Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Whatever Will Be Will Be and You Can Dream It Into Reality

Image
On one hand, the title of this post tells the whole story.On the other hand, I’ll expand on it a bit.

New Year’s Day is my favorite day of the year.For me, January 1st is the beginning of a new chapter of life, a day to visualize the coming 365 days (or 366 in the case of 2016).It is a day to take stock of where one has been during the past year, how much of the year worked out as planned twelve months earlier, how much didn’t.New Year’s Day can open the door to new possibilities, new dreams, new accomplishments and more. Every year I write about my ‘process’, which basically involves thinking through what I want for the coming year.I do this through the whole month of January, from New Year’s Day at the beginning to my birthday at the end.I look into the coming year and map out what I want to do and accomplish.It’s like goal setting and New Year’s resolutions but a bit more involved.I also pick a keyword that symbolizes my goals for the year, a word triggers or reminds me of the whole …

To Be Or Not To Be

I recently took one of those silly quizzes on Facebook.The challenge they posed was that they could tell my highest level of education by my answers to 25 questions.I do not believe those quizzes amount to much, other than to funnel targeted advertising to the participants.That was certainly true for this one: every question was surrounded by ads for educational entities.

Of course I can’t resist the urge to take a quiz like that.I seem to know a lot about a little. How did I do?

I scored a 71%.Actually it should have been slightly higher because I accidentally clicked the wrong answer on one of them.Most of the questions were easy for me, such as ‘in what year did WW1 end’?There were 4 choices and only two of them were even close, although I did happen to know the answer is 1918.Some of my other answers were totally good guesses.And there were a few in which I had no clue.In fact, I missed the very first one, which was about a Shakespeare character. The commentary that goes with scoring …

Wow I Must Be Very Popular

Apparently I am very popular.How do I know this?Because I receive dozens of email a day on both of my personal email accounts.It appears the volume of email has grown exponentially during the past two months, which must mean my popularity is growing.

Or maybe I get more email because it was Christmas shopping season.Naw, that can’t be it. Email is a blessing and a curse.The speed and convenience of email communication is undeniable.Letters take a day or more, email is instant.That also means junk mail is instant.Of course, I still get junk mail in my physical mailbox.

Some people measure their personal popularity by the number of Facebook friends they have.Some people don’t even know their Facebook friends but that high number makes them feel good.And connected.I have ‘only’ two or three hundred FB ‘friends’ but I know all of them on some level, either personally or professionally.I’ve met most but some I know via email. Does being popular even matter?I’m thinking it is more important to …

Is That the Best We Have To Choose From

President of the United States is one of the most important and most thankless jobs on the planet.The pay and benefits are good ($450,000 annual salary for life, free transportation everywhere, 24-hour security, a personal staff and a rent-free 54,000 square foot residence, just to name a few).But the responsibility is frightening.A President’s decisions and power affects hundreds of thousands of military personnel, millions of citizens and world history.

The job application is relatively easy and the minimum requirements mostly involve age and citizenship, but successfully candidates for the position spend millions of dollars to impress the ‘boss’ … we the people.Whoever gets the job knows the exact start and end date, accepts that it will last four years initially and there is the possibility for a four-year renewal, after which they can never hold that job again. Who’d want a job like that?

At this point, with about eleven months remaining before the hiring decision is made, at least …

Time

Time is our best friend and worst enemy.We have twenty four hours each day to get things done but sometimes that’s not enough.

Time flies.Where does the time go?It’s bed time; wake up time.Time to make the donuts. Hammer time.Time is on our side, yes it is.Time marches on.Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future. “Lost time is never found again.”Benjamin Franklin

“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, a time to die, etc.”Ecclesiastes “Time is money.”Benjamin Franklin
“Lost time is never found again.”Benjamin Franklin

Wow, Ben must have had plenty of time on his hands; so many time quotes are attributed to him. I apparently do not have time on my hands.There is so much I want to do in life, even on a daily basis, yet I never seem to have the time to do it.Or I just don’t make the time.How did we (or I) get so busy?Three years ago I cut my daily commute time in half and some days I can work from home, thus cutting my com…

I’m Not Drunk, I Just Have …

Balance is my favorite word, but I have a bit of a balance problem.I usually use the word balance when talking about contrasting work with non-work or left opinions with right opinions or the need to lose weight with the need to eat a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting.But the balance I have a problem with right now refers to walking up or down stairs without holding onto the railing or attempting to navigate a narrow sidewalk on a crowded street without bumping into somebody or trying to carry a box to my car without tripping and falling.

I’ve been very healthy most of my life.Three years ago, however, I discovered numbness across a third of my body, all on one side.My first thought was stroke, but that was not the case.I also had a balance problem and weakness in one leg.Doctor visits with four new docs plus tests, MRIs, CT scans, a lumbar puncture and a colonoscopy ruled out everything except my neurologist’s first thought: Multiple Sclerosis.That diagnosis wasn’t …

Random Gun Observations

The mass shooting episode in Oregon this week led to the predictable public reactions from the White House, the NRA, the pro and con gun control advocates and the various biased and unbiased news outlets.I’d like to hear from the mental health experts. Did they get any coverage?

I hate guns and wish they didn’t exist, I will never own one and they are not allowed in my apartment.On the other hand, I don’t know that stricter gun control laws would prevent all the mass shootings.The President’s emotional speech after the Oregon incident was great and I wish we’d see his angry side more often.But he predictably called for more gun control.Yes, I think it should be difficult to get a gun but I’ll also note that several of the mass shooting incidents during the past decade involved legally registered guns.Correct me if I’m wrong, but ALL of them involved some level of mental illness. Various gun rights activists claim that we need more guns, arguably to protect ourselves.Parents, do really w…

Hey Bernie, Where Have You Been?

Photography and writing are two of my passions, but as is the case with many creative endeavors, day-to-day life gets in the way.I love writing for this blog and shooting pictures for my photo blog, even though only a few people read either, but I have a job, a traffic-infused commute, a divorce that drags on and a new medical condition, all conspiring to rob me of the time to write and shoot photographs.

My usual response when someone else whines about not having time to do things is, “keep trying.”Every time you get knocked down, stand up.I usually take my own advice on this matter so here I am, standing up, writing again, hopefully on a regular basis. It’s also time to find my camera.I did take 200 photos on a beach week trip.Oh wait, that was in June.More recently, I entered a neighborhood photo contest.Three days before the deadline, after the tenth reminder from a neighborhood photographer friend, I walked around and shot some pictures.As I began to choose my entries, I realized I…

One Small Step for …

Image
Yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon.I used my calculator to subtract 1969 from 2015.Seems like I should be able to do simple math in my head.

Has technology helped us or hurt us?Calculators and calculator apps on our smart phones, tech that was unheard of in 1969, is almost a necessity now.Do you reach for a calculator for even simpler math problems, like determining how many days between today and Tuesday? There is more computer power in a flip phone from 2010 than there was in the lunar lander in 1969.I guess you could say boomers invented this time-saving, convenient technology, but did we intend for it to replace our brains?

I just read a newspaper article about maps; more accurately, an article about how teens in the GPS era might never have seen a map and probably wouldn’t know how to use one.I grew up on maps, love looking at them, folding them, writing on them.My road trip rituals used to include ordering maps and guidebooks from AAA.Now I do…

Generations Politics and the 4th of July

I spent Independence Day weekend with four generations of a family that is close to me. The age range was a few months to 82. One was celebrating an 80th birthday.

A few more statistics: three Democrats and 30+ Republicans. Two Marines. Seven trips to the grocery store over three days. Wine is 20-40% cheaper in this county, which is only 90 minutes from my county in the same state. Fireworks are illegal in my county but not in this one. Vaping is replacing smoking. Kids scream a lot. I am Uncle Bernie to the youngest kids, which is kind of cool. Some kids bang on the table when they can't get their way; so does the 80-year-old at times.

Independence Day weekend is an important time for many reasons: celebrating the birth of the greatest nation on earth, gathering of friends and family, taking a 3-day break from work, enjoying the mid-point of summer.

The people in this group are friendly, patriotic, loud and opinionated. They are not diverse; they are mostly white, Christian, repu…

Watching Them Cry and Sing

Image
Bad ass music legends shedding tears over being honored, then playing their signature songs.That’s how I’d describe the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame special I’ve been watching on HBO for the last two hours.It reminds me why I love music, all music, all forms of music.

Rock and roll is an umbrella term that encompasses an incredibly wide range of sounds and messages.I’ve been mostly listening to Country and Blues for the past decade but I grew up on everything from the Beatles and the Stones to Motown to doo-wop to classical to jazz to Frank Sinatra.Along the way I added Sting, U2, Madonna, Maroon 5, Van Halen and a lot more to my mental playlist as well as the collection on my iPhone. Miley Cyrus inducting Joan Jett, Stevie Wonder inducting Bill Withers, Fall Out Boys inducting Green Day.Zac Brown playing Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie singing Withers with Bill sitting next to him.

Joan effing Jett!She made the most passionate acceptance speech.“It’s about the music.”I had dinner wi…

Mother's Day Reflecting

Mom died ten years ago this summer but two personality traits I learned from her seem to be with me every day. 1) I'm a story teller and, like her, I repeat stories a lot. 2) Being over 50 is no excuse to stop learning. She took art lessons in her 50s and 70s; I started guitar lessons last year.

Now that I'm writing this, I remember more similarities. She loved to travel and loved to track hurricanes. Her death was partly related to a post-hurricane evacuation to another part of her state. Today I am watching the weather channel reports of this year's first named tropical storm. You can tell where I learned some of that.My curiosity about people and my sense of humor are also similar to those characteristics of Mom’s personality.
My mother didn’t always approve of the things I did, especially of the multiple marriages and divorces, but she always loved me and accepted me.I think she would like a lot about my life right now and I wish she was still here to have a conversatio…

Really?

Is it really May 2nd?  And I haven't blogged since March?  What happened to April?

I probably can't really catch up, although much has happened during the past six weeks.  Basically, life is good.  A few medical developments that I'll mention later and work is busier than ever, but my personal life is awesome.  More about that another time too.

It's a warm, sunny Spring day in my part of Maryland this morning.  Even though I am at work as I write this, waiting for a huge audio file to download, I am happy and at peace.  I will return home in about two hours and spend the rest of the day enjoying sunshine and music.  A friend's folk band is playing at a very cool joint in the Georgetown part of DC this afternoon, so I will head down there, check out the music, have some food and adult beverages and maybe stay in that neighborhood a little longer for a walk around the Potomac River.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon on a deck overlooking another river in Maryland, shar…

Some Catching Up

I’ve been a little busy lately with medical crap.I feel like my Honda … runs great for having 163,000 miles on it but it’s in the shop more than it used to be and needs lots of tests.

I’m not going into a lot of detail here yet, but some of the health issues that have come up recently (and some that have returned from three years ago) now have been diagnosed.That means I can at least call it something and takes steps toward managing it.More tests and doctor appointments are in my near future plus some new meds I’ve never heard of. Did our parents prepare us for this aspect of aging?That question is mostly for boomers.My parents were in generally good health till their 70s and they seemed to accept health issues, weight gain, etc. as a natural and expected part of aging.I’m a bit of an idealistic rebel, however, in that I expected to have the great health I’ve been blessed with until my 90s.Delusional, I know.Although I call it optimism.

The particular medical issues I am dealing with rig…

Ahh, Depression, My Old Friend, Welcome Back

My depression is probably not the same as clinical depression.I have some of the symptoms, I’m sure, but I am not in therapy (although it probably would help) and I’m not on any drugs.My life is generally awesome, I am generally happier than I’ve been in years, yet there are days like today during which I feel depressed.My idealistic view of the world collides with disappointing reality and I fall into an emotional slump.

I encounter this scenario a few times a year.I hike through the valley for the better part of a day, then return to the mountain top. Sometimes this feeling occurs as the sum of several small factors that on their own merits would not bother me, but when combined, lead to depression.Unexplained health issues + unfair divorce-related issues + a cluttered apartment = today’s depression.

Simple, right? The solution? I’m getting more medical tests this week that might lead to explanations.I’m using my usual positive attitude to deal with the divorce situation, including emai…

Fundamental Irony

A Montana State Representative recently introduced a bill that would change the state’s indecent exposure laws to ban yoga pants in public, among other things.  The law would regulate various types of clothing, mostly women’s clothing, but would also ban men from showing their nipples … in other words, men would have to wear t-shirts at the pool.  This proposed law would, as I understand it, give police the power to arrest women and men for violating certain clothing regulations, and not just for nudity or skimpy thong type clothing.  People who violate the law would be subject to fines of up to $10,000 and life imprisonment after a third offense.  Wow!!  Sounds a little like the Middle Eastern laws we regularly ridicule.  I thought Republicans stood for less government interference in our personal lives.  This particular Republican seems to want his state to mimic some Islamic countries.  Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

 Another irony that bothers the hell out of me … gu…

No, I Didn't

Oh well, I did not win Power Ball.  You didn't either?  The odds were against us anyway.  In fact, here are five things that are more likely to happen than winning Power Ball ...

Dying from being struck by lightning Being attacked by a shark
Becoming President of the United States
Being crushed and killed by a vending machine
Hitting a hole-in-one on two consecutive, par-3 holes


I’ve Got Two Words For You

Two words … Power Ball.
The 3rd largest Power Ball jackpot amount is on the line in tonight’s drawing … an estimated $500 million.The cash lump sum payout for a single winner is around $337 million.The odds of winning are 175 million to 1, but who’s counting?

Five hundred million dollars. Three hundred thirty seven million dollars.

Nice numbers, right?And the ticket is only TWO dollars. Two questions:Did you buy a ticket today?What would you do if you won the jackpot?

My answers … Yes, I bought a ticket.Actually, I bought two tickets, one for me and one for a friend. What would I do?I’ve actually thought about this a lot, even though the odds are against winning.As soon as the check cleared, I’d pay down all of my debt, all of my sister’s debt and all the debt of my two closest friends.I’d contribute money to many of my favorite charities.Then I’d buy a car … I know, everybody says that.Ultimately I’d buy a few properties in places I enjoy visiting, but I might stay in my current apartment d…

Adjustments

Image
A question for boomers: Have you kept up with technology?If you’re reading this, you’ve heard of the internet.Smirk.Are you on Facebook?Twitter?Instagram?Snapchat?How do you hear your music?Movies?Where do you get your news?

Adjusting to technology is a daily thing for me because I edit and produce audio for a living.By my observation, I am ahead of the curve in boomer circles but barely keeping up when compared to Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials.How about you?
This topic hit me as I was making a playlist on iTunes.This particular 12-song list includes everything from Frankie Valli to Blake Shelton to Bruno Mars, a very small representation of my diverse music tastes.What hit me, however, are the adjustments I’ve made in how I hear recorded music.Thanks to my sister, who is even more of a pack rat than I am, I still own the very first record I ever had.It’s a kid song on red vinyl and if I had a 50-year old turntable with the 78 rpm speed option, I could play it.I don’t.

Vinyl was the only …

Boomer Blues Man and the Learning Curve

Image
I’ve been taking guitar lessons for just over a year.I still don’t play very well and I struggle to find time to practice, but I enjoy it and I am starting to make progress.I have learned some things about music and about myself.

One thing I already knew before beginning this musical journey is that older people learn differently than younger people.We process things in a different way.Our brains run a little slower, of course, but I think we also learn in smaller bits of information at a time and we often over think things.Or maybe that last part is just me. There are many components to learning guitar, especially if you want to read music as well as play it: where individual notes are on the instrument, where they are on the sheet music, what each is called, how to play chords, what each of those is called, tempo, technique, etc.My brain can absorb a couple of those things at a time, but not all.I think that is partly due to aging.The second-guessing and over thinking part results in …

How Do They Know or Do They?

When an elderly person dies, do they know it's coming?I don’t mean that they are old and know they will die some day; I mean do they sense the end within a few weeks or hours before it happens?

Two relatives of a close friend have died within the past two months.One of them, a 96-year old woman, was in frail physical health but incredible mental health.She was smart, aware and communicative right up till 15 minutes before taking her last breath.Of course she knew she would die one day, but she seemed to be wrapping up her life during her last few days.My friend called her to say she’d be over to visit one afternoon and the woman told her she had really done plenty and she should take time for herself that evening.The woman died the next day.It was as if she knew the end was about to happen and wanted my friend to remember her the way she had last seen her a few days earlier. One month later, this friend’s ex-husband sounded very sick during a phone conversation.The friend urged hi…

Family Friends Faith and Funerals

During the past five weeks I have witnessed the most incredible combination of grief, loss, friendship and support, all centered around the deaths of two people I don't even know.

A dear friend's ex-husband's mother died in December.  Exactly a month later (yesterday), the ex-husband died.

The timing is remarkable. I don't know if it's God or fate, but the mother (age 96) died before having to see the son (age 64) die, then the son dies a few months before his own son's wedding.  It all seems to have lined up is some cosmic sequence. That whole 'blessing in disguise' thing.

I'm spiritual but not religious, but many people in this family have strong religious beliefs and their faith is helping them get through it. What I do have faith in is the ability of people to come together and help each other solve problems; and I have faith in the power of friendship, family and community. Tears were shed, of course. Most were from sadness, loss and shock. My …

Name Trends and more

Autria, Jacqui and Jummy are the first names of three local TV anchors.All three are female, all three work the same morning shift on the same station and all three have unique names which are non-traditional to those accustomed to American English. Jummy’s heritage is Nigerian and that is probably a more common name in that culture, but I don’t know where the other two got their names or what those monikers mean to their family or heritage.

I am both sensitive and curious with respect to names.How do parents choose the names and what impact do those names have on children through their lives? I’ve lived my whole life with the first name Bernard, which is more familiar than Autria but still unusual.In fact, I have only met seven other Bernards in my whole life and I was related to two of them. The most popular names for girls born in 2014, according to babycenter.com, include Sophia, Emma, Olivia and Emily.I know a 26-year-old named Emma but the only other Emma I ever met was my Mother’…

Grammar

I took one of those 'quizzes' on Facebook a few days ago; the topic was grammar. There were fifteen questions, each asking the participant to select the correct sentence or phrase from a choice of three. My score: 13 of 15 correct. Not bad.

However, shouldn't a 'writer' score higher? Truth be told, I regularly question my grammar proficiency. Writing a blog such as this is a hobby but I write commercials for a living. Blogs have no rules and my style, described by an old writer friend as 'breezy', is suitable for blogging. Some commercials provide evidence that good grammar is not required for them either.

One grammatical pet leave of mine involves the words fewer and less. I regularly hear incorrect usage of 'less' in conversation and in commercials. I heard a commercial this morning with the line, "and that means less cavities."  Incorrect!  It should read "fewer cavities."  I am also annoyed by the regular misuse of their, the…

One Eighteen and Other Random Musings

As I started to write this post, I noticed it is 1:18 pm on 1/18.  That is pretty random, isn't it?  I have many random thoughts and observations floating around in my brain; some end up in random places on this blog.  Here are a few more random things.

I usually write these posts in a Word doc, make adjustments and corrections, and then copy to the blog.  I have saved all of them with the idea that some will end up in a book.  By the way, this is post # 1153 on this blog.  I've written a few hundred more on other blogs.  Writing is both a passion and a hobby for me, although I sometimes think I'd like to make a living at it.  My practical side reminds me to keep my current day job.  Another random note:  I am writing this one directly onto blogger rather than in Word.  Trying to be spontaneous.

I am engaged in a friendly (and fiendly) competition with another blogger (who also is now one of my best friends) ... last year she wrote more posts than I did, which sort of sta…

Day Eleven

Today is Day Eleven of the new year, the 11th day of my annual 'process', just over a week into my year of embracing 'discipline' to achieve what I want in 2015.
How am I doing so far? Not bad.  I chose 'discipline' as my keyword for the year and I am already making progress in increasing the discipline I apply to my daily activities and goals.  I had hoped to have a more detailed plan for 2015 at this point but I'm a little behind in that endeavor. But the month is young. Stay tuned.