When is the best time to take Social Security?

February 28th, 2011 by John Morris

This is no minor issue. Our government gives folks a chance to retire at the relatively tender age of 62 with 75% of the full benefit package. If the applicant waits four years, they’ll receive the missing 25%. If you take it in between these milestones, it becomes a math problem for the local SSI clerks.

My decision at 62 was to stay out of social security until 66 because I plan to live past the breakeven point of 82*. My thoughts all along are I can work now and survive on its output, but the 82 year old me shouldn’t be working and will really welcome those extra bucks. He’ll probably buy food, electricity or rent with it. Or maybe he’ll find yet another way to spoil his grand-children.

When I was in my 30s, I truly believed social security would not be here when I reached retirement age. I nervously watched the US Congress monkey with it both harming and strengthening it. Sure enough, here I am and here it is. I wouldn’t want to be around when the money flat runs out and folks get bupkis+. There should be a massive outcry.

* If an applicant retires at 66, it will take 16 years of collecting full benefits to equal what the same applicant would have collected by accepting 75% at age 62.

+  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bupkis

Today’s pondering: (1/50)6

February 27th, 2011 by John Morris

(1/50)6 is the mathematical probability of a monkey writing Hamlet by striking typewriter keys an infinite number of times. This also holds for the word, “Banana”. It’s a number so unfathomably large it allows for such an unlikely success.

Imagine the massive logistical problems this theorem would create. Imagine an endless supply of monkey to take turns typing; acres of reams of paper for printing and their resulting disposal, and finally enough people to read the dribble in search of Elizabethian verse. Imagine the referees’ call if the results produced only Moby Dick.

I imagine if we put this idea to a test we would have 100% employment, but I can’t imagine would fund such a worthless endevour?

Right, America’s Congress.

This blog was my attempt to write one of those trendy “vanity cards” we view for one second after every Chuck Lorre TV sitcom like Two and a Half Men.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Lorre

It was a typically slow, post-Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, and writing this was fun.

My day as a hobbit

February 14th, 2011 by John Morris

In the late 1960s, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was a fashionable read. This mid-earth fantasy preceded his trilogy, The Lord of the Rings and features a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who left the security of his home to seek adventure.  If you made it to end of the book – and thought you understood it, you had bragging rights above the legions who failed to complete the assignment.

Today was my hobbit day.

This was my day to be part of a “Posture and Orientation in Older Adults and Post-Stoke” research study at Temple University. Part of my adventure was to travel today using SEPTA’s low cost or free rides for seniors. Thank you,  lottery players.

I caught the 7:18 a.m. express train to Philly to allow buckets of extra time. First thing I learned, after paying my paultry $1.00 fare, was today’s 7:18 a.m. express would be a cattle stop local. Ouch! I readjusted my thinking. I was left with cupfuls of extra time.

I then caught the commuter train – another buck - to Temple University where I read an over-sized area map and promptly got lost in one of Philly’s nastier sections. I readjusted in time to find the testing laboratory with zero extra time left.

Temple University’s Pearson Hall is being revamped, and there are no markings on any doors. A HA, adventure beckons. No one could direct me to Room 40 or the Department of Physical Therapy. It was only by dumb luck I found the room where I hooked up with Tarre and Jill who would attend to me during my testing.

After the obligatory paperwork, my body was “suited up” with multiple sensoring devices. My outfit was further equipped with a lovely vest/harness. My black running suit rounded out the ninja warrior look.

The tests combined visual sensory tricks while standing on a platform possessing its own mind. The challange was to maintain my balance as best I could while all these effects worked against it. It was old school Wii. For a guy in his mid-60s, I think I did pretty darn good.

Tarre and Jill were professional and efficient with their testing and computations. In no time, I was back on Broad Street and enjoying a nice, long walk to lunch in Chinatown. I set my inner GPS for the VT Sandwich shop on 10th Street for Philly’s best Vietnamese sandwiches. I also had their wonderfully spicy Phở soup.

I continued my day out with a leisurely tea break at a pastry shop and a free bus ride to 69th street terminal. It was here where I treated myself to a SEPTA Senior ID card. I’ll need this card if SEPTA dumps Medicare as an ID. Other old folks were floating this rumor during a previous SEPTA ride.

By this stage, the day exhausted my adventure resources. I rode free SEPTA buses from 69th Street to West Chester to Downingtown.

Waiting for me at home was my Valentine, Lyn who sat attentively as I told her about my day.

Since I’m no Tolkien, my day’s adventure is only blog material.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.