I'm retired. Bought the farm -- literally (in NE Texas).
I'm a boomer, not a depression era kid (it was my parents who lived through that mess). So I'm exaggerating a bit when I state that the "Great Depression" ran into the late 50's where I grew up (the Appalachia of the West). But I did go to bed hungry, dreaming of food, because there was literally nothing to eat. The family's grocery problem was eventually solved through the good graces of a religious charity, the assistance of friends and neighbors, the perseverance of my parents, and more than a little luck.
I believe those early lean times provided a wee-bit of incentive to not let those circumstances repeat themselves... I really dislike going hungry.
But I was lucky. I had clothes; usually ate on a regular basis; got a bath once a week in a tin wash tub, whether it was needed or wanted; got medical treatment for the slices, dices and broken bones that would have crippled me, treatment for the diseases that, left untreated, would have killed me; and had the opportunity to go to school. That was an opportunity I seized with both hands and did not let go.
I am by nature inherently lazy... given the choice between digging ditch with pick and shovel at $0.10/hour or sitting behind a desk writing software at hundreds of times that hourly rate... I decided not to dig ditches.
Now that I'm retired and own the farm, I dig ditches for free.
As a kid I read constantly... pretty much everything on just about anything. Cleaned out the local libraries (it was a very small town). "The Richest Man in Babylon", biographies of Hughes, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and others, histories, westerns, mysteries, SF. Remembered various parables about being unable to grasp opportunities because one had wasted his resources.
Can't say I always succeeded, but I tried. Towards the end of my career, managed to live on about 1/3 of my gross, saving and investing what was left after taxes and insurance, and still had opportunities for fun, recreation, travel and friends.
As a NASA Engineer, I wrote a large variety of software. Some of the more notable items were: * an email management system for the Agency and its contractors (the project included writing the procedures; reporting and correcting third party data errors; * designing, writing and testing the software; designing and implementing the database schema and queries; navigating inter-center politics; etc); * a moving map software that flew twice aboard the Shuttle and displayed alternate landing sites in the event of a launch emergency; * post landing wheel-tire-brake analysis software for the Shuttle (STS-1 to final-flight); * a graphical, real-time dynamic software simulator for a 7-joint robot; * a FMEA/CIL data processing system (software and procedures) for Return-to-Flight after the Challenger disaster; data structures & * translation software for the Shuttle's Wake Shield Experiment; and * a Shuttle-Station docking simulator.
Also designed, developed, tested and used a simulation language, a graphics processing language, and various computer language processing and analysis tools.
And then there was the "fun" NASA stuff... logging 40 minutes of zero-G time (and 40 minutes of 2G time), riding a 6-DOF shuttle simulator, working (and biking) with a handful of astronauts, SCUBA-ing in the WETF whilst observing astronauts using the tools my group designed, witnessing a Shuttle launch, doing Shuttle post-landing ground penetrometer studies at Edwards AFB, simulating shuttle tile repair whilst mounted horizontally on an air-bearing floor, mentoring younger engineers, and working with some of the best and brightest people I've met in my life.
In my free time: * I developed commercial library management, scheduling and reporting software packages, wrote the user manuals, made onsite visits and learned a lot of humility; * guest lectured and taught software development at universities.
I traveled: * lived for years in various locales in northern Japan, participated in a traditional Japanese marriage ceremony (my own), helped my father-in-law with a bit of traditional Japanese construction near Sendai, and played Shogi whenever possible (Shogi is the Japanese version of chess. The local shogi master's shocked expression of total surprise when I beat him at the game was priceless ... To the master I was just an idiot "gaijin" [foreigner] and not worth his full attention. He won the next game.); * lived for three months in Hawaii; * made brief excursions to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
While at one time I could read, write, think, dream, and speak (without accent) in standard Japanese and could understand a bit of the Tsugaru and Zuzu-ben dialects, I don't practice much anymore.
My time in the US Army made me appreciate my MOS (a retired crypto sub-specialty) was not 11B.