I retired from the government of British Columbia on June 21, 2007 after 31.5 years of service . I was actually on pre-retirement leave until October 30, 2007 (which was my official retirement date), but left the office on June 21st. It's hard to believe I remained with the same employer for all these years (since 1976), but I had had a good run. I changed careers twice during that time with the BC government. I worked in private industry for four years before joining government service in 1976 as a photogrammetrist with the Surveys and Mapping Branch, Ministry of Environment. In 1984 I was reassigned to the Development Unit and worked on some very interesting initiatives and projects over the next 17 years. In 2001 I was reassigned to the Information Management Branch, where I managed web infrastructure on behalf of our client ministries until my retirement in 2007.
It has been an interesting government career - one which I had the opportunity to contribute to improving existing systems and also to support the creation of new ones. Virtually all of my work was done as part of a team, and so I must recognize my co-workers. We accomplished a great deal - we were creative, persistent, visionary - and we worked hard over the long term to improve delivery of services to the public through our various Ministry clients. I'm proud of what we accomplished, and I leave government service knowing that the work we did mattered, was appreciated, and helped the province as a whole move forward. Our innovative and hard work enriched our citizens...that's what civil servants are supposed to do.
To those co-workers I leave behind as I move into the next phase of my life, my message to you is to continue to work hard at moving the organization forward. Keep current on the latest technology, and take personal initiative whenever you can. Take some risks, don't wait to be mowed down by change - stay ahead of it, and embrace it! OK, enough of the soapbox...now onto the fun stuff.
The retirement party
On June 28, 2007 my co-workers held a retirement party in my honour at the Olive Grove Restaurant (Victoria, BC). My thanks to Michael, David, and Jordan for coordinating this wonderful party! It was great to meet so many of my co-workers, have a drink and some snacks along with telling a few stories (hey, most of them were true). The arrangements worked well, the food was excellent, and the service from the Olive Grove staff was great (as usual). I heard lots of positive feedback from everyone.
Thanks go to everyone who contributed to my wonderful gifts:
The party photos
Thank you to Ken, Jaya and and Dave O for the photos of the party.
Four weeks later
As I write this on July 19, 2007, it has been four weeks since I left the office for the last time on June 21st. The novelty is now pretty much worn off, so what's changed in my life?
I'm very much enjoying not having to get up to an alarm every morning. I get up most mornings when I want to, make a cappuccino, and take my time waking up. I have never been a morning person, so perhaps more than any other change, I appreciate being able to wake up more slowly now. My routine now also includes my partner and I taking our Jack Russell terrier Tucker for a long walk every day, usually in the late morning. I take along a camera, and come home with photos quite often. Previously, we could only take Tucker for long walks on my days off, so this is an enjoyable and relaxing diversion, and we are appreciating many of the regional parks in the process.
I'm now devoting more time to astronomy (as I had planned). We had some superb clear skies combined with a new Moon (dark skies) a week ago. I stayed out observing until the early morning hours and slept in the following morning. It was great to not have to quit observing early because of a work day. I did this several nights in a row, taking full advantage of the precious dark and clear skies. I'm President of the Victoria Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society. I can now commit to working more on RASC initiatives, and I'm enjoying the interaction with other members who happen to be retired. I can also keep in touch more easily with the astronomical profession here in Victoria, since we have such a rich resource right at our fingertips with the NRC Herzberg Institute on Observatory Hill as well as UVic's Astronomy and Physics department.
I have committed to helping with Canada's celebration for the International Year of Astronomy coming up in 2009, which marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the telescope. This illustrates how a retired person can take on such a long term task, knowing that they have both time and resources to contribute. I'm assisting with the development of the IYA website for Canada. This fits nicely with my skills, and I enjoy interacting with new people across Canada.
I'm taking more time to do things. This may seem obvious, but it is a luxury most working people don't have. If I'm reading a book, I can plan to devote an hour a day to reading instead of trying to squeeze in 15 minutes now and again into my otherwise busy schedule when I was working. If I'm doing a maintenance job around the house, I can take half a day over several days and do a really thorough job, whereas before I would only be able to spare a half hour here and there and do a half-baked job. I can now linger and chat more when socializing with friends instead of rushing off to my next appointment. I'm deliberately leaving my calendar clear of planned events so I can slow down and enjoy life more.
I'm also planning to gear up my little business, JoeTourist InfoSystems. The first step in this process is to upgrade my web server. While I was working at Information Management Branch, there was no way I could face taking on yet another web server "problem". Now that I'm retired, this is a welcome challenge which I can work on over the coming Autumn and Winter. In preparation, I've subscribed to Microsoft's Technet, so I will have access to try out all the software I will require for building a new and improved server. This also stretches my brain in new directions, and I can tackle this task as a private business - a very different approach than I would be able to use while working for the Province on their corporate projects.
Speaking of JoeTourist, I've booked my flights for the astronomy trip to Costa Rica next February, taking advantage of some terrific bargains in airfares by booking so early. Having the flexibility to book flights without having firm ground arrangements is a luxury I didn't have when I previously had to book vacation time. Now precise timing while traveling doesn't matter as much, so I can make arrangements on the fly if I wish. I'm also taking a six day driving vacation to Oregon with my cousin this summer. When I was working, I always used my vacation for "big" warm weather winter trips and taking my alternate Fridays off, which meant no time left for summer vacations. Now my retired life allows me to take little trips such as this one pretty well anytime I wish, and during any season of the year.
I'm being very careful to not volunteer (or be "volunteered") for too many tasks. I want free time...time to develop creativity and to explore my interests in photography, astronomy, travel, and to develop my private business. I'm not interested (at the moment) in consulting work. I've done consulting work over past years (while I was working full time for government), so I know what is involved in this type of business. It's a serious commitment. Not something I want to do right now...not to say I won't consult in the future.
As you can see, retirement is working out for me so far. I'm enjoying myself, and I'm also happy to have more time to be with my little family at home. My best wishes to everyone.