Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Benefits of My Part Time Job

A Sampling of My Work

Last day of November and I'm stuck at home with an aching back that would prefer I didn't do anything at all.  How did this come about......actually it's quite a short story.  I have a temperamental lower back that occasionally likes to remind me that it can put me out of commission anytime I ignore or forget this physical limitation that haunts my existence.  Last Saturday I chose to ignore, and in my state of perceived youthfulness and indestructibility I dug a ten foot long, 2 foot deep trench through the layer of frost and the sandy ground below.  Regrettably, frost is stubborn and sand is heavy, and, in order to engage in the task at hand, I had to bend over.  A slight twinge in the lower back and....nothing more needs to be said......except that looking at my usually fantastic physique in the mirror is not very encouraging at the moment.  It looks like I was tackled  from the side by some malevolent force, and my back was frozen in time at the moment of impact.  Not a pleasant sight!  Actually looks real weird.  However, past experience leads me to believe that I will be okay in another 2 or 3 days.  I do constantly have to remind myself that my back will never be 100%.  Bummer!

Anyways, on to my main topic..... now that I have time to write.
I mentioned that I was stuck at home today.  I had originally been scheduled to head into work, but due to my temporary physical state I had to bow out.

No, I am not totally retired.  I have what I think is just about the ideal part time job.  I work one or two days a week at a local brewery.  It is not an easy job by any means.....rather it is one of the most physically demanding jobs I have ever had.  I work damn hard on the days I work, with few breaks.  Why, after working all my life up to now and finally reaching the promised land, would I want such a challenging job????  There are a number of reasons.

1.  First of all, I guess the main reason I work is to make a bit of extra money to play around with.  My pension income is generally not play money, but "survival during retirement" money.  I have a special account to deposit my brewery earnings into so I can save up for something special.....or...... I can just blow it if I want.  It's sort of like the first bank account that you have when you're a kid.  Maybe retirement is sort of like having that childlike freedom again.

2.  Secondly, this job makes me totally appreciate having been a teacher.  I made a decent salary, had great vacation times, stayed young because I was dealing with students who never seemed to get any older (or smarter), and had to remain sharp both mentally and physically.  Regardless of how we may at times complain, it is a fine and secure way to spend your working life.  Teaching is certainly not an appropriate job for everyone, but it worked for me.  On the other hand, I could not imagine myself having worked on a tedious, assembly line job all my life.  I would have gone absolutely crazy.  I do enjoy going to the brewery and working on the line, but if I had to do it 5 days a week, I would become mentally unstable and very likely drink far too much.

3.  Another REALLY important reason for working is to make me appreciate retirement.  Regardless of what stage we are at in our lives, it is essential that it is made up of a variety of different activities of varying degrees of difficulty.  Working at the brewery every week provides me with a bit of a jolt and helps me put things into perspective.   After working hard for a day or two each week I find that I really appreciate my days off.  They seem to be "fuller" and I don't for a minute take them for granted.  I believe that if you start taking time for granted, you start wasting it, and ultimately waste yourself.

4.  A side benefit of working part time is that you still stay involved in some capacity and feel useful to others (and yourself).  There are of course many other ways that you can do this.  Working just happens to be the way that I've chosen.  It's neat going into the liquor store and seeing all the wonderful beer that I've had a role in getting to market.  When I work I always challenge myself to do the best job I can..... it's how I get a lot of intrinsic satisfaction.  I fear that one of the biggest challenges that society faces today is the reluctance of many people to work hard for what they get.  It seems that the work ethic has been largely replaced by a feeling of "entitlement"...... a word and a concept that I really HATE.   There aren't many things I hate, but that's one of them.   I'm going to have to discuss that concept in a future blog entry.

5.  Another unexpected benefit is that working at a brewery is a bit of a physical workout.  On a typical day I would probably be packing and lifting about 300 to 400 flats of beer, each weighing about 35 pounds.  That's quite a few reps.  Sometimes it feels like a bit of an endurance workout.  Of course the next day I might be too tired to do any exercise, but that's okay.........we're supposed to have rest days. Incidentally, I'm also developing new skills, like getting real fast with a glue gun.  Of course the first day on the gun was pretty painful, and it took about a week to get rid of the blisters resulting from the inaccurate placement of hot glue.

6.  The socializing benefits of having a job must also be noted.  Instead of being at home doing things on my own, I am spending time socializing with a new group of people, most of who are not quite like the teacher bunch I am used to.  A couple of them are retired teachers like me, but others are from totally different walks of life.  One interesting aspect of the situation is that the "bosses" are all much younger than us retired teachers and other casual workers.  Fortunately, they are fairly reasonable and very hard working.  We all get along very well.

7.  Seventhly (is that a real word?), I do get a significant amount of beer to take home with me.  I am storing up for whatever eventuality may arise.  I think I may end up having to spend my hard earned wages buying a beer fridge.  Luckily the beer does have a shelf life of 6 months, and my garage is fairly cool.  I may never have to buy beer again (which will save me a lot of money).  Of course my car will never see the inside of the garage either.

 8. The eighth reason this is a neat job is that it's really cool to be able to tell my buddies that I work at a brewery, and with all the beer I get, I'm sure there'll be no shortage of buddies-in-waiting.

9.  Seriously, and in conclusion,  I do believe that in a number of ways, this job will help me to enjoy my retirement as well as helping to keep me young (and keep the joints well lubricated).

Epilogue ---  The best part of this, and any post-retirement job, is that if I really get tired of it, I'll just say goodbye and thank you.....................and find a new job at a local winery.
         Gotta love retirement in the Okanagan!!!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still Procrastinating in Retirement

I had  planned on posting every 2 weeks or so, but old habits die hard.  Even now, after retiring, I'm still procrastinating......still thinking things to death and trying to get them perfect before I publish.  That's gotta change.  I've got to just write, and realize I can edit things later if I want to.  So... here we go...just gonna write.

The topic of this post are the races I've done in the past couple of months.

First of all, I did compete in the first Kelowna Xterra at the end of September.  I was just about the oldest guy who was competing, but I don't plan on letting that stop me in any of my ventures.  (Side note - you'all should read "Younger Next Year" and do what it says).  Back to the Xterra....... I competed in the sport duathlon group which involved a 2.5 k run, a 12 k bike, and a 4.5 k run. Although I personally felt I did fairly well in my first 2.5 k run, the other 5 left me in the dust. Hey, but all of them them were younger than me (4 of them exceptionally so). The good news was on the bike.  After taking a bonk on the head during a head-over-heels spill in a squishy marshy area, I proceeded to pick off 3 of those young fellas and got side by side with a fourth before he edged ahead. Two of the three caught me again on the last run (4k). Ultimately I finished 5th in my group of 6.  I did end up getting a first place medal in the over 60 sport duathlonites. :) My running still pretty much sucks and I have to work harder at it before my next race in Victoria (8 k in 2 weeks).

Onto the Victoria race..........Barb and I drove to Victoria on October 9th and stayed in a charming old B and B in Oak Bay.  The next morning, in the dark, we drove to the race sight in downtown Victoria, and both got ourselves prepared to race - I was doing the 8k and Barb the half marathon.  Our large group (2674) started off at 7:15.  Barb started at 7:30 and finished with a time of 2:24.  I finished in 42:08, 458th overall and 11th out of 53 in the 60-64 male age group.  Although I would have liked to have had the mental endurance to go under 42 minutes (that was my goal), I really was pleased with my overall placing.  Regarding mental endurance and toughness... I find that element to be the most difficult part of running.  Physically, I no doubt need to gradually improve, but if that physical improvement is not matched by a corresponding growth in mental toughness, I won't reach the times that I'm shooting for.  (Another side note - I believe as we get older, we do become more mentally tough.  Our physical condition may not be equal to younger runners, but often our mental toughness can compensate and level out the playing field.)  During the race I was tired and my legs were feeling real heavy, but I found the biggest enemy was my mind.  I was telling myself that I was tired and I should probably slow down a bit.  Unfortunately, I listened to myself.  I should have done what Jens Voigt (a very cool biker who is one of the oldest in the Tour de France) does.  He tells his legs to "shut up and get to work".  If I could do that I'm sure I could have been under 42 minutes.  I do believe you should have nothing left when you cross the finish line!

The third race (kinda) that I've done this fall was the Kelowna Pub Relay.  Yesterday Barb, myself and 4 others (Carmelle, Rob, Lois, and Al) entered a team in this non-serious, dressup type race.  Each of us had to run a certain distance(anywhere from about 3 to 7k), from one pub to the next throughout Kelowna.  At the end of each leg, the runner had to chug a glass of beer.  My leg was a 5.3 km section from a pub up on Rutland Road down to one at Orchard Park.  I completed it in 27:14 and in the process ran a 5 k PB.  Okay, so it was more downhill than uphill and maybe I shouldn't count it as an official type time.  Besides, a couple of people (including a talkative girl) passed me during the run.  Anyhow, we all had a great time, drinking a bit of beer, wolfing down a buffet lunch, and winning a couple of door prizes.

The above three are the formal type races I've completed during the past little while.  As well as running, I've also been biking a couple of times each week.  Next on the agenda is skate skiing.  I've rounded up all my equipment and now all I need is snow!!!

Well, I should wrap up this post and publish it before I decide it's not good enough.  It has been primarily a newsy background bit that I needed to write before I can move on to the next.

I've already decided to write about my part-time dream job next.  Should be lots of food (and drink) for thought in that entry.

Oh, by the way, if anyone reading my blog ever has any comments to make relating to what I've written, please feel free to respond.  I'd love to "spar" with anyone who'd like to engage.  I'm sure I'm not "always" right.......... but I am right most of the time.