Monday, April 11, 2011

Second Full Week of Retirement

My newest Happy Birthday postcard. I have a matching stamp available too.

Well I'm now into my second full week being retired.  It feels like it has been so much longer.  I’ve been very busy with all my internet activities.  I’ve been updating my Squidoo lens, working on more Zazzle products, working on my webpage and adding Twitter and Facebook links to everything.

I’ve had to become more knowledgeable about using HTML code.  It has been about two decades since I took my FORTRAN class through MSOE and even if I could remember how that was done, it isn’t the same.  What I do remember are some of the basic concepts about programming.  Some of those I learned when I had my Commodore 64.  I use to type in programs for it from RUN magazine.  Once I had them typed in I would have to debug them, because no matter how careful I was at typing it in, there were always mistakes in the code.  I find it amazing just how helpful all the thing I learned from working with my Commodore 64 are.  For such an early, inexpensive, and limited computer it has such lasting usefulness in what I am doing now.

A big literary event happened for me last week.  The sixth book in the “Earth’s Children” series by Jean M Auel (Clan of the Cave Bear), “The Land of Pained Caves” was released on March 31, 2011.  I now have the audio version that I got from the library.  I had been checking the fan website about when the sixth book was supposed to come out for years.  I checked it recently enough that I found out about the release date in time to be the second one on the waiting list at the library for the book on CD.  My oldest sister Erin was all excited about it when I told her about the release.  She is the one who started reading the series first.  It has been about 30 years from the first release of “Clan of the Cave Bear”.  Originally there were only suppose to be a total of six books in the series, but there is some talk about there will be one more because there was too much material to put it in just one more book.  I haven’t finished lessening to it yet, there are 29 CDs, but so far I have found that it is very much like “The Shelters of Stone”.  The reviews have not been very good for the book, but when you’ve already read all the others and waited so long for it to come out, it’s not like I wasn’t going to listen to this one too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Early Retirement and Zazzle

This is the first time that I have ever done a public blog.  The main reason I have decided to write a blog is to promote my Zazzle store.  I also have another reason to start this blog; today April 4, 2011 is the first Monday that I am retired from my job of almost 28 years.  This is not a normal retirement, but what my company calls “Special Early Retirement Offer”.  When there is a reduction of the work force for whatever reason, like shipping our product lines to Mexico to be manufactured, my company offers some of the long term workers, who have reached at least 55 years of age and has at least 25 years of service with the company or a company they purchased, this early retirement package.  I met both of these requirements so they made the offer.  I being of rather lousy health lately and of a frugal and fiscally responsible nature, decided to grab the offer and run as fast as my arthritic knees would carry me.

 I plan to do some chronicling of my early retirement as well as promote my Zazzle store.  For those of you who do not know what Zazzle is, it is a “Print on Demand” company or POD.  I have been a contributing artist for Zazzle since 2007.  I don’t physically handle the products.  I just upload my designs and place them on products and post them for sale.  From then on it is all Zazzle.  Customers purchase the products from Zazzle and they print and ship them.  Zazzle pays me a royalty when someone buys a product with one of my designs.

Up until now Zazzle has just been a hobby for me.  I have been making computer graphics of some sort from the time I bought my first computer, a Commodore 64 back in 1985.  So when I discovered Zazzle in 2007 it was a perfect fit for me.  I already had a stock of graphics that I could use and a great deal of the know-how and software to make more.  I have been really just playing around with all of it, not really worrying if I generated much of an income from it or not.  I did after all work for one of the largest corporations in the world and they paid me more than I needed.  Now that I have taken the early retirement, my income has been reduced considerably, Zazzle will be a way for me to make this time a little more financially comfortable.  I have two stores on Zazzle, my main store is AuntBetsy where I feature mostly my own original artwork and Flag_Maker featuring Vintage artwork that I purchased. 

For the last two days I have been working on my own website called Aunt Betsy’s Art about my Zazzle stores.  I also have a link to several pages of animated Christmas graphics that I created several years ago.

It is going to be an interesting time in my life.  I turned off my alarm clock on March 31, 2011 when I got up and did not reset it for the next day.  My retirement started April 1, 2011.  My time is now my own, after decades of following a rigid schedule, what I do and when I do it are now up to me.  This is a good thing and yet a disquieting thing at the same time.  I had enjoyed my job and it gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.  I also had a feeling of purpose and service to my fellow man.  I made and tested electronic medical equipment that helped to save people’s lives.  This is not something to give up easily.

The weekend before I retired, I had a respiratory infection and was taken from my doctor’s clinic to the hospital in an ambulance.  While in the emergency room I was being monitored by a piece of equipment that had been made by my co-workers and friends.  Once I was admitted and moved to my room I was placed on a telemetry transmitter to monitor my heart.  I had just a little over two hours before been testing that very same type of transmitter.  I was later diagnosed with a heart ailment by another piece of equipment made by my company.  This was not the first time I or a one of my family members had our lives dependent on equipment that I had helped to make.  I am finding that this is a very difficult thing to give up.  Making pretty graphics is a fun thing to do, but it does not compare with helping to save lives.  To really enjoy my retirement I will somehow have to come to terms with this change.