Monday, October 31, 2016

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 enough to live on but I don't really know.

Today has been an interesting start to my week at home. My neighborhood is relatively quiet on Monday's. My stops included a physical therapist and an orthopedic supply store. Side note: the PT is an old friend I hadn't seen in fifteen years and the store is right next door to my wine hangout. I also stopped at Starbucks during a time in the morning significantly less hectic than my usual pre-work time.

During my lunch break I channel surfed past Soap operas, old tv shows, political talk shows and the last few minutes of a Jason Bourne movie. I hope this doesn't become a habit this week or in some future retirement.

Tonight I'll avoid trick-or-treaters by having dinner and drinks away from my apartment. I might wear the only Halloween clothes I own, an orange pumpkin sweatshirt.

I must admit that I don't miss work a bit today. It's been on my mind a little but I'm trying so stay disconnected and make this a true vacation, even though I'm not traveling.

In the spirit of retirement practice, I might visualize a work-from-home-part-time schedule, just to see what that would look like and feel like.

More later. Time to start on a home project.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


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't turn on the tv. No music either. Just quiet. Or the quiet hum of the refrigerator. Silence. The absence of noise.

"Ain't nothing left to the imagination.
Trapped in our phones and we can't make it stop."

Fortunately, it is very quiet as I write this at 8:30 on a Thursday morning, while getting dressed for work. The only sounds I hear are the whir of a ceiling fan above me and a train whistle in the distance.

Peaceful, calming silence. In five minutes I'll begin my commute to work. I'll try to savor this moment.

Because in five minutes, the song begins again ...

"Can't take the noise"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wine and Conversation

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

Presidential campaigns
Vinyl vs downloads
Heroin addiction
Kids, grandkids

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

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!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Grab Bars and Such

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 aware this week because grab bars were installed in both bathrooms in my apartment a few days ago. Grab bars were on my annual lease renewal negotiation list and I knew they'd be installed this week. I didn't ask for them because of my age but rather because of my MS. However it was still a bit of a shock to actually see them. My first reaction: oh my God, an old person lives here.

I've known for many years that I'm not accepting aging with open arms and I've been frustrated by MS since the diagnosis eighteen months ago. The grab bars represent, in my head, the best and worst of the acceptance and the frustration.

Another aspect of those two things happened Sunday. Walking is sometimes a challenge for me and I should probably accept that a cane would be helpful. I do have a walking stick that hikers use and I used it while walking around an Oktoberfest event in my neighborhood. Although I was self-conscious about it I'm glad I had the stick. My sense of practicality and reality is slowly pushing aside my ego. Slowly.

My parents accepted aging reasonably well and I should probably try to learn from that. Maybe if I keep saying that out loud I'll actually believe it one day. For now I'm still trying to pretend I'm the age I look rather than the age I am. Maybe grab bars and walking sticks will help me reduce the denial, accept the realities of aging and just keep on living the wonderful life I have.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


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.
Billy Idol and Miley Cyrus
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, Ariana Grande, Usher.  Sting was also on the show and he is one of my favorites but this particular performance was underwhelming.

Thumbs up to iHeart for this one. And I'm not saying that just because I work for them. My iTunes playlists are just as genre-less as the festival. I bet yours are too. Music is the language and the feeling that connects and unites all of us.

Florida Georgia Line and Back Street Boys

As you can see from the list, many styles, genres and generations were represented and people who normally favor one type are exposed to others they/we might not normally see. Pitbull is the best example. He was great. I would not normally be at one of his concerts. Many people who don't usually like country loved Florida Georgia Line. Back Street Boys seemed to appeal to everyone.

Genre-less is probably not a word but Kenny Chesney used that term in an interview to describe the festival. He has played it twice now. Many of the artists are as excited to see performers out of their genre as we are.