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As a keen observer of the joys and challenges experienced in retired life and aging in general, I find myself fascinated by people’s lifestyle choices. Although it wouldn’t be completely accurate to stereotype, some fairly clear generalizations can be made.

One of these generalizations relates to one’s attitude as he or she ages. It’s an inescapable fact that throughout the aging process, everyone endures physical changes, health issues, loss of friends and family, declining resources, etc. What I find curious is the difference in attitude maintained by people as they go through this experience. Some are able to maintain a positive and upbeat attitude toward their everyday life while others appear to be stoic, bored, and unhappy. I realize these are the extremes on a continuum, but I do believe as people age they tend to fall into the more extreme positions on the scale of “positiveness.”

Another generalization I’ve observed relates to an individual’s sense of curiosity or sense of adventure. For some, it seems routine is the order of the day, while others seem to have cultivated an ongoing fascination with life and look forward to each new day and experience with that mindset. These folks tend to look forward more often than back. They also seem to bring a certain excitement into their lives despite the aging process.

I realize these observations don’t really break any new ground and I also try to not to be judgmental about anyone’s lifestyle choices. Intuitively, however, I do believe staying positive and curious throughout this journey is much more rewarding and fulfilling.

So, what is the reason for this serious and reflective topic? Well, as I prepare to usher in another year of my life, I’ve recently encountered a reminder of how fragile life can be. Let me explain.

Last week I drove my wife to an appointment in a nearby city. As we approached the location of her appointment, she suggested I simply drop her off and asked if I could pick up a couple of items at a store we had just passed on the other side of the street. Being a dutiful husband I said I’d be glad to do that for her. Needing to get turned around and head the other direction, I pulled into a middle turning lane. Approaching me in two lanes was a very fast group of cars. Suddenly, one of the cars decided to stop and pull into a parking lot. The car behind swerved to avoid that car, the car next to him swerved and was now coming straight at me. Only at the last moment did this giant SUV swerve back and avoid me by mere inches. I had already taken what I considered would be my last breath.

Shaken, I was able to get turned around and proceed to the parking lot of the requested store. As I got out, having avoided a tragic and mangled end, the air seemed fresher and the flowers in front of the store more fragrant. I think I smiled at and greeted every customer I encountered in the store. I joked with the young man at the checkout stand. Having dodged a bullet, life was sweet once again.

As I walked out of the store there was a bounce in my step. After taking about five steps a flash of light passed my head. It was too fast to comprehend. That was followed by an explosion just off to my side. I was hit with several pieces of something that felt like I had been sprayed with rocks. I simply stood in shock. What just happened? A young store worker who was outside at the time rushed up and asked, “What was that?” I simply stared and said, “I don’t know.” On the ground were several chunks of something along with many smaller chunks that had flown in all directions. I told the young man that something had flown past me and we both looked up at the same time. He then said something a bit profane and pointed to the very top of the building where there was a large white area. It turns out the side of the building is made up of very large tiles. One of those tiles at the very top had come loose and sailed past my head before exploding on the ground.

Twice within ten minutes I had dodged a horrible fate. I hope I can remain positive and curious, although I might start wearing a helmet.

(Notice the blank space where the tile fell off the building and the person just coming out of the door I excited and turned left)

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John Parker, PhD is an educator, author, speaker, father, grandfather, and travel adventurer. You can contact John personally at parkerphd@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all began in 1957. I was eleven years old, my family lived in Southern California, and my hard-working father was beside himself with excitement. The Brooklyn Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles. He explained to me that one Saturday when he was a boy living in Kansas, a farmer hooked up a radio to a tractor battery and he listened to his first major league baseball game. It was the Booklyn Dodgers and he became an instant fan.

Eagerly awaiting their arrival in L. A., each day dad would regale me with the names and stories of their star players such as Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snyder, Gil Hodges, and his favorite, Roy Campanella. We could never have known then the impact this team’s move would have on our lives.

In late January, 1958, I awoke to see my father in tears. His favorite player, Roy Campanella, had been paralized in a tragic automobile accident. Dad was devastated.

On April 18, 1958, my father and mother attended the very first Dodger game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. My mother loved it even though she knew very little about baseball. Fortunately, the Dodger’s radio play-by-play announcer was a red-haired young man named Vin Scully. Not only did he call the games, knowing his audience was in great part new to the sport, he saught to inform and educate them about every aspect of the game.

He carefully explained everything from the strange gestures of the third base coach called “signs” to the funny sounding stategy called a “squeeze play.” Listening to Vin Scully, my mother, and countless others would become not only baseball fans but true experts. He also taught the history of the game with great reverance. In fact, Dodger fans so enjoyed listening to “Vinny”, as we came to call him, almost everyone attending games would bring a radio so they could both watch and listen. This became so common; the public address announcer would begin each game by asking the crowd to turn their radios down. Despite the announcement, Vinny’s voice still echoed throughout the stadium during the game.

Every night we listened to Vin Scully and the Dodgers. We ate meals, did homework, watched a little television, had family discussions, but Vinny’s voice was always in the air. Our family breakfast almost always began with, “Last night Vinny said . . .”

One summer night late in a season, the Dodgers, who were still playing in the Colesium, were locked in a tight pennant race with the Giants. I’ve forgotten who the Dodgers were playing, but my father took the whole family to the game. Our seats were way out beyond the screen in left field, and as usual, the stadium was filled with radios.

At some point in the last few innings, Vinny made telephone contact with someone in San Francisco and began to call both games simultaneously. The Dodgers won their game, but the crowd stayed seated listening to Vinny call the Giants game. The Colesium was owned by the city and the workers must have wanted to go home. As it grew very late on this hot summer night, with my family and thousands of others listening to Vinny, the lights of the Colesium were turned out. There we were, thousands of us sitting in the dark in this huge stadium listening to Vinny and loving every minute of it. It is one of my fondest childhood memories.

My family’s relationship with Vin Scully and baseball has only grown stronger over the years. I loved playing baseball and eventually played winter ball with the Angels before injuring my arm and going into the military. Married, my wife and I were blessed with three sons, all of whom played baseball. One actually became a professional player and another became a television sports producer who had the priviledge of working with Vin for a number of years.

For his 87th birthday, my late father, a WWII veteran was honored at Dodger Stadium and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Vin had an autographed ball for Dad sent to our seats. Watching the recorded game later, we were thrilled to see Vin had replayed Dad’s pitch to honor him.  Typical Vin.

It’s not surprising in a world filled with increasing self promotion and lack of civility, this consistant voice of calm, humanity, and humility still relates to fans as beloved family.

A few years ago our son Michael, who was working a Dodger broadcast in Arizona, asked my wife and I who were traveling nearby to meet him at his hotel. When we met in the lobby, our son introduced us to several of the players and broadcasters as they gathered to leave for the game. As a fan since childhood, I’ve seen Vin Scully hundreds of times at games, but now he was walking toward us and I saw our son motion him and say, “Vin, I’d like you to meet my parents.” “Sure Mike,” said Vin.

It is worth noting, I’m not star struck. I’ve worked at movie studios, music venues, and lived in southern California for many years. I’ve seen and even met more than my share of celebrities. This was different. This was Vin Scully, my hero. We chatted for a few minutes, and knowing he was going to have to leave for the game, I wanted to say one more thing to him.

“Vin, before you go I want you to know how much you have meant to me and my family through the years. At our breakfast table we called you by your first name because we considered you to be a member of our family. If a game ran late I would listen to you on my radio under the covers so my parents wouldn’t know I was still awake.

Occasionally, when a Dodger hit a homerun and you would begin your call “There’s a long fly ball . . . .,” and I would let out a yell. My mother would come running down the hall to make sure I was O.K. and I would tell her I was having a dream.”

Vin smiled, shook my hand, and said, “John, I put a lot of people to sleep that way.”

Thank you Vin.

 

Singapore

This blog is the last in a series in which I’ve written about and included photos of our recent trip to the South Seas. We truly finished on a high note by spending our last several days in Singapore.Each day was filled with beauty and excitement. Because of very strict laws against littering, the entire city is immaculate. One cigarette butt could bring you a fine of $300 dollars. The result: a litter-free city. On our first evening we headed down to the river side and Clarke Quay. Here we purchased tickets for the beautiful river cruise after sunset, but first found a great spot for dinner with friends Lyn and Herb. Several folks we had met on our cruise portion of the trip stopped by to say hello.

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The river cruise after dinner was nothing short of magical.

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Trisha and John Parker – Singapore River Cruise

I could never write anything that would do justice to this incredible city. We saw the old and well preserved buildings, the ultramodern new construction, Little India, China Town, the Muslim section. I believe its the most impressive city we have every visited.

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Of course, we hide to ride the Singapore Flyer.

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This is the magnificent Sand’s Marina Bay Hotel. Its as though a ship has been placed above three huge buildings with a swimming pool on top overlooking the city. We just had to go up there and take in the view.

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Trisha and John Parker on top of the Sand’s Marina Bay Hotel, Singapore

At the end of the week in Singapore we flew to Hong Kong and then back to San Francisco. It was a glorious adventure.

 

 

Great Senior Suggestion

Some time back I wrote a blog about the benefits of getting organized.
Fact is, both my wife Trisha and I hate clutter. We keep our home as open and clutter free as possible. We don’t have collections of tiny objects or anything else that collects dust or creates a hazard one might trip over. We simply feel better living in a comfortable open space rather than a cluttered museum of dusty artifacts. We even planned our landscaping with wide walking paths without smaller plants and objects. This, of course, is recommended for all seniors due to the numerous incidents of tripping and falling as one ages.

That makes us perfect, right? Well, not quite. With an extra busy schedule
filled with packing and unpacking for travel, grandchildren visits, and a dose of pure laziness, my walk-in closet was beginning to look like something on Hoarders. O.K., not that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. It was time for action, so yesterday I awoke and spent most of the day cleaning and organizing my closet. I mean a real thorough reorganization. To give you an idea, our large outdoor trash cans are now full from my efforts. I found so much stuff I will never use and not worth giving away. My closet is now pristine and perfectly grouped into sections such as outdoor gear, casual clothing, dress shirts, casual shirts, pants, coats, etc. Even shoes are now matched and displayed appropriately. It wasn’t fun, but it’s now complete.

So why am I writing a blog about this endeavor? Well, in addition to making part of my living space safer and more convenient, I was actually surprised by the peace of mind my efforts gave me. You see, as seniors there will come a day when we will no longer be able to go through such a process and someone else will have to do it. It makes me feel very good to know that someone else won’t have to do what I did yesterday.

Phuket

 For those who have been interested in the photos I’ve been sharing from our South Seas Adventure, here are some from Phuket, Thailand and the popular Psi Psi Islands where we toured by boat, snorkeled, and had a wonderful meal. A most memorable experience.

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Trisha and John Parker, Psi Psi Islands, Thailand

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Langkawi

Beginning in Perth, we traveled to Bali, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. Next on our itinerary was Langkawi Island in Malaysia. What a wonderful surprise. We toured through the island taking in the sights, both villages and open spaces. We reached our destination of the Oriental Village at the base of the mountains and it was extraordinarily beautiful. In true form, we then got tickets for the cable cars and traveled to the top of the mountain.

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We were greeted by visitors at a local gas station.

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The water ways were spectacular.

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Oriental Village at the base of the mountains.

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Friends Herb, Lyn, and Maurizio

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Once at the peak, we hiked down to the single pylon suspension bridge.

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Trisha and John Parker, Langkawi

We took in a beautiful beach on the way back to port.

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What a wonderful place in the world. Will never forget it.

 

 

 

 

 

Have we just gotten old and grumpy, or has the younger generation of this nation gone completely off the rails?

I ask this question with the understanding that every previous older generation has probably asked the same question. But in this case, I afraid it’s true. Of course generalizations of this kind are flawed to some extent because one cannot lump all persons in a group with a blanket assessment. How about we just agree that the majority of younger folks today fall into a very similar and somewhat freightning mindset?

While there have been a number of names given to the last couple of generations such a Generation X and Millennials, I would refer to a phenomenon I would label the Me Generation. I would describe these folks as forever connected to their smart phones, social media, and vapid media celebrities such as the Kardashians and the Housewives of Whatever. Tell me you haven’t tried having a conversation with a son or daughter, or grandchild, and the whole time they were looking at their smartphone. Bring up a historical event or person and see if you don’t get a glazed look. Remember the survey that asked young people to name the names of persons serving on the Supreme Court? Judge Judy was named most often.

Once again, I know I’m generalizing. But I do believe there is a very concerning trend toward self indulgence and entertainment and less involvement with family, community, and country.

The obvious question is why? I believe it’s because an increasing majority of those who make up these generations have no skin in the game. Many more of these young adults are now living at home with seemingly less ambition to make it on their own. More than forty five percent of households now don’t pay any federal income tax. Government handouts are at record levels never seen before. Who cares who gets elected? Let’s vote for the one who promises the most free stuff seems to be the attitude. Additionally, why should a generation that has no military draft give a damn about national defense? I’m guessing most couldn’t find strategic hot spot countries on a map.

If this sounds a bit bitter, you’d be right. I’m concerned about our culture and our country. I hope I’m wrong.

South Seas Adventure – Part 5

Having begun our adventure in Perth, Australia, we then traveled to exotic Bali and the exciting city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We then set sail for Penang, Malaysia. Here are some of the sights we took in while spending time in the older and more traditional areas of Penang. We loved the numerous temples, palaces, street markets, and street art.

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Trisha and John Parker in Penang, Malasia

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Trisha Parker with friend and entertainer Maurizio

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John Parker, Penang, Malaysia

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Trisha Parker, Penang street art

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South Seas Adventure – Part 4

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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For those following our South Seas Adventure, we departed Bali and set sail for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As so many travelers from the U. S. discover when traveling to new and developing areas of the world, it often appears we are becoming a third world nation. Kuala Lumpur is one of those places. Construction is everywhere, companies from all over the world are thriving, and the people are working hard and taking pride in their cities and country.

Above are the famous Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, and until 2004, the tallest structure in the world. My wife Trisha was very excited to be at the towers and remembered the Sean Connery movie Entrapment that was filmed there.

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Trisha Parker at the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

When we reached the observation level we took dozens of photos. In the photo below you can also see the Kuala Lumpur Tower. We also made a visit to that structure.

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Below is one of the many pictures I took from the Kuala Lumpur Tower.

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Inside the Petronas Towers was the most spectacular shopping mall we have ever seen. Every high-end store you can imagine is located there. We could not pass up having lunch at one of the many dozens of eateries.

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We were treated quite well by the Muslim people we encountered who populate this city and the country of Malaysia, and that influence could be seen in their older government and religious structures.

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Interestingly, while touring the city we noticed many parks and beautiful green spaces that were very well maintained. I hope we are able to return again sometime soon.

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