Jubilación No Planificada

The English version of this post is Unplanned Retirement. The Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Unplanned Retirement.

Cuándo mencioné mi jubilación inminente, un amigo jubilado me aconsejó —Asegurarte que tienes un plan—. La razón por qué esto es importante, él confió a mí, fue así que no me gustaría terminan de pasar mis días en retiro sentado en mi ropa interior viendo la televisión.

Pareció estar buen consejo. Teniendo un plan podría proveer dirección y estructura a mi vida jubilada y me salvar de aburrimiento. Le dí algún pensamiento. A pesar de bueno intenciones, sin embargo, fue difícil a desarrollar un plan, y al día de mi jubilación, aún me encontré sin plan.

Antes de mi fecha de jubilación, la jornada laboral se formaba la estructura de mi día-a-día vida. Dentro de la jornada laboral, me volvía diestro en manejo de tiempo. Ciertas cosas tenía que hacerse por un tiempo determinado y de un cierto orden. Eso requería planificando de un typo, pero estaba en real tiempo. Mis prioridades estuvieron establecido en reacción a las demandas del trabajo, y esas demandas no estuvieron siempre predecibles. Yo tenía que estar flexible. Planes cambian. Yo era bastante bueno en ello.

Mi carrera resultó ser satisfactorio y exitoso, pero viendo detrás en ello, no tenía un plan de carrera. Pasé por dos major transiciones de carrera durante de curso de mi vida de trabajar. El tipo de trabajo que empecé haciendo después de graduar de la universidad no fue el tipo de trabajo que terminé haciendo tres decadas más tarde. Me imagino que mi vida de trabajo habría sido lejos de menos interesante si yo hubiera seguido un carrera plan esquematizado por adelantado.

Planificando financial para jubilación fue otra buena idea que no logré a bastante completar antes de me jubilé. Sin embargo, mi esposa y yo parecemos estar en un lugar bastante bueno económicamente. Esto es en gran parte debido a cuidadosa administración de dinero durante los cuarenta años pasados. Estamos donde estamos a pesar de teniendo no plan o un plan vago en el mejor.

Nosotros no calculamos nuestras fechas de jubilación por usando un jubilación calculador. Financial reglas generales no nos dijeron cuando estuvimos listos para jubilación. Los numeros lo que yo enchufé en varios jubilación calculadores me dieron una idea general de qué necesitaríamos para sostenernos cada mes, pero el numero no dirigió nuestras decisiones sobre cuándo jubilarnos. Siempre yo pensaba que había demasiados variabiles y no manera a estar cierto de qué el futuro traería. Los mejores planes radican en conjecturas.

Mi jubilación está sucediendo ahora, y aún no tengo un plan. A veces, me siento un ausencia de dirección y estructura en mi vida y me siento un poco mareado. Lo que es peor, a veces me siento que cosas son un poco aburrido. No obstante, no obsesiono sobre la falta de un plan para jubilación, porque no soy obsesivo por naturaleza.

La naturaleza de la persona puede que sea la llave al asunto entero. Cuando llegó mi fecha de jubilación, mi naturaleza no cambió repentinamente. Antes de jubilación, me gustó el independiente, administración-de-tiempo aspecto de mi trabajo porque me daba mucha libertad para decider lo que yo iba a hacer cada día. La libertad para diseñar mi día mantenía el trabajo siendo interesante, y era un fuente de trabajo satisfacción.

No me preocupo tanto sobre aburrimiento en jubilación. Después de todo, me aburría de vez en cuando antes me jubilé. Nunca ha vuelto una condición permanente.

Yo me jubilé sin un plan. No he conseguido un plan hasta ahora, y ya no más tengo un plan para hacer un plan. Mi perspectiva en la sabiduría de planificando mi jubilación ha empezado a moverse.

Una jubilación no planificada me da la libertad para diseña cada día como viene, y para apreciar sorpresas. Estoy aprendiendo a traducir el independiente, administración-de-tiempo habilidades que me sirvió tanto bien en mi carrera en administración-de-tiempo habilidades que va a servirme bien en jubilación. Encontrar mi camino por las colinas y valles de jubilación sin hoja de ruta podría resultar estar tan interesante y agradable como era mi carrera.  Estoy sólo segura de una cosa: yo no planifico a sentarse todo el día en mi ropa interior viendo la televisión.

Pido disculpas a hablantes de español por adelantado por esos errores que estoy seguro a hacer. Espero que cualquier hablantes de español quien van a leer mis traducciones me permitirán saber sobre mis errores y van a sugerir enmiendas.

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What (Did You Say)?

Too often, I find myself saying “What?” in conversations because I do not understand something that the other person has just said. People just don’t speak up the way they used to. I have become more aware of this reluctance in others to speak clearly as I have gotten older. It has even occurred to me that perhaps they are not reluctant to speak up, but instead, they are testing me. They speak softer and more quietly, gradually lowering the volume, trying to find the sweet spot at which their voice becomes incomprehensible to me. I don’t know why they do this. Maybe it amuses them.

I have also noticed that they are doing this now on television. The commercials are plenty loud enough, and so it is obvious that they have the technology to transmit dialog at a comfortable volume and with sufficient clarity that actual words can be detected from my location across the room. Fortunately, adjustments can be made to counteract the television transmission subterfuge. One can turn up the volume on the TV set and overcome the broadcasters’ attempts to muffle the dialog and to mask it by means of background music or sound effects.

Another great invention is closed-captioning. I use that a lot when watching television. Unfortunately, though, the captions are not always accurate. Sometimes they show words that are completely wrong. I know this because I can still hear the spoken dialog a lot of the time, despite the masking and muffling. Sometimes, whole strings of words are left out of the closed captions. Also, the captions are typically delayed and lag behind the sound and action taking place on the screen. The technology of closed-captioning is not perfect—perhaps by design—and it can be very confusing if you are trying to follow the story by relying on the captions alone.

Nevertheless, volume control and closed-captioning are useful tools that make it possible to watch television and actually understand what is being said most of the time. I miss having these tools whenever I converse with a person who is reluctant to speak up or who may be testing me.

Of course, being able to hear the dialog on television does not improve the quality of the dialog itself. The dialog in many TV dramas—particularly American TV dramas—is typically insipid and illogical and characterized by a dearth of wit and eloquence. It is really no wonder that broadcasters use techniques to muffle and distort such lame dialog to render it indistinguishable from the background noise.

My need to say “What?” is most acute when the conversation is taking place in a busy place where a lot of people are talking. This is especially noticeable in certain restaurants that seem to be designed and furnished in such a way that the ambient babble from people chatting away at other tables distracts from my enjoyment of dining and conversing with my companions at my table. The rudeness of others in this regard has become commonplace, but that is no excuse for bad restaurant design. Restaurants with bad acoustics are symptomatic of the general decline in civil society that has occurred in recent years. I am old enough to remember when we were a kinder, gentler and more considerate people, who knew how to speak up.

I realize that I cannot change the uncivil habits of other people, but if I at least want to understand them better, we do, in fact, have the technology—in the form of hearing aids. I have resisted having to resort to using hearing aids—in part, because I have remained optimistic that those closest to me will learn to enunciate. My resistance is largely due to my perception that hearing aids are for old men. Although I am now retired, I do not think of myself as an old person. Wearing hearing aids would be incongruous with my self-image as a somewhat mature, but certainly not old, person.

I know, intellectually, that having hearing aids is not something that only old people do. Hearing loss can occur at any age or even from birth. Obviously, a child who wears hearing aids would never be labeled as an old person. Nevertheless, on an emotional level, I would feel more elderly and infirm if I start wearing hearing aids. The use of technology to hear better might improve my quality of life. Nevertheless, there is something artificial about it that is disturbing. When I was a younger man, I did not need to rely on supplemental devices to maintain a good quality of life. Wearing hearing aids—and being seen to wear them—would make my oldness that much more apparent.

Becoming old is inevitable the longer one lives. We have options about achieving a desirable quality of life, even by artificial means.

Having pretty much accepted my situation as regards the aging process, I have decided to explore the hearing aid option. I have had my hearing tested. Actually, I have had my hearing tested four or five times since 2004. Most recently, I had my hearing tested by two different professionals. All of these tests confirmed that I have a mild hearing loss. Mine is a deficit in the higher frequency range (2,000 Hz and above). I also have tinnitus (a constant high-pitched, low-volume squeal in both ears), otherwise known as “ringing in the ears.” It is not unusual. Tinnitus seems to be associated with hearing loss, particularly with a high-frequency hearing loss.

My quality of life would be improved by hearing aids if, when I wear them, I can detect an improvement in any of the following:

  • Ability to understand when someone is talking to me
  • Ability to distinguish high-frequency, sound-alike consonants such as “f” and “s”
  • Ability to understand conversations in settings where a lot of people are speaking in the background
  • Ability to understand dialog on television at lower volume, without the use of closed-captions
  • Ability to “tune out” my tinnitus

After my recent hearing tests, I tried out two different hearing aids from different manufacturers. Each demonstrator-model hearing aid was similar in design to the other, but the per-pair price was $8,000 for one brand and $1,900 for the other.

Both models were digital, programmable hearing aids with a microphone part behind the ear and a small, transparent tube leading from the behind-the-ear unit to a tiny receiver placed inside the ear canal. For both demonstrations, the hearing aids were programmed to match my particular audiogram.

With both demo-hearing aid pairs, the immediate sensation was that I was hearing amplified (as opposed to “natural”) sound. This sensation was most noticeable in hearing my own voice. This reaction is apparently typical of new hearing-aid users, and consequently, the devices are initially set to the low end—if not the lowest—of volume levels. After one’s brain gets used to having sounds amplified by hearing aids, I was told, the hearing aids are commonly adjusted to provide a little more amplification (to better compensate for those frequencies where the hearing loss exists).

Between the two demo-models that I tried, I could not detect any difference. One pair of devices was not noticeably better than the other. It is very difficult to make a meaningful comparison however. The settings in which each demonstration took place were quite different from each other. I wore each pair of demo-hearing aids for only ten or fifteen minutes.

Although I felt that I could hear better with the hearing aids than without them, it was hard to separate what I was actually hearing from what I thought I should be hearing. I mean, they are hearing aids, right? Hearing aids should aid hearing. In a fifteen-minute demonstration, there was no way for me to decide whether one brand and model of hearing aid was better than the other on the basis of durability, battery life and the quality of the internal electronic and software components.

I do not have the patience or inclination to demo other hearing aids from other vendors or to take any more hearing tests. Because I found no obvious differences in performance between the two models that I tried, I could pick either one.

For me, the bigger decision was deciding between having hearing aids or not having hearing aids. In some respects, however, that was an easier decision than choosing between two hearing aid models that seemed to perform equally well.

I have made the big decision. I have decided to get hearing aids. I am on the other side of that particular tipping point, but that does not mean that I will not have second thoughts about it later. Having hearing aids and actually wearing them on a regular, daily basis are two different things. In spite of my emotional reservations about looking older than I feel I am, I will wear them. I expect that it will take a few months to see how my brain reacts to having little amplifiers riding behind my ears. It will take some persistent use of the hearing aids before I can decide whether or not they are making my quality of life any better. In the meantime, I remain hopeful that other people will learn to speak up and stop testing me.

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    The English version of this post is What (Did You Say)? The Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de What (Did You Say)? Con demasiado…
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