never been one to keep a neat cubical, but I would on occasion “rid up” as we say in Pittsburgh.  About 10 years ago the company started some horseshit program called 5 S which is adapted from Japanese manufacturing techniques.  The company hired consultants and went to great lengths to explain each one of the damned S’s to us and how this was going to make our lives so much better.  I made it a point to not know what the frigging S’s meant.  I don’t give a shit how well it works in Japan, we don’t make Civics or Camrys.  We make a lot of onesie and twosie very large specialized contraptions that require a lot of tooling.  So yeah, you got a lot of expensive tooling laying about that you may not need for 2 or 3 years.  It looks messy.  It is not an assembly line operation.  Oh we have to 5 S (it has become a verb) our facilities and areas.  Things that you will need next year get thrown out with a religious fervor by wild eyed 5 S apparatchiks.  "If you would only take ownership of the process, you would quickly realize the improvement in efficiency."  Unlimited profits will be ours if only we get this place 5 S'ed.  

Well about 5 years ago, my boss got a new boss who stated that not only was 5 S a good thing for the factory floor, it was how he expected to see an engineer’s cubical.  Neatness is efficiency.  Well that was it, I never cleaned my cube after that.  The paper piled up and up to where it got to be something of a joke.  To tell you the truth, even I found it a bit taxing.  Alas, nobody ever reprimanded me for it.  Shit! 

Well, I feel a moral obligation to clean out my cube before I leave.  So I am working my way down through the alluvial layers of paper work as though it were a strip mine.  Some of it causes me to grit my teeth, but then I’ll run into the drawings and design work for some neat project and it then tugs at my heart.  I am going to miss some of this.  I start to question, am I really ready to hang it all up?  Well wouldn’t it be nice if we could pick and choose what we want to do?  Most of what I do is dreary, and as I get older I find it more difficult to embrace the sense of urgency under which the company feels that it must operate.  My guess is that the sun will still rise tomorrow morning whether I get this particular crisis of the moment solved or not.  So yeah, it is time to go, but it is not without some heartache that I am leaving. 

I feel like I am standing on precipice desperately looking though an April that refuses to come and yet is flying by, staring into oblivion.  Retirement?  The price of gasoline has gone up what, almost a dollar a gallon, since I made the decision to retire.  What I see coming is ever increasing costs and physical decline on a fixed income that will result in an ever increasing sense of poverty while my wife and I race our finances to the grave.  Yet I read VW Busman telling us of cheerfully pulling on his waders to go water his plants in his flooded greenhouse, giving thanks for waking up in the morning, drinking a glass of good homemade wine, and laughing at his predicament.  I think to myself, Sextant you old bastard, it is time to grow up.

You can read all of my retirement related posts at:


  1. Whoa......some heavy stuff here. I'll need some time to digest your mindless ranting. Actually it's pretty mindful, as opposed to mindless. You bring up some very good points. Perhaps we need to dissect them a little. I need to re read your post. But before we go there.....chin's good and all that blather. You could be dead ! Then what ? We'll figure it out. worries.
    Cheers :)

  2. Oh yes....forgot to mention.............I love golden rod. And fall is my favourite time of year, next to spring.
    Send us your burdens, we'll lighten your load.
    Wine time now.............cheers.

  3. I read your posts on your site, you are knee deep or worse in water, won't see your greenhouse floor for 6 weeks, and I feel like an idiot bitching about retiring. Chin up indeed!

    I like fall better than winter and summer, but not near as much as spring. The days getting shorter bothers me and I don't like all the plants dieing. But sometimes after a hot summer, fall is a welcome relief. As for golden rod, I will never like it, too much negative history. My wife and I blamed it for our allergies that we get in the fall but since have come to find out that it is rag weed not golden rod that gives us our pounding sinus headaches. I will have to admit in a objective sense, huge fields of golden rod can be quite beautiful.

  4. So..afraid of getting old eh ? Well, there's always the alternative, but we'll be there soon enough. No need to rush getting there. And when you're're dead for a long time. So there's no point in wishing our lives away.
    I don't think I've stopped to really analyze getting old a whole lot. And I'm no psychotherapist believe me, but maybe that's part of the key. Stop thinking about it or brooding over it. Tomorrow's another day and I whole heartedly look forward to what tomorrow will bring. I truly do. Not that I will be another day older, so what. I'm just glad that I get to be another day older and see tomorrow. No B.S.
    Now, I'm not as old as you. I turned 54 this year, and I've been retired for 3+ years. Never looked back, and I don't miss my job for one nano second. I'm not quite sure what it is you do, some engineering or design work ? I'll tell you what I did for 27 years...public in being a Police Officer for the City of Winnipeg. I don't tell a whole lot of people that, not that I am ashamed of it, quite the contrary. But every segment of the population sees that ( Police ) in many different shades, if you know what I mean. And most times it really doesn't matter what I did for a living when I'm talking to someone about something. But the jobs what you make it, right?
    You want a job full of negatives ?? Pull your chair up to the bar and I'll regale you of stories that'll make your bad day look like a child's sunday school picnic ! I don't know...maybe that's why I have the outlook I do on life. Seen too much of the crappy side, wasted lives, lives torn apart.
    I could write books about sadness.
    The way I see only get one shot at life. There's no do over if you screw up the first time around. And who was it that said, "You can only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
    You need a modicum of health to get you thru. I've not been without my health issues over the years. Try everything in moderation when I can. Probably need to lighten up on the wine intake a tad. Small vice.
    Age is only an issue if you believe it is. I certainly can't do half the things I used to, when I was 25, and probably just as well.
    I'll pick up on your topic later............
    No worries

  5. Aha! Much is revealed, the veil is torn and we see through the other side and find out hey this ain't just some guy that collects VWs and grow flowers! When you said you were in public service I assumed you were a politician or some political official. Yes I imagine you could tell some tales and have seen much of life's dark side.

    I believe you (without knowing you) to be perhaps more fatalistic than I am, certainly your career would justify it...I have lived a rather sheltered life. I don't fear death (that is bullshit of course, because I do fear death but I do and don't at the same time) as much as I fear the ravages of old age. I haven't seen much to recommend it to anyone! But while I believe the body is subject to the second law of thermodynamic (things run from order to disorder) I believe our Souls to be above that sort of thing. They are Divine and are not subject to the physics of this universe or any other universe. So when you say you only get one shot at life, that may be true, but I believe that a part of us remains--a part that is eternal and Holy--certainly not our bodies nor our minds, but our Souls.

    I disagree with one of your thoughts "There's no do over if you screw up the first time around...." True we can't turn back the clock, we can't undo our actions...the ground meat will never be a steak again. But I also believe we start each day with a clean slate...because I was a bastard yesterday does not force me to be a bastard today. Recidivism would probably put an ill light on that notion, but recidivism is a habit not a universal law. I think one of the fundamental rules of life is that we have to be able to forgive ourselves. It is a corollary of your notion of any day you can get up is a good day.

    I have always had an odd streak in me, short term pessimism and long term optimism. Some times we can't see the forest for the trees. You my dear old friend (I have a feeling there may be more truth to that than we realize) have helped me to remember what God whispers to me in the rain "Everything will be OK". Does that not equate to "No worries. Cheers."

    Also realize, I enjoy bitching.

  6. Yep,.complaining is good. Another form of release.
    So the clock ticks down for you at work. I feel your pain. As much as I hated my work, dealing with negativisms all day everyday, it wears on you, there were parts of my job that I knew I would come to miss. And that would be the guys and gals I worked with, the laughs, the camaraderie. This may or may not hold true for you in your line of work, but I think it does for most folks.
    Have you given any thought as to what you will do to fill your time, once you have left paid employment ? Find a part time job ? Start a small business? Sit around the house and annoy your wife? lol :)
    Here's how it worked for me. In 1991 we ( my family ), moved out to the country from Winnipeg. On our small acreage, we started a small greenhouse and it grew over the years to it's present 3000 sq ft. We are now trying to downsize...imagine ! I wanted something to do in my retirement years and I pretty much new, way back then, how long I was going to work and then pull the pin. Police people don't typically have long careers. It's a young man's game. I met my wife at a nursery/garden centre where we both worked, in our early 20's. So we had the green thumb bug way back when. The greenhouse business, like farming, is full of high inputs, ( costs ), but very low return, in relation to your inputs. And we've been doing this for going on 18 yrs now. We've built up a fairly good client base, but it's pretty time consuming in the spring, not to mention battling all these floods. Anyways, we are ready to scale down a tad, finish up earlier, so we can do some camping, explore Canada, yada yada...before we get Alzheimer's.
    But the best years are ahead of us....right ? You bet they are.
    Every next day, should be better than the last day. It's the only and best way to live your life man. Embrace that concept if you can.
    So...tell me about your aspirations for retirement....and not the getting older and infirm bull shit. You must have some plans, dreams, goals..
    enlighten the ole VW Busman.


  7. Yes I am going to miss the people in our engineering group and the techs on the floor. I think I am going to miss the more interesting elements of my job but certainly not the BS, the politics, and the damned sense of "lions, tigers, and bears oh my" urgency. I am sick of critical paths.

    The biggest thing will be the people. It is a medium sized plant, we have about 800 employees, so along with the people I worked with daily will be others that I would brush shoulders with on a project here and there, so yes I will miss a lot of people. I think I will also miss some of our products and the facilities. I don't know, I have been around this stuff on daily basis for 35 years. What is like to walk away and never see it again? It seems odd to get attached to a 40 ton motor!

    As for plans for retirement...not work! My wife has to take care of her mother which occupies several days each week so other than to go on a short trip here and there we have no real traveling plans--which is probably just as well because we don't have the money for extended travel. I am going to fix up my mother's house and either sell it or keep it, the details which I have sort of put off until I retire. Planning is not one of my strong suits. If you would have asked me Sept 1, 2010 when I was going to retire, I would have said "Oh, I don't know. Maybe I'll think about it when I am 65." Two weeks later the camel's back snapped and I couldn't wait to leave. I only chose May first because I would turn 62 and have 35 years with the company (which clicks over today--Happy Anniversary to me).

    Anyhow, my retirement has not been a subject of hopes, plans, and dreams. It has been something that I have feared and avoided. Well wait, no I did have a two tier retirement plan, the grave or China. If the company told me I had to support our contracts in China, that was going to be my retirement trigger--the other tier being somewhat self explanatory.

    So I don't have a big blue print of aspirations for retirement other to avoid the daily crisis of the moment at the plant. My retirement is based on getting pissed off 6 months ago. You have heard of that proverbial airborne condom...the one that got pissed off. That's me, flying by the seat of my pants and hoping I don't crash. There ain't no flight plan! If I planned as well as I bitched, I would probably be in far better shape.

  8. And I wish you good health and all the best in your new endeavours. It'll work out, I know it. From the little I know of you, I sense a certain resiliency. No matter where your path leads you, enjoy the view along the way.
    As far as plans go, retirement or otherwise, I believe they are highly over rated. Retirement should be about flying by the seat of your pants.Adds some zest to the regular fare. I don't mean about wondering where your next meal is coming from and if we have enough money for next months rent. After working for 35 yrs with the same company, you should be above that. Once basic needs are taken care's all good. Do what you want, or as little as you want in retirement.
    You'll miss some of the people, but in time that fades too, when you don't see them everyday. And you'll make new friends..........LIKE ME. !! See, it's all good, already... so you can honestly already have a new pal for your retirement. Maybe a little on the distant side, as opposed to just over the garden fence...but...who knows, maybe some day in the not too distant future we will meet in person ??? I'd like that.
    Maybe I'll make that one of my retirement... " to do's "..
    If we and are better halves live well into our 90's,. then we have lots of time left...yes ?

  9. Thank you for the well wishes. No I don't think that I have to worry about where the next meal will come from. On the other hand I think money will be tight enough that we can discount any notion of dreams...which, what the hell, we don't have any so nothing lost. Yes, if I am ever out your way I will come look you up. I will want a glass of that wine that your wife makes.

    Indeed you have been a good friend listening to my moaning and providing much needed encouragement. Thank you for the the kind support.

  10. Lovely post! The pastor of the Lutheran Church where one of my discussion groups meets says he is praying for a sustainable spring. What could be better? Mr. Busman, I hope Sextant has headed you towards my blog. Would love your comments dangling at the end with Sextant's. We have a very special police officer, actually he's the police chief of a suburb of Minneapolis/St.Paul by day/night and on weekends he plays the guitar and sings. His numero uno gig is our church band where he's been playing since he was about four. Sextant, diagramming sentences is FUN!

  11. Oooooppppppps! VWbusman go check out the Old Baguette's blog:

    It is magnificent, when the Old Baguette and her crumby computer deems fit to grace us with a post.

    Sentence diagramming is fun? So is going to the dentist.