The Funnier Side of Retirement

Greg McMillan and Stan Weiner, PE bring their wits and more than 66 years of process control experience to bear on your questions, comments, and problems. Write to them at controltalk@putman.net.

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Greg: To amuse ourselves and hopefully others, Stan and I have put together a totally non-serious book that takes advantage of our strange sense of humor and recent extensive field experience in a technical area close to our heart— retirement. 

Stan: The title is The Funnier Side of Retirement for Engineers and Anyone of the Technical Persuasion. It is a small book with large type for seniors and lots of cartoons by Ted Williams. It is scheduled to be published by ISA, who has graciously published a series of our literary achievements from How to Become and Instrument Engineer: The Making of a Prima Donna to The Life and Times of an Automation Professional—an Illustrated Guide. The following is an excerpt from the chapter, “How to Have a Timeshare and Not a Cow.”

Greg: Hey, Stan, what are some new ventures that take would advantage of our talents?

Stan: What is with the hay? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a cow. Of course, I can’t remember what I had for lunch either, but it certainly had nothing to do with cows, unless it was a roast beef sandwich. I might have seen cow when I lived in Missouri, but not intentionally. Hay, Greg, indeed. 

Greg: Hey right back at you.

Stan: Greg, you oversized, overstuffed Nordic Scotsman. I have more important issues, like saving the everglades, and last I heard, there are no cows in the swamps adding to the methane problem. Stop talking about livestock or dead stock. We don’t want to promote the northeastern attitude that everything between New York and Los Angeles is cow country.

Greg: Stan, is dead stock kind of like a Woodstock for deadheads? Gosh, are seniors who can’t remember anything since their last Grateful Dead concert called “double dead heads?”

Stan: You are a triple threat.

Greg: I spent a weekend on a cattle ranch. All I heard was some occasional mooing and grunting. I don’t know what the occasion was. The cattle seemed about as zoned out as some of the leftover hippies at the Concerts in the Park in Austin. It wasn’t a pretty picture (the ranch I mean). I couldn’t discern the mud from the cow patties. My move from Missouri to Texas had nothing to do with getting into cattle.

Stan: Do you have hay in your brain? Are you the modern day scarecrow of “Greg in Wonderland?” Get off of this cow bit.

Greg: OK, I was thinking how much we enjoy our grandkids and how much they enjoy us, even when we don’t have cows. Small, large and even teenage grandchildren are more fun than seniors should be allowed to have.

Stan: Some seniors don’t have enough or any grandkids and some have too many. How can we balance supply and demand?

Greg: How about timeshare grandparents? We could publish a catalog that describes the many amenities of our communities and talents of our senior residents. We could change the name of the favorite habitat of seniors from “Sun City” to “Fun City.”

Stan: We would have to provide a color- coded rating for the exchange program. For example, Naples, Fla., would qualify as a Green zone. The kids can go swimming year around.

Greg: Austin might be in the yellow zone because of the weather. We could advertise ice skating during ice storms. If the kids are aspiring musicians, we can probably get them a gig. There are hundreds of live music venues besides the grandparents’ media room. If they need more practice, we can just turn down our hearing aids, rock in our chairs and slap our knees.

Stan: We would also need to note the educational opportunities. There must be something in our vast accumulation of experiences that would be of value.

Greg: I could teach them how to tune an advanced pH control loop and simulate a bioprocess.

Stan: I think all they need to know about pH control I can show from my swimming pool, and I am not sure they would want to be able to duplicate any of your bioprocesses.

Greg: I think we need to move on to stuff that will really make us senior stars and a household name.

Stan: Since we don’t have much time, how about following in the footsteps of Charo and other one-word wonders?

Greg: She moves too fast and talks too fast for me. Besides I don’t think anyone is going to pay to see me say “Goochie-Goochie” and wiggle my hips. Maybe I could do something more Texan and rugged and say “Howdy-Howdy” and wave my hat.

Stan: It better be a hard hat in case they throw things at you. Since we are former geeks of the highest order or disorder, how about we say “cool-cool” and wave The Life and Times of an Automation Professional? 
We could do period pieces. For the 60s we could wear tight pants and brightly colored shirts with plunging necklines—like Ricky Martin without the sex appeal—and wave slide rules. For the 70s, we could wear leisure suits and wave calculators. For the 80s, we would dump the suits, but stay with polyester and try to wave the first portable—or, more accurately, luggable—Compaq computers. For the 90s we would wear the same old stuff because we obviously didn’t care about personal appearance anymore, and the polyester never wore out. This leads to great thoughts, such as why can’t we be more like polyester and not be so biodegradable.

Greg: How about we create a “Senior Amusement Park”?

Stan: One of the feature attractions might be “Senior Bumper Cars.”

Greg: We could have Buick bumper cars. We could make it figuratively and literally really big in Texas. It could be set it up with intersections, traffic lights, 70 mph speed limits and cows. The Buicks would be limited, of course, to 30 mph for safety and realism.  Seniors could practice driving in the passing lane just in case there is ever a left-hand turn.

If seniors miss a turn, they would be required by senior standards to stop and back up. For acceleration lanes, stopping would be mandatory.

For added excitement, pickup trucks with cow bumpers higher than rooftops traveling at 80 mph would be driven by construction workers who enjoy a little sporting activity.  At crowded intersections, instead of waiting for an opening, seniors, in time-tested tradition, would be required to inch out and rely upon the skills of drivers to Dodge them or Ram them (Note token tribute to Dodge trucks in an attempt to secure Chrysler sponsorship).

Stan: Now that we have our readers are on the edge of their seats (probably to make a beer run rather than to order this book), we conclude with the assurance that any royalties received after paying for complementary copies for our friends and relatives will be used to set up a non-profit website for the “Adventures of Seniors Gone Wild.”


This Month’s Puzzler: Keep Your pH-ing Distance!

How far downstream of a static mixer should pH electrodes be installed?

Send an e-mail with your answer to the Puzzler, CONTROL questions, or comments to controltalk@putman.net.

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