FOUR WORDS FOR THREE DAYS

NOTE: The presentation of entertainment and poignant knowledge doesn’t change the world, but it does provide a little inspiration and a brief respite from a world that often needs a little changing.


 

Play, Ponder, Renew, Rewind

next post Monday

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A SHORT DIATRIBE ABOUT WEIGHT

NOTE: The goodness of retirement is the joy of being able to do nothing. But the nothing we do is really the something that is our lives. This blog is an attempt to comment on that nothing that is something. And by reading it, I hope you too will think a bit about that something.


Call me picky, but I am a person who is very aware of what I weigh. I’m not in any way concerned about it, but I am proud of the fact that since I retired I have lost 14 pounds. And I do weigh myself weekly before I get in the shower. Just to keep track. Sometimes my weight goes up a pound, or down a pound, but it’s pretty consistently these days at 158.

So, it annoys me when I go to the doctor for a physical. Because, when it’s my turn, the nurse calls my name, walks me through the door on the way to the examining room, and then stops at a scale and weighs me. There’s a scale right there in the hall. She asks me to step on that scale and I get weighed… with all my clothes and my shoes on? I’ve even been weighed while holding my coat.

So, if I’m proud that I weigh 158 pounds (give or take a pound), but when I get weighed at the doctor’s office, I weigh 162 pounds, that’s just not right. Better yet, it’s not accurate. And this has happened to me at multiple doctors in at least two states.

Now you’re probably saying that I shouldn’t expect the nurse to make me strip down and weigh me in my underwear. And you would be right. I don’t expect that. But…maybe I could get to take my shoes off. Maybe I could get to put my coat down. Let’s face it, I want an “almost totally-and-completely-accurate” weight.

But perhaps the doctor doesn’t even care about my weight. Does he notice that I weigh more in the winter than the summer (sweater, winter coat)? Does he notice if I’ve gained or lost 20 pounds in a year? I don’t think he does care. Maybe my insurance company requires that he weigh me so he can file the claim that he actually examined me. Who knows?

But the fact that he doesn’t really know how much I weigh makes me sad. Not that sad, but maybe a bit neglected.

I’d like an attaboy for losing some weight.

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YESTERDAY…I GOT BLINDSIDED

NOTE: The seconds, minutes, hours, and days of retirement are often filled with the minutiae of “nil.” That feeling of less responsibility, more leisure, and a lot of hardly anything is both positive and negative. This blog attempts to paint a few slices of the sort of life that reflects the “nil” that retirement can often be.


I turned 70 about five weeks ago. I was not sensitive about it, not too concerned. Age is just a number…yep. And as I said at the time, it was better than the alternative. So it was no big deal.

But…yesterday I was at the mall near our house. I was in a store and the clerk, because of a deal that involved age, asked me how old I was. I answered that I was 70.

And it hit me. Right there. Right between the eyes. Right in the gut. Right in the middle of the store.

“I said 70. I don’t really think I ever said that out loud before to anyone outside of my family. 70 is old. I can’t be 70. I remember when I thought 70 was ancient. And now I’m ancient. Wow. I said 70.

Imagine…70.”

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

NOTE: The presentation of entertainment and poignant knowledge doesn’t change the world, but it does provide a little inspiration and, perhaps, a brief respite from a world that often needs a little changing.

Enjoy the post. Share it with others.


The oddly titled “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie is one of my favorite and most inspiring books. And I have tried to model parts of my life on the passage below.

This passage and the entire book made me a better person. And, even in retirement, I still continue painting my masterpiece.

The excerpt begins by discussing the paint-by-numbers paintings we often did as children.

“For more than 50 years I worked on my paint-by-numbers creation. With uneven, but persistent diligence, I dipped an emaciated paint-by-numbers brush into color no. 1 and painstakingly painted inside each little blue-bordered area marked 1. Then on to 2 and 3 and 4 and so on.

Sometimes, during restive periods of my life, I would paint, say, the 12 spaces before the 10 spaces (a token rebellion against overdoses of linearity). More than once, I painted beyond a line and, feeling embarrassed, would try to wipe off the errant color or cover it with another before anyone might notice my lack of perfection.

From time to time, though not often, someone would complement me, unconvincingly, on the progress of my “masterpiece.” I would gaze at the richness of others’ canvases. Doubt about my own talent for painting gnawed at me. Still, I continued to fill in the little numbered spaces, unaware of, or afraid to look at, any real alternative. . .

. . .Then there came a time. . .when I pulled back from my masterpiece-in-the-works and saw it with emerging clarity.

It looked awful. The stifled strokes of paint had nothing to do with me. They did not illustrate who I am or speak of who I could become. I felt duped, cheated, ashamed–anguished that I had wasted so much canvas, so much paint. I was angry that I had been conned into doing so. But that is the past. Passed.

Today, I wield a wider brush–pure ox hide bristle. And I’m swooping it through the sensuous goo of Cadmium yellow, Alizarin Crimson or Ultramarine Blue (not nos. 4, 13 or 8) to create the biggest, brightest, funniest, fiercest damn dragon that I can. Because that has more to do with what’s inside me than some prescribed plagiarisms of somebody else’s tour de force.

You have a masterpiece inside you too, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be. And remember: If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.”

 

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NEED A TECHNOLOGY EXPERT WHO’S MATURE; LOOK NO FURTHER

NOTE: The seconds, minutes, hours, and days of retirement are often filled with the minutiae of “nil.” That feeling of less responsibility, more leisure, and a lot of hardly anything is both positive and negative. This blog attempts to paint a few slices of the sort of life that reflects the “nil” that retirement can often be.


Yes, I like technology. And no, I do not think I “waste” money on it. I have an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop (yes, it’s a MacBook), and an Apple Watch.

And yes, I can hear you snickering about my talk about not wasting money. Yes, I really can hear you.

But…

  • I use a phone every day.
  • I take my iPad everywhere because I do not like to read on a small phone screen.
  • Just like you and almost everyone else I know, I need and use a laptop. For writing, for this blog, for banking, for intensive research, and for lots and lots and lots of things. (I know my wife will roll her eyes when she reads this.)
  • And I walk every single day and like to use a watch to track my progress and set new goals.

So stop rolling your eyes. And stop smiling.

And lately, I’ve been paying a bit more attention about technology use. Dispelling the idea that retired guys can’t master the technology of today.

Five stellar, really stellar, examples will suffice.

First, I can use emojis. Real live, clever, incredible, silly, appropriate and inappropriate emojis. And probably no other retired people really understand emojis. I bet.

Second, I read books on my iPad. I’m certain no one else my age reads books on an electronic device. Just proud of old(er), technologically phenomenal me.

Third, I text often. Yep, I send short written messages on my phone to other people. People like my wife. And like my…well, my wife. I send messages on my phone to my wife. Like something out of the technological future. Wow. Text messages.

Fourth, I can check my e-mail, answer phone calls, find out the weather, look at the stock market, and play music on my watch. And oh yes, I can also view the time. Can you believe that me, the most technologically savvy old(er) person you likely know, can do all of this on their wrist watch. Just like Dick Tracy used to do.

And now for the fifth and last one, and without my tongue in my cheek, here’s a halfway serious one. I have learned how to pay for things using my Apple Watch. And I’ve done it quite a few times with clerks who were many years younger than I. And most of them marveled at the fact I could pay with my watch. And they marveled not because I was old(er), but because they had simply never seen it done. It was like a magic trick, and I was the wise old retired magician.

The moral of this post. Never walk into a Best Buy again and think the elderly-ish people loading up on technology are just buying it for their grandchildren. Because, I can assure you, we are not. 😉

 

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THIS WEEKEND, DO TWO THINGS

NOTE: The presentation of entertainment and poignant knowledge doesn’t change the world, but it does provide a brief respite from a world that often needs a little changing.


Here are a couple of things to do today, tomorrow, and Sunday…

Thank a veteran for his or her service.
They have always been and still are responsible for our freedom.

Look back through this blog and read the posts you missed.
There have been 80 of them.
Or read the first post, which tried to explain what I was hoping to do.
It’s here: http://nothingbutretired.com/why-a-blog-what-this-is/

NEXT POST: MONDAY

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WHERE HAS ALL THE PAPER GONE?

NOTE: People who are not retired often say how good it will be to be retired and do nothing. This blog is about that nothing that we retired people think and do. Read it and you will learn something about that nothing. I promise.


There are many, many things that have disappeared from my life over the 70 years I have lived. Typewriters, dial phones, love letters, pay phones, phone books, video cassettes, leisure suits, lava lamps, etc., etc., etc.

But, as I think about it, I believe the biggest thing that has almost entirely disappeared from my existence is…PAPER.

There was a time…
…when I read a newspaper every day of the week.Never missed a day for decades. Could not imagine never doing it. Now, I haven’t read an actual newspaper since I retired.

There was a time…
…when I bought books, many books, and read them. Sometimes I read a book a week. Hardback books. Paperback books. Had a library of books. Since I retired I still read a lot of books. But haven’t read an actual paper book in years. Only read books on my iPad. And it’s the same with magazines.

There was a time…
…when I wrote checks or paid cash (paper money) at stores. Usually took out $100 cash per week and that covered lunches, groceries, and other expenses. When my wife and I went to the grocery store we often wrote checks. Now, I haven’t written a check for anything in months and months and months. Use a debit card. Do online bill paying. Rarely even carry more than $20 in cash.

There was a time…
…when the mail was an important part of the day. Even when I worked, I’d come home and ask”what did we get in the mail today?” Maybe it would be a magazine, a bill, an actual written letter from someone. Even belonged to a book club and got books in the mail. Now, none of that.

There was a time…
…when I used a photographic darkroom to print my own photographs, on paper of course. I taught photojournalism for part of my career and I was responsible for hundreds and hundreds of students who printed thousands and thousands of paper photos from celluloid film. Alas, no darkrooms or photo paper around much today.

There was a time…
…when I loved office supply stores. Expensive pens, tablets of every size, index cards, calendar books, highlighters. Now…none of those. Hardly ever use a pen, nor a tablet, nor a highlighter, nor a calendar book. Did buy a pack of index cards a few months ago. But hardly ever use them.

And I suppose I could argue that I’m saving trees, helping the environment, contributing to a paperless society. But being “paperless” also does allow me the realization of the vast difference between then and now.

And I kinda regret that my grandchildren will never do any of those things that I did a long time ago in a world they will never know.

But I think all of that regret is a completely different post. Or perhaps I can just write them a letter expressing my thoughts.

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PERFECT CUP OF COFFEE, WHEREFORE ART THOU?

NOTE: People who are not retired often say how good it will be to be retired and do nothing. This blog is about that nothing that we retired people think and do. Read it and you will learn something about that nothing. I promise.


My wife loves coffee. I like coffee. And to drink coffee at home requires a coffee maker.

Either a Mr. Coffee, a Keurig, a French Press, a Nespresso, a Cuisinart, a latte maker, a single-serve coffee maker, a thermal carafe, a warming plate, an extra large or extra small water reservoir, a cold brew feature, a strong coffee selector, a digital timer, an espresso maker, a remove-the-carafe-before-it’s-done-brewing feature, and on and on and on. There are a lot of choices.

And I love the choices. I can buy the $39.95 Mr. Coffee basic model, or I can buy the Breville Oracle Espresso Machine for about $2000. Even writing the name of the high-end machine makes me laugh. But, what to get? What to get?

We have had Mr. Coffee. Coffee wasn’t hot enough. We have had a French Press. Too much trouble. We have had Keurig. Too expensive. We have had a thermal carafe. Not thermal enough. But what we haven’t had is the perfect cup of coffee.

No, we are not coffee snobs. No, we do not drink a million cups a day. No, we are not cheap. No, we are not in a hurry. We are nice, kind, gentle, cuddly, and thirsty for what we consider the perfect cup of coffee. Yes, cuddly.

We have thought of growing our own beans. Honestly, who hasn’t? But we have the wrong climate, the wrong soil, and we know nothing about the process.

We have thought of swearing off coffee, but who wants to live with that mood disorder.

We have thought of getting up and going to a coffee shop in our pajamas. No, actually we haven’t thought of that.

But I think after endless online searches, and looking through catalogs, and discussing this with numerous people, we have finally found the exact machine that will finally, in our retirement years, give us days and days and weeks and weeks of incredible cups of coffee, perfect cups of rich, dark coffee.

And after we buy it and use it and realize it too isn’t the right one, I’ll tell you what it was. Just not now.

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I HAVE LET EVERYONE DOWN

NOTE: The seconds, minutes, hours, and days of retirement are often filled with the minutiae of “nil.” That feeling of less responsibility, more leisure, and a lot of hardly anything is both positive and negative. This blog attempts to paint a few slices of the sort of life that reflects the “nil” that retirement can often be.


I am sad today.
Not depressed, just sad.
I have let myself down.
I have let my wife down.
I have let the people in my neighborhood down.
I have broken all promises I made to myself about this.
I have caved in to petty impulses.

What, you ask, have I done?

I have mall walked.

Just once, so far. But isn’t once sometimes all it takes to become a doer, and then a regular doer, and then an addict?

It was a Monday. It was cold. It was cloudy. It appeared it could rain. We were going out anyway. So, we said, we’ll just stop and do our walking at the mall. I knew in my heart how wrong it was. But the moment of weakness overpowered me.

So we walked…inside the mall.

I tried hard to make it seem like shopping, but we didn’t buy anything. I tried to make it seem like we were getting coffee, but we didn’t. I was trying to find a reason why I was not living up to my determined promise to never ever never become an old(er) guy who walked in the mall instead of outdoors. But I couldn’t.

So what did my wife and I do?
What, indeed.
We walked two miles.
Set the smart watch.
Timed it out.
Counted our steps.
Did it proudly.
With grace.
With style.

And then what did we do? We vowed never, ever to ever do it again.

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DO I LOOK TIRED? DID I SLEEP LATE ENOUGH?

NOTE: The goodness of retirement is the joy of being able to do nothing. But the nothing we do is really the something that is our lives. This blog is an attempt to comment on that nothing that is something. And by reading it, I hope you too will think a bit about that something.


There is a saying (and a song lyric): The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But when one is retired, one realizes how ridiculous that saying really is. Lots of things change, and none of those things stay the same.

Let’s examine an example. Getting up in the morning.

In my LBR (life before retirement) I got up mostly between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Alarm clock went off. I bounded (?) out of bed, shaved, showered, read the morning paper, ate breakfast, got in the car, drove to work. Five days a week. Many weeks a year.

I was very precise. I was fairly rigid about my routine. I was even one of those people who thought that I should try to get up on the weekends around the same time as I did during the week. (Yes, that really sounds stupid now.)

These days, I still do set an alarm (on my phone). It’s set permanently for 8:30 a.m. I do often wake up earlier (and yes, I do have an actual life in which I sometimes do things early) but it takes a lot of effort for me to crawl out from under those covers before 8:30.

My wife, on the other hand, is always up by 8 a.m. She doesn’t set an alarm, just gets up as soon as she wakes up. Sadly, she will not get me coffee, or breakfast, or even encourage me to just “sleep as long as you want.” Sigh.

But, I have a television in the bedroom, a smart phone, and an iPad. I have a friend named Siri who, if I ask her, will tell me what’s on my schedule, what the temperature is going to be, if it’s going to rain, etc. In short, I have everything I need (except coffee) to keep me in bed well past 9 or 9:30 a.m. which is the time those “other people” who are not retired start that thing called work.

I am still rigid, if you call setting the alarm for 8:30 every day, rigid. But I am no longer precise. Don’t much have a routine. Don’t care enough whether it’s the weekdays or the weekend.

But hey, I do work. I honestly do. I work at getting out of that bed. I work at making coffee. And I work at not working.

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