Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why Paris?

My first visit to Paris came in 1984. I was young and impressionable, as all young people should be. I fell in love.

My then girlfriend picked me up at LAX and took me to Safeway before returning me to my apartment. I looked around the supermarket, considered those who were shopping, thought about the quality of the fruit, vegetables, and meats and said something which I forever regret not following through on. I asked my girlfriend to take me directly back to the airport. I was willing to say goodbye to her and to the USA right then and there. She suggested I get some sleep first.

Since then, I have visited many cities in many countries around the world. I feel that Japan is the most exotic, safest country a Westerner can visit. I think south India is the most complex society with the deepest sense of spirituality of any of the places I have traveled to. I believe that Berlin and Germany in general are the cleanest places to live in. Canada is fairly interesting, what with it's First Nation Peoples, English, and French all mashed into one country. Mexico and Singapore warrant further exploration for me, but only in a future lifetime.


The move to Paris comes from considering two opposing aspects. The first aspect is considering what is pushing me from the USA. From this position I believe health care costs in the USA to be incredibly high and provide little commensurate benefit. Every time I write the insurance check I feel I might as well have put the money in a burn barrel and watch it go up in flames.

My current unemployment benefits cover my health care costs and leave me practically nothing except what covers the cost of utilities and telephone. That's it. Completely. I don't know how people can possibly live this way. Particularly in a culture where participating in an economy is so important. I have nothing, literally, to contribute to the economy after buying health insurance and paying the most basic bills. My wife's source of income pays for the food.

The second aspect is what is pulling me to France. After all, we have experience in many other places which might make nice places to retire out of the US from. As you will learn if you follow this blog, there is a thing that kept me somewhat sane while working under extremely trying conditions. I am a photographer by passion, if not by trade. There is that part of me that feels a strong sense of art, history, culture, society, and my place in experiencing life.

I can say this about Paris: The light is incredible!

My stomach says: The food is phenomenal!

My mind says: These French are intellectual!

My heart says: Let's call this home.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Out of America

After working nearly 30 years as a software engineer, functional and program manager, I have been laid off.

Like millions of Americans, my job was deemed too expensive and, even though some of what I did required US citizenship, the work has been transferred to China. I suspect that once they get digging into it they'll quickly realize there's no back-filling my position "offshore".

Having watched as US industry rots from the inside out I have rather strong feelings about how business is conducted these days. With CEO compensation many many times the salary of their employees, it's hard not to be cynical about US "business."

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when what employees knew and how it could be applied to building things that could be sold to make a company profitable and a society sustainably earning money was deemed valuable and worth paying for.

I knew this day would come.

I am now forced into early retirement. At my age, there is little chance that I will find a job, let alone one that pays what my last job did. I'm too old and too expensive. I know too much.

In working on a retirement model, I realized that my wife and I could sell our house and live anywhere we chose. So it's the best and worst of times. While I hoped to work several more years, we're now freed up to pursue our wildest dreams.

How is this possible?

My wife and I have never bought into the idea that perception is everything and that we deserved to buy "stuff" that filled our lives and our home. We never believed that "Stuff" might make us happy for anything more than few moments. Instead, we worked and saved and lived a different set of values.

In this way, we are fortunate to be able to look at our current situation with cold hard eyes and calculate what needs to be calculated and put into action the very things which will lead us away from America and into a new life. At this point in life, it's good to be granted One Last Dream.

We are moving to Paris, France.