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Friday, March 8, 2002

It turns out I can afford to keep on living if I work until I'm 70. If something happens before then, I'll be eating wish sandwiches and stone soup.

The Social Security Administration sent me a statement letting me know what benefits it thinks I'll qualify for, if I should ever need them. If I had a spouse or children, I'd do pretty well (or rather, they would) if I died this year. Unfortunately, I don't, so I'll have to stay alive.

Based on what the government thinks I'm likely to earn between now and then, they project that I'll be eligible for $951 a month if I retire at age 62, $1,277 a month at age 66, and $1,697 a month at age 70. So I'm shooting for 70, but it's a longshot.

The thing is, when I'm 70, the Boss will be 80. By that time he'll be retired and his son will have run the business into the ground. For all his faults, the Boss is a meticulously careful money manager, and as long as he's around, keeping an eye on things as well as getting us new work, I'll have a job. With Tim, it's a different story.

Once I heard the Boss's girlfriend ask him why he never gave Tim a bonus. "He takes his own bonuses," was his reply. Meaning, Tim pads his hours and his expense account enough that giving him a bonus would be redundant. The Boss didn't seem to mind this, because it saves him from actually giving the bonus. If Tim ever asked for one, I'm sure his father would have an answer for him.

So when the Boss leaves the Company, feet first or otherwise, I'll be working for Tim. I don't cost much (and I don't get bonuses of any kind), so he'll keep me around as long as he can keep things going. My feeling is we'll run out of money and work within a year. And that will be long before I'm 70.

I try not to think about what I might do when all this comes down. I know I should think about it, and I'll have to eventually, but it's a pretty bleak prospect. If I couldn't work at home, on my own terms and at my own pace, I'd be a fairly miserable person.

When I worked in the office, I had to be there by 8:00 am (after a 50-minute commute), but I left at 4:00 pm. Now, I get up at 8:00 and work until at least 5:30, but I take breaks when I need them and have no one looking over my shoulder, so I don't have to pretend to be busy all the time. You don't realize what a blessing that is until you've been under the eye of Big Brother and then manage to escape from that cage.

So I'm not looking forward to finding more conventional employment. Ostrich-like, isn't it? But hey — maybe the Boss will work until he's 80.

At the same moment I was borrowing $10,000 from the credit line Monday to cover bills, one of our clients was transferring $13,000 into our account by wire. As usual (and as usual through no fault of mine), I was a half-step behind. The low-interest credit access checks I wanted to use had expired on February 28, so on top of probably not needing to borrow in the first place, I also borrowed at loan shark rates. Timing, as they say...

Obviously, it's a wonder we're still in business at all. Once the ne'er-do-well heir of the family takes over, it changes from a matter of timing to just a matter of time.

looking southeast from the driveway

House and clouds, seen through afternoon shadows.

Let me just say one thing about ABC's pursuit of David Letterman: Boo! Now, I like Dave and all, but I depend on Ted Koppel and Nightline for a clear and balanced look at the news (and in only half an hour a day). So this deal, however wonderful it might be for ABC and Disney's bottom line, does nothing for me. Letterman's already available on CBS, but without Nightline we'd lose one of our most valuable news resources. I just wanted to say that. I don't expect my opinion to carry any weight with the folks who make these decisions, since they're the same ones who thought Dennis Miller would be a good football commentator.

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