Scott Stawarz personal blog

Working Hiatus

I recently took a hiatus from Night Time Technical Training.

For approximately three years, I taught Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  I had a few weeks break every now and again, but for quite a while I didn’t have a break at all.  In addition to working at night, I also do consulting work during the day, and I have contract training during the day.  I also do my best to take time to raise my children at home.

Let me take a step back,  The reason I choose the life as a micropreneur was the ability to take time to raise my children.  I want to be a work at home Dad.  Yet, my commitments collectively were intruding on that time. So, I decided it was time for a break.  I needed a hiatus.  Fortunately, I have enough projects and gigs to allow me to choose the time I want to work.  (Although, I am always on the look out for new projects, call me.)

Now, What do I want to get out of my self-imposed Hiatus?

  • I wanted time to think.  When all you do is work, work, work.  You lose the time to be creative.  I needed that time back. I want to think and create.
  • I wanted time to my family. Working at night made me miss some events for my son, and I hated that.  Additionally, my wife’s work life is more hectic these days.  I need to be able to help out when she’s crazy busy.
  • 2011 is the year of the product for me.  I want to create products, and I need time to take action.
  • I haven’t played Jazz Music in a while.  I wanted time to practice my trombone, and join a Jazz Band again.  (still working on this.)

It’s been a little over a month since I taught my last night class.  Here’s the thing I have noticed.  When you create free time, its easy to fill it with other tasks.  If you don’t set time aside for thinking, then your mind will shut down.  The mind is a muscle.  It must be exercised.  It must be tuned. I’ve been home.  I have exercised more.  I have cooked and cleaned more.  I’ve watched more shows on netflix.  I’ve actually read less email, read less social media, and less blogs.  I allowed my mind to rest while I fill the time with other tasks.  Its time to take that back.  Still thinking, but action must come sooner rather than later to meet my 2011 goals.

I was listening to the Back to Work Podcast.  I loved this thought:  If you ever want to get back on the path, all you need to do is step onto the path.  If you ever want to work, all you need to do is get back to work that is meaningful.

As you can tell, I’m stepping back on the path.  I’m keeping these blog posts rough.  I figure its better to just post rather than not post.  The more I post the better I’ll get at it.

It’s time for me to get back to my working hiatus.

Career Experiments – Passion Finding Process

Career Experiments

I’m searching for my career passion.  I’ve tried various surveys both professional and self-administered.  I’ve read multiple books on the subject.  I read multiple blog posts about finding ones’ passion.

Yet, I’ve come to realize that passion is like love.  For me, with love, when I met might wife for the second time after a layoff, I just knew.  She was it.  Yet, it took me multiple experiments to figure it out.  I had to date.  I had to find out who and what characteristics I was compatible with.  What did I like?  Experimenting is a lot of trial an error. One might present a hypothesis, then control various variables to identify cause and effect.

Finding my career passion must not be from internal reflection, but more external reflection.  I should look at my reactions to the actions I take.  Daniel Pink discussed a similar topic recently, “the case against passion.”  His take:  What do you do?

Now, when I first read that question, What do you do? I mistakenly thought it meant what do you do for work, but that’s not it.  What do you do for everything?

We all do stuff.  We don’t just sit around and stare at a white wall day.  Okay, maybe some of you do that, but you are stilling doing something.  Its through this doing and evaluation of actions where we can identify our career passions.

I love technology.  I love helping.  I love people.  I love talking and evangelizing ideas.  Dreaming up the future.

Many times what we say we do and actually what we do are two different things.  My March challenge to myself (should I choose to accept it) will be to be conscious of my actions.  What do I actually do when I make time for myself?  How do I spend that time?  If I read, what do I read?  If I watch tv, what type of shows am I watching?  What is the show about?  What content is there?  If I’m out and about, what am I doing?  How am I doing it?  How do I feel while I’m doing it?

At one point, I wanted to be a blogger and a writer.  Yet, I often don’t write just for fun.  Yet, I realized that when I do write, I often perform better.  I write often on paper and not on a computer.  I’ll talk why I have not opened up this writing to the internet at a later date.

For now, I’m off to chronicle my actions.


Dream Big and Act Small: A Forest Fog Lament

I am wandering. Lost in a Forest. The fog is so thick that I have to feel for the trees as I walk. Forget running. If I were to run in this thick forest with such an onslaught of a low flying grey cloud, I’d knock myself out.

How did I get here?

I’m not sure. I can pinpoint when I realized the fog. The trigger point if you will, but I am certain the trigger point did not bring the fog.

A friend of mine asked me, Why do you do it? I did not have a good answer. I am full of answers. It is what I do. I provide answers to questions people don’t even know they have. Solutions to Challenges. I teach, I train, I consult, I develop, I design, I architect, and I ultimately provide good correct answers.

The Irony: Why do I do it? I didn’t answer the question. I tried. I sat down. I thought about it. I researched it. I wrote and wrote. I prayed. I talked and talked. I stayed the course. I pretended. Pretended some more. I got sick of it. Ultimately, I ran. I ran away from everything I know. I kept running and running until I was so thick in the fog, I could not focus on a tree much less see my way through a forest.

Now, I am lost in a foggy forest.  Looking.  Searching. Why do I do it?

All this searching, what have I learned? Even in situations of utter darkness and despair, we can learn to see via our other senses. We adapt. We learn. I have learned. I have learned to be cautious. Just when I think the Fog has lifted, and I can see a path through the forest, The Fog drops, again, just as it is now. I learned I am still learning. I am learning that to navigate a deep dark fog through a thicket, one must take short quick steps and trust your internal compass.  I am learning to Dream Big and Act Small.

Yes, The Fog is upon me. Yes, I have bruises all over from bumping into trees. Why do I do it? I’m still searching for answers, and I am still lost.

the step-child blog

Well hello, long time no chat. Yes, I have concentrated much of my efforts on this blog at and at

It is not that I don’t much to say, its more I use the time to say it constructively tackling other projects.

We’ll see. I might move this to a tumblr or posterous type blog rather than wordpress to make it easier for me to post. Although WordPress is simple. I just like the idea of being able to post via email. I know I can set that up in WordPress. I just choose not to for security reasons.

Can this step child blog, find the fairy god mother and turn into royalty?

Save only $125,000 and become a millionaire.

Financial Fool. I am.  Are you?

Without sounding like an all out advertising for Motley Fool, I’m a big fan. Somehow, I stumbled across them back in 1999. maybe even earlier, 1996.  I don’t remember exactly.  Then, I read a couple of their books which are both great learning tools and entertaining.  I wanted to highlight one of their older Articles that is buried in their archives and not even viewable in my browser.

Retire on $125,000

Basically, the premise is this.

Your money will double every seven years if it compounds at the stock market’s average return of nearly 11% annualized over its lifetime.

Now, I know during these bear markets and the worst recession since the great depression, 11% return is unheard of.  The key here is over its lifetime.  Long Term. Not now.

The idea is if you can save $125,000 by the time you are 40, then you can theoretically stop saving, although I wouldn’t recommend it.

Why?  The power of compound interest.  The more money you save, the more money is compounded over a longer period of time which then allows you to get a good return.  Now, How do you get a 11% return?  Well, the stock market averages that return, then you add in if you save 10% of your income every year.  You’ll easily be able to get an 11% return.

Let’s look at a table for this double your money every 7 years.

Age Money Saved
19 $15,625
26 $31,250
33 $62,500
40 $125,000
47 $250,000
54 $500,000
61 $1,000,000

Now, if you are like me, and you look at this and see age 19, $15,000 saved? Are you kidding me? I’m a college student and I have student loan debt bigger than that.  I totally understand you.  I think its very difficult for someone who is 19 to have that much saved.  However, I think it is very reasonable to think that by the time you are 40, you can save $125,000.  Think about it.  That’s 21 years, or roughly $6,000/year.  Now, you might think that is still unreachable.  Let’s calculate it.  If you started at $30,000/year income at age 22, and receive average 5% increases (some years will be less than that, some years will be more) in salary for 18 years, here’s how your savings could look:

Age Salary with 5% increases Savings rate at 14% year
22 $30,000 $4,200
23 $31,500 $4,410
24 $33,075 $4,631
25 $34,729 $4,862
26 $36,465 $5,105
27 $38,288 $5,360
28 $40,203 $5,628
29 $42,213 $5,910
30 $44,324 $6,205
31 $46,540 $6,516
32 $48,867 $6,841
33 $51,310 $7,183
34 $53,876 $7,543
35 $56,569 $7,920
36 $59,398 $8,316
37 $62,368 $8,731
38 $65,486 $9,168
39 $68,761 $9,626
40 $72,199 $10,108
Total Saved $128,26

Now that looks feasible.  I know 14% is aggressive.  I am not including in this calculation any compound interest gains from the stock market.  So, if you were to save only 10% a year and invest it.  You’d get more money.  Still, then we theoretically could stop saving for retirement, because if we left our money in the stock market from age 40 to age 61, we’d be millionaires.

Can I do that?  I think I can.  Can you do that?  I think you can.

Time to get saving. All it takes is discipline, desire, and time.

Government Budget Catch 22

Catch 22: describing a set of rules, regulations or procedures, or situation which presents the illusion of choice while preventing any real choice. source:

Before we get to the Government Budget Catch 22, let’s talk Aesop.

Photo By Cindy47452
Photo By Cindy47452

One of Aesop’s fables: The Ant and the Grasshopper teaches the moral of hardwork and saving our food during the summer feast-time to support ourselves during the winter famine time.

Now let’s apply this moral to our Personal Finances.  Personal Finance experts everywhere all recommend to pay yourself 10% first at the very least.  In other words, if you make $1000 for that week, you should save $100 into an account for either emergency purposes or wealth creation.  So, during the economic boom-time (Summer growth), you’ll grow your savings.  When the inevitable recession cycle hits the economy (Winter famine) and your income slows or worse you lose your income, you can use your emergency fund to live comfortably while you wait for the next summer growing season or economic recovery.

It’s great, but many Americans have not practiced this fable, and consequently, have instead of saving during the feast of the recent economic bubbles, been spending even more money than they had.

How does this apply to government budgets?

Continue reading Government Budget Catch 22

Starting Fresh

Did Scott start over again?

I sure did. I decided to start my blog over once again. I deleted all my content, I moved it out of a stand-alone wordpress and back into a wpmu set-up. The fun about being a technologist and working on your own work, is you can blow things up, start over and experiment anew.

My voice

I haven’t found my blog voice.

One day in the future I plan to do a social test. Can a regular middle-class citizen such as myself get elected to a state-wide elected office? I was very tempted to set this website up as a 2010 IL US Senator campaign site, but I have decided to delay that so I can spend more time with my family.

I often feel that we’re currently in a state of taxation without representation. What I mean by that in order to get elected to public office, one needs to raise millions of dollars to be able to effectively reach the public with your views. Consequently, it is only those individuals who are wealthy, know wealthy individuals, or sell-out to wealthy individuals that actually reach public office.

With the advent of social media tools, can we democratize our own system? We will see. More thought experiments to come.