Thursday, February 28, 2013


I saw as report on television a few days ago about a woman celebrating her 105th birthday.  Can you picture yourself at that age?  I can.  When I hear friends and co-workers between ages 35 and 50 talk about being old, I laugh and growl at the same time.  Thirty-five is definitely not old and neither is 50, in my opinion.

I have joked about wanting to have a 100th birthday party when I get there but I am dead serious.  Wait, let me rephrase that … I am completely serious.  Many family members one or two generations ahead of me made it to their 90s.  Health and lifestyle changes over the past century have significantly increased average life spans, so I think 100 is an achievable goal.

One comment this very alive and aware woman made regarding turning 105 is that so much has changed in the world.  She mentioned email as one example but there are many equally significant inventions and events that have occurred since 1908, her birth year.  Here are a few, some of which might surprise you:

- Powered human flight had only happened for the first time five years before her birth.

- She was a child when Arizona and New Mexico became states and just over 50 when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. 

- Women didn’t have the right to vote till 1920.

- The woman in the story was four years old when the Titanic sank.  She remembers hearing the tragic news.  And she would have heard it from people reading about it because commercially licensed radio stations didn’t begin till 1920. 

- Telephones existed but most people didn’t have them yet.  Same with indoor plumbing.

- If you heard music at home it might have come from people playing musical instruments in your house.  The earliest available ‘home phonograph’ was still fairly new.

- The ball dropped at Times Square for the first time in 1908.  While we’re in New York, a law there at the time prohibited women from smoking in public.

- The Ford Model T came out that year but most people didn’t own a car and many people had never seen one.

- Television, movies with sound, computers, heart transplants, microwave ovens and credit cards are just a few things we take for granted that all came about for the first time during her lifetime. 

For a bit more perspective, let’s say you’re 45 and not 105.  That means you were born around 1968.  Here are some inventions and events that are younger than you:

- Human space flight had only had only happened seven years before and humans had not walked on the moon yet.

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive at the beginning of 1968.

- Most of the Interstate highway system was still under construction.

- Airports didn’t have metal detectors yet.

- Television news coverage from war zones (specifically Vietnam) was filmed.  On film.  The film had to be developed, shipped to TV network facilities in California, edited and eventually shown on news programs.  Live coverage of anything from places that far away was rare and live reporting from the middle of a war zone was virtually impossible.

- Many families still did not have color televisions and there were rarely more than four TV channels.

- Birth control pills were a fairly new medical breakthrough in 1968 and condoms were behind the counter at pharmacies and not at eye level in aisle 10 at Safeway.  A guy had to ask for them.  And there weren’t many choices.

- Most airliners still had propellers.

- You were 10 years old before the first mass produced single-person computers started hitting the shelves and in your teens when the term ‘personal computer’ came about.  You were also at least 10 before cell phones were available but in your 20s before texting started and well over 30 before any of that became common place.

- The internet, email, cassettes, CDs, 3-point seatbelts, HBO, legal interracial marriage in all 50 states, debit cards and Starbucks are all younger than you.

As I watched the story of the 105-year-old woman I wondered what life will be like when I get to that milestone.  The pace of development is growing exponentially.  The computer I’m using to write this post is five years old and already needs to be replaced.  Will keyboards be replaced by a wireless connection to the brain before my 105th birthday?  Will the latest trendy resort be on the moon?  Will locks and keys be replaced by an implant in my arm that is programmed to open appropriate doors?  Will I finally be able to date someone 20 years my junior without being considered creepy … (Did you see that girl he’s with?  She’s only 85!).  Will Taylor Swift be recording instrumentals because she finally found a long-term relationship and ran out of material for lyrics?

Some people I know do not want to live that long, mostly because they picture old age as an uncomfortable time of life filled with medical issues and loss of body and mind function.  I understand.  But I am also blindly optimistic.  That 105 lady was in fairly decent health.  I know a woman who was still driving the last time I saw her; she was 88 or 89 years old then.  Life can be pretty good as we get to the extreme and scientific and medical developments that improve quality of life are also advancing exponentially. 

So remember that you’re invited to my 105th birthday.  I’m also inviting the media so they do a story about me on brainavision.  I’ll be the one in the corner making out with my 85-year-old girlfriend.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

She’ll Sit On the Poll

Danica Patrick at the track

She is not the first woman to race in NASCAR but Danica Patrick is the first woman who experts say has a chance to win the Daytona 500.  She is also the first woman to win the pole position for that legendary race.

The Daytona 500 kicks off the 2013 NASCAR auto racing season Sunday and there is much more mainstream coverage of the event this year because of Ms. Patrick’s involvement.  There are assumptions that she is a role model for young girls who are interested in auto racing.  Many men snicker at the thought of her ‘sitting on the pole’.  There are skeptics who think her first full NASCAR season will end as lackluster as her previous two partial seasons.  Some experts point out that just because she did well in Indy car racing in the past does not mean she’ll succeed in stock car racing.  Other experts believe this will be a good year for her because she has more experience now; and it doesn’t hurt that she is on a team led by 3-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.

Women have achieved genuine equality in most walks of American life, including in many fields usually associated with men.  But team sports is an area that is still very segmented and gender segregated.  Women are capable of playing football, for example, but usually do not have the strength and muscular size to compete with men in such a physical sport, so male and female teams are separate.  Direct one-on-one sports such as wrestling and boxing are similar in that regard.  Men and women competing directly in less physically demanding sports like tennis is perfectly acceptable.  The same is true for group-based sports featuring individual competitors, such as running; men usually have faster times in those activities but not always.

So why is it so unusual for a woman to compete in auto racing?  And why do so many male race car drivers have such negative attitudes toward female drivers?  What are they afraid of?  It does take some amount of strength and endurance to drive a race car for several hours on a hot day, but those physical demands are just as easily achieved by women as they are by men. 

The reluctant acceptance of women in motor sports might just be related to tradition: guys usually have more interest in cars than girls do.  It’s a social and cultural thing.  But women have just as much potential as men do when it comes to driving.  I see it every day in my daily commute to work in the overly-congested Washington DC area.  And I learned this automotive gender equality at a young age because my high school girlfriend was a hot-looking gear head, like Danica is, and sometimes drove her car like she was in the Daytona 500.

HGTV host Jodi Marks
I was channel surfing this morning when I first thought about writing this post and I stumbled on a show called Girl’s Garage.  It featured three female custom car builder/mechanics taking the viewer through their latest project.  It did not surprise me that three hot women can customize a Mustang and explain each phase of the project in great, credible detail.  But it’s a little odd watching three hot women wearing low-cut t-shirts and plenty of sparkly jewelry in the garage while installing headers and a muffler kit.  It’s hard to tell if they really did do the auto work or if they are just good actors.  On-again-off-again HGTV home improvement show host Jodi Marks looks great too, but when you watch her remodeling a kitchen wearing clothes that are appropriate for the job, you just know she actually did the work (I also researched her just to make sure).  The Girls’s Garage girls?  I’m not so sure.

Danica - not at the track
There are many pictures and videos of Danica Patrick in a bikini and heels in ads for Go Daddy internet services.  She has the body and the attitude to make that work.  She also has the good sense to not dress that way during NASCAR races.  It would destroy her credibility and it wouldn’t be safe.  Like many guys, however, I would love to see that.  Other guys do picture that, right?  I’m not the only one, am I?

So while Danica sits on the pole in Florida tomorrow, I’ll be sitting on my sofa in Maryland watching the race on TV.  I hope she comes in … second.  As hot as she is, my favorite driver is still Jimmie Johnson.  Gentlemen, uhhh drivers, start your engines!  May the best man, uhhh driver win.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Assorted Goofy Observations

I am really loving my improved vision.  It’s a miracle.

The computer I’m writing on right now is more than five years old.  That’s ancient for computers.  I can get a new one with better specs for half the price I paid for this one.  That’s crazy.

The Daytona 500 is this Sunday.  Seeing that race in person one day is on my bucket list.

I don’t really have a preferred physical ‘type’ of woman I am attracted to.  Although I notice mid sized red heads and brunettes the most, I’ve been involved with all shapes, sizes and colors of females as friends, lovers or some combination.  But today I interviewed a woman of Indian heritage (India Indian not Native American Indian) and it was hard to concentrate on the interview because she was so beautiful. And she reminded me of another beautiful female acquaintance who is also of Indian heritage.  Pattern or coincidence?

My DVR (digital video recorder) enables me to pause or rewind live TV.  That is so weird.

I am re-reading “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard.  That is a very interesting book if you are an aspiring writer.  Apparently writers are a quirky class of people.  The quirkier they are more likely they are to write a book.  I am probably only quirky enough to write a collection of essays.  I am somewhat passionate about writing but not enough to attempt to make a living at it.

I wrote this whole post in my head as I was leaving work tonight, but the only part that stuck in my head from my desk to the elevator to my car was the paragraph about the beautiful Indian heritage doctor I interviewed.  I didn’t and don’t remember what else I was going to write tonight.  So I guess this is all.  Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Diaries Journals Privacy

Do you keep a diary or journal?  If so, what do you write about?  How often do you write in it? Do you document the mundane, such as the day’s weather, or do you write deep, private thoughts?  Is it paper or computer-based? 

There is a line in the Tony Robbins self-help series that goes something like ‘a life well-spent is a life worth recording.’  That’s not the exact quote but it’s close enough to illustrate my point.  A journal can be a great record of your life, no matter what happens in your life.  It can be shared with others if you so choose or it can just be something to help you learn later what you were thinking about when you wrote something.  It can document progress toward your life goals.

Some of my Mother’s diaries and my Dad’s ‘life story’ were among the few things that survived my sister’s flooded house after Hurricane Katrina.  I knew about Dad’s four-page life story but never read it till we salvaged it during the cleanup.  I was surprised by some of what he wrote.  He was more articulate than I thought, there were revised versions of two of his childhood stories and he addressed his racism, claiming he was not racist the way some people (including me) thought he was.

Mom’s writing was more basic yet more formal.  She wrote almost daily entries in pocket sized ‘calendar’ diaries, noting mundane things like doctor visits or that’s day’s weather.  Her journalism is a time capsule in some ways.  One notation mentioned the family doctor’s house call; some boomers might be old enough to remember when doctors did that.

The parental journals are buried in some of my still-unopened moving boxes but I plan to read them as soon as I find them again.  As I packed my stuff in December I ran across a few of my own journals and was surprised by some of what I wrote.  I discovered patterns in my life, some of which I continue to repeat and some which I have learned from and try to not repeat.

All of that leads me to more questions … how private should personal journals be?  Should they be written to be read eventually by others or should they be strictly for the writer’s eyes only?  Should you commit your deepest, most personal intimate thoughts to print?

I could make a case for writing your most personal thoughts, completely uncensored … it could be a learning experience as you read your own intimate thoughts years later.  On the other hand, do you want somebody else to read your completely uncensored writing?  I have no answers to those questions.

My own writing has been relatively personal and the subjects of those journals might not want to read what I wrote about them.  Some people close to me might not want to know that much about my inner thoughts.  I, however, have no limit when it comes to wanting to know the deepest, most personal thoughts and feelings about people I know, especially my closest friends.  I am curious about what they think, even if they have negative or unflattering thoughts about me.

Some of what I wrote in my own past journals was obviously written with the thought that someone else would eventually see the material.  I can tell I was holding back.  In some cases, however, I wrote completely uncensored ‘letters to myself’ and those provided the biggest learning opportunity for me.  I discovered some patterns in my last relationship, for example, that made me realize it had died a long time ago and would never come back to life.  I was shocked, in fact, by how long that stuff had been going on and reading it led me to finally take long overdue action.

I am seriously considering writing a new set of journals about individuals I know or have known.  The initial sentences in my head are completely unfiltered, with the idea that I will be the only reader until these writing are discovered after I die.  In that scenario I should write exactly what I think, both good and bad, and proceed without fear that what I write will hurt or embarrass the subjects of my writing.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you might think I am an open book and in many ways this serves as my journal; but I am more private that I seem to be.  I have no privacy limit with my closest friends, however; I will answer any question they ask.  The funny part is that I am much more curious about them than any of them are about me.  Maybe I’ll understand that one day.

So, should I start my new project?  Paper or computer?  Hide it or leave it out in the open for possible discovery?  Ask those questions about your own writing.  If you are a close in-person friend, take a chance and share some of it with me.  You know how curious I am.