Monday, August 27, 2007

I Finally Did It

If you were hanging out with me around this time last year, you might remember that I was seriously considering a return to college. You might also remember that I wimped out at the last minute with the same excuse I've used for decades - don't have the time. It's a valid excuse, but an excuse just the same.

Well this year I quietly did the research, filled out the forms and took the online tutorial class and as of today, I am officially a student at the University of Maryland University College.

I'll begin my return to higher education with online classes, something that didn't exist when I left school in the 1970s. I was in my third year of college, had changed majors at least five times and was on and off probation. I sat out a year, returned for a semester, made the Dean's list and dropped out again.

Like many Boomers, I am a life-long learner but I've always felt that not getting my degree was unfinished business. A degree might have helped me along the way - I don't really know.

I have declared History as my major because I like it. My fantasy future job in my 60s or 70s is to produce documentaries, so a History background could help me then. My current job is writing, producing and voiceing radio commercials. It's a stretch to think this degree will have much influence on this career.

At this point in my life, however, a degree is just for me and not for my career.

Go Terps!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gone Now, Gone Soon

Boomers reminisce a lot; maybe everyone does.

I was thinking about some items and brands that older Boomers grew up with that are no longer around. I don’t miss all of these things; I’m just amused when I think that I never thought I’d see the day when they would be gone.

Here are a few examples for your amusement:

Already gone or almost non-existent -

- Phone booths

- Plymouths

- Phones with wires

- VCRs

- Oldsmobiles

- Manual Transmission – in America, but not anywhere else

- Film

Gone within the next few years -

- Checkbooks

- Tube TVs with 4:3 ratio

- Computers connected to anything with wires

- Cashiers

Would you like to add anything to the list?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

He Would Be 72

Some iconic statistics are hard to believe. Here are a few examples:

- Elvis died thirty years ago this week. Thirty years!!

- If he was alive today, he’d be 72 years old. Seventy two!

- Elvis recorded over 700 songs. Sixteen of them reached #1

- He is one of the few dead entertainers who had a #1 hit song in this decade … the remixed version of ‘A Little Less Conversation’ from the Nike commercial was released in the UK in 2002 and went to the top of the charts.

- Over 75,000 fans have converged in Memphis for the 30th anniversary of his death. Sadly, one of them died because of the heat wave there this week.

- Elvis bought Graceland fifty years ago at age 22.

- More than 750,000 people visit the estate each year. I was one of them in 1996.

Elvis is The King. But I don’t know that he influenced music as much as he kicked open the door to a new style of music for a restless generation of pre-Boomers and Boomers. Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to ignore him. Thirty years after his death, he is still a commercial empire, making far more money now than when he was alive.

Of the thousands of Elvis-related activities happening this week to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death, the most unique is the release of a duet with his daughter. Lisa Marie Presley, who is almost 40 now, laid down vocal tracks over the original recording of her Dad’s 1969 hit “In The Ghetto.” It’ll be available this week on iTunes as a fund-raiser for the New Orleans branch of Presley Place, a transitional housing facility for homeless families.

I don’t have anything else to say about him; I just didn’t want to let the week go by without some kind of mention. After I post this, I’ll be searching my collection for that double CD Greatest Hits that I know is around here somewhere.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Boomerandomness 3

That's Right

On a TV newscast, you often hear one anchor say to another “that’s right” in response to the opening sentence of a story. “There are delays at the airport, John.” “That’s right, Mary and people are angry.” Just once, I’d like to hear the anchor say, “actually, that’s NOT right, Mary.”

Seen It All

From time to time you hear someone make the statement “now I’ve seen it all” to describe some incredible, unbelievable behavior they have just witnessed. Well I can safely say that now I really have seen it all. The behavior I observed recently: a guy driving a motorcycle at a high rate of speed in heavy traffic during afternoon drive in I-270 in Maryland did a wheelie. I mean this guy, while weaving in and out of heavy traffic, passing cars that were already doing 65-70 in a 55 mph speed zone, popped up on just his rear wheel and sped up even more, looking back as if to say look at what I’m doing! Isn’t this cool? I question whether or not this guy should have the right to drive. Or breathe.

Just Do It

In response to the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis, one expert was quoted as saying that it would cost about $9 billion a year for twenty years to completely fix all the substandard bridges and roadways in the United States. OK, what are we waiting for? Get started. And don’t tell me the country can’t afford it. The Iraq war is costing almost $9 billion per MONTH!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I think I’ve joined a cult. After years of hearing about this “club” I decided to join it today.

They have meeting sites scattered all over the United States. When you visit one of their meeting places you have to prove you are one of them to get in the door, a bright orange steel mesh affair with big locks.

In a way, they are like survivalists. They move supplies by the millions of items every day, right in plain site… everything from paper towels to clothes to meat. Some members even turn to them for innocent services ranging from insurance to wedding planning. I guess some of their members marry each other; many members are already married and join as couples.

Members of this organization swear by it. They talk to each other and anyone who will listen about the benefits of joining. Unlike other cults, however, these crafty members are out in the open about what they do. But non-members have no idea what it’s like till they actually see for themselves.

Meetings aren’t actually scheduled, but the meeting place is available to members at selected hours and days. Their rituals include a friendly greeting at the orange metal door, followed by a casual walk in the same direction down an aisle through at least half of their meeting site. Somewhere in the middle, the members split off into various directions in search of who knows what. New members are easy to spot because they don’t make eye contact with other members at first; new members are usually overwhelmed by the enormity of the meeting place.

They use normal currency to finance their transactions, I assume to avoid detection. But they also have their own currency, similar in appearance to a credit card, with the name of their cult boldly printed right on the card for all to see: COSTCO.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Space Teacher

Barbara Morgan is a 55-year-old Boomer. That means she was an impressionable girl during the early years of space flight and might have been as fascinated with astronauts and launches as I was. Maybe she watched Walter Cronkite narrate the TV coverage of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin and the other early space pioneers and thought that she’d like to follow in their footsteps one day.

For Barbara Morgan, that day is here; she is the Space Teacher on the current Shuttle Mission STS-118.

Ms. Morgan was an elementary school teacher in Idaho when she first joined the Shuttle program in 1986. She was Christa McAuliffe’s backup and we can only imagine how she felt as she watched Challenger explode, carrying McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, and six others to their deaths just seconds after the launch.

And we can only imagine now the thrill she must feel finally making it into space.

In addition to being a role model for students and teachers, she also provides an example of creative aging, showing fifty-somethings and all others that age does not have to be a limiting factor in achieving our dreams.

In a short video piece on, Barbara Morgan humbly states that, “I am just the next teacher of many to come,” but I think she will be remembered as the teacher who carried out the legacy and dreams teachers and the rest of us shared twenty-one years ago when we watched Christa McAuliffe first walk down the hall toward Challenger.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Still Here

I won’t bore you with another rant about how busy I am. I’m certainly not the only busy Boomer or Gen-Xer on the planet.

But it just amazes me how busy we as a society have become. We have more options for time consumption and seem to have a greater capacity than our parents or grandparents for doing many things, often all at one time. We have many interests and we have the desire to pursue them.

But does all this activity really improve our quality of life?

One good thing about the simpler days of forty or fifty years ago is that there seemed to be time to get things done. We could focus our attention on one or two things instead of twenty or thirty. In high school I studied, played in the band, participated in a film club and in senior year I had a girlfriend. Yet, I always had time for all of those interests. I accomplished everything I wanted to without the aid of a cell phone, cable TV or the internet. And I only did one or two things at a time: drive and talk, play in the band and hang out with the girlfriend, study and, uh, study.

Now in my fifties I have one job that incorporates duties formerly handled by four different people, I commute a long distance so I can live away from the fray, I write this blog, I’m writing a book, I’m taking another run at returning to college, I exercise and on the weekends I work around the house and yard. Honestly, I don’t have the time or energy to focus totally on any one of those things with the degree of attention I would like to. I’m always tired except on Saturday afternoons because I’ve pissed away Saturday morning catching up on sleep.

Whine, whine, whine.

OK, I’ll stop now.

You are probably going through something like this too, in addition to child-raising responsibilities that I don’t have.

All that to say I’m still here. Thanks for visiting. I’ll have something with more substance to post again soon.