The Workbench, October 2022


Finished writing Cursing the Darkness, a collection of political hot-takes from the Trump Years. The manuscript is in the box, and I am wondering what to do with it.

Moved into the final editing phase of First Impulses, my first poetry collection. Now trying to decide whether to illustrate it or not. I’ll give myself to the weekend to decide, then put it to bed.

Developed a glossary of camping-related Scouting terms, initially for a master plan I’m helping develop for a Scout Camp, but will probably post it separately as a public resource.

Knocked off of the Bucket List

#21 Attained Brotherhood Membership in the Order of the Arrow

#473 Finished writing Cursing the Darkness

#904 Made jalapeño cornbread for the first time

Other Milestones

Helped run an interfaith bike ride for the Scouts (The Twelve Points Bike Ride) on the 1st.

Completed training to be a Unit New Member Coordinator for the BSA.

Reading of Note

Finished Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Baron Sacks (Of Blessed Memory.)

Finished The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China by Jonathan Kaufman

Enjoyed “When your OCD Therapy is also a treatment for writer’s block” by Elissa Bassist

Projects Underway

Course Director for National Youth Leader Training 2023-4: assembling the staff now.

Serving on the staff of Wood Badge in 2023

Continuing to serve as Commissioner for the Ventura County Council, BSA

People ask me why I’m blogging my post-career life instead of using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, particularly when I’d get so many more hits on those platforms.

My three top reasons for blogging this:

  1. On a blog, I control the format, and I have so many choices as to how to present each post.
  2. Each post on my blog lives as an independent, linkable, commentable entity that I can use as the basis of an ongoing conversation that I can moderate as I see fit.
  3. Finally – and, perhaps, most important: I have no desire to allow anyone – Mark, Jack, or whoever – to profit off of my content.

One Week In, Not On The Road Yet

I pulled out this picture of the northern approach to the old Ridge Route (looking south into Grapevine Canyon) as a sort of talisman, a charm if you will, in the hope that it would help me in my effort to get started on my list of road trips before age, global warming, or TEOTWAWKI make such trips either too expensive, too politically incorrect, or downright impossible.

A potent combination of consulting work, preparations for our Council Camporee, and an impressive honey-do list are all conspiring to keep this newly-minted retiree off the pavement and stuck to the 10 wheels of my Herman Miller Aeron chair. The road will need to wait a bit, so bear with me.

Meantime, there’s still lots going on and lots to share, so stay tuned. 


Eight days till retirement and I’m averaging 15 work hours per day and 5.5 hours of sleep per night. Five months ago I figured at this point I would be marking time, like Warren Schmidt.

Apparently not.

Just as well. Schmidt should be nobody’s post-career role model.

Last week was a 75 hour work week. This week will be pretty close. I’m drained.

All I can think is that G-d is laying this week on me so that when I retire at the end of the month I will have absolutely no regrets.

The Stepaway

For most of my working life, I thought retirement was a dumb idea. Working was good. It gave me routine, purpose, and a paycheck. My first boss, Larry Powell, worked well into his eighties. My longtime role model, Harold Burson, worked into his nineties. My in-laws retired from the military in their sixties but kept working well into their seventies. All of them stayed lucid, active, and healthy.

Retirement I saw as G-d’s waiting room, a long, slow wait for illness, incontinence, and an appointment with the mortician. My dad essentially retired in his early fifties, was diagnosed with dementia at 64, and died six weeks before his 69th birthday. I had seen others retire, move to Palm Springs, and go into terminal decline. The lesson as I took it was clear, and I swore that I would exit the day they carried me out feet-first.

As with many things, life happened, and my view became more nuanced. My marriage went through a mid-life crisis and, thank G-d, came out the other side. My son, our only child, started dating and went off to college. COVID hit. Burnout happened, and I didn’t even notice.

In the meantime, great things had come into my life. Our move back to the US had proven profoundly positive. My involvement in the Scouting movement became a source of fulfillment. I reconnected with my faith in a way that was more meaningful and sustainable. For the first time in my life, I had activities – avocations – outside of my working life and enjoyed them immensely. And I had begun keeping a list of things I wanted to read, write, do, make, and achieve while I still walked the Earth, and that list was beginning to fill a notebook.

Perhaps as important as all of it, I rediscovered the vocation I had always wanted and never had the resources our courage to take: scholarship.

And my family. Oh, Lord.

One night, as I was adding item #496 into my Bucket List (seriously, not hyperbole), my wife and son staged an intervention. They sat me down as if speaking to an addict. My wife told me that she knew I had been working for many years to support the family and that we were now in a position that would allow me to pursue the activities that gave me the deepest fulfillment. My son put his hand on my shoulder and, summing up, said, “dad, it’s your turn.”

I wept long into that night, overwhelmed by gratitude, humility, and pure relief. Finally, finally, I was able to face what I had been burying for a very long time. And I vowed that this new phase would be anything but a gold watch, golf, gin, and grandkids: I would step away from my career, but what I would step into would be a different kind of post-career life.

After a lot of thought, I reached out to the founders of my company. They were supportive and understanding, especially when I told them it would not be immediate but five months hence, giving the company and I adequate time to plan and adjust without causing disruption.

A load was lifted. There was no guilt, just resolve. The fifth phase of my life would begin August 1, and I was going to do it right.

That fifth phase is what I will chronicle here. Join me as I redefine the post-career life.

Countdown: 68 Days

It is May 25. Short-timer’s syndrome (the adult version of senioritis) is starting to kick in.

Phase V starts August 1st. More about that in a bit.

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