Thoughts about February and March 2007

By Paul

Originally posted: Sunday, April 01, 2007
Modfied: Saturday, April 26, 2008

February 17-24:  Gregg and I went for a week-long vacation in Palm Springs.  This coincided with mid-winter break at Gregg's school.  We flew out of Seattle on Saturday morning to arrive at our hotel around for what proved to be a fantastic 12 hours of fun!  As we were checking in the local bear club was having potluck bar-b-que around the pool.  What a great way to start vacation!  We met dozens of old and new friends, many of them involved with the local school districts. Gregg got an earful of ideas, suggestions and warnings.  We accepted an invitation to another party later that same night at someone's home out near the airport.  By the time we got back to our hotel around midnight, it felt like Seattle and everything we left that morning was a light year away.  An excellent way to start vacation!

The next two days we lounged around the pool, went to some restaurants with other hotel guests and generally enjoyed ourselves.  On Tuesday we packed up moved to another hotel, a timeshare in Indio.  Timeshares aren't the great for me because you must plan your time there a year in advance.  Our decision to take this trip wasn't made until after Christmas.  So the only timeshare units available was a 3-bedroom suite.  My God!  This condo was bigger than most houses I have lived in!  Dan, a new friend in Palm Springs who works in Indio, stayed in one of the rooms (and later bought a timeshare -- against my warnings.)  We enjoyed the "lazy river" and the regular swimming pool, in addition to the hot tub on our private deck.  The only bad thing about our timeshare stay was that I left behind my blue sapphire and gold chain as we checked out. (More about that in the box below.)

All during this week Gregg did spend some time investigating the school districts.  He visited a school, checked in with the district personnel department, and most importantly found out about a teacher's job fair happening on March 10th. 

March 7-11:  I stayed home while Gregg went back to Palm Springs to attend the teacher's job fair.  He flew in to Ontario which makes the air fare a lot cheaper.  It is about 72 mile drive to Ontario to Palm Springs.  On Thursday and Friday Gregg visited many different middle schools in and around Palm Springs, he met with some principals, saw some classrooms.  The bottom line for Gregg was all those warnings he heard before seemed unwarranted.  On Saturday he went to job fair and ultimately was presented with a contract which he accepted.  Hooray!  Now our dreams to move south are a reality.

His late night return flight home was cancelled.  So with only about 4 hours sleep at an airline provided motel, he was back at the airport at 4:30 AM.  I picked him up at SeaTac and we directly to our club's all-weekend square dancing event called a "Fly In".  I had been dancing since Friday night.  Many bitter sweet feelings were expressed by our square dance club members about Gregg's new teaching position in Palm Springs; everyone is happy we get to fulfill a desire, but sad we are leaving the area.  We have enjoyed being a couple of the staunch regulars at all the club events for the last 4 years.

March 12-31:  My big quandary was what to do about work -- when do I tell them I am leaving?  A few people at work had known for a year that I was planning to quit if Gregg could get a job in Palm Springs.  So now it has happened!  Do I tell management now and maybe risk being let go now?  Or wait until 2 weeks before I go?  After a lot of talking with people in and outside the company -- no one really had a good answer.  So I just decided to tell them right now.  It turns out it was the best thing to do.  Because of my age and years of service with the company, my departure is considered a retirement.  (See box.)

On March 16 I had 2 bins delivered from Door To Door.  We pack these bins, they haul them off for storage, and when we have an address in Palm Springs, the bins will be delivered there.  Still a lot work, but it will be good to avoid the "weekend from Hell with the Ryder truck".  Also we can clear a lot of stuff out of the house to make it easier to show when we put it on the market after Memorial Day.

March 24th was a fund-raising bowling event for the HRC.  We bowled for 2 hours in West Seattle.  For this photo op, everyone wore "Gregg Glasses".

Jake, the xxxx family, me and Gregg.

On March 28 Jack started to some "fix up" work on the house.  Based on the advice from some real estate professionals, if we could fix up the kitchen we could get another $20-30 thousand for the house.  Jack figures he can do the work himself and spend about $3,000 on materials.  Why is it I seem to get the kitchen I want just before I move out?  It happened with Nancy too -- I had a gas cook top installed not too long before we split (and sold the house) in 1991.  So right now, I have no kitchen.  The refrigerator is in living room and all cooking is done in the microwave.  Jack plans to have this done by April 8th... I hope so, he is going on a long train trip vacation with Karl on April 9th.

Jack working on wiring.
















Why retire so young?  There are many things that influenced my decision to quit or retire.  Here are the highlights.

  • For years at work we have been told be financially secure for retirement.  Physicians Insurance has always offered a generous 401(k) with 100% matching, plus a 10% of salary donation to private retirement fund.  One CEO gave each employee the book The Wealthy Barber.  Another time at work we had financial planners talk to us about planning for health care and nursing homes in your retirement future.  Believe or not, that lecture concluded with the idea that your 401(k) needed to be worth about 8 million.
  • Early in 2006 there were several of these online "life calculator" questionnaires going around.  This one gave me 11 years to live,  another one only gave me 6.
  • In April 2006 a 61 year old man from work, Jim, a mountain climber who had been to the top of Mount Rainier several times, died while on a relatively easy hike near Snoqualmie Pass.  After the shock, the rhetorical question in my mind, was, "did Jim have enough in his 401(k)"... I guess it doesn't matter now, does it.
  • The first week of June I was attending a class for a new computer operating system.  It was driving me nuts.  Was I going to spend the next year or so mastering yet another set of syntax?  Was I going to die at my keyboard while building up my 401(k)?

Am I financially ready?  No.  But who ever is?  I can't wait to attain some mythical dollar amount.  Am I old enough?  No, but neither was Jim.

Blue Sapphire  The blue sapphire and gold chain was purchased in 1991.  I bought it with money I received after my mother died that August.  That purchase was considered by Nancy, my wife at the time, to be an unacceptable financial decision, and for her the final straw in what was a failing marriage.  She moved out the next day and started her new life.  Ever since that, I always cherished that gem stone for many reasons:  a gift my mother; an amulet prescribed by a Jyotish astrologer; a good luck piece; and a constant reminder of where I have been in my life.

Maybe I am a bit of a Pollyanna, but I found the cosmic joy in the loss of that gem because of what else happened that day.  That is the day Gregg and I filed for our California Domestic Partnership.  So this gem that marked the end of great relationship was lost on the same day that marked the legal beginning of another great relationship.

For what it's worth... I also had been having lots of dreams about losing that gold chain and stone for about a year.  I kept thinking I should get pictures of it and get it insured.  But of course, I did neither.  In spite of the Pollyanna stuff, I was upset about the loss.  It took me about 2 weeks to stop thinking about it and feeling the ghost of it around my neck.