Retirement in a Small Town

I've always been a small town kind of guy.  Living here in Mobile, AL, most would say I achieved my goal until you realize this is a city of about 150K plus.  I guess it depends on your definition of "small."  My definition of a small town is 10K or less.  Preferably less in my case.  Now, the single factor that holds back most retirees is the cliquish society that permeates most townspeople in the Mayberry type small town we imagine.  While I concede that is true in some small towns, the overall congeniality of people in small towns overcomes the snobbery associated with the thought process that new people are viewed as "outsiders."  Most people, in small towns, are not polluted by the insensitivities of living in a cold, impersonal large city. The quality of life in small towns is much higher and crime, generally speaking, is considered much lower.  For the prospective retiree, retirement in a small town is considered a very possible destination spot to settle during their retirement years.  The following towns are considered among the retirement small towns for retirees by USA TODAY's John Brady.

Old Saybrook - Old Saybrook, CT is a very old town of approximately 10,000 residents.  It was founded in 1635.  So, for history buffs who just happen to be retirees, this is a goldmine for you.  Old New England charm and hospitality, along with beautiful beaches makes this a viable choice for retirees seeking an escape from the hectic big city life.

Beaufort, S.C. - I have first hand knowledge of this little town.  It is largely a retirement community with access to all the amenities of the large cities.  It has many social events geared to the retirement genre.  It has a population of about 11K.  But, again, the vast majority of residents are retirees who enjoy the quaint slow paced life of this small Southern town.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here about two years ago.  It is a place I considered relocating to before I decided to stay in my hometown.

Evergreen, CO. - This small little town is located about 15 miles west of Denver.  This little town is more suitable to the more affluent retiree.  It has less than 10K in population.  It does provide access to Bear Creek Canyon, a popular tourist spot as well.

Now, there are many more small towns in the USA suitable for your retirement years if that is your preference.  These are three to consider.  By no means are they the best for the retiree.  I suggest you do research on each small town.  Consider social activities, medical facilities and public transportation as well.  The writer of the USA TODAY article did not provide a lot of research on the above three cities.  So, I suggest you check into them more yourself if you are considering any of the three for your retirement years.  The AARP has a list of ten great small towns to consider.  You can view that article by clicking HERE.


World's Worst Serial Killers - Part I

This will not be a popular topic.  I understand that.  If you are the squeamish type, I suggest you not read this series.  I am going to pick 3-5 of the worst serial killers right now.  I may do more or less as I go along in this series.  This is a very unpleasant topic for a variety of reasons.  The people I list are human monsters.  There is simply no other way to put it.  Some kill for sexual reasons.  Some kill out of the sheer thrill of murder.  No one is exempt from their collective list of victims.  Men, women, children, young or old, rich or poor, it doesn't matter.  I don't pretend to understand the rationale of a murderer.  I certainly will never understand the serial killer.  No one country has a monopoly on the serial killer.  But, it appears that the more advanced countries have more than their share of serial killers.  For the first in this series, we will discuss Javed Iqbal Mughal from Pakistan.

Javed Iqbal Mughal claimed to have killed 100 boys in an 18 month period.  He was originally arrested in June of 1998 for molesting two boys.  Once he was freed on bail, he immediately set out on a sexual and killing rampage.  He would drug these young boys, rape them and then strangle them.  But, Javed Iqbal Mughal did not end there.  He would cut up the bodies of these young boys. He would then place them in vats of hydrochloric acid.  Once the body remnants had liquified, he would dump them in the sewer.  Some of the bodies were kept inside acid drums.  Like all serial killers, Mughal would keep items such as clothing, and would take pictures to keep as trophies of his kills.  The sad thing about it, no one really noticed the disappearance of all these street kids.  Mughal told police he could have killed 500 if he wanted to.  “I am Javed Iqbal, killer of 100 children … I hate this world, I am not ashamed of my action and I am ready to die. I have no regrets. I killed 100 children,” he was reported to have said to investigators.  With this statement, he was convicted and sentenced to hang.  Unfortunately, like all serial killers, Javed Iqbal Mughal was a coward who took the coward's way out.  He hung himself with bed sheets on October, 7 2001. 


New Blog - The Retirement Life

I had originally intended to make a first entry on Worst Serial Killers as part of a series I intend to do.  That will be for another day.  Today I want to promote my new blog, The Retirement Life.  My retirement articles here generated a lot of traffic.  I still plan on doing entries on retirement here.  But, it will be mostly articles about retirement planning or retirement news that retirees may have overlooked. The Retirement Life blog focuses on the lighter side of retirement for the most part.  However, in direct contradiction to what I just said, there will be a serious side as well.  There will be entries on my everyday life, what I'm doing in my retirement and so on.  I'm not educated enough to give sound advice on how you should plan your retirement financially.  However, if i see something in the news that looks promising, I will mention it on The Retirement Life or, most likely, I will mention it here. 

This is really my first endeavor outside blogger.com.  Blogger is great insofar as first timers and newbies.  But, SEO is rather constrained here.  It appears Google has no plans to update this site for SEO for reasons only they can explain.  Now, when you go to my new retirement blog, you will see a basic, bare bones type of site.  I am still experimenting with a few things.  But, I am posting content.  Content is king and always will be.  Those of you 50+. I hope you will give my new blog a visit.  Those of you younger, you are welcome as well.  If nothing else, just say hello.  But, I'm interested in helping those who are approaching retirement.  Just as importantly, I want to help those in their post-retirement years if I can.  I hope to see you there.


Serial Killers Who Were Freed

I was hesitant to do this blog entry.  But, since I have a tilt toward the macabre as of late, I decided I would write this post for one very specific reason.  That reason being, you just never know where these people might show up.  There is only one (that I will mention) that might be in North America.  But, if you're in Europe and reading this, I'd keep my eyes open.  But, before I go naming three serial killers who are currently free, lets get a definition of a serial killer.  A serial killer gets that kind of notoriety when he or she kills three or more people.  The thought process, currently, is that a serial killer's motivation is psychological gratification.  Most serial killers have sexual contact with their victims (ok, lets just call it what it is, it's rape).  But, the FBI says a sexual attack is not always the case with serial killers.  Some of them do it out of anger, the thrill and power it gives them or some just do it because they want attention.  With this brief definition of serial killers out of the way, lets look at three serial killers who are currently free and on the loose.

Nikolai Dzhumagaliev.  This guy is a nightmare that will not go away.  He was convicted of killing seven women.  But, many believe the more accurate number is between 50-100.  Apparently, Dzhumagaliev's demented mission in life was to rid the world of prostitutes.  He would lure them into a dark passageway or alley where he would rape them.  But, it didn't end there.  Dzhumagaliev then would murder them with an axe.  But, it doesn't end there either.  Dzhumagaliev is a cannibal. Yes, he would eat his victims. Even more horrific, he would take his victims, slice and dice them and serve them to his friends over to his home for a friendly game of cards.  He was convicted and sentenced to a mental facility.  He escaped from there once and was recaptured.  Dzhumagaliev served ten years.  He was released and is currently believed to be living with relatives in Eastern Europe. 

Pedro Lopez.  Pedro Lopez is a serial killer from Colombia.  When Lopez confessed his crimes to police, they did not believe him.  Then a flash flood unearthed a grave.  It was a grave of over 300 girls.  Pedro Lopez had raped and murdered over 300 girls from Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.  He was imprisoned in Ecuador.  Lopez served 20 years in prison for his crimes since Ecuador has no death penalty.  That was the maximum Lopez could serve.  He was released back to his native country of Colombia. He is currently being searched for by Interpol for another murder in 2002.  He favors Latin girls, especially those who are destitute.  The possibility exists he may even be in the USA on the southwest border looking for his next victims to swim across the Rio Grande.  He is a monster.
Issei Sagawa.   Sagawa is a well educated man from Japan.  He was a student of literature at the famous Sorbonne Academy in Paris back in the '80s.  In 1981, his first (and apparently only) victim was a Dutch student who he invited over for dinner.  What the student didn't know was that she was the main course for dinner that night.  She was shot and was eaten by Sagawa.  The student's name was RenĂ©e Hartevelt.  There was no other mention of victims by Sagawa by the articles I have researched.  Regardless, he is characterized as a serial killer.  I'm not sure why unless it was due to the nature of his horrible crime of murder and then cannibalizing his victim.  Sagawa served only 15 months in prison for the murder of this unfortunate girl.  He become something of a celebrity in Tokyo (if you can believe that).  Sagawa has actually starred in movies, been a guest speaker at public events and written two books.  I'm hopeful neither one is a cookbook.


Life is a Mystery


As I sit here on a late Saturday night (11/09/13) watching the Alabama-LSU game (which is still very much in doubt....come on Alabama!), I can't help but reflect back on my life.  I turned 62 in September.  That's a long time.  If I live as long as my maternal grandfather, that means about 20 years of living left in me.  If I live as long as my paternal grandfather, that means I probably have about 12-15 years left in me.  Then there is my father, who to my great astonishment, is still alive and dong well as far as I know.  Last time I heard, he was still doing well.  He is 88 years of age.  I won't go into all about my reasons for my estrangement with my father.  But, he has only one and a half lungs. He lost part of one to tuberculosis after WWII.  Now, I know you can't go by the ages of grandfathers and father to determine how long one will live.  So many other factors play a part in determining this.  I do have high blood pressure.  I discovered in a CAT scan this summer that I have aortic calcification.  I am taking medication for that.  It was disheartening to hear this from my doctor.  But, it is all part of the process of living.  You have a date with death the day you are born into this world.  I fully recognize that.  It just goes to show the process of living out your life has many turns and twists to it.  Sometimes, I can't help but speculate on life itself.  Why am I here?  Why are you here?

Now, I do believe in God.  I consider myself Christian, although there are aspects of my life I need to deal with to feel that I have a good relationship with God.  My point is that those that believe in God have a rationale as to why they are here.  It is no mystery to us.  We are all here to fulfill a greater purpose, a purpose for which none of us truly understand.  Maybe we are not supposed to understand since we are mere mortals.  But, one can't help but wonder why he or she is here on this earth.  What central casting call did we answer to be placed here?  Even the most devout Christian must have questioned at least once in their life why they are here.  I ask myself, why are some of the most despicable people in history placed on this earth?  People such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin,  and Mao Tse-tung, men who were responsible for the murder of millions upon millions of innocent people. Was that their purpose?  To murder people?  I don't get it.  What about people like John Wayne Gacy, Jeffery Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, all of which were serial killers?  What was their purpose in life?  Was it to kill, maim and destroy?  Life is truly a mystery if that is the case.  I see no purpose, no good reason for people like that on this earth. 

So, why am I here?  I'm talking about me specifically.  I have had no kids during my life.  I got married late (age 50 no less).  I basically have just passed through life trying not to upset the apple cart, so to speak.  I just tried to stay out of trouble, help my mother during her time of need and just be there for family.  It is hard to believe that is my purpose in this mysterious life I have gone through.  I feel at times I have wasted my life for no apparent reason.  You may say you were put here for a reason, to care for your mother, to help others in your family and friends.  That's a purpose in life?  I don't know.  As my title indicates, life is a mystery.  At least it is to me.  Maybe there is greater purpose that I have not yet seen or heard about in life.  I imagine there are others like me who have reflected in their old age.  We wonder if we made a difference somehow in our life.  I hope I don't look back someday and say I should have done this or that.  I don't want to die with regrets.  Life is too short.  I've heard that since I was a kid.  Maybe I am just now realizing how short life truly is.  And isn't that also a mystery?


Retirement: Happiness is $100,000

Sometimes I question the amount of research journalists do both online and in the quickly dying print media.  For example, Yahoo Finance had an article on retirement that stated, quite plainly, if you did not make at least $100K while you were working, chances are you will not be happy.  The author cited a report that further stated if you "only" made about $75K, chances are you are unhappy now..  Unhappy retirees also have homes that valued about $275K, with the happy retirees homes valued at about $50K more.  They also made the astounding observation that retirees with a mortgage are not happy (Geez, Louise, who is happy with a mortgage?).

Now the author did state that retirees that socked away 20% of their income, into savings, came away with a smile on their face on the last day of their employment career.  I happen to agree with that completely.  In fact, investing about 20% of your income in your retirement plan is a wise course of action.  Of course, when you take into consideration  that you pay about 30% in taxes, that means you have to live on half of your income the majority of your working years.  That's tough to do, especially with kids and a mortgage to pay.  The article also emphasized that you pay off whatever credit cards you have prior to retirement.  That is a terrific piece of advice.  Credit cards are nothing more than a means to live beyond your financial capability.  It's a black hole that millions throw themselves down each year.  The article does have some valid points as I've mentioned.  I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read it (linked above).

I do question the premise that you have to make at least $100K to be truly retirement happy someday.  The majority of the working class don't make six-figure salaries.  However, there are thousands upon thousands of people who retire each year.  Most of them are happy in their retirement years. Most of them never sniffed a six-figure salary.  That's a fact.  Would I be happier if I had made $100K and saved 20%?  Most definitely, yes, I would have.  But, I saved 10-15% and made about $50K a year.  Yes, I do have a mortgage.  But, that is easily being handled right now.  In short, you have to prepare for retirement just as a coach and his team prepares for a football game on Saturday.  Preparation is key when making your retirement plans. I've said this countless times in all the posts on this blog about retirement.  Figure out what your expenses will be, and then deduct them from the income you will derive from all sources in your retirement.  It should be simple.  But, you would be amazed how few people understand this concept.  This article (again, linked above) doesn't speak to this line of thinking enough.  If you prepared for retirement, properly, then there is no reason you can't be retirement happy at half of that $100K salary as I am right now.


Retirement: Ten Years Later

On the 13th of this month, I will be officially retired (just nine days from this post now) ten years from my job with the federal government. It doesn't seem possible it has already been ten years. To quote Dickens, "It was the best of times, the worst of times."  That basically is the best way to describe my ten years into retirement.  I made a post about seven years into my retirement that adequately described my feelings about retirement up to that point. In the three years since that post things are somewhat different.  In that earlier post of seven years into retirement, I discussed how much I enjoyed retirement initially.

I talked about the benefits of not having to get up 5 or 6 days a week for the daily grind.  I enjoyed retirement...at first.  But, as I stated in that post (linked above), everything I was doing got kind of old rather quickly. To be blunt, I got bored by it all.  To top things off, my marriage was rocky prior to retirement which soon escalated to divorce. I did plan financially for retirement.  I can't say that about a number of my colleagues who are now trying to find other employment in their "retirement."  It's sad, but a stone, cold fact some people are like the grasshopper in the Aesop's Fables story of The Ant and the Grasshopper.  I'm not sure how people don't understand they will not always be 25 years of age.  There is an autumn of their life for which they must plan for carefully.  Sadly, many do not plan.  They now must suffer the folly of their mistake.

In the tenth year of my retirement, I am very well settled into a daily life of not worrying about a job.  I don't concern myself with the rigors of establishing a routine around a job which seemed to dominate my everyday life. I don't concern myself with why my old friends didn't/don't contact me after my retirement and then my divorce.  It still hurts, somewhat, that certain people I thought were my best friends ignore me.  But, I've moved on past them.  It is something I will never understand.  Life goes on.  I now devote myself entirely to my writing and the two blogs I own.  I have a small residual income from both as a result.  Retirement, like so many other things in life, is exactly what you make of it.  If you sit around and moaning that you have nothing to do, then you will be bored to tears.  Lots of people engage in their passion, such as hunting and fishing.  They have time for that in retirement....lots of time.  You need other hobbies.  If you enjoy hunting and fishing, more power to you.  But, you need to expand your interests prior to retirement.  If you are 50+, there are lots of activities for you at Senior Centers at most cities in the country.  I've just never been able to get involved in those Senior Centers.  But, that's just me.  You may be different.  You've got time to travel in retirement.  Do it while you are still capable.  I've discovered just recently I may very well be going to the scenic and highly popular tourist site, Aspen Ski Resort.  Which brings me to my next point...

As I mentioned in my post, "Reconciliation:  Life Can Be Strange", my ex-wife and I are on the path toward reconciliation.  In year 10 of my retirement, there have been many twists and turns.  Retirement, divorce and then possible reconciliation with my X is not something I could have ever visualized even in my wildest imagination.  It's been ten years of highs and lows.  The low of 2005.  That was the year I was divorced.  That was the year that Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast and caused major damage to my home of which I had only moved into three months prior to that storm.  It was a horrible year to be sure.  Now, eight years after that event and the tenth year into my retirement, my ex-wife and I realize how much we miss each other, how much we need each other and how much we love each other.  I said some horrible things about her in this blog of which I will have to apologize for so as to be at peace with myself.  That is something I have to do.  In the tenth year of retirement, I am much more at ease with myself, my lot in life and where I am at this stage of my life.  Are there things I need to improve on?  Yes, of course, I do.  That is both in regard to my own emotional demons and physical-wise.  I need to lose weight like so many my age.  

So, that's where I am, right now, ten years into retirement.  I'm more settled into retirement, though not necessarily entirely comfortable.  As stated, I am more at ease about it now.  But, not going to work (after being in the workforce for 35 years) is not something you get over even after ten years.  But, you adapt and you accept.  That is where I really am at ten years into retirement; adapted and acceptance.  I think that sums it up pretty nicely.  

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