My first computer was a Commodore 64. I think I got it in 1983 but I’m not sure about the year anymore. I bought the monitor, keyboard, floppy disc drive, and dot matrix printer as a package. I envisioned all sorts of purposes for this computer and had high hopes.
I spent a lot of time learning the programming language that was the heart of the 64. I bought books and spent hours adding the code and modifying it to make squares change colors or maybe move around the screen. I distinctly remember spending days troubleshooting code that wouldn’t run. I checked it time and again but couldn’t make it run. After days of desperation, I was checking my code on the printout from my dot matrix printer, only to discover that I had mistakenly substituted a comma for a period in one line of code. I never did create any code that made my 64 useful for any of the tasks that I envisioned but all this experience did come in handy much later when I was an automation engineer for one of the “Big Three” automakers.
I spent a year in Alaska on a remote assignment for the United States Air Force. I dragged my 64 along with me. It was here in Alaska that I discovered the most useful purpose for my 64. Games! My friends and I spent hours flying the Apache helicopter shooting down enemy helicopters and blowing up tanks.
Shortly after I returned from Alaska, we purchased a new IBM computer with something called Windows. The 64 had been replaced. It eventually went to my mother in law. She had big dreams for it also!
People often ask me how I fill my time now that I am retired. It seems a lot of people are worried about what they would do with all the extra time on their hands if they retired. I never worried about how I would fill the time. I couldn’t wait to retire and start doing all the things I didn’t have time for while I was working. So here are five things that I do for fun now that I have the time.
1. Reading. I love to read. I always have ever since I first learned to read so many years ago. We were allowed to stay up later if we wanted to read before going to sleep. So early on I developed the habit of reading in bed before going to sleep. I still read a book every night in bed. I also read 3 newspapers everyday (online versions) and might spend some time reading about something that interests me. This plays well with the second thing I like to do for fun.
2. Cooking. When I was in kindergarten there was a play kitchen in the class room that I liked to play with. The teacher at the time had some concerns that maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to play with the kitchen but my Mother said it was ok and didn’t see anything wrong with it. I have always loved to cook ever since I was able to. I do all the cooking in our household. I find all the different methods fascinating and will study them and practice until I get proficient. I use an InstaPot almost daily, have a smoker, a high quality grill, and now I am mastering my latest method, sous vide. I read everything I can find and then get cooking.
3. Flight Simulator. I am a licensed aircraft mechanic, a licensed drone pilot, have spent hundreds of hours flying, but never have completed my private pilot’s license. I am contemplating getting that license but it is expensive, and then it is an expensive hobby. I decided to build a flight simulator at home and see if I could satisfy my urge to fly. I also figured I could minimize my costs if I could practice flying on the simulator. So far so good. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is amazing. I really enjoy flying around different areas of the world and it keeps my brain active with a fairly steep learning curve.
4. Golf. This is a passion in my life. I could play golf everyday. I have been playing since I was 12 y/o and there are still new things that I learn about golf everyday. I play in 2 leagues and in a tournament golf association. I play about 75 rounds each year and go to an indoor facility to practice during our winter months here in Michigan. I am always up for a game!
5. Beer. I have been drinking beer most of my life but never really discovered what truly good beer was until the craft brewery industry took off. There are so many more types of beer than the lagers my dad used to drink (and I grew up on). I always enjoy visiting a new brewery for the first time. They usually have a beer they are known for. We have quite a few beer festivals here year round and those are also a great place to discover new brews and have a great time.