Thursday, February 28, 2008


Maybe the secret to staying young is to celebrate your birthday only once every four years, on the last day of February in a leap year. Did you know there is a word for people born on February 29th? ... leaplings. I didn’t know that until today.

Here are some celebrity leaplings from the past and present:
singer and TV host Dinah Shore

1940s band leader Jimmy Dorsey,

race car driver Mario Andretti,
actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.,
rapper JaRule
actor Dennis Farina,

and the only leapling I’ve ever met, my friend and co-worker Maureen McLain, who celebrates her, uhh, 9th birthday on February 29th this year.

Happy Birthday to all!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Meme Revisited

My posting activity has been slow lately because I'm still ridiculously busy. I started to write a few posts but haven't finished them.

Meanwhile, here is a slightly revised meme from about 18 months ago. Tag: you're it. Answer these questions on your blog and tell me where it is.

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Concession stand attendant in a high school gym
2. Car parts warehouse stocker
3. Telemarketer for a home-improvement company (I quit after 2 days)
4. Overnight DJ on a Country Music radio station

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. Casablanca
2. Dirty Harry
3. Cool Hand Luke
4. Lethal Weapon

Four places you have lived:
1. Louisiana
2. Wisconsin
3. Texas
4. Maryland

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. The Closer
2. Mad Men
3. Law & Order: CI
4. CSI

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Arizona/Utah
2. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
3. Cancun
4. Jamaica

Four websites you visit daily:
Only four?!?! OK, these and several more ...
1. Blogs ... all of the blogs listed to the right, but especially Merelyme, Velvet's Room, Boomer Chronicles and Ian (who just totally changed his blog).
2. Everything New Orleans
3. Google
4. My job's web site

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Jambalaya
2. Kung Pao Chicken
3. carrot cake
4. ice cream

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Walking on the beach near Sanderling, North Carolina.
2. Watching a sunset at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
3. Sharing a bottle of wine with my friends who live in Kona, Hawaii - at their house, of course.
4. Skipping my exit and continuing west on I-70 till I get to the end.

Four places you'd love to visit:
1. Palermo (Sicily)
2. Banff (Canada)
3. London
4. Montana

Four foods you don't like:
1. Sushi
2. Sushi
3. Sushi
4. Sushi

Thanks for visiting. I appreciate it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Making a living gets in the way of actually living.

Tonight I have mentally given up the idea of continuing my return to college. If this feeling continues, I will never get my college degree. For the most part, the lack of a college degree has not held me back from making a good living through my career, but it is frustrating that I never actually got the diploma.

My return has been a noble effort to study and learn history, a subject that I am interest in. It takes time, however to be a student. By time, I mean several hours a week for each credit hour of class. The specific recommendation is two to three hours of additional reading, writing and study for each hour of class. For older students who are out of practice, those numbers are minimums. That adds up to more than twelve hours a week for my one history class, a three credit hour class.

But I also need time for exercise, downtime, conversation with my wife and everything else I want to do in life. An 8-hour-a-day job that is only 8 hours would help, as would a normal person’s commute. I have neither. Last week was even busier than usual at work and one of my commutes was twice the already long amount because of an ice storm. All of that is a mental drain that interferes with the concentration needed to take a college course.

This is so frustrating and depressing, especially because I liked the professor and a couple of my classmates who were also history majors. The worst part of all of this is that at present, making a living gets in the way of actually living.

I will probably get past the mood I’m in tonight and try this college thing one more time, in the fall. That gives me seven or eight months to reprioritize my entire damn life. Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pay Attention, Then Pick One

It is interesting, and maybe a little disappointing, to witness the assumptions people make about who will vote for whom. Why do people assume that most African Americans will vote for Barrack Obama because he is African American? Will most women vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman? Did every Mormon vote for Romney, every southerner for Huckabee? Did Joe Lieberman get every Jewish vote when he ran in presidential primaries a few years ago?

People may favor candidates with whom they have something in common, but I hope there is more to a voter’s decision than race, religion, gender or geography.

I am a white, southern-born, former Catholic who now calls the mid-Atlantic region home and sometimes attends Unitarian Universalist services. Who the heck would I vote for is comfort level and affinity were the only criteria?

As Americans, we have the right to choose any candidate. Our choice is individual and private. We do have the right to vote for someone merely because we share skin color, faith, body type or home state but I believe we also have the obligation to dig a little deeper into a future leader’s potential ability to lead when making our choice of who to vote for.

And I strongly believe everyone who can register to vote should register … and vote in every election, even if the choice is based on the lesser of two evils. Every vote does count and not voting, in my opinion, can be worse than voting for a not-so-good candidate. The last election I skipped was in 2000 and it will be the last one I ever miss; because if only one vote-skipper in each precinct in the country who favored my candidate at the time had voted, we would have had a different president for the past eight years.

So please research the candidates (the internet makes it is easier than ever) and then vote in your primary and vote in the general election. Make your voice heard, even if your voice is shouting different names than mine is.

If you live in my neck of the woods, Maryland, Virginia and DC, the primary is this Tuesday, February 12th.

And if your polling place hands out those silly “I Voted” stickers, take one and proudly wear it all day!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We Are Controlling Transmission

Do you remember the ominous visual effects and the serious announcer voice speaking these words?

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. … For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. … You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits.

The effects are laughable now, but The Outer Limits television show was intense at the time, the 1960s; and the possibility that an external force from another planet or another country could take control was a little frightening.

Skip ahead to today’s technology, specifically something called Remote Desktop. With this software, I have the ability to connect to my workplace computer from home or anywhere. So does any IT person in my entire company.

For me, this setup enables me to work from home, with the same access to work files that I have when sitting in my office.

For the IT department, this setup enables them to install software or fix problems on my computer from wherever they happen to be. It also means anyone in the company with my access information can spy on my computer. They have the right to access my computer, by the way, and I have the right to be afraid of potential abuse of that access.

I’m not especially worried about my company, however. But this same Remote Desktop process could be used by hackers, or even the government, to spy on or alter anything on any computer I use. The same thing could happen to you. That possibility scares me a lot more than the 1960s version of The Outer Limits (or the newer seasons of that show that aired on the SciFi Channel a few years ago).

Perhaps we should also be afraid of the content control possibilities of the internet or our televisions.

Should we sit quietly and let anyone control all that we see and hear?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Married, Fifty and Curious

Here is some self-evaluation, curiosity and thought about dating.

I did well with the ladies during my 30s, but I don’t know why. I am usually the nice guy I seem to be, but my first two wives would probably tell you I was a jerk. I look OK but I don’t turn heads. I’m an average lover; I’ve probably disappointed as often as I’ve pleased. Maybe it was good luck and timing that enabled me to have more than my share of girlfriends then; my career opens lots of doors, although the initial attraction is usually more about what I do than who I am.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be single and searching now that I’m in my 50s. Keep in mind I’m married and not cheating, so this is just hypothetical. Most of the fifty-somethings I know are also married, so they can’t provide much insight into my curiosity. Maybe you can.

In my early dating years, there was a process to dating. Guys asked girls out, opened doors, made most decisions. Guys made the first moves physically, but never more than a kiss on a first date. Double dates were popular (two couples sharing itinerary and transportation) and it was always clear who was with whom that evening.

My impression is that younger people these days go out in groups more than in specific couples, sex is the good night kiss and “friends with benefits” trumps “going steady.” Is this a valid impression?

So what is appropriate and common for fifty-somethings who are dating? Are 50-year old men put off by women who ask them out or who make the first moves physically? Is the “friends with benefits” concept as popular with Boomers as it seems to be with twenty-somethings?

Do our social priorities change because we’re over 50 or because we’re married or because the times change? When my wife and I were dating (I was 40-ish and she was in her 30s), our weekends included movies, restaurants and passion. Note that I wrote this on Saturday night, alone in my home office, watching a movie on the computer while eating delivered pizza. My wife was in her home office at the other end of the house researching something on the internet. Nothing is particularly wrong with our pattern; this scenario just happens to represent our normal Saturday night now and is nothing like when we were dating.

If I was single again, would I spend Saturday nights on the town or would I be home alone? Would I care? Are you single? Do you date? What does “dating” mean in 2008?

If I was sitting in a room with you right now, I might ask for your age, marital status and a description of your social life. If I was feeling particularly inappropriate I’d ask about your sex life. I’m probably older than you so I think I can get away with these questions. Care to comment with some answers?

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Have you ever wondered why zero years are so important in our culture?

We celebrate or dread turning 60 or 50 or even 30. Why is that? As my wife points out each year, on your birthday you are only a day older than you were the day before your birthday. Yet the zero years seem to have great significance.

A co-worker turned 30 last month and was depressed about it for months leading up to that day. Another colleague of mine will celebrate her 40th birthday this summer and she no longer says much about it; she mentioned it a lot when we first met two years ago.

Four or five co-workers who turned 50 during the past few years were happy to acknowledge their birthday but refused to say the number. I felt the same way on my 50th. In fact, on my 50th I had braces on my teeth like a high school kid. No one would have believed it was my 50th birthday.

Walk through a Hallmark store and you’ll see several cards for decade birthdays like 50 or 30, but good luck finding a year-specific card for someone turning 53 or 27.

The 100th anniversary of powered human flight was celebrated in Kitty Hawk, NC with a week-long party in December 2003. A hat from that event inspired this post ...

Next December is the 105th anniversary; who cares? That town might see a couple hundred extra tourists, but that’s it.

In 1976 our country celebrated its 200th birthday. We’ll be 232 next July. Ho hum.

Remember when 1999 became the year 2000? More zeros led to more attention. There were waves of optimism about a new century as well as fears that older computer systems using 99 as the year designation would fail to understand that 00 represented the next year not the previous century. What was on TV as 2008 began? Hanna Montana.

I’m tempted to say that our fascination with zeros has something to do with the metric system, in which everything is divisible by 10. However, while most of the rest of the world measures in liters, meters, centimeters and kilometers, the U.S. counts gallons, yards, inches and miles.

So if you are turning 60, 50, 40, 30 or 20 this year, happy birthday. If you’re 48 on your next birthday, uhh, call me in two years. My birthday was last week, on a day with a zero in it, but I had to really think about the year. No zero … just fifty-something again.