Saturday, May 30, 2009

803 - Transitions

Retirement is all about transition - at least a successful one - from one speed to another.  Usually that means from an all out, full speed ahead, with all the caffiene possible velocity, to one that is, well, not so much.  Over the last few months, a number of long time friends and colleagues have been retiring and it has caused me to resurrect my Retirement Countdown topic.

For those of you who weren't a part of the original series, this began as a result of an accidental discovery that I had (at the time) 2185 days left until I was eligible to retire.  Now with just 803 days left until I turn 55, it has simultaneously been a quick journey to this point and one that seems to have taken an eternity.

But, back to transition.  Over the years, I've seen many of my friends who have made the successful transition from work to play, have done so by planning well in advance for their new environment.  The ones who struggled, didn't plan and didn't know what they were going to do after leaving Day 1, finishing Day 0, then beginning Day +1.  They simply drifted.

But planning is the name of the game.  It takes effort to shift gears and planning is the way to effect that change.  As I've mentioned before, I very much enjoy what I do for a living, so I may not necessarily be in a hurry to change that.  However, planning is the key and plans can change. Better to have a plan and change it, than... we'll you get the picture.  After 32+ years, it may be time to do something else - something at a different speed.  But what?

As 803 quickly diminishes and Day 0 comes onto the horizon, my planning will begin to get more assertive - starting with today.  My first task is to ask you:
  1. If you are retired, how did you plan for your transition?  Did you do it alone or did you have help?  Did you have a lifelone hobby that was screaming to escape, or did you have to find something to fill your time?
  2. If you are not yet retired, how are you planning for your eventual transition?  What resources are you using for assistance?  Do you feel like it's working or do you need to try another strategy?
Blogging is all about exchanging ideas - that's how we learn and grow.  Let's exchange some ideas on the best ways to transition from fast to slower.



Monday, May 25, 2009

Staycationing Guide Provides Map

I had so much fun with the Staycationing post, I decided to publish a Part 2.  This was a result of looking for more information on the subject.

Leave it to our old friends at Amazon.

From Amazon:

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
Layoffs are rampant, gas prices are volatile, airlines are cutting flights, and Americans are feeling the economic pinch of a recession. As much as we hate it in this country of big dreams, big cars and Big Macs, we have to find a way to cut back. For many Americans, that means turning the Great American Vacation into a “staycation,” which is the big buzzword of the year, having appeared in articles everywhere from to Newsweek. But what does a staycation really mean? Newspaper humor columnist and frequent staycationer Matt Wixon shares with readers the definition of a staycation as well as:
  • Rules for a successful, satisfying vacation at home or nearby
  • Motivation and encouragement for people who can’t afford the big, traditional vacation
  • Ways to make the most of time off from work
  • Strategies and experiences from more than a dozen staycationers, as well as hundreds of Internet links and specific ideas to help plan a vacation in your hometown.
From alternatives to destination theme parks to making the most of out local amenities to reigniting the flame in a relationship, Americans will find this guide a humorous and invaluable guide to staying home on vacation. 

About the Author
Matt Wixon (Dallas, TX) is a writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News who has three sons ranging in age from almost six years to almost six months. His parenting duties include piggyback rides, administering timeouts, and explaining to his kids that self-flushing toilets cannot hurt them. Mr. Wixon and his wife of twelve years, Janell, have made most of their vacations staycations since having kids.

A great guidebook for vacation exploring close to home.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Staycation for the Best Vacation Experience

Many people have used, and some have claimed to be the originator of the term "Staycation" as a reference to vacationing close to home.  The term is brilliant and the concept is genius.

Are you a "Staycationer?"

This is the first real posting in the new Gresham Blog Topics, but the concept is sound regardless where you live. I was born in nearby Portland and have lived all my life in East County (the last 20 years in Gresham) and I can't tell you how many local attractions I seldom visit and I'm embarrassed to admit how many I've never seen. I suspect I have plenty of company.

But let's change that, shall we?

In addition to this being placed in the Gresham topics, I am starting a new Staycation topic as well. It doesn't matter where you live - there will be opportunities for you to share your perspectives. For example, if you live in the greater Gresham, Oregon area, share your favorite Staycation locations and activities.  If you are outside the area, state, or country, please share your strategies, tips, and tricks on how you enjoy vacationing close to home. How do you get the most from your Staycation trips?

Here's a few Gresham-centric ideas to get the juices flowing:
  • Have you hiked the Springwater Trail from Boring (yes, you out-of-towners, that is the real name of a beloved local Gresham neighboring community) to the Willamette River in Portland?
  • Have you packed up the kids and made a day out of picnicking at beautiful Blue Lake Park on the shores of the Columbia River?
  • Have you ever driven to Hood River (either I-84 or the old highway has great views) and taken the Mt. Hood Railroad train and enjoyed the Sunday Brunch ride to Parkdale and back?  This is a great old train with cars ranging from an impressive dome car to an exhilarating open coach for a true outdoor experience!
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Here's your assignment, class:
  1. What other Staycation ideas can you offer, for those of us in the Gresham region?
  2. What experience-enhancing tips and tricks can you share with your fellow Staycationers?
Class dismissed!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Blog Topic: Gresham

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, (Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn)  Mark Twain provides the simple, but powerful advice to "Write what you know."  Many people have used various forms of this over the years, quoting and mis-quoting, but the sentiment is so strong, it works in any manifestation.

I am trying to heed Mr. Twain's advice.

As you read recently in Let the Games Begin, a friend pointed out that The New Blogged Word simply wasn't getting the attention it deserved.  Most of my attention lately has been spent documenting my learning of the blogging world in my other blog called the Ultimate Blogging Toolkit.  Since I'm as likely to play against him as I am to play with him in our tennis rotation, I don't want to upset him. So here goes.

To kick off a rejuvenated The New Blogged Word, it would be appropriate to honor Mr. Twain and write about something I know.  Based on that, a new topic is being created called "Gresham."  But first, an apology.

The analytics I track on visitor profiles shows that visitors to both of my blogs come from all around the world and from all parts of our country - and not just inside the city limits of Gresham, Oregon. For those of you outside the area, please bear with us locals.  I pledge to not make this a blog just with Gresham content, although that is a project about which I'm thinking.  I will try to pepper my posts with a variety of topics - and some will pertain specifically to Gresham.  However, in all cases I will try to offer thought-provoking topics on which anyone from anywhere can weigh in.

I have a number of topics up my sleeve and will share them over time.  But for now, I'd like some input from local Gresham residents (sorry you out-of-towners.)  On which topics do you want to engage in conversation?  Are there issues begging for a debate?  Are there matters that need more attention brought to them?

Suggest what you know; I'll write about what I know; we can debate about what everyone knows.

What say you?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JA Biztown: Kids Conducting Commerce

After eight years on the School Board, I finally have an opportunity to participate in Junior Achievement's "JA Biztown."  This is an area of curriculum provided to schools that culminates in a field trip "simulation" at the Junior Achievement facility.

"Simulation" is used to describe the event since it allows 5th grade students to use their new skills in writing checks, making deposits, updating check registers, issuing invoices and much, much more.  All of this in the simulated environment of a small town square.

Local Portland area merchants and companies support the program by lending their names (and I'm sure some resources) to help make this happen.  From their web site, the Partners are:
  • Key Bank
  • Trans Canada
  • Allstate
  • HSBC
  • Quest
  • CB Richard Ellis
  • PGE
  • Best Buy
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • IBM
  • Portland Business Journal
  • Fred Meyer
  • UPS
  • Northwest Natural
  • Intel
  • Northwest Sign Council
  • Kodiak Pacific-Hamilton
  • Associated General Contractors (Oregon Columbia Chapter)
  • Northwest Sports
As you can see, there are some heavy hitters in the local community supporting Junior Achievement's efforts.

The best way to describe the experience is to simply quote two paragraphs from the JA Biztown page on the web:

JA BizTown is a dynamic, hands-on learning simulation that engages students in the American free enterprise system, and exposes them to business, entrepreneurship, and financial planning. Serving schools and students throughout the region the center and its program will be models for workforce development, economic education and state-of-the-art experiential learning.

The students' experience varies from working in a bank, a real estate business, or a retail store, to managing personal finance such as writing checks and bookkeeping. Prior to the day-long visit to JA BizTown, students complete an in-class curriculum on economic concepts. Then it's off to JA BizTown, where everyone participates in a hands-on simulation.

Today was simply my two hour orientation and I'm already jazzed over the idea.  Look for a comprehensive recap after the event in a few weeks.  Check it out for yourself at Portland's chapter of Junior Achievement.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let the Games Begin

A good friend and tennis buddy today suggested that The New Blogged Word was getting a bit long in the tooth.  He parted my hair about following the Bathroom Remodel and then not much has happened except for changing to the new URL.

He's right.

I tried to explain that the newest blog, the Ultimate Blogging Toolkit, was intended to be my way of documenting what I'm learning about blogging.  A more serious look.  Also, that The New Blogged Word was meant to be a not-so-serious look at blog topics.  I know.  Lame excuse.  He was still right.

So, in the spirit of rightfully having my hair parted, I pledge to keep both The New Blogged Word fresh with a fun look at topics and The Ultimate Blogging Toolkit updated with all the tips and tricks I learn as I continue to blog.

But there's a return to every serve.  (Get it?  Tennis reference?)  If I keep serving up oddball topics of discussion, I expect the multitude of dedicated followers to weigh in with comments - and you both know who you are!  

John, thanks for the encouragement.  Let's the games begin!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Entrecard Builds Relationships

Entrecard is the community I use in my other blog, the Ultimate Blogging Toolkit.  There, bloggers are exposed to the blogs of many fellow Entrecard members and are encouraged to engage in discussion.  In my post there called "Entrecard to Increase Blog Traffic" I talk about how the Entrecard "card dropping" works.

For a little fun, I've placed a widget on The New Blogged Word to test out it's use.  Since the Ultimate Blogging Toolkit is a bit more "serious" I've decided to do my testing here.  Have fun, all you Entrecard droppers!


Friday, May 1, 2009

H1N1 Is Everybody’s Business

On the surface, the H1N1 Virus doesn’t have anything to do with advancing the art of blogging.  But as an issue that does potentially affect every person on this planet, it does by default, affect us bloggers.  I don’t normally react in “knee-jerk” fashion to issues.  My responses are usually calculated and logical (although not always!).  My hope that in this case, logic continues to prevail.

Notice the new widget I just placed on the right panel.  With links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and theWorld Health Organization, this is an easy way for me to do my part to keep this serious issue at the top of mind for all of us.  It is important for all of us to be vigilant in our efforts to stem the spread of this disease.  Like Mom said, “wash your hands, cover your mouth and go to the doctor if you’re sick.”