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Handruin

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Epic has been giving away games for free for a long time now. I have over 200 and haven't paid for any of them.
 

sedrosken

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In a lovely series of events my Pentium 4 machine is back down to a more appropriate card for the era I guess. My 6800 Ultra's VRAM started crapping out, now I'm getting framebuffer corruption even at the desktop.

My X1950Pro probably isn't being powered enough, it locks up the entire machine after about an hour in-game. So I had to go back to the 9600XT and lament my lack of SM3.0. Skyrim actually ran pretty competently on this PC for it being unquestionably below minspec.
 

Handruin

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I decided to try a few games (Factorio and Rust) on this new macbook pro M1 chip and I'm rather surprised how well they run.
 

Mercutio

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EGS is just Steam with shadier business practices, at least as far as DRM is concerned. I refuse to give them my money and I'm one of those obnoxious ones who think you shouldn't either.

I'm already a Never Steam person, to the point that I run an Android VM to play a game (Sentinels of the Multiverse) that has a very good PC release.

I do use Steam to give away game keys and share a library of stuff I've accumulated over time with friends who use it, but GoG and Humble are the only storefronts I like. GoG gives me the install files and lets me keep them, and that's huge for me.

It's about 25 degrees warmer here today than it should be, and this is the third time in the last five years that's happened. It's weird to go out on Xmas day, a mile from Lake Michigan, and not even need a jacket.
 

sedrosken

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I was given someone's cast-off Pavilion 2-in-1, in decent shape but needs cleaned up a bit and the storage and RAM need upgraded. I happen to have a spare 128GB SATA SSD which ought to be plenty for a Linux laptop, and 8GB DDR4 SODIMMs are cheap on Amazon.

My last personal laptop was a corebooted Chromebook, and for my mobile needs I can still get along just fine with an N3050/4GB/32GB so this ought to be fine once I've put in the work it needs.

I'm still a little iffy about what environment I want to put in place on it. I don't want to overload it with a big DE, so KDE and GNOME are out. Touch support is provided by X11 itself, not a DE, so that shouldn't be a problem as long as I can keep it calibrated and find or put together some scripts to detect orientation and lid status to turn the other input devices off and change the screen and touch orientation. I'm thinking awesomewm because it can easily toggle between tiling and floating without a keyboard if I need it to, but tiling wms are just so much better for working with a keyboard for me.
 

sedrosken

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In a true HP moment, Linux either freezes on the version of the BIOS the Pavilion came with, or it doesn't see the WiFi card whatsoever with the one I updated it to. I was using Ubuntu as a stepping stone since everything worked on there (apart from the freezing) but now it's running a copy of Windows 10 again, with me doing my level best to not run a ton of junk at startup so it stays tolerable speed wise and lasts more than a few hours on battery. Surprisingly it's totally usable, and some of the chunky buttons make sense on a 2-in-1. Windows actually makes a surprising amount of sense on a touch screen.

I just don't have the ambition or spare energy right now to fight with it -- maybe someday after I get over COVID. I'm on the other side of it now, I think, but I'm still dealing with occasional bouts of shortness of breath and quite a lot of sleep anxiety. I have it for the second time -- first was in July.I got my test literally the day I got my second dose so I guess it means nothing that I was vaxxed, I wouldn't have left to get it but the antigen test I took at home before I left said I was fine. The test I took at the hospital -- I'd gone in for what I thought was anxiety, like last time -- told me, haha, you've got COVID. My appetite's back as of a couple days ago, and I can actually find humor in things and spend time on things without immediately being distracted by my breathing, so I'd say I just need maybe 2, 3 more days and I'll be completely fine.

Right now my biggest obstacle is sleeping. I'll go to half-sleep, wake up panicked because I think I'm not breathing either enough or at all, and my heart rate will be skyrocketed for the next hour or so until I try again. Sleep aids don't help. Still, I went from getting sleep in 1 or 2 hour increments on day one, to 4 hours or so on day 2, to a whopping 7 last night, so it's just something I have to wait out I think. Granted, my problem may just be that I'm not necessarily sleeping when I'm tired, I'm sleeping when the clock says I probably should be -- my energy levels are, if not high, then at least middling.
 

sedrosken

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Are you ok? Do you have a pulse oximeter?
I'm fine, don't worry. I was given one as part of my "home care" kit when I left the hospital after getting tested. My symptoms were surprisingly mild considering my co-morbidities, and I'm over it now. Worst my O2 saturation ever got was, like, 92, and that was when I was asleep. Typical awake values were anything above 96. Most of my problem was mental, really.

Got a little bit of shortness of breath going on sometimes still, but no worse than after last time I had it, and the sleep anxiety kind of comes and goes, I'm trying some CBD gummies to see if they can get me through until I can see a real doctor about the issue. Mostly now I'm just dealing with some garden-variety insomnia, hopefully I can hit the reset switch on my sleep cycle and it'll be alright, but I do need to start looking into some issues, HBP in particular.

I finally swallowed my pride and the sticker shock and ended up getting insurance through Healthcare.gov. It's not perfect, but it is arguably better than what I had before I left Kentucky, even if I have to get a referral to see specialists. The deductible is, while still not great, better than I expected, and doctor/specialist visits are supposedly free. Prescription drug coverage is a little crappy, I think I'd do better just presenting at the pharmacy as uninsured for generics, but everything's got a downside. It's through the Florida branch of Blue Cross Blue Shield, so I imagine it'll be accepted about anywhere. I think it takes effect next month, I don't think I'll know until I get the cards for it in the mail -- I also opted for dental, because it was cheap and I'm pretty sure I'll need at least a filling or two if not a crown. I sure hope I don't overshoot what I keyed in for income, because I'd hate to have to pay those credits back on my taxes next year. Even still, I only used roughly 2/3 of what I qualified for out of paranoia. My monthly premium's not too bad, about comparable to my car insurance.

Time to finally start taking better care of myself.

My new toy is faring surprisingly well -- I never would have guessed Gemini Lake would be this snappy for being so low-end. Granted, I threw faster storage and a RAM upgrade at it, but it's handling Windows 10 like a champ. It can technically run Windows 11, even, being that it explicitly has TPM 2.0, but I'm not about to run that. 10 alone made me swallow my pride. The pen support is a little iffy -- I don't know if it cuts out because I'm using rechargable 4As in the pen, and those have a lower max voltage, I'm using a cheap crappy pen, or if it's just flaky in general.

The only thing I'm not a fan of are the hinges, they have more slop to them than I'd like, and the screen being mostly bezel assists in making the thing grippable I suppose but it gives this thing the footprint of a 13.3". My regret mostly lies in the fact that I didn't install one of the LTSC variants, I'm paranoid that despite the fact that I told it "no" when it asked, it'll force Windows 11 on me like they forced 10 on so many people. Granted, I almost don't think 11 is all that awful when you use StartAllBack, but I shouldn't have to pay for a program to fix Microsoft's design shortcomings. ...Nevermind that I've done so at least once already, through AquaSnap.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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I know someone who has been diagnosed with Covid five different times now. She works at the pharmacy in a grocery store in Florida, where the culture of masking and social distancing is barely even a suggestion, even though she wears hers more or less constantly.
 

sedrosken

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Yeah, I try to limit my exposure to the outside world for that reason -- I live in northwest Florida now, or lower alabama as the locals sometimes call it, and I was once cursed at just for wearing my mask, not even suggesting that anyone else should wear one. This was my second go around and while I was extremely lucky my symptoms were so mild, I seriously do not want another repeat performance. Next time the anxiety alone might do me in.

While the economic opportunities are undeniable and are why I moved (for my skillset there just wasn't much there for me in KY) I certainly felt a lot safer there where the folks are a lot more likely to mind their own damn business, even if they are just as freedumb-crazed.
 

LunarMist

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I know someone who has been diagnosed with Covid five different times now. She works at the pharmacy in a grocery store in Florida, where the culture of masking and social distancing is barely even a suggestion, even though she wears hers more or less constantly.
I know too many people that only got it once, most recently a classmate of mine from the 70s. 😭
I wear a true N95 when out in public, which is limited as I can WFH mostly. It can be brutal for air travel, like 16-18 hours. Fortunately I don't have to travel so much for projects now.
 

LunarMist

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Yeah, I try to limit my exposure to the outside world for that reason -- I live in northwest Florida now, or lower alabama as the locals sometimes call it, and I was once cursed at just for wearing my mask, not even suggesting that anyone else should wear one. This was my second go around and while I was extremely lucky my symptoms were so mild, I seriously do not want another repeat performance. Next time the anxiety alone might do me in.
Do you have an EAP available through your employer?
 

sedrosken

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Extremely small company. No. But I'm doing better now than I was then -- y'see, it's a little problematic to prescribe breathing exercises to one whose anxiety stems from the fact that they can't breathe like they feel like they should be able to. It just sucks that the only significant symptom of COVID I get is the one that's potentially the most problematic. I'd trade the shortness of breath for the worst cold I've ever had in a heartbeat, just because even at its worst with that cold I never thought there was a possibility I'd die in my sleep.

I'm not sure if what I've got are quality N95s, but they're the best-rated ones you can still buy for a reasonable amount on Amazon. They definitely block moisture. A lot of what I do can be done remotely, too -- there are weeks where I've only left the house one day, but when you have to be on-site, you have to be on-site.
 

Mercutio

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I also have no affordable health care option. Indiana did everything it could to make sure that the ACA was implemented as poorly as possible, and I can't bring myself to pay $400/month for a health plan with a $15,000 deductible and no other benefits. I also work for a small business with no mandate to offer coverage (in fact, I've never been offered health care at any job I've ever had). My saving grace is that I know several physicians and NPs well enough that I can get prescriptions and many services at cost.

I'm a big fan of these masks from Honeywell, which have a washable outer mask and an inner disposable filter.
 

jtr1962

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I also have no affordable health care option. Indiana did everything it could to make sure that the ACA was implemented as poorly as possible, and I can't bring myself to pay $400/month for a health plan with a $15,000 deductible and no other benefits. I also work for a small business with no mandate to offer coverage (in fact, I've never been offered health care at any job I've ever had). My saving grace is that I know several physicians and NPs well enough that I can get prescriptions and many services at cost.
I've been in that exact position my entire life. Once I aged off my father's plan in college I had no health insurance. I'm a little less than 6 years away from Medicare. I was hoping Biden would lower the age to 55 or 60 but so far it doesn't look that way.

We really need single payer in this country.
 

sedrosken

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I really need to re-learn how to smile properly for photos. I had some shots taken professionally today for my LinkedIn and in a full half of them I look like a psychopath. Had a couple choice ones that I think came out really well, though, and the photographer's services came out remarkably affordable.
 

LunarMist

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You should just look natural. Nobody wants an oversmiling OR crazy looking tech employee. o_O
 

Mercutio

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You should just look natural. Nobody wants an oversmiling OR crazy looking tech employee. o_O

Some people just photograph poorly. I'm like that as well. On the other hand I completely refuse to interact with Linkedin or anything else that smacks of social media so it probably doesn't matter. I also have blue and pink hair, something that my employer actively supports.

Some of the models I work with have that problem as well, so I wind up having very conversational shoots, trying to get natural reactions from making them laugh. That's hard to do without having a good relationship, but a lot of people need it or something like it to forget about the camera.

My dearest bestest friend found out she was accepted to a MS CS program for the fall. I'm really proud of her.
 

LunarMist

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We saw some of his semifinal against Marin Čilić.

Didn't see the final, but no question he deserved his twentieth. Can't think of any other male who has dominated such an athletic sport for so long. Very nearly the oldest Grand Slam winner of all time, only pipped by Ken Rosewall back in 1972 at the age of 37. And with all deference to Ken (whom I idolized as a little kid - I even had one of his signature racquets), his level of athleticism was nowhere near Roger's.

At 36 and six months, Roger Federer is still number two in the world. He was almost number one yet again in 2017, save for his withdrawal from the Cinnicannti Masters to try to rest before the US Open. That's after massive downtime in 2016 including knee surgery and ultimately having to take six months off after a re-occurrence.

He has also been voted by his peers to receive the tour Sportsmanship Award a record thirteen times. That attitude in particular is what makes Roger Federer the ultimate sporting hero.
So four years later Nadal has 21 in what may be the best AO final ever. I can hardly believe it.
 

Mercutio

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So they don't want you to leave, is that it?

I've been here 20 years, I'm only in-person at most one day a week and I don't have customer contact with anyone we have to care about.
We did finally add a new employee last year, our graphics guy. He has visible tattoos that start on the backs of his hands and a facial piercing.
 

sedrosken

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Some people just photograph poorly. I'm like that as well. On the other hand I completely refuse to interact with Linkedin or anything else that smacks of social media so it probably doesn't matter. I also have blue and pink hair, something that my employer actively supports.

Unfortunately if I want my career to progress at all I don't think I can avoid it. I'd prefer to -- and I'd managed to up until now, but... I need to start racking up certs to pin there, too. I think I'll start with the A+, Network+, and Security+ stuff and work upwards from there. I could probably pass the A+ in my sleep, but the Network+ I took a practice exam on just to gauge where I'm at now and I'm not that bad for not having even started the coursework -- I still didn't pass, but it was a near thing. Security I get the feeling I'm going in completely blind on.
 

LunarMist

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At your age it might be good to work a few years for a larger company to broaden your work experiences. I should have done that in my youth instead of later on when I had to learn some aspects of business the hard way.
 

Mercutio

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Security I get the feeling I'm going in completely blind on.

Security+ is something that is really only a big deal for people wanting to do IT work for governments. If you're actually going in to a security field, it's extremely basic, but also a lot more than most general IT people learn. A+ and Network+ are a good general purpose foundation for anybody.
 

Handruin

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Security+ is something that is really only a big deal for people wanting to do IT work for governments. If you're actually going in to a security field, it's extremely basic, but also a lot more than most general IT people learn. A+ and Network+ are a good general purpose foundation for anybody.

Not just directly with governments but also IT companies who sell their products to them. My previous company had many different hoops to jump through because we sold products to various government agencies.

As an anecdotal viewpoint, most of the people I've worked with in both big corp and startup rarely advertise or even have any of the certs mentioned above. I'm not saying they have no value, just not to get hung up on having the cert or thinking it's 100% required to get into a decent position.
 

Mercutio

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As an anecdotal viewpoint, most of the people I've worked with in both big corp and startup rarely advertise or even have any of the certs mentioned above. I'm not saying they have no value, just not to get hung up on having the cert or thinking it's 100% required to get into a decent position.

The certs are usually viewed as a foot in the door or a qualifying component to a promotion. It's especially important for general IT, where 3/4 of the candidates for a role will have no academic training related to the position. A student I trained a couple years ago went from being a $14/hour "Geek Squad" tech to a senior on-site tech for a law firm in Chicago off just A+, N+ and a couple Microsoft certs. His total compensation is currently about 6x what he was making in 2018.
 

LunarMist

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I prefer Diet Coke over Coke Zero over Diet Pepsi. I haven't had a Tab in like 45 years. 😆
In some countries you take what you can get, generically Coke Light, which is lately more of a Coke Zero.
The Coke is still seen in the reusable glass bottles, but the no-sugar varieties are in usually in plastic.
 

sedrosken

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At the risk of sounding entirely too old for my age, I've been trying to (and doing pretty well at) cutting back on soda entirely, and eating sugar in more moderation. A. I'd like to not develop diabetes, B. I'd like to keep my teeth, and C. they're just too damn expensive. Thankfully I've evolved beyond the point where I was a few years ago that regular water tasted "weird" to me, now it just tastes its temperature. I do unfortunately notice that the tap water in the area I'm moving to has a sulfur problem, hopefully one of those filters on the tap help on that front...
 

Handruin

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I used to prefer coke zero over diet coke back when I drank them. Never cared for Tab and never had diet Rite.

I've found a new love for specialty coffee and brewing over the past year and a half. Never used to drink coffee but now I enjoy the experience.
 

LunarMist

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Most people eventually regret not taking care of their teeth as well as they could have. :(
 

jtr1962

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Most people eventually regret not taking care of their teeth as well as they could have. :(
I'm one of them. Yes, I brush regularly. Unfortunately I have a sweet tooth. And for much of my life I haven't had the money to keep up with dental work. Cavities end up becoming root canals and crowns instead once I do have the money to go the dentist. And now the pandemic added a new wrinkle. I have four teeth with issues. Most of it started after the pandemic did. Needless to say, I don't feel comfortable being in a situation where it's impossible to wear a mask. I don't trust people to follow proper procedures, either. If we were so great at doing that close to a million people wouldn't be dead now. So I'll have wait until covid is over. In the meantime I've used some of the stuff dentists use to make temporary crowns. I still have 29 of my 32 teeth in some form or another, but it looks like at least two of the teeth are in bad enough shape to need crowns and root canals. That's in addition to ones which already have crowns and root canals. The front teeth though are in great shape. Never even had a cavity.

I can't stand any flavor of diet soda. Besides, don't they all give you cancer? I mostly stick with Sierra Mist because they use real sugar instead of that high fructose corn syrup garbage. That's none too good for you, either. It should be banned by law. Don't drink much soda these days anyway. Too much makes me gassy. I mostly stick with powered drink mixes like Gatorade or Kool-Aid.

I just have coffee when I get up. Any more often and I feel wired.
 

jtr1962

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In other news, I don't think I mentioned it here, but I retired in 2017. I've been taking care of my mother since about 2014. In 2017 my consulting gig ran out. There really wasn't anything on the horizon at that point anyway. Plus caring for my mother got more intensive, to the point I probably couldn't work at the level I needed to. I've always worked at home, but taking care of an elderly person entails constant interruptions which break your concentration. Anyway, I reasoned that I might as well just officially retire at that point. 55 is a good age to retire. At first, I called it semi-retirement. I figured if another gig paying $100+ an hour, like my last one, materialized, I'd at least try to do it. Then the pandemic hit. At that point I decided to just call my retirement permanent. Even though it was hard, I'm glad I maxed out my retirement account contributions when I was earning money (and saved a lot of what was left after that).

Won't get SS until 70. It'll be a pittance if I take it before then.
 

Handruin

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Congrats on retirement and sorry that caring for your. I'm has been more intensive, that has to be really difficult. She's lucky to have you there for her.

I'm definitely tired and burned out a bit from this industry and would love to retire so I can go back to tinkering and enjoying tech versus being pessimistic about it. My previous company got acquired back in Dec 2021 so I'm now back to big corporate for a while. I've also been maxing out tax efficient retirement accounts and save as much as I can elsewhere in growth funds. It's tough to know what the right number is but some days it feels like enough.
 

sedrosken

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Unfortunately right now I really don't make enough to properly contribute to retirement savings, that'll happen later on or possibly not at all depending on how bad things get in the future. By the time I'm old enough, if they stop moving the goalposts that is, there likely won't be any social security anymore -- it'll have been gutted as an austerity measure, if the government's around at all. We're already rapidly backsliding to a society where you work until you die.

I've also been trying to take better care of my teeth, I brush and floss regularly these days and have even gotten to the point where I don't bleed so bad when I floss anymore. I know I need at least two crowns, one where I keep grinding a pit in one of my premolars in my sleep (I try to swallow the guards, so that's not ideal) and another where I cracked off a piece of one of my molars. I have dental insurance now! But I need to save up for the deductible before I can use it.

I can't drink coffee or anything more than lightly caffeinated anymore. Even half a cup gets my heart pounding out of my chest. As nice as it is to not be dependent on it -- my efforts to wean myself off worked a bit too well it seems, it sucks that I really can't have it at all.
 

Handruin

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I don't know what age you're at but it can take some time before it's feasible to contribute. I was about 24 when I started contributing some amount to my retirement fund while still paying off school debt, loans, etc and maybe another 9-10 years before I was able to max them out each year. Even when you get to a point where you could put in $50-100 it all helps. Just pick low cost market/index funds (e.g. SPY/VTI/VTSAX) to keep it simple from someplace reputable like Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab. I use Vanguard and Schwab but also had some with Fidelity for years until I moved to Vanguard.

If you like coffee there's actually good decaf out there despite how sacrilegious that might sound. I drink decaf in the afternoon because I can only take so much caffeine.
 

LunarMist

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I turned down earliest retirement plan during Pandemic. I'm too old to go Canadian now.
I plan to keep wokring until shortly befor ethe dead BODY. Or maybe 60 somethings.
 

jtr1962

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Congrats on retirement and sorry that caring for your. I'm has been more intensive, that has to be really difficult. She's lucky to have you there for her.
Unfortunately, people usually go in only one direction as they age. The biggest thing is she just lost any desire to walk in late 2017. She had a hematoma in the brain which they fixed. It may have affected her balance, among other things. The reason we put her in the hospital in late 2017 was we thought not walking was due to joint issues. Then they found the hematoma. But ever since, I have to wheel her around. She can bear her own weight when I stand her up, so muscle tone isn't the problem. Mentally, she started going downhill I'd say about ten years ago. It just got really bad maybe by 2016.

The sad part is her internal organs are actually pretty healthy. She's 83. Her older sister turned 92 last October. So I might be doing this into my late 60s, even 70s. I keep hoping some cure for dementia materializes so she can have some quality of life again (and I can get a break from this).
I'm definitely tired and burned out a bit from this industry and would love to retire so I can go back to tinkering and enjoying tech versus being pessimistic about it. My previous company got acquired back in Dec 2021 so I'm now back to big corporate for a while. I've also been maxing out tax efficient retirement accounts and save as much as I can elsewhere in growth funds. It's tough to know what the right number is but some days it feels like enough.
I hear you. I love to tinker but even retired I can't do much of it with the constant interruptions caring for my mother entails. I don't miss working at all though. I was never one of those people whose identity is tied up in their job. To me working was just a means to an end, the end being eventual retirement.

I can't pin down a good number for retirement because it depends upon what lifestyle you want. I've always been frugal, and my hobbies are at most a few thousand a year. I never traveled. Frankly I don't care if I ever do. Just not my cup of tea, especially traveling alone. Maybe if I had a SO I'd want to take a few train/bike trips, but that's about it. So that's another expense I don't have. I figured since the house is paid for, assuming I can talk my siblings out their share (in exchange for all my mother's other assets, which is mid six figures), I'll be able to get by on $20K annually. When I get SS that'll cover more than half. You'll probably need more than that. Best to talk to a financial planner to get ballpark numbers.
 
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jtr1962

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Unfortunately right now I really don't make enough to properly contribute to retirement savings, that'll happen later on or possibly not at all depending on how bad things get in the future. By the time I'm old enough, if they stop moving the goalposts that is, there likely won't be any social security anymore -- it'll have been gutted as an austerity measure, if the government's around at all. We're already rapidly backsliding to a society where you work until you die.
If they do nothing with Social Security, it'll mean a roughly 20 something percent cut in benefits around the time I start collecting. However, I doubt they would do an across the board cut. They'll probably cut the benefits of those getting large amounts by more so those at or under the poverty line don't get cuts.

I'll admit I cheated as far as saving for retirement goes. I stayed with my parents. Not uncommon in NYC. My former neighbors had their at the time 30 something adult children with them on and off. More on than off actually. With rents being 75% of my take-home pay 30 years ago I really had no choice. Now the situation is even worse. But I didn't cost my parents much-just electricity and food. I bought anything else out of my earnings. I also did work on the house easily equal to what I cost them.

Anyway, see if you can cut any ongoing expenses and put some towards retirement. You still have plenty of time. I didn't start saving until I was about 25.
 
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