Old but not Obsolete

The job advert might as well had said, “Need not apply: Old, retired computer nerds.” I sometimes browse through the IT section of job adverts to amuse myself and to remind my inner nerd that it’s a cruel, cruel world out there for older folk from all walks of life and professions. I might not last the morning on the job dealing with a supervisor on the data center floor who doesn’t know that “head” and “tail” are not sexual innuendo, that POTS isn’t the plural form of pot, or that forcing a memory core dump doesn’t mean I suffer from bowel incontinence. I’m implying that some people don’t even know what a phone booth is, let alone that “tip” and “ring” have nothing to do with leaving a tip at the restaurant or wearing an engagement ring. The chasm between old school nerd and their modern contemporaries is a wide one, and I applaud those nerds who can bridge the gap with technical history and mentoring, the latter of which is an endangered trait.

So what do old, retired computer nerds get themselves into when they leave the data center collective? I hope they live long and prosper and get a new hard disk, but I can only speak for myself. In 2012 I took up guitar and music lessons to challenge my mind and arthritic hands while I’m not battling my love-hate relationship with writing. I also quench my nerdy self with copious amounts of tinkering with Propellor and Raspberry Pi boards and repurposing unused technology.

Sun Farm
Raspberry Pi 2modB
Alan Turing
Bombe Rebuild
Voynich Manuscript

I was all excited over participating in NaNoWriMo 2015, but after a few attempts I couldn’t get my mind off existing projects—both musical and writing—long enough to run with a new idea for 30 days. I already have a huge writing project that requires an enormous amount of technical research on such topics as quantum mechanics, ancient history, Neanderthals, genetics, biology, and organic computing. Add to that pile the effort of taking care of my elderly mother, and I find my days are quite filled with purpose.

I believe hitting the deck running is essential the day after you leave the office for good. It’s very easy to slip into a routine of self-indulgence if there’s nothing to challenge your mind and body. Learn to play an instrument, create characters in your head and write about their adventures, or build kinetic sculptures—just don’t spend so much time in front of the Telly that your brain rots in situ. The important thing to recall everyday is that old does not mean obsolete and old nerds do it slower.


  1. Indeed, Kenny, as we retire it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that’s it, we will live out our life surfing tv channels, while lingering, a slow, quiet death, on the couch … Nope! Never going to happen. Not to me at least. I sort of semi retired a few years back, doing only a few bespoke jobs for some of the big name publishers, through the very few contacts I still had left. But as those people took early (forced retirement) and or, got the pink slip, those jobs dried up, like my enthusiasm, for publishing in general. So much so, that last year, I too took the plunge, left the workforce behind, set up my own websites, and started my own work projects for my own benefit and enjoyment.

    Write for me. Create for me, and play in my various sand boxes to my own heart’s content. I’m hugely grateful to the fact I can do this, and I have a supportive partner who lets me dabble. But then, in return they get the benefits of my home cooking, and a warm loving cosy home.

    Retirement? Nope, I’m on my second, or is that, third wind? And I’m not about to stop to look over my should, and see what I’ve left behind.

    • Kenny says:

      And…We’re now under no obligation to give the boss a rotten apple as a token of our appreciation for commanding the USS Mismanagement. We answer to our good selves and make sure the home is safe and well stocked with FOOD. We’re on the same page, Alexandra, er, on the road less traveled. It’s refreshing to acknowledge that the hardest part of the day is to decide what kind of mischief to muster up. Um…More taboo subjects are frothing up in my cup of Joe.

      • Oh how I love that I gave up working for the man so long ago, to be my own boss. No one to tell me how or when to work. And I chose my own hours, whether at the crack of dawn, or late into the wee small hours. Such was my choice, Kenny. Hard graft that very rarely paid for the hours worked. So now, as you said, we answer to only our own whim and what shall we cook for dinner tonight? Life couldn’t get any simpler, nor more happier in its own strange way!

        • Kenny says:

          Despite my caregiving obligations, I still believe life is good and wonderful. I couldn’t do what I do if the man is sucking all the life out of me with all their incompetencies. I left that dungeon and I ain’t going back, unless it’s stocking shelves at the grocery store. Write on, Alexandra!

  2. rick says:

    Healthy and insightful about choices we can make or not make for sustaining a fulfilling life after leaving the work force. I too am adapting and putting my energies to activities that give me more joy and motivation. Happy trails my friend!

    • Kenny says:

      I’m discovering aging is a learning process in and of itself. We have options, a lifetime of experiences, and only need to find the motivation to do something that enriches our lives. Thanks for stopping by Rick.

Comments are closed.