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Showing posts from March, 2017

History Perspective

Living in the past is not especially healthy but studying it can be interesting. Sometimes timelines can provide perspective or at least lead to "wow, I didn't know that."

Here are a few timelines I find fascinating:

The USA only had 48 states when most boomers were born. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1960. Alaska became the 49th state in 1959.

More geopolitical timelines: two of my favorite states to visit didn't become states till the early 1900s ... Arizona and New Mexico both in early 1912.

Women could not vote in the United States till 1920.

Media timelines: commercial radio began in 1920 (KDKA, Pittsburg, which still exists).     Commercial Television is more ambiguous; an experimental licensed station began in 1928. More realistically, there was a TV station in New York in 1941 which is credited with the first TV commercial.

When the Internet became a public thing depends on how you define it. Domain names started in 1985, www started in 1991. Mosaic, the …

My Book

Five people in my circle of friends and acquaintances have written and published books. Four of the books are in some way autobiographical and I've read three so far. Two of the authors are from my distance past, one from a more recent past and two are current acquaintances. I am not close friends with this quintet so it is fascinating to me to read about details of their lives that I did not learn from conversations.

It is also inspirational to read their writing ... wow, I know some freakin' authors ... people who are not writers by profession but who wrote books. Well, one is a part time journalist, but the others all do something else unrelated to writing books.

I hope to write a book someday. In fact, I have outlines for three books in my head, all somewhat autobiographical. I'm no John Grisham or Christopher Moore, but I have had enough drama and humor in my life to think I could write something interesting that somebody might actually read.  I also don't expect…

Repeal and Replace Trump

Agent Orange is at it again, proving every day that he is unfit for the office of POTUS. He's had two months to prove us wrong, but all he's done is reinforce the belief millions of us have that he is mentally unstable.

Russia issue #1: The problem with the possibility that Russia hacked our voting process is not that they might have helped Trump win, but rather the possibility that they could interfere with the process at all. Don't you want to find out what they did and then prevent it from happening again?

Russia issue #2: Contact between Trump surrogates and Russian officials is a medium sized problem. Lying about it is a HUGE problem!

Emails: Remember when Trump the candidate made a big issue of Clinton the candidate using a private email server and unsecured personal email accounts for official government business?  And now he doesn't seem to care that members of his cabinet and even his Vice President do or did use unsecured private email accounts  for sensitive…

How Many States?

Sunday drives and cross-country road trips were a memorable part of boomer life for many of us. You?  Flying has been a dominating travel choice for the past few decades but driving was much more popular in the 60s and 70s. For more than ten years of my youth, my family of four took an annual road trip. The shortest was two nights and ninety miles, the longest was thirteen nights and a few thousand miles.

“Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona and such a fine site to see.”

I think I was 10 for the first trip. It was my first time out of Louisiana (all the way to neighboring Mississippi), first time in a hotel (probably a Holiday Inn), first time seeing an 'ocean' (Gulf of Mexico). The longest trip was Louisiana to New Mexico, which included our second time in Texas, a state I eventually lived in.

I took my first two plane trips in my 20s on a very small airline that only flew in Louisiana. I was in the Army and stationed at the other end of the state from home. My third fli…

It's Worth Recording

Journals, diaries, resumes, letters, emails, birthday cards, job applications, car titles and photographs combine to form a record of our lives. We learn what we've done, where we've been and what we were thinking.
I spent a recent Sunday afternoon engaged in the never-ending attempt to declutter my home office/studio/guest room. I spotted a stack of file folders I was sure I could feed to the shredder. Copies of car titles from three cars I owned in the 1980s topped the stack. The rest, however, were all the items I mentioned in the previous paragraph and that part of the stack provided a detailed narrative of my early 30s.
The most revealing treasure was a 9-page 'autobiography' written in response to an exercise in the legendary job-search book "What Color Is Your Parachute?"  I was unemployed at that time. These nine pages outlined my whole life up to that point, with the idea of revealing aspects of my life that I am most passionate about and reminding me…

Film or Digital

Image
Twice in twenty-four hours a few weeks ago, the concept of film photography flashed into my world. The first occurred in a conversation with someone at work and the second was a story on the Today Show that focused on photography through the ages and the possible resurgence of film photography.

What was your first camera? Was it a film camera?  My first was a Brownie. Remember those? Ever heard of them?  I eventually had a Polaroid, a fixed lens Minolta 35 mm, a Canon SLR with three lenses, two Nikon SLR bodies with a total of four lenses and numerous filters, a Sony digital that used a small disc drive, a pocket-sized Canon with an SD card and eventually my current Nikon Digital SLR with an SD card and two zoom lenses. The current one is nine years old, ancient by contemporary standards. The screen only shows pictures after they're taken; you still have to look through the viewfinder to take a picture and you have to put the SD card in a computer to upload pictures. The current…

Why

I am spiritual but I'm not very religious. I do believe in a higher power but I'm not convinced the form is quite like the entity so many people are taught.

Is there a God?  Does God control everything?  Is every action or circumstance "God's will"?  I ask all three of these questions regularly. My answer to the second and third question is the same: no. I don't have an answer to the first one yet but I'm not afraid to ask it. Everyone should ask it. Most people will find an acceptable answer, with or without evidence.

What about prayers?  Do you believe in prayer and if so, do you expect answers to your prayers?

One reason I question the "God's will" concept and the prayer idea is that my Dad, a straight arrow, by-the-book, moral and religious man, lived the last fifteen years of his life with Parkinson's Disease. His reward for doing the right thing all his life?  Did prayers from friends and family alleviate his suffering or loss of…

I Hate To Admit It

March 3, 2015 is a date in my life that is almost as important to me as my birthday. That is the day of my official Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. I first had symptoms a few years earlier but the neurologist was hesitant to call it MS yet. She ruled out almost everything else but the MRI only showed one lesion, so that meant no 'multiple'. She treated the symptoms and they mostly went away, for two or three years. Then they returned.

Living with MS is more of a pain in the ass for me than anything else. My situation is far less severe than it is for many people I've met. Balance issues, drag foot, some heat sensitivity and fatigue are my main issues. Some people with MS experience vision problems, cognitive issues and incontinence; I have none of that. Some cannot walk; I walk with a cane now, but the cane might be temporary.

Three years ago I had a personal trainer and was in the best physical shape since my 20s. I still looked and moved like I was 50, more than ten year…

Fear

What scares you?  Ghosts?  Walking alone on a dark street?  Forgetting somebody's name?  Dying before you're ready?

The guy who holds the record for working at the local branch of my company the longest (more than 30 years) retired eighteen months ago, not long after his 70th birthday. I received an email from him this week.  He found some old work stuff he thought I might want. A couple of back-and-forth emails later, in the middle of some catching up, he casually told me he has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and is undergoing radiation treatments.

WHAT!?

I've lost parents, aunts, uncles and cousins to various diseases over the past few years but getting this kind of news from someone I used to see almost every day, someone who isn't all that much older than me, someone who rarely took a sick day, is what scares me. Just last year I learned a former girlfriend died. Last week I learned my former mother-in-law died. A former coworker died about five yea…

Eleven Already?

This month marks the 11th anniversary of my first blog post. Wow, I've been doing this for eleven years?!

My first blog was all about being in my 50s. Through most of that decade I struggled with admitting my age. I still do, especially now that I've entered the next decade. I am usually grateful that I don't look, act or feel like the stereotype of my real age but I still rarely speak the number out loud; and never at work, where most coworkers are half my age.

One of my favorite books on aging is written by the CEO of AARP. Her "Disrupt Aging" suggestion is rather than saying 60 is the new 40 or 50 is the new 30, she says to say "50 is the new 50."  In other words, redefine what it means to be 50 or 60 or 70. I'm all in!

So being a newspaper columnist was a childhood fantasy of mine. Eventually I realized columnists started as reporters and reporters need specific educational qualifications and training. I had different plans but writing has alw…