Showing posts from November, 2018

Would You Rebuild?

Paradise is a word associated with a pleasant location. Maybe someone arrived decades ago in such a location out west, took in the peaceful surroundings, breathed in clean crisp air while viewing picturesque mountain scenery and referred to that setting as paradise.

That scenario is one of several legends relating to the naming of Paradise, California. Most of the 26,000-plus residents probably felt they truly lived in paradise, a noun defined by my dictionary app as “a place of extreme beauty, delight and happiness.”  Paradise also means “heaven.”

A few weeks ago, however, the town of Paradise became hell as one of several California fires roared through town forcing the entire population to evacuate the inferno.

The fire eventually destroyed the entire town. All of it. Think about this: 14,000 homes burned to the grown. Fourteen thousand!  It’s hard to picture that many homes. Even harder to visualize all of them gone. Crumbled brick, twisted metal pipes, mounds of ash, crisscros…

Giving Thanks

Does your family have Thanksgiving Day traditions?  Did you grow up with food-filled festivities, a table topped with turkey, dressing, cranberries and pumpkin pie?

That’s sort of the Norman Rockwell painting version of this American holiday and fortunately many boomers grew up with that scenario in their own homes.

My Dad’s side of the family was second and third generation Italian, so we often had Grandma’s incredible lasagna too.  It was always fun and anticipation was amply rewarded.

Through a long stretch of my adult years, I experienced “holiday depression” around Thanksgiving. The day did not match my memories or expectations, for a variety of reasons. I believe that is the case for many people. Aging, divorce and loneliness are often the reasons for the emotional mismatch. Youthful joy is often replaced by adult reality.

My worst Thanksgiving was in 2001. September: the fear surrounding the terrorist attacks. October: sadness and frustration as we moved my parents into a n…

If Neckties Could Talk

Dark blue, light blue and gray diagonal stripes stretch from a Windsor knot at my neck down to a point slightly obscuring my belt buckle. White shirt, gray pants and a black jacket make up the rest of my wardrobe. I’m sitting in the second pew at a Baptist Church waiting for a funeral service.

The casket is fifteen feet to my front left, one half is open, revealing the deceased. They did a good job with his body. He does look the same as when I last saw him a couple of years ago, more or less. Chuck is my girlfriend’s cousin, so I’ve met him a few times at family events, but I didn’t know him very well. And I didn’t really want to sit that close to a dead body, but there wasn’t much choice.

I only wear a tie a few times a year. I like dressing up but there is rarely any need to. As I was tying my necktie, it occurred to me that this tie has observed several events and people in the seven or eight years I’ve owned it. It’s not my only tie, but it is the one I wear most often.

So wh…


My dad was my favorite veteran. This Navy boot camp picture was taken near the end of WWII. He didn’t see combat but his ship almost went down in a typhoon in the Pacific. Veterans Day is an awkward mix of emotions for me because Dad died on this day several years ago due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, a much more unpredictable enemy than the countries we fought in the war.
I don’t really know how Dad felt about war or the military, but I do know he had deferments for a few years because of the nature of his work and he enlisted when those ran out. The war ended while he was in boot camp. I wonder how he felt about that.
The salutes to veterans that dominate media on Veterans Day remind me that Dad rarely reminded anyone he served.
The tributes and messages remind me that I am a veteran too, but don’t waste your breath thanking me for my service. The Vietnam War was still on, I ran out of deferments and enlisted because I thought I’d have more choices than if I was draf…

Are We There Yet Are We There Yet?

Remember when you were 10 or 12 years old?  A year felt like an eternity. A month did too. 

“I have to wait till SATURDAY?  That’s like five more whole days.”

When we get to our 50s or 60s, it feels like time flies faster than a jet. 

“How did it get to be November already? It feels like our summer vacation was only last week.”

I read an interesting reader letter in AARP The Magazine recently in which the writer explained the speed-up phenomenon in math terms. 

“As you age, each unit of time comprises less of your life,” she writes. At age 10, one year is 10% of your life; 2% at age 50, 1.3% at age 75. Simple math. 

Interesting observation, isn’t it?

I sometimes compare aging to a football field. On the 10-yard line, the other goal post seems miles away and it’ll take forever to run there. When you get to the 50-yard line, it seems like it’ll take less time to get to the end zone. The 40 or 30-yard line in field goal range?  

“Uh, can I stop the clock for a few minutes?  Or years?”

I bet 80 wi…

The Best Or the Worst

Political extremes bother me, even if I am sometimes on the extreme end myself. 

I had a frustrating conversation with my friend LB the other night. It was a scary chat, not because it was Halloween (it was) but because LB started with the words “I think Trump is the best president in my lifetime.”  My reply was, “I think Trump is the worst president in the history of our country.”

LB is a great guy. He is intelligent and runs a successful local business. He is in the boomer age range. He and I, along with our significant others, spend time together at our local wine bar and at each other’s homes. We eat out together, go to cultural events  together; we’ve even started a New Year’s Eve tradition together. 

He is a Republican; I’m a Democrat. That should not be a problem. That political difference should lead to some pretty interesting sharing of opposing viewpoints. In a perfect world, the conversation should be spirited but not especially argumentative. Should be. Isn’t. 

We had several …

A Few More Tech Observations

My previous post was inspired by watching Millennials at a wedding. I’m surrounded by that generation at work, so I see the slight technology disconnect daily.

The rapid pace of tech advances does make it more difficult for boomers to adapt to the changes, but some things we considered normal in the 1960s and 70s were still astonishing to our parents.

My parents grew up before television was invented. In fact, radio was a brand new technology in their youth.

Automatic transmission wasn’t even an option in my Dad’s first three cars.

Dialing a long-distance phone call without operator assist was unusual for my parents, even early in my life.

Some random tech observations from this week that are already close to normal:

Hands free toilet flushing in the Men’s room. Don’t have to use your hands to wash your hands either. Future humans probably won’t have hands because they don’t need them.

Cars that drive themselves. A neighborhood friend has a car that parks itself. At pr…