Thank you everyone for responding to my introduction post. I was afraid no one would respond and I would feel unloved.
Rather than separate reply's, here is a general reply to comments and questions.
I have considered foregoing employer medical coverage by retiring today at 47 instead of waiting until 50. I obtained a policy quote last year just to get an idea about costs. A high deductible policy probably would be appropriate since the last time I've taken a "sick day" was 37 years ago back in the 4th grade. Still, having employer provided medical coverage is very desirable. My current benefits and pension are with the University of California, which may have the most sound system in the country. This coverage is likely to change in October when we go to a different contractor (no longer UC). The details won't be known for a few months.
From a purely financial perspective, I could retire today and have a SWR that is greater than my current expenses (even if paying my own health coverage). However, as a conservative person who must depend entirely on myself, a cushion is desired. I do not know what will happen in the future (e.g., my mother is not very fiscally prudent and I may need to provide her with future funds). The size of this cushion is not known, but the perspectives from people in this forum are interesting.
There are alternatives that could work. For example, around August 1 of this year, I conceivably could go half-time and use a combination of sick leave and vacation time to take me to age 50. I may need to convince a psychiatrist that I'm "mentally unstable" and in need of medical leave. That shouldn't be too difficult.
But seriously, there are various "sweet spots" in the next 3-5 years where ER could be timely.
No Nords, I have not read Scott Berkun's essays (except for the link you provided). However, I am quite familiar with the concept "employees don't leave jobs, they leave managers." My situation is complex. I have multiple managers, or multiple fleas biting me on the back (after all, we are a government organization). I have considered finding another position at my own organization, but mostly, I'm hoping that the person who is my official legal supervisor, but has nothing to do with my work, will leave.
I've been thinking about ER since I was 40, when a 49 year old member of my bicycle club said that he was about to retire. I never gave the subject much previous thought, but this got me thinking about leaving work sometime between 50 and 53. Hence, my desire to ER is not caused by my current toxic work environment, although this environment is certainly making me reevaluate my situation and see if I can hurry the process. So yes, dex, I believe the ER life will be much more enjoyable for me than the working life. Having never been there, though, I can't be certain.
In my present position, Coach, it would be difficult to take a leave of absence. However, I have considered this. My organization offers paid sabbaticals, but I then would be obligated to work at least two years following my return. If anything, I might take an unpaid leave of absence at 49 and then retire the day I returned at 50.
To answer your questions Ed_The_Gypsy, I've taken only 8 days of vacation in the last 15 years (no need to respond because I know what you will say). No. I have no immediate plans to move from the Bay Area. In terms of earthquakes, there are natural hazards everywhere and earthquakes do not worry me. And if you are interested, I do not have earthquake insurance. This is a decision based both on personal considerations and scientific judgement. To each his own, however.
Thank you DRiP Guy for the explanation about dryer sheets. That makes a lot of sense. If I was willing to fork over the money for dryer sheets in the first place, I'd reuse them too. I haven't seen the biggest ball of yarn either, although it's first on my list, right after Everest. No. I'm not someone from your work spoofing you, but perhaps we are long lost twins since we have so much in common.
I appreciate your (winnie, F M All, Martha) concerns about the google reference that includes my full name. Nords is correct that I'm knowledgeable about discussion boards and the internet ("I've been using the internet before any of you were even in diapers, or make that investing your 401's in diaper-based sector funds"
). I'm not a private person and items such as my salary are public information. There are risks in everything we do. The point that I was trying to make with the google reference was that my career has been built on a lot of effort and hard work. There is a lot of self worth here. ER will mean that this will be gone. It's not something I can easily get back if I don't like ER.
Still, I realize that each discussion board has it's own character and I don't see too many other people here who have revealed their full names. So I will consider altering my post.
As for my management, Nords, they are already familiar with my opinions. For example, in my own input to last years performance appraisal, when I was asked to list the problems I experienced during the year, I wrote, "[Management] is an arrogant hypocritical micromanaging organization that interferes with and hinders technical progress. They do not and in fact refuse to hold themselves accountable for their own actions. They hold themselves to different standards than they require of employees. Do as I say, not as I do." I received a 15% raise. Is their no justice? Recently, I communicated to my supervisor, "I can't believe management can be so incompetent and fiscally irresponsible." I'm going for the 20% raise this year.
Yes jphripjah, you're correct. It's possible that I could be posting under a false name. I don't know how to alleviate this paranoid schizophrenic delusion quite valid concern of yours. Unfortunately, I don't have a tattoo. Hmmm ... I know. My lucky number is 3. Now how would I know this if I wasn't me?
Thank you all for your responses. They were great.