Thursday, March 27, 2008

What’s Wrong With Right?

Why can’t more people do the right thing instead of the selfish thing or the inconsiderate thing or the politically expedient thing?

For example …

Why don’t more drivers use turn signals to indicate a lane change? Why can’t slow traffic keep right?

Why doesn’t the counter help at McDonalds say “thank you” instead of “here you go?”

When someone says “thank you,” isn’t the proper response “you’re welcome” and not “no problem?”

Two of the three leading Presidential candidates are Boomers and the third is older, so all three are old enough to be familiar with the Mom-based directive, “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Why can’t these candidates choose one of the obvious alternatives: a) talk about their own strengths instead of saying nasty things about each other or b) shut up?

Why can’t Congress fund infrastructure repair or education instead of a war? Isn’t it our money they’re spending? Don’t we have a say in this?

Why can’t large corporation pay their workers good wages and benefits and not outsource work? Why can’t large corporations accept very high profits instead of obscenely gigantic profits?

Why can’t businesses with automated phone systems provide an easy method for callers to locate a live human to answer questions that can’t be addressed by options 1 through 9?

Why doesn’t everyone toss bottles, cans and paper into the recycle box instead of the trash can?

What’s wrong with just doing the right thing?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I don’t usually believe in the concept of “OLD,” but I do believe these are kind of funny:

'OLD' IS WHEN... Your sweetie says, 'Let's go upstairs and make love,' and you answer, 'Pick one; I can't do both!'

'OLD' IS WHEN... Your friends compliment you on your new alligator shoes and you're barefoot.

'OLD' IS WHEN... A sexy babe catches your fancy and your pacemaker opens the garage door,

'OLD' IS WHEN... You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of by the police.

'OLD' IS WHEN... 'Getting a little action' means you don't need to take any fiber today.

'OLD' IS WHEN... 'Getting lucky' means you find your car in the parking lot.

'OLD' IS WHEN... An 'all nighter' means not getting up to use the bathroom.


'OLD' IS WHEN... You are not sure these are jokes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Spring is here. In Maryland, that can mean temperature in the 60s one day, in the 30s the next, sunshine one day, flurries the next.

But these little indicators of the season have been fighting their way out of the ground for a week:

There is a 30% chance they will have snow on them tonight, but they will still be there in the morning, as if to say, "Happy Easter!"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is It Real or Is It …

Is the economy bad because of economic factors like job cuts, bad loans and inflation? Or is it bad merely because people keep saying it is bad? Or is it really bad at all?

My economy is the best it has been in years, yet I’m afraid to spend a dollar because every time I turn around someone is saying the economy is bad. One of my goals this year was to pay off two remaining non-mortgage debts and I’ve already hit one of those goals; and I should hit the other one by Thanksgiving. But I’m reluctant to replace my paid-for, eight-year-old, gas-guzzling SUV with 150,000 miles on it with a vehicle more suited to my 85-miles-per-day commute because I’m stressed by the thought of applying for a car loan.

Four years of car payments? I can’t do that … the economy is bad!

I had planned a great vacation for the end of April but I cancelled it. Why? Uhh, the economy is bad.

I clip coupons, shop at the outlet mall and bring my lunch to work four days a week. These are all fiscally responsible behaviors, but my main motivation is that … the economy is bad.

I have worked for the same company for sixteen years, yet I’m stressed about losing my job because having a job this long seems to be unusual in this (here it comes) bad economy. I have no reason to believe I’m going to lose my job. In fact, most indicators are quite the opposite, except one (here we go again): the economy is so bad.

How bad is it?

A quick and admittedly superficial internet search shows that the unemployment rate spiked in the mid 1970s, the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s, but generally has held steadily around 6% since 1960. During those spikes, it hit around 10 or 11%. The statistic for last month was 4.8%. Is that bad compared to past years?

Mortgage rates are currently around 6%; my first mortgage, in 1982, was a then typical 12.75%. My current one isn’t so bad, is it?

Certainly if you’re unemployed, carless and facing foreclosure, the economy is bad. If you’re stuck in a job that pays less than you’re worth, your economy is bad. If you live in an inflated housing market like here near DC, you might say the economy is bad. But in those scenarios, is it worse now than a year or two ago, or has it been bad for quite some time?

Food and fuel prices are rising, so maybe the economy really is bad. Or maybe this “bad economy” is just a slump that is exaggerated by overblown media attention? Any thoughts on this?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Mustache?

Have you ever listened to a song you’ve heard a hundred times and discover something new in it, something you never noticed before? My big musical discovery tonight: Cream was a blues band, often playing the same three-chord blues I now love so much but always called rock back in the 70s and 60s. Example: Strange Brew.

I also rediscovered the unresolved confusion of the Clapton/Cream song called Swlabr. The lyrics are written in that confusing 1960s psychedelic style, possibly influenced by some popular "substance" from that era.

You've got that rainbow feel,
But the rainbow has a beard.
Running to me a-cryin', when he throws you out.
Running to me a-cryin', on your own again.
You've got that pure feel,
Such good responses,
But the picture has a mustache.

The rainbow has a beard? The picture has a mustache? What?

During the early days of my DJ career, I played that song on the radio many times. I thought I knew something about it but realized tonight that I don’t have a clue. So I did what I always do in these cases: I turned to Google (this post is NOT a commercial – this really is what I do in these cases). My search turned up a site that confirms what I suspected – I’m not alone in my ignorance of the meaning of this otherwise kickass song from the 60s.

I probably didn’t know anything about it then either, although I might have pretended to know so I would sound cool.

And here is Swlabr, in case you've never heard it:

Tonight I’m thoroughly enjoying my “new” knowledge that one of my favorite rock bands from my youth was really a blues band. And even they don't seem to know what some of their songs mean.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

To Dream - Revisited

March 11th is the second anniversary of this blog. As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a famous newspaper columnist. It was a mid-priority dream, something I thought about from time to time but nothing I spent a lot of time pursuing. Funny how when I look back over 209 posts, I see that I have actually become a columnist of sorts. A couple of times a week, I pick a topic, do a little research and then comment on the topic through the eyes of a Baby Boomer. So you could say I've achieved that dream (minus the famous part and there is no paper involved; no compensation either).

I was going to repost my original post, but as I re-read the first five months of posts, I ran across this one. I like this one better; it is the real me, start to finish.

Thanks for visiting.

A blog I recently found mentioned a character I hadn’t thought of for years: Don Quixote. He’s the central figure in Man of La Mancha, a play/musical from the 1960s. The story is set during the Spanish Inquisition and tells of a knight who sets out to right all wrongs and win the heart of a good woman (Dulcinea) as he duels windmills along the way.

Quixote is a dreamer, an idealist, a man on a mission. I am all those things too. My dreams and missions are not as noble or significant as his, but I do identify with him because he has dreams and believes they are important.

Some of my dreams are selfish (career advancement, educational milestones, financial gain). Others are to help total strangers have a better life (some of my radio work).

I call it dreaming. Others sometimes call it goal-setting. I have lived many of my diverse dreams: host a radio show heard around the world, live in several interesting places, fall in love, ride in a helicopter, see the Grand Canyon, walk on a beach totally alone. Many unlived dreams are still on my list: graduate college, visit the Sicilian village of my great grandparents, hike the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon, write a book, interview John Glenn. And a few of my dreams seem impossible: save a person’s life, walk on the moon.

The point is to continue to dream.

Here’s an interesting coincidence … my elementary school graduation class had a song: “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. This sounds silly, but I have to admit that I have always been inspired by those lyrics.

To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...

And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

An impossible dream might really be impossible, but I believe that one should dream it anyway. You might not reach the unreachable star, but you could have one hell of a flight trying to get there.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My High School Eunion

My high school was one of the best in New Orleans but by the time I graduated I had come to hate it. I developed a healthy cynicism during those years, fueled by the irony of a Catholic school with military uniforms and a mandatory Jr. ROTC program. Thou shalt not kill, but let’s train you to kill. The Vietnam war was raging at the time, as were the protests.

I got through high school with my sanity intact, mostly because of three friendships I developed. We were quite different from each other but something unified us. Maybe it was because we weren’t part of the “in” crowd. I don’t even remember how we met. Maybe we sat near each other in class.

Sometimes the four of us did things as a group, sometimes we hung out in pairs. We occasionally spent time with each other’s families. All four of us went on to the same college, but that is where our paths began to split.

In the ensuing years I kept in touch with one of those friends and remain in touch to this day. However, I lost track of the other two for all the decades since … until last week. Out of the blue I received an email from one of them. As part of the ongoing “reconnect with my youth” philosophy I started when I turned 50, I recently posted my email address on the high school website so I would have access to the alumni database. My specific goal was to track down these guys. One of them happened to visit the site shortly after I did this and he found me instead. It turns out the second one married the first one’s sister, so they have definitely been in touch with each other all these years.

And now the internet has enabled the three of us to be in touch and to begin catching up. The fourth friend in this group happens to be the only person I know who does not have email, but I’ll forward information from his regular mail so he can be part of this.

I haven’t been to any of my official high school reunions since the first year and I don’t plan to go to any of them in the future. But I am thrilled to be part of this high school e-union. I’m excited to reconnect with this part of my youth and they seem to be as happy to hear from me as I am to hear from them.