Friday, December 18, 2015


That's it.  Today was my last day - at least in this go around.

I started working full time in late 1975.  Before that, I worked part time while going to school.  Since '75, I've been unemployed for 6 weeks.  It was '82, during the post-Carter recession, when Fed Head Paul Volcker raised the prime rate to 21.5% (at one point) to stop the near-runaway inflation of the late 70s.  Since then, I've been laid off, but left one job on Friday and started another on Monday. 

Suffice it to say that not punching the alarm on Monday is going to be strange.  A friend who retired and is back (where I just left) said it took about 3 or 4 weeks for it to sink in, and I'm thinking the second week of January will be when I realize I'm retired.  It's the holidays, after all, and the plant shuts down next Thursday until January 5th, so I think I'll be in the Christmas break mindset for a while.  Once everyone is back at work, it will sink in.    

Everyone was asking what I'm going to do.  Projects, of course.  To begin with, all of my ham radio antenna projects begin with the phrase, "when it cools off, ..."  It hasn't really cooled off to the extent it can in a Central Florida December; tonight's forecast low of 52 is probably the coolest it has been since last March, but it sure isn't summer, either.  I need to do some maintenance on my little antenna tower, and see what kind of shape it's in.  I really haven't done a thorough look at all of it in at least a year.  Then I need to fix anything that needs fixing.

The main project is the CNC conversion of my Grizzly G0704, which I've written about many times, and I think I can get that going pretty easily now that I have more than just 3 or 4 hour days on the weekends.  Then comes a bunch of projects, but I don't really have anything chosen, yet.   

I have to admit, though, I'm a radio designer and I'd like to keep my hands in it, perhaps developing a Software Defined Ham Radio - although that market is saturating these days.  One of my good friends sent me email about an interesting option for serious home SDR or other programming options.  Computer graphics giant NVIDIA has put together a small computer based on one of their graphics engines, and calls it the Jetson TK1.  The heart of it is the NVIDIA Kepler GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) with 192 cores.  To control and run that, it has a quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU; similar to the processor on the new model Raspberry Pi, except it's probably faster.  

The Amazon description refers to NVIDIA Kepler chip as having "192 CUDA Cores".  What's a CUDA Core?  The important thing to know about graphics chips is that they're floating point math engines, so at its heart a CUDA core is like the old "math coprocessor" chips you may remember.   Floating point math is more involved for a processor than integer math is, so floating point operations take longer than integer operations.  You may have seen reference to a computer running some number of "MIPS" - Million Instructions Per Second.  The equivalent to Instructions Per Second is referred to as FLOPS - Floating Point Operations Per Second, and a million of them is a MegaFLOP.  The Jetson TK1 runs 326 GFLOPS or 326 Billion FLOPS; almost a third of trillion floating point operations per second. 

At a third of a teraflop, this is essentially a supercomputer in the palm of your hand for under $200.   

I see at least one book on CUDA programming,  which says:
CUDA is a computing architecture designed to facilitate the development of parallel programs. In conjunction with a comprehensive software platform, the CUDA Architecture enables programmers to draw on the immense power of graphics processing units (GPUs) when building high-performance applications. GPUs, of course, have long been available for demanding graphics and game applications. CUDA now brings this valuable resource to programmers working on applications in other domains, including science, engineering, and finance. No knowledge of graphics programming is required–just the ability to program in a modestly extended version of C.
C is not my native programming language, but I've taken a class in it and done enough that I shouldn't be completely wet behind the ears.  I think with some refresher time, maybe online training, I might be able to crack the nut of developing the software and hardware of an SDR. 
The NVIDIA Jetson TK1

So far, I only have one job offer and I can't say for sure how serious it is or if I'm going to do it.  I have some things I'm interested in looking at to supplement income, but for now, I'd like to stay retired.  At least until summer when the weather gets crappy for being outside again. 

The same friend who sent me the information on the TK1 once told me that a previous office mate of his had done a lot of analysis on retiring ASAP or working longer.  This FOAF had done a thick binder of Excel sheets of scenarios.  The conclusion?  "Retire early - and often, if you have to".  In other words, get out ASAP, and if you need to go back to refill the account now and then, worry about it then.  Those are words to live by.


  1. Yes, happy retirement.
    And forget sleeping late, the 40 meter DX group starts at 5 AM eastern.

  2. Congrats SGB! Sounds like I've got a couple years on you, but by careful planning, I've been 'retired' for a few years now. You'll now find out 'what there is to do'; I now wonder how the hell I had time to go to a day job,
    Best wishes on the new career (I'm not kidding!).

  3. CONGRATULATIONS! I'm a few years away from you.
    I've done embedded C since 1990 (embedded automotive, from HC08 to RH850 to SH4 to imx53 to imx6). IF you have any questions about C let me know.

  4. SiG,
    Unless you have allowed yourself to get into serious debt - which would surprise the hell out of me, having read your blog for a while now - you will be surprised how well you can live on a lot less than you made when working. We do still have a mortgage, but we have enough to not only pay it but to be paying down the principal every month as well. SS plus three small retirement checks (both of us get a small one from the VA and I get another small one from the California Highway Patrol). We both chose to pull SS at 62. Ran the numbers and for me, at least, it was going to take around seventeen years for me to break even between starting at 62 or waiting for the full amount at 65. Even longer if you have to wait until 67. They dearly love every one that waits, as the actuarial tables work to their advantage.

    Try it out and see how it works for you for a while before you give into the temptation to pay the IRS half of your paycheck again. You may be pleasantly surprised. After we decided living on a sailboat wasn't to our liking, we bought a good used fifth-wheel RV and a new truck for its reliability (we did have some decent savings in our 401Ks that we cashed in, partly through fear of .Gov "nationalizing" them), but we wandered coast-to-coast quite comfortably, staying in various places we liked for a few months at a time. Including St. George, Utah, where we explored Zion, Moab, Brice, Canyonlands, etc.

    I realize it is a big change, and a lot of guys let themselves be defined by their job, need the prestige of their particular skills being in high demand, but there is so much more to life than working full-time for a paycheck, especially when you see big chunks of it being handed to "Palestinians" so they can kill Israelis, or to muslims in Dearborn, along with their four wives - also on welfare, or to some wacked-out academic given a grant to study why snails won't use a treadmill, or to an "artist" who urinates on a crucifix and takes a "selfie" of it.

    Oops. Sorry, didn't mean to climb on my soapbox; lost control for a minute. Try hard to enjoy your retirement :-)

    1. I've got to say I have a bit of that thing you talk about in your second to last paragraph - being defined by the job and the prestige. This blog is titled that way, after all. The reference is to being the guru who dispenses wisdom to all the kids.

      But I think I'll get over that.

      There will probably be some changes coming here, once I think about it a bit.

  5. Congratulations on a well-earned retirement. I, too, started 'work' in late 1975. I've been a military man, commercial IT specialist, pastor, chaplain, and now I'm a full-time writer. I doubt I'll ever be able to afford to retire, thanks to changing countries and the vicissitudes of exchange rates, but I'm my own boss now, which makes a very pleasant difference!

  6. Sig:

    I'm with you. Probably passed you on the road a few times. Zion is one of my favorite places and I try to discover a new place to go every trip. Let me recommend South Rim Grand Canyon. Not just the visitor's center where you see a thousand people milling about. Take the bus to Hermits Rest and walk back along the rim. Start at 8 am and you will see views 99.9% of the visitors miss. Two trails follow the rim. The inside trail is two feet from the edge (sometimes less), the outside trail is 20 feet more or less from the rim and usually paved. I prefer the inside trail. Early AM you will see deer and elk. In fact I see more elk at the South Rim than I do in Yellowstone. Last trip they had to shoot a bull elk who gored someone (not trying to hype the event just pointing out how common the elk are in the park). Don't miss Mesa Verde, awesome sights and sites to see. Chaco Canyon is another great place to visit.
    Alaska! And not just Alaska but the entire trip. The drive is the best part. I have seen more wildlife just driving to Alaska than I ever see at Yellowstone. The list is endless.

  7. If you want to have some REAL fun, get yourself a lawn chair, a beach umbrella, and a cooler. Dress casually and set yourself up near the road to work the Monday after New Year's. Wave nicely to everyone, and hold up a sign that says "Please work hard today to support my retirement!". Of course, it would be smart to set up across a canal from the roadway to work. Don't want to have anyone "accidentally" run over you...

  8. I am still surprised in retirement by how very different it has been from what I planned. And it is all mostly good.
    RegT is exactly right about the money thing, and yep, took the SS payment at 62. Bird in the hand, and my side of the family tends to cash in our chips early.
    Surprisingly, the biggest hurdle of retirement has been mostly figuring out what new thing I want to try next!
    Although come to think of it, I do know where those rolled up prints are to build a .22 LR gatling gun are. Hmmmm.

  9. Congrats, old friend! I still miss Good 'n Natural Fridays. Consider coming back to an Appleseed! We had one last weekend with 27 at our Small Bore range. you would not have to go to New Smyrna this time!

    1. Hey! I didn't know you were still around! It has been a couple of years since we last chatted. Drop an email some time.