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Showing posts from 2016

My Process – January 2017

Every January I go through a process of reflection on the past year and planning for the next year. I start around New Year's Day and continue through my birthday near the end of January. It's a cross between making New Years resolutions and goal-setting.

I couldn't remember much about the results of my process last January, so I looked it up. It appears I did not get very specific last January and apparently the same is true for the previous January.

Hmmmm. Last year I decided to carry over 'discipline' as my keyword for 2016, in part because I failed to follow through on discipline in 2015. Looks like I've done it again.

Another thing I noticed is that I considered letting 2016 just be whatever it wanted to be. I am often guilty of overthinking and making detailed plans that I don't follow through on. In reflecting on 2016, I guess I really did just roll with whatever came.

The year itself was weird, dominated by political crap. However, it was a pleasa…

Age and Mick

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Legendary Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger just welcomed his 8th child. Mick, age 73, and his 29-year old girlfriend Melanie are parents.

Ok, I'll pause for a second while you think about that; about their age difference.

Some questions probably float through your head:
-Isn't that a crazy age difference? What do they have in common?
-Why does Mick want to be a dad again in his 70s?
-What does she see in him?
-Can you picture them together naked?

The real question: what difference does it make?

I clearly remember four years ago when I didn't understand why some women I was interested in hesitated getting involved with me because of a twenty year age difference. Mick and Melanie are 44 years apart. Mick had five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Again I ask 'what difference does it make?'

I know a couple who are twenty years apart. He's 74 and she is 54. They are an awesome couple.  Three years ago I found someone who is six years younger than me and tha…

It IS Rigged

Our voting process is definitely rigged, but not quite the way Trump whined and lied about during his campaign.

Maybe rigged isn't the right word. Our process is unfair and outdated, subject to corruption, just plain stupid.

The math is really simple: Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, yet Trump will become president because 302 'electors' of the 538 voted for him. Why is this antiquated and obviously unfair system still exist?

We don't actually vote directly for
President. We vote for 'electors' to the Electoral College. The exact formula varies from state to state and is more complicated than I want to talk about here.  The short version: we elect electors and they elect the president. Millions of voters pick 538 people who actually elect the president.  The electoral college electors do not actually have to vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for, although most do.

What all this means is that my vote in Maryland is not the same…

A Wireless World

Technology is awesome, scary, miraculous, confusing, helpful and creepy.

My work world depends on technology and I embrace most of it. I do a reasonable job of keeping up with changes. Yet I seem to be a little behind the curve sometimes, marveling over things that are new to me but firmly established for many other people, especially younger-than-boomer aged people.

Some examples: I've had an iPhone 6 for a year but rarely use Siri. I'm sure it would be easier to say "hey Siri, what's the weather forecast today?" than to type in my passcode, click on my weather app and scroll down to the forecast. But I do the latter.

Prior to Christmas Eve my only Bluetooth devices at home were a printer I bought a few months ago and a speaker I received for Christmas last year from my girlfriend's sons.

On Christmas Eve her sons gave me two more Bluetooth devices, which I am connecting as I write this. Right now I'm playing a playlist on my phone through my stereo, w…

Does It Have To Mean Something?

My high school buddy Jim had the right idea about jobs. He was a U. S. Postal Service letter carrier for more than twenty years. He did care about doing the job well but he didn't particularly care about the job itself. He didn't take it home at night, he didn't think about it much during his off hours. It was just a job, merely a way to earn money to fund the other parts of his interesting life. He had no identity wrapped up in it and he hasn't missed it at all during the five years since he retired from it.

I have poured my heart and soul into my jobs for four decades. It's a career and I take pride in my work. My industry is 24/7 and I do think about work when I'm not at work.

To a large degree what I do is a big part of who I am. I care deeply about what I do. Some parts of my job have great meaning to me. So when management messes with parts of my job, effectively diminishing the importance of certain parts of it, I get pissed. When I don't even know a…

Wow What's Wrong With Me?

Every December I realize, and reluctantly admit, that I am gift-challenged. I give Christmas gifts to my sister and two very close friends, and participate in couples or group gifts for a few more people, but I rarely think about getting gifts for anyone else. Till someone unexpectedly give me a gift.

What's wrong with me?  I certainly appreciate co-workers, colleagues, the neighborhood mailman, the apartment maintenance guy. And I think I'd like to give them something. But then I forget.

A salesperson at work just gave me an Amazon gift card as a thanks for what I do to help her clients. She is very easy to work with and helping her with client relationships is part of my job. I don't expect anything more than the occasional gratitude email and I get plenty of those from her. But I barely know her and was surprised to get a gift. Appreciative but surprised.

Ten or more years ago I gave some coworkers holiday gifts, customized to their tastes. Simple things like picture …

Zero G and I Feel Fine

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Most dads went to work while most moms stayed home to cook and clean. Cars had AM radios and crank windows and a house usually had only one phone. A typical house had only one TV, a small black-and-white set, and there were only two or three channels to choose from.

In 1962, kids like me were glued to that TV every time a man was launched into space. On February 20th that year John Glenn became the third American to be launched and the first to orbit the earth. He died this week at age 95. If you're religious, you might say he was launched to heaven.

"Roger, the clock is operating, we're underway,"

John Glenn was memorable for many reasons and a role model for living and for aging. He was a fighter pilot, a test pilot, an astronaut (at the relatively old age of 40), eventually a Senator, and then at age 77 he became an astronaut again, the oldest ever, flying with a space shuttle crew and conducting tests related to aging. That's what I call not letting age defin…

Family

Thanksgiving week in my hometown New Orleans is an interesting mix of old and new attitudes, old and new people, old and new places.

We stayed at my sister's house, which is the house she and I grew up in. She moved back in when we had to move our parents into a nursing facility. She moved out after Hurricane Katrina flooded it and returned after two years of rehabbing. It has the bones of the house Dad built but is now totally reflective of her tastes and lifestyle.

Interesting then and now emotions spring up as I wake up in her guest room, which was my bedroom growing up. I wrote this at her dining table which is in the exact spot where dining tables sat for the whole 50-plus years this house has existed. A pleasant difference: the wall between the dining area and the living room was removed, making way for a more contemporary open floor plan.

I visit New Orleans every year or two, although I should visit more often. Those trips usually include cousin reunions. I lost touch wi…

No Bah Humbug

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The first time I saw a live performance of the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol" was in December 1984. A manager at work treated a dozen of us to a memorable evening that included tickets to see the play at the historic Ford's Theatre in Washington DC.

I promised myself that night I would see the play at that theatre again one day and hopefully share the evening with a special lady. Twenty-nine years later I finally did and now we've made this an annual tradition.

The whole ghost of a story resonates with me and I'm not completely sure I know why. I do know that I get teary-eyed near the end, even though I already know how it ends, and I feel so good after it's over. And for weeks later.

We see it during Thanksgiving week and the spirit stays with us through the season.

Maybe it's the idea that we often get so busy in our lives that we lose our heart. Without even realizing it, we lose the wonder, caring, purpose and fun of our youth.  It is re…

Different Stuff Matters

Maybe this is why people retire: their priorities change. Things that matter so much at work for so many years eventually begin to seem like a waste of time. When viewed in the context of a person's life, little details that seemed so important don't really matter.

We begin to question things. We seek meaning and purpose in life.

On the other hand, maybe we just get tired of working. At the peak of our careers, if we have careers, we work our asses off, we get really good at what we do, we make more money than we thought we ever would. Then we sort of crash.

I love what I do, I'm good at it, I'm at my peak earning power; and sometimes there is just too much on my plate. And sometimes I laugh at myself when I look at the tiny details and think that those details that seemed so important a year ago or a decade ago aren't really that important.

Somewhere between mid life and retirement age, we read that this is the time to do what we always wanted to do. I am lucky …

Black

Colored, Negro, African-American, Black. These monikers, and a few more that I won't print here, show an evolving attitude about race in our country during the boomer era. I'd like to believe we've come a long way since the 1950s. I'd like to believe there is little or no discrimination based on race. I'd like to believe our children accept the equality of all races. I'd like to believe I have escaped the racial prejudices of my Louisiana upbringing.

I'm not sure any of that has happened. We've come a long way but are we there yet?  Do we still make judgements based on color?  Is this a white issue? A black issue? Everybody's issue?

Do we ... and by that, I mean us white folk ... see a few black faces in suits in our work place and say to ourselves 'we've come a long way'?  Do we (white again) go out of our way to hire or befriend black people out of some form of white guilt?  Is that kind of prejudicial attitude just as biased as reje…

Can Songs Join?

People who turn 50 can join AARP. What about songs?

These classic songs are 50 years old. Wow.

Beatles "She Loves You"
Bob Dylan "Blowin' In the Wind"
Beach Boys "Surfin' USA"
Rolling Stones "Satisfaction"
The Who "My Generation"
Dave Clark Five "Catch Us If You Can"
The Yardbirds "For Your Love"
The Monkees "Last Train To Clarksville"
Simon & Garfunkle "I Am A Rock"
The Mamas & the Papas "Monday  Monday"

Many great songs have been recorded since these ten, but these are still among my favorites. And yes, I remember all of them when they were new.

I Don’t Get It and Neither Do They

I keep wanting to believe that most of the people who voted for Trump were white, male, uneducated rednecks. Sadly that is not the case. At least three of my bar mates voted for him. All three are white but they are also educated; they are not rednecks in any sense of the word. One of them is female.

The argument I witnessed (and partially participated in) a few weeks ago was an exercise in futility. A white man, a black man and me (white). The other two are friends and have known each other a long time. I'm still fairly new in the mix. These guys were basically echoing their respective candidates' commercials and talking points. In other words, the argument points were impressions and feelings but not especially fact-based. I got them to stop arguing, which is ironic because someone else had to do that to me a few weeks before the election.

There is nothing either could say to the other that would change any attitudes. Same for me; nothing will convince me to back off of my…

I Bet Your Dad Didn't Tell You About THIS One

This is a public service for the boomer men, which is defined as those who are ages 52 to 70 this year. 
It's almost like an Outlook reminder: when you hit 50, you will get up to pee every night, probably around 4:30 am. Around age 60 you might stop laughing at Viagra and Cialis commercials. You might eventually learn enough medical terms to become a doctor yourself. Colonoscopy, endoscopy, prostate (by the way, that is the correct spelling), 2.0 readers, cataracts and my new favorite: cystoscopy.
That last one is the weirdest of all. As of this week, I have now had a camera up every opening in my body except my nose. TMI?  Probably. But I bet your daddy didn't tell you about that one. Look it up. Maybe some of this didn't exist in his day.
Diabetes, hypertension and heart conditions are also common things in our age range, for women as well as men. So far, I don't have any problems in those areas, although my blood pressure is a little higher than it used to be. I …

Don't Thank Me

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I originally wrote and posted this in 2011 and 2012.  

When I see the tributes and thank you messages to vets around Veteran’s Day each year, I usually embrace the message and in some way add to the salutes. I want to praise “them” for their service. Then in the middle of it all, I remember that I am a military veteran too. I do not usually include myself in the praise.


I have served my country in many positive ways over the years but my military service is not one of them. I hated the military at the time and most of what I thought they stood for then. I enlisted in the Army but only because I thought I lost my college deferment because of bad grades and I mistakenly believed I would have more choice if I joined rather than being drafted. The draft ended soon after and I would never have had to go. Fate works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?

My three-year enlistment lasted only one year. The details are my business and I’ve only shared them with a few friends. Let me just say that i…

An Uncomfortable Anger

It was a quiet Sunday evening in the nursing home. Most visitors were gone, dinner trays had been picked up and many bedside lamps were switching off as the residents turned in for the night. The only sounds in Mom and Dad's room were the rhythmic whir and release of Dad's breathing respirator and the somewhat hushed conversation between me, Mom and my sister.

That weekend was unique and memorable on many levels. I went straight from the airport to the nursing home. As I greeted Dad, his eyes seemed to acknowledge my words in a way his voice and mind no longer could. A few minutes later my sister and I had a conversation with a hospice volunteer and then left to have a late dinner.

Sunday began with another brief visit to the nursing home, followed by a fun lunch with my sister and me and several cousins I hadn't seen in decades.

We returned that evening to see Mom and Dad. I knew Dad would die that week because he had refused to eat or drink anything for days. The staff…

Pros and Cons

My first thoughts this morning:
‘We the people’ have spoken. Approximately 48% of voters who voted have elected the most unqualified, uninformed, narcissistic, fraudulent con artist in modern times to be President. Welcome to the end of American democracy. Get ready for the worst four years in our country's history, with the possible exception of the Civil War.

He should be going to jail for all the times he's defrauded people. My prediction is that he will be impeached at some point and will not finish his term. He doesn't really want to be President anyway.

If you're thinking about moving to Canada, forget it. We need to exercise our votes to keep that a-hole from screwing up our country any more than his campaign already has.

This morning I've seen many Facebook comments urging unity, peace and faith in our systems. If you know me, you know that's my usual mantra. But it's going to take some time for me to break from the negativity I feel right now and come …

Old People

Last Thursday ...

I'm in the waiting room of a urologist office. The other seven people in the waiting room are old. Actually most appear to be within five years of my age. Because of my MS, I walk with a limp, so I probably look as old as they do, especially the two with walkers.

I really would like to own my age. I'd like to be proud of it, brag about it, show the world that age is just a number. My ego won't let me. At least not yet.

Is this bad? Is it unusual?

They say 50 is the new 30. Or 60 is the new 40. My favorite numeric analogy, however, comes from Joann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. She says 50 if the new 50. In other words, according to her book Disrupt Aging, we need to redefine what it means to be 50. Or any other age we refer to as 'old'.

Scroll back a few dozen posts and you'll see I talked about her book once. Maybe I need to reread it. Except for my MS, I'm as healthy and mentally sharp as I was at 40. And ten times more experienced and confiden…

We the People

Last political post till after the election.

The majority rules in this country. We don't all agree with each other but we accept that if a majority of people elect a President, that person becomes the President. Those of us on the losing side must accept the outcome. If we don't like the outcome, we have the right to say that out loud, print it, broadcast it, blog it.

We do NOT have the right to arm ourselves and try to overthrow the government or assassinate the winner of the election.

There are some asshole militia groups in Arizona threatening to do exactly that if Hillary Clinton wins the election. Who the fuck do they think they are?

By the way, I would be asking the same question if some asshole militia group wanted to overthrow the government and kill Trump if he won the election.

This country is great because we all can vote, because we all can debate issues, because we all can work to find common ground. No one person has all the answers, no one person has all the sol…

Scared Concerned Angry

The worst candidate for President in the history of our great country could actually become President. That should make us both proud and angry; proud that anybody can grow up to be President, angry that so many citizens have fallen for the biggest scam in our great nation's history. We should be scared that a clueless and ill-informed bully can con so many voters; scared that a sociopath could become Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military on the planet.

We should be concerned that so many people can't see this.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will be a good President. That is something many of us can agree on. My feeling is that Clinton will be ineffective and Trump will be dangerous. I had many spirited discussions with various friends and acquaintances during the last two presidential campaigns. During this one I've had a few very loud arguments. I usually respect the opinions of others even when I disagree, but it is so obvious to me that Trump is …

Retirement Practice

In an earlier post this week, I referred to my vacation week as retirement practice. My staycation included plenty of unscheduled free time and I decided to spend some of it visualizing life without full time work.

How's it going?

Well, I'm surprised by how much I like this time off. I love my job but as of the day I'm writing this (Thursday), I don't particularly miss it. I did connect to work one day this week to finish a timely project and it felt good to be doing that for the 45 minutes it took to complete the task. But twenty minutes later I was off to the outlet mall, then home for some dinner, then to my hangout for a little wine, then home to tv toggle between the CMA Awards and game 7 of the World Series.

On Monday I'll be back to my normal life, my 30-minute commute to work, ten hours of stress and fun, 30 minutes to home, wine, conversation, mindless tv, sleep. Repeat. Repeat.

You get the picture.

Don't get me wrong; I have a great life: a rewardin…

Cars and Problems

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I love cars. I hate car problems. I've been a car lover since I was a kid. I can identify the brand and year of nearly every American car made between 1953 and 1965 and quite a few after that too. I've owned thirteen cars. I used to get a different car every couple of years, some new and some used.

Now I keep cars a long time. My current ride is a 2005 model that I bought in 2008. Prior vehicle was a 2000 that I got in 2003. Previous one was a brand new 1995.

I've been mentally car shopping for about six months. I know exactly what I want and seriously considered finding one this week while I'm on vacation. My current one has 172000 miles on it and has had a couple of issues lately. It's time. Problem: it broke down again today. Repairs: $930. That's half the trade in value of the car. Not much choice; had to have it done. Guess I'll keep it for a while longer.

I hate car problems.

To Go or Not To Go

This week my vacation is a staycation. It would be great to be going somewhere like the beach, the mountains or New York City, but I chose to stay home and catch up on some overdue projects and a couple of doctor appointments.

I've also referred to this week as retirement practice. Several friends I've made in my neighborhood over the past four years are retired. I've been watching how they live in their retirement and I'm visualizing that kind of life for myself some day. Retirement is not something I paid much attention to until a year or two ago but every day that distant, fuzzy idea attains a closer, sharper status in my head.

I'll always do some kind of work but I can see a day when I don't have the all-consuming job I now have. Like many boomers, I am unprepared financially for living without a job. At some point in a relatively few years I'll be eligible for Social Security and can draw from a union pension and a 401k. All of that combined might be…

Noise

A recent Kenny Chesney song called "Noise" includes lyrics that are relevant to today:

"Yeah we scream, yeah we shout till we don't have a voice.
In the streets, in the crowds it ain't nothin but noise."


I think about that song every time I see or hear a political ad and every time I see or hear a screaming car dealer ad. Noise!  In my area there are even furniture store commercials with screaming announcers. NOISE!!

"Twenty four hour television gets so loud nobody listens.
Sex and money and politicians talk talk talk,
But there ain't no conversation."


The final Presidential candidate debate was on last night. All noise, especially from the Orange candidate.

"We can't sleep, we can't think, can't escape the noise.
We can't take the noise, so we just make noise."


It seems to me that if everybody shouts, nobody is heard. It all blends into the noise. Sometimes when I get home and I'm sitting in my living room alone, I don'…

Wine and Conversation

Topics of conversation during a recent random Wednesday conversation at my local wine and beer hangout:

Music
Presidential campaigns
Vinyl vs downloads
Heroin addiction
Food
Kids, grandkids
Retirement
Videography
Hummus
Hurricanes
Education
Wine

I love this place. And just like Cheers, it's a place where everybody knows my name.

Lock HIM Up

That orange con man running for President is guilty of many incidents of fraud. He ripped off 'students' at his fake university, defrauded contributors to his fake foundation and didn't pay many of the contractors who built his empire. He is a proven liar; not just speculation but proven by videos of him saying various things then claiming that he didn't say them. He is a world class hypocrite, especially when it comes to statements about Bill Clinton's infidelities when he has so many of his own.

You want this as your President?

Using his own logic, Conald Frump should be locked up. Actually just one night in a real jail for him would he like years in jail for the rest of us. Lock him up.

Hillary Clinton is no saint and would not be a very effective President but Trump is totally unfit for that office by every measure possible. And he's dangerous like his hero Hitler. A vote for him is a vote to end our democracy and quite possibly our lives.

Lock him up!!!

Grab Bars and Such

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Dad was a hell of a planner. He bought mausoleum space more than thirty years before he died, saved much more money than most people of his modest income level, paid down what little debt he had years before retiring, bought Medicare supplemental insurance and began to write his autobiography before Parkinson's disease robbed him of his memory.

I was very proud of my dad when he started making adjustments in his house for his worsening Parkinson's disease. He still had strength and enough dexterity to install grab bars in the tub area years before he needed them.

His planning and reaction to aging served as a good model and inspiration. Too bad I'm only now starting to act on the inspiration. I admit that I mostly ignored his obvious advice and good examples. I might be working till the day I die, not because I want to but because I haven't prepared enough financially and will have to work.

I often think about the signs of aging, both good and bad, but I am especially…

Genre-less

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Music radio stations today are usually segmented by genre or even sub-genres. Rock, alternative rock, classic rock, adult contemporary, hot adult contemporary, hits, urban hits, mainstream country, classic country are among the radio industry format names.

Boomers at the older end of the age range might remember when top 40 radio stations played all the top hits, regardless of genre. A 1968 radio station playlist could include the Temptations, Beatles, Paul Mauriat Orchestra, Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell. The company I work for has successfully staged a genre-less music festival each of the past six Septembers called the iHeart Radio Music Festival and I have been lucky to attend five of them, including the one last weekend.This year was one of the best.

Faves night 1: Sam Hunt, U2, Billy Idol.

Faves night 2: FGL, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, Tears For Fears, Cage the Elephant.

Others on the lineup were also good and much of the audience loved them, including Brittany Spears, Drake, Zedd, Sia…

The Meaning Of Life

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Finding purpose or meaning in life seems to be a boomer obsession and my search for that elusive definition is rapidly growing beyond mere curiosity for me.

I'd like to follow the often suggested idea of 'live for today', 'live in the moment'. But I am also a planner and sometimes a visionary and often look to and plan for the future. Finding a balance between those competing ideas is my challenge and mission.

Have you ever wondered what all this is about?  Why are we here? Where does our life fit in with the universe?  With our friends and family?  With God's plan if there is such a thing?

How much planning should we do for our future?  How much should we embrace the present?  There's no time like the present. In fact that is a quite literal observation because the past is gone and the future instantly become the present.

So what does all this mean?  Sometimes I think if I have a purpose here, maybe it is to help other people feel good about themselves. T…

Fall Is Was Is My Fave

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Starting the year after moving to northern states in my 20s, fall has usually been my favorite season.  My hometown New Orleans really only has two seasons: summer and not-summer. Living in Wisconsin, Illinois and Maryland has taught me the beauty of four seasons, especially the colors and anticipatory chill in the air in the fall.

Fifteen years ago, however, I came to hate fall and that feeling lingered for many years.

Fall 2000: an awesome vacation in Arizona and Utah in September, beautiful tree colors in October on the acre and a half property where I had moved a few months before, a pleasant Thanksgiving Day with a roaring fire in the fireplace in November followed by a nice drama-free Christmas and much less than usual holiday depression.

I love fall.

Fall 2001: terrorists attack on September 11, my parents move into a nursing home on October 5, my dad dies on November 11, all of which ramps up to the usually emotional rollercoaster of the holiday season. I was numb and depress…

Comfort Zones

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Sitting on the deck, coffee in hand, witnessing yet another beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic. Standing at the overlook sipping wine while watching the spectacular sky colors as the sun sets beyond the next mountain ridge. Singing and dancing to throwback songs with like-minded friends of similar age. Hiking nearby trails or browsing shelves at the neighborhood bookstore dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. Three or four friends sitting on the porch sharing life stories and memories of traffic jams and grumpy former coworkers. Talking politics and tax rates and TV shows from the 1960s. Comparing aches and pains and scars. Renewing your driver's license in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Idaho.

Many people my age contemplate retiring somewhere other than where they currently live and visualize scenes unlike their current lifestyle. Right at the age when comfort is key they consider packing up what they don't sell off and moving to another state. Or co…