Retiree’s Progress

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon. — Susan Ertz

There’s nothing on TV this Saturday night. Oh, I know, there’s a four hour “Man vs. Wild” marathon, but they’re all reruns we’ve seen before. Heavens, I don’t want to get sick and tired of Bear Grylls. I watched enough to get through dinner.

I’ve put a lot of work into the website, mostly under the hood. There’s more time now for this two-year plan to gradually convert the site from HTML to WordPress. That means more time to figure out how to deal with obstacles like photo galleries.

If you browse our Photo Notes department regularly, you’ll note a new permanent link to Alex’s Gallery. It’s done in a splendidly designed freeware javascript application I discovered called Jalbum. This first album contains all 58 of my photos entered into the Photo Notes web log (they’re still there too). As we speak, I’m adding the link to a Gallery of all 213 images of of Swan’s Gallery.

I didn’t mean to turn this into a “What’s New” post, but the application picks up text titles, descriptions, keywords and such from metadata actually stored on the JPG file itself. That means manually loading the text into each file. For that, I use an application called Exifer. Remember the old HTML Photo Department page? It’s still there, but I’m halfway through in Exifer with the 86 images I’d posted there over the years. That’s how I’ll merge the old with the new in Photos.

The company I used to work for had another round of layoffs yesterday. Professionals with 20 to 30 years experience were escorted to the door. I talked with a couple of them, friends at work with whom I was close. It’s been less than two months since I was tagged for layoff, but now I’m the seasoned professional since I’ve been through it recently and know what to do – and what not to do.

If you are laid off and are eligible for COBRA, get on your HR department right away to get your package to you. It’s not automatic. You have to enroll. Use FedEx. COBRA may be administered by a third party, and they’ll take a week or so to get the plan to you in the US Mail. Your HMO may take an additional two weeks to update you in their system(s).  I was told I had four months to enroll (not true), but it’s my fault for not believing what I read in the Plan. My existing coverage expired on February 1, and my HMO didn’t get me back into their system until the 23rd.

Here in Retirement Land, I had two disaster mornings in a row — I woke up and got out of bed at 730AM. I seem to be having a hard time training myself to sleep in ’til 8 or 9. What with my projects, and organizing for the eventual Move – to Phoenix – I certainly have enough on my plate to keep me busy and out of mischief.

I’ve done more social networking in the last month than in the previous year – former co-workers now laid off, friends and family.

As for the company I used to work for, I loved what I used to do (software QA), when I was allowed to do it. Now, though, I don’t miss the work and never dwell on it. But I do miss the people I worked with for over 16 years – those that are left behind.

When someone “leaves the company” it’s like a death without the funeral. The company makes a clean break, and the remaining employees find out about it through the grapevine. One day you realize you haven’t seen someone for a week, and find out they won’t ever be coming back. It’s as surgically clean as an amputation.

So I was curious: my company was different than all the others throughout the years. People sometimes made friends privately, but on-the-job fraternization was “unprofessional”. In all those years, I was actually invited to the homes of only three other co-workers, peers, and we (Bob and I) only entertained two or three of them at our home. So, now that I was retired, would some of those people finally reach out?

I enjoyed getting three phone calls, a luncheon, and a wonderful afternoon and dinner. Two of the co-worker friends who called had just been laid off. All in all, I did almost as much off-the-job socializing in eight weeks of unemployment than in the previous 16 years of work. But these were already friends, or folsk who would have been if we’d ever had time to get to know each other in the employment venue. Of all of the other people who didn’t call “before”, unsurprisingly, there was no change.  A lot of the office friendships we miss are borne out of the internal necessities of professional networking – and evaporate like water on a hot griddle – when the professional relationship is severed.

I have friends yet to see who go back 30 years – another thing I’m looking forward to in retirement. Whether I’ve seen you recently, or “not in ages”: I rarely have to check my dance card these days. No longer do I have to say “but I have to work tomorrow”.

And I’m more relaxed than I can remember in years. I can’t say for sure this is as good as a vacation in Hawaii, but I darn sure don’t have to worry about “going back” at the end of the week!



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