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?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Third Chapter


A boomer buzzword I’ve heard lately is ‘third chapter’. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, it’s two words.  The term ‘third chapter’ refers to a portion of a senior’s life. First chapter, growing up, second chapter, career and raising a family, third chapter, retirement and/or Post-career career.

In my case, that first chapter lasted longer than it should have. My adolescent immaturity stretched into my 20s in many ways. Chapter Two was mostly about career, but I never did raise a family.

So now, like many boomers, I’m contemplating Chapter Three. We’re often told this is the time and opportunity to finally do what we’ve always wanted to do. In my case, I’ve been doing most of what I always wanted to do for the past 43 years.

What do I do now?

I realize I ask this question a lot in this blog. Sometimes my answer is to continue doing what I do, but maybe cut back the quantity. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking that maybe there are a few things I’ve always wanted to do that I haven’t done yet.

My bucket list includes two items I might actually be able to make a small amount of post-retirement money with ... writing and photography.

Both of those fields require some level of skill, which I think maybe I have. Both are hard to break into and to be successful in and they offer little financial security. That should not stop my pursuit, should it?  My 43-year career in radio was hard to break into and offered questionable financial security, but I eventually thrived in it.

The lesson here is to pursue whatever you want to pursue, regardless of the obstacles. Desire and determination help break barriers.

I have been engaged in writing and photography my whole life. My radio jobs included both, at various times, and I’ve occasionally made a few freelance dollars doing each.


What have I got to lose, right?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Knee

Ears, eyes, noses, throats, legs and arms are probably pretty jealous lately. Why?  Because knees are getting all the attention.

Football players taking a knee during the National Anthem started as a statement by one player, with the intention of drawing attention to social injustices in our great country. Other players have since joined in on this practice and a national conversation about race, the 1st Amendment, patriotism, policy and law is the result.

Sadly, the conversation is often more of a shouting match and the loudest voices are at each extreme ends of the debate over the appropriateness of taking a knee, rather than the original issue.

As each side digs their heels in (more body parts), the conversation has become more about perceived patriotism, or perceived lack of patriotism, than about the social injustices that led to this behavior. The loudest voices ignore the underlying issue and forget that kneeling is in its own way a sign of respect. Those players are not turning their back on the flag or setting it on fire. They're not waving a middle finger. They are exercising their right to point out problems in our great, but imperfect nation.

If our president (lower case p is my version of taking a knee) wants everyone in the country to think alike, speak alike, vote alike, then he is forgetting the entire foundation of our country and urging us to become a totalitarian state.

By the way, he proved again that he is a lying, fake leader by laughing and joking during a military flag ceremony he attended recently.  That action is far more disrespectful than taking a knee at a football game. His mouth again proves he is unfit to be president of the greatest country on the planet.

My suggestion for use of a body part: use your fingers to write, email or call members of Congress to demand they take action to remove this incompetent and dangerous person from office before it's too late.

His reckless lies and narcissistic attitude could very well be a plan to bring all of us to our knees to bow down and worship him. You can't get more un-American than that.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Click Click Click


A late-morning Wednesday in October.

News
Wendy Williams talks to Joan Rivers’ daughter
Vaping made simple


I was home alone, sick, sitting on my living room sofa. Channel surfing.

Darius Rucker performing on The View
The Price Is Right.
Harry Connick trying to make us believe he can host his own show
.

I was so bored. Too feverish and weak to work from home or to exercise. Not up to writing anything more significant than these few observations.

Whiney ultra-right, arrogant talking heads on Fox.
Whiney ultra-left, arrogant talking heads on MSNBC
.

I am rarely sick, so I’m way out of my usual behavioral comfort zone when I’m so sick that I stay home. In my 40s, even 50s, I would have gone to the office, armed with DayQuil and determination, totally ignoring how that attitude is bad for my health and not thinking that I might be contagious. Now I sit here all concerned. And bored.

Days Of Our Lives
Hair growth miracle.
Ellen.


Well, that was my whole Wednesday, except for the inconclusive doctor appointment. Thursday was pretty boring too. Friday I felt great, visited the doc again, left with orders for more tests, did some work from home, took naps and did more boring channel surfing. The fever returned Saturday, so I did almost nothing again. Boring.

College football
College football
Hair restoration


Them came Sunday, the fever was gone and I was hopefully optimistic that this roller coaster health ride was almost over.

The test results finally indicated, two days later, that I had pneumonia. Doctor O prescribed antibiotics and some rest.

Yesterday, two weeks later, after cancelling some great plans with friends twice, missing a week of work, working from home most of another week, then missing an annual black tie event I look forward to, I felt pretty good. And I channel surfed again, looking for a New Orleans Saints game.

Click click click.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Scam Or Not A Scam


I must have "nice guy" tattooed on my forehead. Or sucker. People, total strangers, seem to single me out when they need something.

I was in the middle of a group of several people exiting the grocery store recently when a young woman sheepishly approached me with sad eyes and a story. She said her car wouldn't start, she had called police and others and needed twenty seven dollars; even one dollar would help, anything. She appeared to be in her thirties and dressed in typical casual attire for the neighborhood and the season. She said she could show me her driver's license, credit cards, etc., I assume to prove she wasn't just scamming me. I told her I thought there was an ATM in the store and she spoke a partial sentence indicating that wouldn't work.

I told her I was sorry but I only used cards, didn't have cash and couldn't help her; all lies, by the way. There are a few reasons why I didn't want to give her twenty seven dollars ... I was skeptical about her story, I've been scammed in similar fashion in the past and refused to let it happen again, didn't understand the exactness of her $27 request.

In the thirty seconds of our conversation, I considered asking her to show me her license, as she had offered, explain what exactly was wrong with her car, tell me what the police have to do with her situation, show me her car, explain why she needed exactly twenty seven dollars.

Later I wish I had asked her why she singled me out of the four or five people who exited the store at the same time. I was in the middle of that pack. Was it because I was the only guy? Because I appeared to be the oldest? Because I walk with a cane so maybe I'm more likely to help?  Do I have "nice guy" written on my forehead?

What would you have done?

Was this a scam or did she truly need $27?  If you were in need of a few dollars, would you ask a stranger outside your local grocery store?

I feel bad that I am so skeptical in these situations but I also believe I'm a target for scams. I wonder what I'd do if I needed money to get out of a jam.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Jealous


Boomers get credit for many wonderful things ... DNA fingerprinting, the artificial heart,  Bob Dylan, the Internet, Viagra.

But boomers, as a group, aren't prepared for retirement. It seems that our parents saved and saved and saved; we spend, spend, spend.

Some of us got it right, however, and I'm jealous of them. Many of my bar friends are retired. They travel to exciting places like Italy, Ireland, Thailand, New Jersey. They live in houses that are paid for or close to being paid for.

Some of them worked their asses off to reach this delicious point in their lives and now reap the rewards. Some of them were blessed to have the resources to live these adventures while working.

I'm doing my best to not be jealous of their good fortune or good planning. Sometimes I have to force myself to remember that I've had a great life up to this point. I played and spent more than saved, so now I still have to work. Retirement won't be at all what I had hoped.

The point is this: we shouldn't be jealous of what other people have or do or can do. We should just work at being what we want to be.

Right?