November 5, 2015

Infrastructure Care and Maintenance

courtsey CNN

Much of the infrastructure in this country is decaying or in poor repair. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that nearly 1 in 4 bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete. Highway congestion drains $100 billion from our productivity every year. All of us have regular contact with potholes and roads that are literally unsafe to drive. Some of us deal with power brownouts during heat waves because the electric grids are old or too small to handle the demand.

When the enlarged Panama Canal opens soon only 2 out of fourteen East Coast ports will be able to accept the larger vessels. Meanwhile, Cuba is busy building a giant port to accept these new ships and satisfy a need that U.S. ports can't. 

This post isn't about the damage to our present and future living standards due to the failure to maintain and improve basic infrastructure. Rather, the article caused me to think about another infrastructure: ours. The good news is we don't have to wait for Congress to act, or the utilities to expand capacity. We are in charge.

The dictionary definition of infrastructure is: the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. For us that would include our health, our minds, our living environment, and our relationship with others.

I am beginning the process of planning and writing a new book. Building a Satisfying Retirement is almost 5 years old, while Living a Satisfying Retirement will have been on the market for three years next spring. Both continue to sell on Amazon, but a fresh compilation of my thoughts is probably due.

This concept of our internal infrastructure prompted me to think about a focus for a new book. Like a bridge needs a solid foundation or a roadway needs quality ingredients to last, retirement should have certain elements in place. As I reviewed my life over the past decade and a half, as well as several years of posts and comments, I have identified 9 building blocks of a satisfying retirement. 

Importantly, these components aren't unique to retirements. Some of them are part of our life from the day we were born. But, for our purposes, I believe they take on increased significance as we age and move through this next stage of life. They are the infrastructure that we depend on for a satisfying journey.

My writing schedule should mean the new book will be finished and available by late winter or early next spring. 

So, the next time you drive around a pothole or wonder if the workers will ever finish repairs on that freeway near your home, think about your internal infrastructure and what shape it is in. Then, I hope you will compare your results with what I come up with when the new book hits the market!


  1. I like you analogy and when I first read the post title thought you might be going to talk about keeping our bodies and minds strong as we age. Perhaps those are some of the building blocks you reference.

    1. Actually, the post started that way, but it seemed like a natural transition into the book info. Also, writing publicly about a new book forces me to keep moving on that project!

  2. I think it is true that unless we do extreme things to prevent it we lose muscle mass as we age. Especially us guys, it has something to do with testosterone I think. Now that my hips, knees, and back are out of kilter I can't seem to exercise as much as I used to. I still walk more than two miles a day but the rowing machine now gathers dust. But it seems I haven't adjusted my diet enough to compensate for this change and as a result have been constantly putting on a few pounds a month.

    I finally came to the conclusion, how could I avoid it when looking in the mirror, that I am gaining belly fat and need to do some maintenance on my infrastructure. I am now down seven pounds of the 17 or so I hope to lose so I can see my feet again. Yeah we all have to watch our infrastructure especially as we age. Thanks for the thoughts Bob...

    1. I have lost 10 pounds since the trip to Portland earlier this summer. Of course, with a diet that cuts out a lot of the junk I was eating before my heart problem, losing weight is a positive by-product. I haven't been below 190 pounds for probably 20 years. It feels good to see the 180's again.

  3. As I read your blog, I jotted down some ideas of what I thought the 9 building blocks might be. I love the comparison to infrastructure of a city.

    We were in NYC last weekend. Say what one will about this huge city, but I love the international feel. Kind of compares to broadening ourselves to include contact with all kinds of people in our life, not just those who are exactly like us. It expands our thinking and our way of life.

    The city's infrastructure of subways and buses is another example of a well thought out plan to get us where we need to be in a most efficient way. Perhaps a metaphor for our own personal travels at this stage in life. Developing a plan for where we want life to take us, but always being open to the need or desire to change our travel plan or our destination. The flexibility will certainly add to the quality of our journey.

    Can't wait to see the finished product!

    1. It will be interesting to see how close your nine building blocks are to the ones I write about!