Wednesday, January 17, 2018

MLK

A sampling of quotes from an American hero:

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”


- Martin Luther King Jr. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Patience

A warm, but bulky coat. Gloves. A wool hat. DataWatch card on a lanyard. Office door keys. Laptop backpack. A Baja Fresh bag with a chicken rice bowl. A grande Pike Place blend cup of Starbucks coffee. A walking stick.

That’s what I wore and retrieved from my car in the parking lot at work late one recent morning. It was 11 degrees outside, 43 in the parking lot.

Many people I know think I have a lot of patience, that I’m calm under pressure and that I don’t get angry very often. My take? I have plenty of ‘acceptance’; but the older I get, the less patience I have. And the more often I am angry.

Maybe ‘patience’ should be my keyword for 2018. That would be a worthy goal.

A moment before I struggled to exit my car, strap on all my crap and head for the elevator, I told myself I should take my time and accept that it’s cold, I have several items to take up to my office and I’m a 60-something man who walks with a walking stick because I have MS. I can’t change the weather, can’t change the fact that I was hungry enough for lunch and currently can’t change my walking difficulty.

I CAN change my reaction to those things. I can have patience and accept them, take my time and just deal with them.

The reason I was just getting to my office at noon was that I had accompanied the love of my life to a doctor appointment during which she and I learned about treatment options for her recently-diagnosed breast cancer.

My gf has effing breast cancer and I’m going to whine because I’m wearing a bulky coat and walk with a limp?!  No.

Patience.

My MS is annoying and I sometimes feel lost as I deal with that and aging. Sometimes I am angry because of limitations due to age and MS. But my MS is nothing compared with most people living with it. It’s just annoying. And everybody ages.

Breast cancer is a serious matter. The good news about hers is that it’s the most easily treatable kind and the designation is ‘stage 0’. In other words, it’s more annoying than anything else and the survival rate is 98%.

She refers to it as a bump in the road.

She and I give each other emotional strength and we found each other at just the right time in our lives. Our regular advice to each other during difficult times is: take deep breaths.

Deep breaths equal patience. Taking a few slow, deep breaths leads to a slowing down of the crazy activity or thoughts that are stressing us at any given moment. A deep breath allows us to stop and think, to regroup momentarily, to consider options for how to react to a situation.

Exercising some patience produces the same results.


I’ll contemplate this a little more before declaring a decision, but at this moment ‘patience’ is the leading contender for my keyword of the year. Patience seems to be a worthy and significant goal for the new year. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Day, New Month, New Year


New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. January 1st each year signals an opportunity for new beginnings, both in thought and in reality.

Counting down to midnight the night before is simultaneously scary and energizing. A mild sense of dread washes over me as we careen toward the final moments of a year. Wait, stop, I didn’t finish (fill in the blank). Yet there is energy and optimism as we count, often in unison with groups of people, ten. Nine. Eight. It’s almost here. Seven. Six. Does everyone have their champagne? Five. Four. Ready?! Three. Two. One!!

Happy New Year!!!!

Glasses clink. Hugs. Kisses. Attempts to sing Auld Lang Syne. Does anybody really know the words?  Or the origin of the song and its connection to turning the page into the next year?

January One is the first day of my month-long ‘process’. From New Year’s Day at the beginning to my birthday near the end, I think through what I want in the coming year. I don’t actually make New Years resolutions but I do a form of goal-setting. I often pick a keyword or two that helps me focus on hitting those goals.

Balance, my single favorite English language word, is a holdover keyword. Every year I strive to find balance between often-competing aspects of life, like work versus fun, planned obligations versus spontaneous frivolity.  Since I began using balance as a keyword, my life has become more balanced, but I have a long way to go. So balance carries over.

At this point, twelve hours into 2018, I think ‘simplify’ might return as a keyword. My life continues to be more complicated than I want it to be. That is a big surprise to me. I always thought life got simpler as we age. It doesn’t.

Another keyword contender is ‘discipline’. That would also be a returning goal.

I have other specific goals for 2018 and I’ll develop strategies to help me achieve them. But I want to have fun this year too. Hmmm, ‘fun’ is another possible (and returning) keyword.

Meanwhile, I thank you for visiting my blog. I wish you simplicity, balance and fun in 2018.

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Christmas Magnet

Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, Christmas is usually a time for family and friend celebration. It can also be a sad time in boomer world because the holiday season of our adulthood or ‘seniorhood’ doesn’t live up to that of our youth.

I used to have serious holiday depression, especially after my Dad died in a November several years ago. My life turned around in a positive direction about five years ago. That Christmas I was alone and on my own again after more than fifteen years of what turned into a very dysfunctional relationship and marriage.

Being alone during the holidays could be very depressing but that was not the case with me.  Christmas Day that year was my third day alone in a new apartment and I woke up with a smile, brewed some coffee and opened moving boxes till I found my stereo. Me, coffee, Christmas music = happiness.

Back in my ‘holiday depression’ years I could feel sadness for days at a time through November and December. A trip back to New Orleans, the source of my happy holiday youth, often served to erase the depression. New Orleans was sort of like a magnet, pulling me back to a time when the word ‘depression’ was merely something in a history book referring to the 1930s and not an emotional condition.

New Orleans is still a Christmas magnet for me. For the past five years, my Yuletide blues only comes in short waves lasting minutes rather than months. Thinking about my hometown usually knocks out sadness. Memories of a very pleasant youth puts a smile on my face. My current (and likely permanent) romantic situation has a similar effect.

But it has been six or seven years since I was in that weird, magical city at Christmas time and I feel the pull of the magnet. Even though I dislike traveling during holidays and winter (crowds, delays, weather), I want to be in the center of my happy holiday youth, spending time with family and friends and sharing it with the afore-mentioned romantic woman.

My first New Year's resolution for 2018: let the Christmas magnet pull me ‘home’ for a few days next December.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Celebrity Perp Parade


Long time CBS anchor and PBS host Charlie Rose, Senator and former comedian Al Franken, and now longtime NBC anchor Matt Lauer are all accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

It shouldn’t surprise me after working in media for 40 years that what you see is not always what you get. We create images. On the news side, media outlets try to create an image of honesty and integrity. News anchors seem to be trustworthy. Charlie Rose appeared a bit arrogant to me, but also looked intelligent and honest. Matt Lauer appeared to be an honest family man and grateful for the positive turns in his career. Neither seemed like the kind of men who would engage in sexually inappropriate behavior.

And as I began to write this post, news broke that Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame was fired from PBS for sexually inappropriate behavior. That is hard to believe.

Image. Image. Image.

Politicians, on the other hand, often seem like corrupt, untrustworthy liars. Franken, however, did not seem like that. The accusations against him pre-date his political career. He was in media then. Hmmm.

There have been numerous examples of celebrity men, in media or politics or other high-profile occupations, using that power or celebrity to engage in sexually inappropriate behavior. The celebrity perp parade is long and getting longer. Women are gaining the confidence to stand up and report the behavior and abuse and hopefully the strength to stop the behavior in its tracks.

Famous men are used to getting a pass, but that era might finally be coming to an end. Of course the leader of the parade, ‘president’ Trump, is still getting a pass for well-documented inappropriate behavior. Why?!  Why aren’t ‘we the people’ shouting Trump’s signature line: “You’re fired!”

As the Charlie and Matt stories have developed, it appears there was a years-long pattern with each of them that was mostly kept silent. The wave of ‘me too’ revaluations has given more women the power to speak up and had given media management the extra incentive to quickly take appropriate action.

And since I began writing this, a few more politicians and media moguls were outed by advisors ... the parade got longer. Even some of the women who previously accused Trump were in the news again.

All this led to an interesting conversation with a male coworker the other day. He said that at one point in his career he sometimes dated female coworkers but he would never do that now if he was single now.  Hmmm, I did too. A long time ago, but I browsed my memory banks to see if I crossed any lines. No, as far as I know.

I think this is one of the points of the ‘me too’ movement. To get us thinking; and to reinforce that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Even though I’m very disappointed that some high profile men I normally respect have turned out to be purveyors of this behavior, I’m glad that shining a light on this topic might have a positive benefit.

Friday, December 1, 2017

It Feels Like


Sometimes 2017 feels like 1968. Boomers might remember 1968 as a year filled with anti-war demonstrations, ‘race riots’ and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

The Vietnam War was escalating and the somewhat controversial Richard Nixon won the presidential election in November.   He only beat his Democratic opponent Hubert Humphrey by 500,000 of the 70-million votes cast, but his Electoral College win was a landslide. Racist 3rd-party candidate George Wallace received almost 10-million votes and won five states in Electoral College votes including, sadly, my home state of Louisiana.

Nixon actually did a few positive things not always associated with Republican leaders. He ended a war (Vietnam) and created the Environmental Protection Agency. He also established some positive relations with China. But like the current Trump administration, the Nixon camp was full of corruption. Spiro Agnew, his first Vice President, was forced to resign early in his second term because of a tax evasion conviction and accusations of bribery. Less than a year later, Nixon himself resigned in the middle of swirling accusations related to his campaign’s break in of their opponent’s campaign headquarters during the 1973 campaign.

Back to 1968. Civil discord, racial conflict, loud and violent demonstrations protesting war, violent riots in reaction to the killing of a civil rights leader, protests and fights at the Democratic convention ... all resulting in a feeling among many of us that our country was falling apart. Sprinkle in the hypocrisy of a law-and-order president whose administration was full of corruption, real and imagined.

Any of that sound like today?

Is some of the fear from fifty years ago that our country is falling apart real? Or just my paranoia from my youth?  Something’s happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Social media and hundreds of ‘news’ outlets add to the intensity. In 1968 we had only three national TV networks and a handful of local newspapers.

It has taken me decades of redirecting my own negativity into a general attitude of positivity and optimism. I hate that current events are conspiring to drag me back to a life attitude I worked so hard to change.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Accepting Some Reality


Older people generally experience more health issues than younger people. Us boomers are officially in the ‘older people’ category so it should not surprise us when we get sick. But I have been so incredibly healthy from age 7 till around 55, that I am still surprised when I get sick now that I’m over 60.

Fortunately I react to illness differently at this point in my life than in my 20s, or even my 40s. If I had 102 fever back then, I’d call in sick for a day or two till my temp got down to 99-ish. Sneezing, coughing, fatigue, sore throat... so what? I can work.

Now? I took a whole week of sick days last month and worked half the next week from home. Fever between 99 and 102 every day turned out to be walking pneumonia. Third week: normal. Late during the fourth week: fever returned. This time it was not pneumonia or even flu ... just some random infection. I stayed home and my temp was just over 99 all day.

What I’m trying to articulate here is that I am paying much more attention to health issues as I grow older, which is the preliminary step to actually accepting and embracing my real age and not the age I look or wish I still was.

Pneumonia is a serious condition, especially for older people, and sometimes requires hospitalization. Flu too. And my immune system is compromised by MS. So this crap is serious.

A day after I started writing this post, the fever was gone again and I resumed some of my normal activities.  Some.  I remain cautious as I gradually accept more of the reality of aging.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Was Gene From Outer Space?


There’s a theory floating around that some amazing structures in the world, like the great pyramids of Egypt, were actually designed or built by visitors from advanced civilizations from other planets. It is a theory that seems believable when you consider the primitive technology of 4000 years ago and how difficult it would have been to invent and built such incredible structures.

In the 2000 BC, there were no engines, no computers and the average Egyptian probably still believed the earth was flat and the sun and everything else they observed in the sky revolved around our planet.

Technology in the middle of the boomer era seems primitive by today’s standards. In 1966, for example, many TVs were still black and white, telephones were connected by wire to wall outlets that were connected to wired networks. Recorded music was played on 7-inch or 12-inch vinyl disks; a ‘record player’ wouldn’t fit in your pocket like today’s iPods or phones. Elevators in some buildings still had human ‘elevator operators’ who manually started and stopped at each floor. Libraries were filled with books of reference material and you had to visit a library to get information about people or places. You had to flip a switch or push a button to turn on lights or open doors.

Yet there were TV shows in 1966 that portrayed a future of automation with spoken commands. The Jetsons and Star Trek are two examples.

The elevator doors on the Enterprise opened when you approached and you spoke the level you wanted to go to. No button to push. Crew members verbally questioned the computers and received verbal answers. Communication between people was done on a ‘communicator’ which looked a while lot like a Motorola Startak flip phone of the 1990s.

Verbal communication between humans and our devices is rapidly becoming the norm. “Alexa, where was William Shatner born?”  “Siri, read me my last text.”  I can change channels or search for a TV show by talking to my Xfinity remote.

How did the people who wrote Star Trek get so much of this right more than fifty years ago?  Was Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, really a visitor from an advanced civilization on another planet?

The Jetsons goes even further back, to 1962 and 1963. Rosie the robot maid seems to be a forerunner to the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.

Microwave ovens, Bluetooth connectivity in cars, automatic lighting and curtain opening/closing (ever been to Aria hotel in Vegas?) ... did we invent all this stuff or was the inspiration from a visitor from another planet ... Gene Roddenberry?

Just wondering.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Giving Thanks


Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful idea, but it takes a lot more than one day to truly express thanks and gratitude for all the positives in my life.

This Thanksgiving was especially nice for me because my sister was visiting for most of the week.

So here are few random, significant things I’m thankful for this year:

- The aforementioned sister visit.

- The 4th anniversary (last week) of meeting the love of my life. And that means everything going forward is our 5th. So this is our 5th Thanksgiving.

- I’m still keeping up at work, even though many co-workers are half my age.

- My health is good, overall, and my positive attitude helps offset the somewhat negative aspects of living with MS.

- I’m thankful for fellow blogger Elizinashe, who in real life is one of my best friends. She helped me during a transitional part of my life a few years ago, which ultimately helped me be the person I am now, which helped me attract the aforementioned love of my life.

- I’m thankful for the caring, stable environment I grew up in, which was remarkable when you consider the volatile time of our boomer youth. Props to my parents for that. I didn’t give them nearly enough credit and thanks while they were alive.

- And I’m thankful that you visit and read my blog sometimes. This may become a podcast soon.

I hope you have a great week.  Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Why Can't EVERYBODY See This?


Boomers generally grew into adulthood as independent thinkers. Many of us rejected things our parents taught us about politics, religion and life. We were the rebels. Aging sent some of us back to those earlier beliefs we rejected or to a blend of the best parts of what we were taught and what we grew to believe on our own.

One cohesive belief, in my opinion and observation, is that we are free. Freedom is an overriding part of what makes the USA great.

We are free to believe what we want, we are free to vote for candidates of our choice, we are free to debate issues and we are free to agree to disagree. We are supposed to be free to express our beliefs without retribution. Our press is supposed to be free to question and investigate the sincerity or accuracy of statements made by our elected officials.

Even though I would not have voted for trump last year, even if he was the only candidate on the ballot, I understand why many people did vote for him. He was fearless in expressing his opinions, often giving loud voice to fears and beliefs many voters were reluctant to speak out loud themselves.

He threw a bright spotlight on racism and made it ok for people to bring their closeted racist attitudes out of the closet. He played on fears many citizens had/have that all people of specific countries or religions are out to get us. The incredibly poor choice of an opponent with a lot of baggage made it an easy choice for many voters to choose the loudmouth candidate, without truly exploring the issues or questioning the qualifications or integrity of each candidate.

His bold, impossible promises of a wall, of ‘draining the swamp’ of career Congress people, of rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and of rejecting ‘those who are out to get us’ were so much simpler to grasp than Clinton’s wonky, Ivy League pronouncements.

Now, ten months into what in my opinion is the worse administration in our history, we are living in the shadow of a president who is more dangerous and un-American than my wildest imagination conjured up.

Words that come to mind: liar, childish, coward, stupid, sexual predator, narcissistic, lacking compassion. He has no heart, no soul, no grasp on what it’s like to be a ‘normal citizen’. He seems to have no idea how he proves my assertions every day. He wants to censor those who disagree with him. He labels facts as fake when he doesn’t like the facts. He claims regularly that “nobody is more (______) than me”. He’s the best, the smartest, the most caring ... all proven lies!

Why can’t everybody see this?  How can those well-meaning, Clinton-hating supporters who voted for him see that he is NOT the guy they thought he was?

One hundred Senators and 435 Representatives have the power to replace him and stop this insanity. Pelosi and other whiney Democrats won’t be able to do it alone. Republicans need to stop being cowards; they must speak out like the three bold Republicans who have taken a stand: McCain, Flake and Corker.

I ask again: why can’t everybody see this?

The three Presidents in my lifetime who I liked the least were Bush 43, Bush 41 and Reagan; NOT because they were Republican. I just didn’t like many of their policies. BUT I never questioned their patriotism, compassion, integrity or fitness for Office.  Trump has no integrity, no compassion, no patriotism and is unfit for Office.

Same question again: why can’t everybody see this?  More importantly: when will somebody do something about it? Legally. It’s time to put our founders’  ‘checks and balances’ concept to the biggest test in our history.

In the 1990s, some in Congress  wanted to impeach a President who lied about an affair, but they give a pass to a president who lies about everything. WTF?!

Why can’t everybody see this?