August 2012

Well, it’s finally happened. I’m getting old. Physically, I’m doing well, and mentally I still think like an eighteen-year-old. It’s my reaction to the younger world around me that causes my concern. 

The first thing I’ve noticed lately is rather than losing my hearing in my old age, most of the younger folks I encounter must have gone completely deaf. It seems every car driven by anyone thirty or younger has a stereo blasting music so loud it can be heard for blocks away. Even young parents with their little children in car seats are rolling down the street with a volume that makes their windows rattle and my teeth ache. 

We live in a boating community and in many cases the stereo speakers in these vessels cost more than the boat itself. I know one individual who has seven extra batteries just to power the speakers. These are concert arena type speakers that can literally be heard a mile away. A couple of years ago, my late mother was sitting on our back deck when one of these folks fired up their boat and blasted the stereo. The concussion actually knocked her off her chair. I’m not quite sure what the point is, although I’m guessing it’s one of those “my dog’s bigger than your dog” deals. Every once in a while at a red light I’ll notice a young person in an old car next to me. They’ll have the volume turned up as loud as possible, but even I know it’s not getting the job done. I’ve almost felt like giving them money to get some decent equipment.   

I should add to this rant that even though I consider myself a minor musician, I’m not too thrilled with current musical choices. Given the over-the-top bass involved in hip hop, I really can’t make out the words and I’m pretty sure the word “melody” no longer exists in our language.   

Speaking of language, what is going on with profanity? I was watching a fairly funny comedy with my wife recently and began to feel sorry for the actors. How many times can they use the same swear word in one movie? You could actually see the strain on their faces trying to make it seem convincing. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the read-through of the script. 

Hollywood producers would say they are just portraying real life, but it truly is a chicken or egg thing. I read an interview with one of the current top comedic actors and producers  recently and he related how as a teenager he and his friends would create stories with as much profanity as possible because they considered it “edgy” and funny. I get that. I’m not a prude. A well placed expression here and there can be just right for the moment. But when the dialogue becomes almost exclusively swear words, the art is lost. 

Walk through any mall, stroll through any store, and if you want a real education, place yourself outside a high school at the end of the day. The art of conversation has completely died. Sexually-laced profanity is the coin of the realm. I’m especially bothered by the young parents who use vile language, sometimes directed at their children. 

When talking about swearing, I’m reminded of my military experience. After going through basic training and technical school, I got a brief leave to go home. I was pretty quiet during that visit. By that time my vocabulary was down to about twenty words and ten of them were profane. 

I should add for full disclosure, my parents always set a good example and profanity was not part of their every day vocabulary. Did they ever swear? I’m sure. But my father was an old school gentleman. Swearing around women was especially out of bounds. Sounds pretty old fashioned in this day and age. Also seems a bit refreshing. 

When I was younger, I read a quote by George Washington. For some reason I’ve remembered it to this day. Thought I would close by sharing it with you. And yes, I know. I’m getting old.

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”


“He’s Got A Gun!”

Given the numerous recent shootings in the news, probably each one of us have questioned what we would do if someone yelled, “He’s got a gun?”

Unfortunately, I’ve had that experience. Several years ago while teaching at a California State University, I was having coffee with two of my students after an early morning class in the outdoor patio of the student union. We were seated at a table next to a cafeteria parking lot separated by a three-foot wall. All of a sudden we heard an explosion in the direction of the parking lot. My first thought was something in the kitchen area must have blown up. We all stood in curiosity just as there was another explosion. This time I could see the flash point and source of the explosion. It was a young man with a rifle and he had just fired another shot point-blank at a person lying in the shrubbery. The gunman then turned and began to walk directly toward us.

I don’t recall many specifics of the next few seconds. I do remember a sense of disbelief followed by a surge of white-hot terror. The next day, both my male and female students would tell me I grabbed each of them by the head and pushed them to the ground. I don’t remember doing that but I’m sure some paternal instincts were involved. They also said they could see my head moving back and forth and my eyes darting all around. When they described my behavior I did recall desperately looking for something to throw at the gunman. After all, I’m an old baseball player and I’m sure I thought I might be able to knock the rifle out of his hands. Very stupid. It never worked in the movies, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked then. 

As the gunman approached, he stopped and began to do something with the rifle. At that point, a campus security officer ran into the lot behind the gunman. He had heard the explosion, but had no idea it was a shooting. I yelled, “He has a gun,” and the officer dropped to one knee and pulled his pistol. State University security are always armed. The gunman turned and began to run toward the underground entrance of another parking lot. The officer gave out an alert on his radio and followed after him. For some reason I followed along at a distance.

As the gunman ran down the parking lot ramp out of sight, I could hear an officer already in that lot yell, “Drop the rifle.” Then five pistol shots rang out followed by one rifle shot. The gunman was down and dying. He did not survive.

It turned out to be a love triangle and the young man had decided to kill his ex-girlfriend. He waited in the lot where she parked her car and confronted her. The first shot literally blew her into the shrubs, and as he hovered over her for the second point-blank shot, she was able to pull a large economics text to her chest. The bullet rang through the book but this act saved her life. People from the cafeteria put her on a food cart and raced her to campus clinic where doctors were able to save her.

I was interviewed by several reporters who had arrived on scene and then taken, along with the two security officers, to a police station for our statements. Mine differed from theirs in that I distinctly recalled five pistol shots followed by a rifle shot (I believe when the gunman fell to the ground). They said the rifle shot came first. No matter. In all honesty, if I’d had a gun when he approached me, I would have shot him myself.

The only mystery left was when the police asked me what the gunman was doing with the rifle when he had approached me. I could not remember. Moments of terror really confuse your senses. I tried and tried but could not come up with an answer. Six months later, in the middle of the night while sleeping, it came to me. I sat up in bed and yelled, “He was trying to kill himself.” Of course, I scared my wife half to death, but I now saw it very clearly in slow motion. He was trying to put the rifle barrel under his chin just as the first officer entered the parking lot and I yelled “He’s got a gun.”

We hear experts on television giving lots of advice and maybe that’s a good thing. If I’d been more prepared, perhaps I would have simply run. I don’t know and I hope you never have to find out for yourself.

Be safe.

“If you built a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” 

Don’t you love it when a politician says something and then tries to walk it back? The fact is, words mean things. When these folks go off the teleprompter and use their own words, their true feelings and attitudes are revealed. In England, Governor Romney expressed his opinion that the Brits might not be ready for the Olympics. Guess what? He was right and they have been scrambling from the beginning. But in this politically correct world you must immediately take back or modify your words because somewhere out there your comments will be labeled as a “gaff,” or worse. 

Having reached a ripe old age of wisdom (or perhaps senility), I am mostly amused at the twisting and turning these politicians go through trying to get out their “message.” Not much political talk offends me any longer, but here are a couple of notable exceptions: 

1. “The government can’t afford to pay for tax breaks.” 

When did the government start “paying” any of us? It’s our money whether we are rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle. If you in the government want more money from any of us (and you always do), then start by cutting your spending and stop pissing our money away on foolishness. “How” you ask? Well, the first thing you can do is cut off all foreign aid immediately and start a pay to play policy. You back us and we might help you out with a few bucks. Otherwise, it’s been nice knowing you. That’s just one of many obvious spending cuts. 

2. “Pay your fair share.” 

Excuse me. Most of us retired-age folks have more than paid our fair share. That’s not to mention things like serving in the military, creating businesses, and paying taxes on top of taxes our entire lives. 

Well, this was more of a brief rant, but I feel better. By the way Mr. President, I wrote this blog all by myself. 


Check It Out

Please take a look at  the new home page and bio page on our web site:   

While the changes on the web site are mostly cosmetic, they reflect an exciting change of focus for my wife Trisha and me. Ever since our book came out, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life, we were fortunate to have been invited to appear on both television and radio programs, appear at book signings across the country, and speak to various groups and organizations. 

Since then, our invitations for speaking engagements have increased, and we now spend much of our time and energy on that activity. We thank all of the people and organizations that first invited us to be speakers, and we now look to the future with our new multi-media presentation: Prime Time: Celebrating Life’s Second Half.

We already have some exciting bookings on the calendar, and I will post them in future blogs. 


Trisha’s Dishes

Trisha Parker







 Trisha’s back with some exciting new dishes. Just click on “Trisha’s Dishes” on our web site home page. I can assure you they are fantastic. 


Personal Note 

Trisha and I recently returned from Florida. We love the tropics and had a great time with family and friends. We watched the one grandson build sand castles on the beach, another (4 months old) dipped into the ocean for the first time, swam in the pool, visited some good friends, went out on a few dinner dates, and gained a few pounds enjoying the Florida cuisine. I also got to go fishing again on my friend John’s beautiful boat Tangerine, along with good buddy Dave. We caught lots of fish and had even more laughs.


Trisha and John Parker