Posted in biographical sketch

Task-orientated thinking and Retirement

In the traditional work environment there is a certain routine or schedule. Each day there are tasks that need to be completed and deadlines that must be met. In the post-working environment (retirement), deadlines and tasks are more self-imposed. There are self-defined tasks related to the family, the community and to yourself. The timing of these tasks, their priority are up to the individual. The task-mix is determined arbitrarily. Therefore, at any point in time or on a particular day, you choose which mix seems feasible and which suits your mood.

In retirement, the priorities can be affected by your sense of self, your sense of family commitments or your engagement in the community. Ideally, you attempt to create a balance: your well-being in relation to the well-being of others around you.

What happens when the number of tasks becomes overwhelming, or to put it differently, if everything in life becomes a task?
In retirement life there is the potential for inundation through tasks or to reach a standstill, unable to prioritize the numerous tasks. In the working world there was a limit; you could expect or be expected to complete a finite number of tasks in a day or a fixed period. In the retirement world, the limit is your mental and physical energy.

How do you get away from the ‘task-oriented’ thinking of the working life to a more ‘open-ended’ reactive, observational thinking in retirement — more meditational?

The solution is not to see life as a series of tasks but to see life as a flow of energy. We observe the living environment. We interact with it in a spontaneous way. We experiment with different ideas and relationships. We do activities but we  don’t segment life into a finite number of tasks which must be completed in a specific order or time frame. We do not know the time available. We may not even understand the sequence of events or actions. Of course, as in all life, there are always constraints: money, time, physical and mental health, or the surrounding culture.

Edward Wedler has contributed his graphic skills and note below.

NOTE from Edward Wedler:
Based on your post, Bob, I explored YouTube and came across this Tony Schwartz TEDx talk on managing our energy, not time, by “embracing opposites“.

Posted in biographical sketch

Two kinds of thinking

This morning in response to a set of questions from Jon Murphy at GoGeomatics in Ottawa, I found myself answering the question : Who gets to call themselves a Geographer ? This caused me to reflect on my fifty or so year career associated with a specific academic discipline (to be added  link).

thinkingTractorAfterwards, I was driving my son’s tractor to bush hog the lower field on his property. Last week, I had discovered that the PTO (power take off )  was not driving the mowing unit. Over $1400 later, I had an operational unit. This was the test.

This led to the following realization. There are two types of thinking. The academic, focused on abstract ideas, and the practical, focused on understanding the mechanics of a tractor and its related parts.

It is a scary proposition, upon retirement, to make the transition from one to the other. Although I am sure for many people it is possible to switch back and forth between the two modes. Not so, in my case.

I can easily imagine situations where an individual has gotten used to one set of thinking practices and suddenly, they are expected to apply a different set. The stereotype is the ‘gentleman farmer’. Of course, it is exhilarating to take the risk, and even better the satisfaction of completing the task at hand.

I have this image. Across the Valley, there is a cadre of professionals who have retired to get their hands dirty but they are challenged by the demands of the two kinds of thinking. Just as in the academic world you depend on access to functional technology, the same is true in the farming world. It is critical that the tools are well-maintained and can be considered your ‘best friend’ to complete the task.

What happens if you are unable to move seamlessly back and forth between the two kinds of thinking. One answer is to find a mentor. Another is to go back to trade school.

Posted in biographical sketch

A day in rural Nova Scotia

blogPost_27Mar17_1Yesterday, the ‘Learn to Run’ club met in Bridgetown at 10 am. They meet three times per week. The program  goes from January to April each year. Afterwards, we went to Endless Shores Books. We were looking for second-hand children books to take to grandchildren in Iqaluit next week. We found a great selection. I also found a number of local, new books, including Geoff Butler ‘Our own Little World’. Geoff is from Granville Ferry. His books are a combination of paintings and poetry, with a sense of humour.

Home for lunch. Given the recent snow storm on Wednesday night, there was still good snow in the woods. Time to put on cross-country skis and go down through the property to the Annapolis River. On the way back up, via the old plantations at the defunct Lawrencetown nursery, there was ample opportunity to check the tracks of coyote, deer, squirrel and other mice and voles.

We stopped briefly at the orchard. The apple prunings remain encrusted in ice and snow. It will be at least another week, before burning can take place.

blogPost_27Mar17_2On Saturday evening, CARP hosted a movie night at the Paradise Community Hall on ‘Forest Schools’.It was a good turn out. We had the chance to watch documentary on experiential environmental education in Switzerland and to hear about a similar new initiative underway in the Greenwood area.


Endless Shores Books publishes a free weekly paper for communities and people in Annapolis County. It is available at the web site or you can receive it online, contact

Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) have a web site or you can email Their mission is to  ‘enhance the ecological health of the Annapolis River watershed through science, leadership and community engagement’.

Posted in biographical sketch

We are all Geographers

Everyone lives somewhere at some time. In a lifetime, some of us may stay in one place or culture, others may move and change places or cultures for family, work or political, reasons.

bobmaher_19jan17 If we want to change our attitude towards the earth, it’s resources and our place on its surface, we must become more informed about our ‘geography’; not simply latitude and longitude, but rather ourselves and the processes that affect our behaviour. Geography, in an holistic sense, is physical, biological, economic and social. It is spatial and temporal: neighbourhoods, regions, countries and global; hours, days, years, decades, centuries, lifetimes and beyond.

What matters is that we creatively communicate and understand our geography through our spoken language, our writing, art, music, and technology. This means ‘geography education’.

This blog is for anyone who has an interest in geography education. This could include teachers, researchers, citizen-explorers of our environment and creative communicators. The blog is for action-oriented people who are undertaking projects and creatively communicating their geography.

Locally, I want readers seeking better relationship with the land and sea and the local economy. Provincially and nationally, I’m looking to policy- makers affecting economic and natural processes, whether rural or urban. Globally, I want readers to share experiences of alternative approaches in expressing their geography.

I have been concerned about our loss of geography education in our schools and about appropriate use of technology. Today, my interests include extreme citizen science, “making is connecting”, geography experiments in writing, visual imaging and maps, the Sand County Almanac and a land ethic.

In closing, expect some future blog posts to throw out challenges and discussion points to my readers — such as “A Yidan Education Workshop” and opening up “institutional Geography”.

Join me in this exploration of maker-geography and connecting the dots.

— Bob Maher