Things You Want To Do In Your 40s

Work for myself so I don’t have to work for some myopic middle manager more interested in climbing than doing the right thing?  Yeah, that’d be nice.  Work on something as hard as I can knowing that no one else can walk in on a whim and derail it?  That’d be nice too.  Challenge my technical skills and develop my diverse talents to new levels of excellence?  That’d be awesome.  Have the means to fearlessly explore technology and the world around us?  Brilliant!

$1.3 million doesn’t sound like a lot of money but it would mean a thousand bucks a week until I’m 75 years old.  Somebody better at math and competent with investments could probably figure out a more accurate, lower amount that would do the same thing.  It’s comfortably middle-class, but I don’t really dream of being rich, I dream of being free from work to pursue my passions.  If I could pull that off what would I do with my time?  It’s kind of like retirement, but I want to do it now while I’m still able to do something useful with it.  I don’t think I ever want to retire.

Mechanical Sympathy would expand and become an
income stream of its own. It would be the centre of
an online media empire!

Here’s what I’d aim at if I weren’t busy pulling the plough:

MEDIA MAKER

Writer:  I’d exercise the English degree and write, but not in a specific genre.  I’d pursue motorcycle and travel writing more aggressively.  I’d be happiest freelancing and working once or twice a month on assignment with the occasional larger travel project which would lead to a book.  Lois Pryce is a role model.  While that wasn’t happening I’d be writing fictional novels.  It would be nice to work for established publications, but developing my own brand online would allow for more control over what I’m creating.  I’ve been working in large bureaucracies for too long.

If it’s new and technically challenging I’m into it. 
Having access to that kind of kit is exciting.
I like to be surprised by what new tech can do.

Photographer:  The goal would be to have the work pay for the gear, and the gear I’m looking for is pretty technical.  I’d like to have professional quality photo and video gear on hand, as well as technically challenging tools like aerial drones, full spectrum and 360° virtual reality cameras to test limits and produce original, even experimental work.  If it’s new and technically challenging I’m into it, especially if it probably won’t work the first time.

Digital Media:  Exploring digital media has long been an interest (I teach it now).  Having access to the latest tech, not to consume but to experiment and explore, would be fantastic.  Projects would include VR environment building in CAD and simulation, as well as immersive media creation.  I’m working on a VR research project in school at the moment.  I feel like major breakthroughs are currently happening there.  What we have in ten years will make our screen use today look archaic.

TECHNOLOGIST

I got into 3d scanning last year.  The resolution isn’t
spectacular, but it’s amazing what you can do with
a simple 3d scanner on an ipad.

Mechanic:  I’ve dusted off old mechanical skills with motorcycling, along with some long unused artistic urges.  Customizing motorbikes is an elegant way to combine left brained aesthetic creativity with right brained mechanical expertise; it’s a whole brain hobby!  Having enough time, space and money on hand to chase down old bikes and see customizations through to completion would be grist for the writing and photography mill.

Digital Engineering:  I’m especially interested in micro-manufacturing using digital tools.  Multi-axis milling machines using CAD models offer new avenues into high-tech customization.  3d printers are making advances every day.  Being able to print my own fairing designs would be brilliant.  Being able to print my own designs with dragon scales would be even better.


An opportunity to borrow new technology and see what it is capable of would also be grist for writing and media creation.  If in the process I happened to get very good at producing customized parts, I’d lease the gear and get to it.  As prices fall on what was once expensive industrial grade equipment and digital management makes high tolerance production available to everyone, a new post-industrial age of customization will emerge.

Kawasaki’s H2 supercharger impeller is a thing of beauty.  The technology that built it is becoming more accessible every day.

With table top laser cutters and various other digital tools becoming commonplace, the chance to explore these technologies without safety nannies hand wringing from above would be delightful.  The home garage of the future is going to be a magical place of customized, personal manufacturing.  It would be a blast to have the time and means to explore it.

I really do enjoy teaching, but the vampiric bureaucracies that manage it make working in education feel like giving blood; you’re doing a good thing but you always come out feeling drained.  I’d happily take in apprentices on my own terms and genuinely enjoy helping them discover and develop their talents, I just wouldn’t want to do it in an institution of learning.
 
One of the things I want to do in my forties is stop others from diluting my focus and wasting my time with their own mediocre expectations.

A Good Week for Self Publishing

If you read the blog, then you’ve already gone on our ride around the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.  Motorcycle Mojo picked up the story to run in this month’s (August) edition.

I then got an email from the editor of noplacelikeout.com saying that I’d been included in their recent list of top 25 motorcycle bloggers.  It’s always nice to get a compliment, and I’m in the company of some pretty major bloggers on that list (you’ll find many of them in the blog roll on the right side of this page).

http://noplacelikeout.com/top-25-motorcycle-bloggers/
Top 25

Five or so years ago I stopped playing video games after wracking up 1000 hours on Left For Dead 2 (I was really good!), and then reading Chris Hardwick’s excerpt of The Nerdist’s Way on Wired.  Gaming never got in the way of my career like it did with Hardwick (the breaks I got involved manual labour in 100° warehouses), but that thousand hours spent shooting zombies had me asking myself a difficult question, “what the fuck are you doing with your time?”

Hardwick Nerdist Wisdom


I went cold turkey on video games. I’ll occasionally play with my son, but a single game and not often.  What I did instead was kick off a hobby that I’d always wanted to do (motorcycling) and reinvigorate my dream of getting published as a writer.  A few less electron zombies have been killed by me, but the things I’ve done instead feel a lot more satisfying because they are, you know, actual things.

One of these times I’ll find an angle and get the support to take one of the dream trips I fantasize about over the winter months…
tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/04/a-year-of-living-dangerously.html
tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/05/dash-to-ushuaia.html
tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/05/wanderlust-travel-motorcycle-production.html

…or get a chance to ride one of those dream bikes I read about….
tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2016/08/pretty-things.html
tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.ca/2015/05/money-to-burn-wish-list.html

I do pretty well with what I make, but anything like those opportunities only empowers the writing, giving me more to explore and write about.  Where ever possible I’ll keep pouring gasoline on the fire to make that happen.  It’s easy when you love what you’re doing, and what you’re doing produces real world results.

Sharing Interests to Prompt Self-directed Writing

The idea of genuine communication and showing students teachers as people rather than representatives of the education system has appeared several times on the PLN lately.  Consequently, transitioning from summer to the school year has me overlapping my writing subjects.  This was originally published on Tim’s Motorcycle Diaries


I’m back in the classroom again and teaching English for the first time in more than a year.  I took a senior essentials English class mainly because few people want to teach it (teachers like to teach people like themselves – in this case academically focused English students), and it fit my schedule.  Essentials English is just as it sounds.  These are weak English students who are getting what they need to graduate and get out into the workplace, they aren’t post-secondary bound and tend to find school pointless.

The trick with students this bullied and indifferent to the school system is getting them to read and write at all.  Rather than drag them into a text book or make them watch the department copy of Dead Poets Society in order to prompt some writing, I thought I’d introduce them to my insanity.  In a week where we’re all getting to know each other it helps if students see what you’re into.  Showing your hobbies and interests is a good way to have them become familiar with you and relax a bit.  If they get excited about the idea of planning a trip and it prompts them to write, it’s a many birds with one stone situation.

With some support, students quickly got into planning a trip.  28 days, unlimited budget!

The plan was pretty straightforward: you’ve got four weeks (28 days) starting next Monday.  Assume you’ve got an unlimited budget for a road trip (gotta travel on the ground).  Where would you go?  What would you do?  On the second day I gave them some pointers on Google Maps and some planning tools like a calendar and how to make notes online and they were off.  At the moment it looks like I’ve got pages of writing from students who generally don’t.  The research they’ve been doing also lets me diagnose their reading level.

Needless to say, I bravely volunteered to present first.  It doesn’t feel like homework when you enjoy doing it, and mine was obviously going to be a motorcycle trip.  I probably could have gone more bonkers on bike choice, but I have a sentimental attachment and some practical necessities that prompted my choice (all explained in the presentation).  Rather than go for the South American adventure, I decided to focus on The States, which has tons to offer, especially if you aren’t sweating the budget.

Norman Reedus’ RIDE gave me an idea of where I’d like to go, the question was, could I get to the locations in the show and back home in 28 days?

Here’s what I’m presenting:

 

I presented this to the class two days before it was due.  Seeing an example helps and gave me a chance to explain my own process in putting together the trip (deciding on a vehicle, breaking the trip into sections, etc).  Many of them had collected data but were having trouble formulating it into a written project or verbal presentation (their choice).

 

That photo I doctored of a VFR800 a couple of years ago came in handy!

Another side benefit of something like this rather than a boiler plate reading and writing diagnostic is that is gives students a lot of control over the direction of their writing, which means I get to learn what they’re into, which helps me remember who each person is as well as offering me relevant subjects I can insert into future projects.

I’m hoping they surprise themselves with the results.  If I catch some of them in the future staring wistfully at Google Maps instead of playing pointless FLASH games I’ll know that they’ve been bitten by the travel bug too!

It’s a lot to try and pull off in 28 days, but when the budget is unlimited, I want more miles! Literacy weak students often have trouble with basic digital tools – they were all screen grabbing Google Map images by the end of the first day though.  This’ll help in all sorts of classes.
Into the Rockies ASAP, then down the coast, across the mountains again, and then up the Appalachians home.
Multiple destinations on Google Maps is a simple enough process if you know how.  Everyone does now.

 

Yellowstone!  Riding over a mega-volcano. No one in the class realized we lived so close to this impending disaster.  It led to an impromptu Geography lesson.

 

Death Valley and across the South West to the Twisted Sisters on the way to the Big Easy.
Back north in the Smokey Mountains and Appalachians.
I was thinking maybe an H2R or RC213 in a trailer, but then that meant driving a truck and trailer all over the place.
Better to be on two wheels all the time, and on the descendant of my first bike crush.

Students were very curious about my choices.  How you travel says a lot about you.
 NOTE:  at the end of the course more than half the class chose this project as a summative five minute presentation, and they all exceeded the time, media and planning requirements on it.  Who said English projects couldn’t be enjoyable and engaging?