December 2011


Retired-Life New Year’s Suggestion

We’ve made it to the end of one year and about to set sail into a new one. We should look to this new year with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. While it’s great to have memories of our past, it’s better yet to have aspirations, goals, and dreams for the future. Rather than making new year’s resolutions, I suggest everyone  take a moment and write down three things they would like to accomplish this year. Get crazy. Is there someone you would like to meet, contact, or reconnect with. Is there some place you would like to visit, far away or close by. Is there a goal you didn’t achieve long ago? Get out there and do it. Do you have lots of “stuff” taking up space somewhere? Simplify your life and give it to someone who can use it. It might change their life and will make you feel great.  

There are no wrong answers here. These things don’t have to be philanthropic in nature. Do something great and fun for you. Is there a performer you’ve always wanted to see or meet. Is there an event you’ve always wanted to attend. As they say at Nike, “Just do it! Of course, there are always a million reasons not to do something. But this is not the dress rehearsal, it’s your life. Let me know what you decided to do in 2012. Happy New Year.   

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The holidays are finally here and as seniors we should have it right by now. Not a chance. No matter how many times we have done this before, there always seem to be countless last-minute things to do. Two days ago as I was getting out of bed, and I jokingly said to my wife, “Please let my feet hit the floor before I hear a reminder about the first thing on my list.” The fact is, despite the “to do” list, I really do enjoy this time of year. Getting to see family and friends makes it a very special time.

As the year comes to an end, I’ve noticed lots of “top ten lists” covering every possible topic. Given the wisdom of old age, and a hint of humor, I thought I might try to construct a list of the things and/or people who bugged me in the year 2011. I know this personally cathartic exercise may not be worth the broadband its printed on, but I thought it would be a lighthearted way to end the blogging year. 

Sports Coverage 

Even though one of our sons is a television sports producer, I often want to throw something at the television when watching a sports event. The concept of “up close and personal” has gone too far. Baseball is the worst offender. While watching a game, a typical scene is a slow zoom toward the pitcher’s face, then a cut to a slow zoom of the batter’s face, a cut to a slow zoom of the manager’s face (he’s usually picking his nose), then back to the pitcher. If the batter makes contact, we generally see a closeup of the player fielding the ball, then a closeup of the first baseman as he catches the throw. If we had just arrived from outer space, we would have no idea what the field looked like or what just happened. To make matters worse, the next cut is usually a closeup of some weird person in the crowd. Forgive me ladies, but unless the person in the crowd is an attractive female, I could care less. My wise and senior advice: back it off boys. Let us watch the game from a reasonable distance.

Government

I’m not complaining about a specific government, I’m talking all government. Lately it seems the mismanagement of governments, big and small, state and local, national and international, have been shown to be too big and completely incompetent. Their political promises and wild spending have put the entire world in an economic crisis. The U.S. is as guilty as the rest of the world. Some cry out for compromise. Nay I say. That’s the crux of the problem. We need the best and most efficient plan. All compromise gives us is more false promise and economic disaster.

Famous For Being Famous

As a culture, I’m convinced we are doomed. Read any newspaper or magazine, watch any television program, and what do you see? Some rich airhead blithering on about his or her life. Unfortunately, it’s an empty and shallow life that contains nothing worth seeing or hearing. Its like fast food. Looks and probably smells good, but not very nutritious. This is what our culture has created. Famous for no reason. Believe it or not, over the years, I’ve read most of the interviews printed in Playboy magazine. For those who do not know, these interviews are considered to be some of the most insightful of the last half century. They have included heads of state, philosophers, artists, media giants, political leaders, poets, and industrial moguls. Probably bowing to cultural pressure, (and I’m just guessing here) or monetary payoffs, most of the interviews this last year have not been worthy of reading. Ironically, like many other magazines, the interviews have mostly been with actors and timed to coincide with their latest movie opening. When you find yourself halfway through a Seth Rogan interview, you realize this is not a Nelson Mandela or even a Lee Iacocca. Being famous for the ability to swear on cue or simply being gross doesn’t qualify as talent in my book. One might say, well he has made a lot of money doing it. Yes, and I’m a licensed pilot and could be rich tomorrow flying drugs across the border. I’m not sure its in the best interest of society and my fellow-man. Although . . . . .

Monday Night Football     

I’ve always loved Monday Night Football. After the first season, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I thought this was the best idea television had ever conceived. Unfortunately, I was in the military and would miss the next two seasons while overseas. When I returned, and ever since, it was that pleasant event that awaited after the weekend chaos and the start of a new week. Then ESPN got the game. Now we have what seems like hours of pre-game “coverage” and analysis. When the game begins, it doesn’t. There is even more coverage and analysis. My late father used to say his ideal football game coverage was when you turned on the TV, they kicked the ball to start the game. Dad was right. Now we have “analysts” for as far as the eye can see giving their insights, or as they like to say “breakdown” of the game. And who moderates this fiasco? Chris Berman. The most annoying, overpaid blowhard in sports. If only he was as witty and clever as he thinks he is. Just kick the ball guys.

Political Pundits

Don’t you love these folks. I could only dream of having a job like this. Next time you watch a program that has one or more of these wise people on, listen to their first words. They always begin with, “I think . . .” Thank you for your opinion, but in most cases these folks were consultants for failed political campaigns. Some were successful but that’s now ancient history. What’s so funny is the track record of most pundits. In most cases, a monkey throwing darts at pictures of politicians would stand as good a chance of selecting the winner of a political issue or race.

Old Stuff

When you get to be a senior, there is a large group of our population that longs to go back to the products of our youth. Cars, bicycles, toasters, televisions, etc., are thought of by many as timeless and flawless. With apologies to many friends, I’m sorry but I couldn’t disagree more. I recall with clarity the time when my father could afford his first new car, and the several after that time. The standard procedure was to pick up the car, drive it for a week or so, and keep a notepad in the car to write down all the things that didn’t work. After that time you took the car and list back to the dealership where they attempted to correct the many problems. The same with televisions. Think about it. We don’t even have television repairmen any more. You take the TV out of the box, plug it in, and it works until the next generation comes out and you give it away. I like the new products, but do have a fondness for the way the old products looked.

Smart Cars

I had to put this one on my list. One day this year my wife Trisha and I had stopped at a Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of items. As we were getting in our car, we noticed a middle-aged women had pulled her brand new Smart Car up to the front of the store. It appeared to have just come from the dealership. It was shiny red and had the new paper plates on it. Well, we observed she had pulled the car right in front of the store in order to place whom we guessed was her elderly mother in the car. Once that was done, the lady pushed her cart a few feet to the rear of the tiny two-door car. Realize, this lady had a cart stuffed full of items in plastic bags to place in her new car. She opened the hatchback ready to start loading, but all she found was the back of her mother’s head. Now I’m very sorry for our lack of sensitivity and lack of compassion, but my wife and I howled with laughter as we watched this woman stare at her cart full of bags and the back of her mother’s head as she wondered where she would put even one bag. Not so smart after all.

Funny Names

I should state for the record, unless you did not catch it, my name is John. Not creative, not eye-catching, not musical, not unique by any standard. But, you know what? I like the simplicity of my biblical name. Others have not been so fortunate. For example, check out some of these names celebrities have bestowed on their offspring: Tu Morrow, Jermajesty, Moxie Crimefighter, Audio Science, Ocean, and Sage Moonblood. These are just a few of the bizarre names children will have to live with throughout their lives. Even more bizarre is when an adult changes his or her name. Recently, Laker player Ron Artist legally changed his name to Metta Worldpeace. One of my favorite unique and funny names comes from a student of mine at one time. Her first name was Aquanetta. A great tribute to the hair spray. My all-time personal favorite comes from the NFL. It is former New York Giant Lavernues Coles. I just like the way that name sounds. Very musical. Truth be told, in a few years, just listening to a class role being called on the first day of school is going to be very amusing.

Cell Phone Users

Just to be clear, I’m not opposed to cell phones. In fact, if you are like some seniors I know, you don’t want to be bothered with the new technology. Once again, sorry. I couldn’t live without my smart phone. To me it is one of the most important and useful creations ever. What I’m bugged about is cell phone users. Walk through any mall or down any street. Everyone, except a few seniors, are on their phones. At a restaurant recently, there was a family sitting at the table next to us. Both parents and three teens. All five were on their cell phones and did not say a word to one another. Not sure what this means for our culture and future social interaction.

Political Debates

Sorry, but I’m off the grid now. I can’t stand to watch these reality shows they are calling “debates.” Yes, he was divorced. More than once. Yes, he did misspeak. He meant to say something else. Yes, she did say that at a political rally. Are these trivialities really important? Don’t we have a President who once talked about our “57 States?” Don’t we have a President who doesn’t know how to pronounce “corpsman” even though he is Commander n’ Chief? I want each candidate to tell me his or her plan and vision for our country. Give that candidate ample time and then let the others tell us why that idea won’t work and present the details of their plan. Write it down specifically so I can compare and contrast. Our country is in trouble and spending itself into oblivion. I want the best plan and I want it soon.

Well, there you have it. The ramblings of an aging retired guy. I could have written more, but I’m lucky if you got this far. Happy Holidays.

 

The Best Christmas Present

Each year my wife Trisha and I invite friends and family to our home for a holiday party. The party serves many functions. First, our home gets a great “deep cleaning.” Secondly, we actually have lots fun and laughs while we try to figure out what goes where and which lights aren’t working this year. We enjoy planning and using both old and new decorations we have purchased over the many years we’ve been married. We plan our decorating together and I’m responsible for getting most of the decorations and lights in the right places while she prepares all the snacks, dinner, and deserts. It’s a pretty big task, but we love doing it and the rewards are many.

This year was very special. One of our friends who lives out-of-state had been critically ill for some time and not expected to survive. Not only did he survive months in the hospital, he now works out each day with his wife and looks great. They both flew in for the weekend and everyone at the party enjoyed catching up with these wonderful folks. In attendance were old friends, new friends, moms and dads who used to come as teenagers, children who are growing up, and new little ones. We shared lots of laughs, some heartfelt conversations, but mostly enjoyed the company of people we love.

On Sunday, we had breakfast for those who stayed over and those who had spent the night in local hotels. The girls did most of the cleanup, while my buddy and I settled in for a well-deserved afternoon of watching football. Well, thanks to Tim Tebow, we shared one of the best games we could have imagined. Great fun.

All of our friends have now gone home and we look forward to a wonderful family Christmas. Having our friend’s health restored, seeing he and his wife so happy again, sharing a great visit, and spending a wonderful evening with family and friends has already given us our best present.

As retired folks, socializing is an important factor in the aging process. People who live in isolation tend to have higher rates of depression and live much less healthy lives. As we get older, its important we maintain our contact with friends and family, stay active and socialize. Understandably, for some it’s physically more challenging, but it is necessary. Once we stop socializing, we really stop living.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

We’re #1

Well fellow seniors, we did it. For the first time in U. S. history, people 65 and older are the largest age group both in terms of size and percentage of total population. This is according to published results of the 2010 census. While the rest of the population grew at a rate of 9.7%, we seniors grew at a rate of 15.1.%. As of April 1, 2010, our numbers had grown to 40.3 million and our rate of growth was the highest of any age group.

For us fellows, there is more good news. Obviously, women have traditionally outlived men by many years. In fact, in 1990 at age 83 the ratio of women to men was 2 to 1. In 2000, the 2 to 1 ratio was reached at age 85. The 2010 census reports that the 2 to 1 ratio of women to men was not reached until age 89. Hang in there guys, we’ll catch up one of these days.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could band together politically and have greater influence over our government policies? What would you ask for? Here are a couple of my ideas:

No more prolonged wars fought half way with political correctness getting in the way. Have our leaders spell out clearly our high threshold for going to war, and when that threshold is crossed, we go all out. No more spilling of our young people’s blood over many years in wars we didn’t intend to win.    

No more hyphenated labels. We are all Americans, pure and simple, case closed.

Solve the immigration problem. I suggest its way too late to somehow move generations of people who came here illegally, but are now living and working in the U. S. Those who have blended into our society and have become law-abiding, tax paying contributors should be given work visas and allowed to remain while working toward legal citizenship. Those who are merely living off of our tax money or involved in illegal activities should be sent home.

Each person running for office should be given a complete background check by the FBI. Those reports should be made public. When a person is elected to office, they must submit a daily on-line report of their activities. Who did they meet with, what was the purpose of the meeting, and how much money was spent from their public account? Rules and regulations for holding public office should be made clear and violation of those rules would result in immediate impeachment.

Abolish the two-party political system. We need to elect individuals who have great ideas, not those indebted to the political bosses only concerned with maintaining power.

Stop being so damned sensitive. Our whole nation needs to lighten up. Every day we are treated to hours of debate on television and radio. It’s all the same, “My dog’s bigger than your dog,” etc., etc. We are in a negative spiral as a culture. I know its unrealistic to think we can all join hands and sing Cumbaya, but as a famous criminal once said, “Can’t we all just get along.” Life is difficult, why do so many try to make it more so?

Celebrate real achievers and heroes. I truly believe the circus of our celebrity driven culture will be its downfall. There was a time when great thinkers, authors, scientists and the like were the most celebrated in our society. For the most part, our young folks  now celebrate some of the most insipid, vapid, and immoral among us. Those worthy of celebration are still out there, they just don’t have PR flaks or television programs.

Wow!  That felt good. Now that I’ve started my list of ideas to save the planet, you give it a try. We’ll put them together and given our numbers, maybe we can get some action. Or we can just go get a nice cup of warm tea and a cookie.

Thanksgiving Follow-Up

At the highest number, my wife and I shared the holidays with 16 people in our home. It was wild and lots of fun. With six of them being young folks, as I looked around our living room strewn with sleeping bags, etc., I suggested it looked like we had been “occupied.” Of course, I did reflect on my reasons for being thankful. First on the list is my beautiful and loving wife Trisha, our three sons and their families, our extended families, and our wonderful friends. Every life is filled with difficulties and hardships, but I do try to count my blessings.  

www.TheBestofOurLives.com