Tuesday, May 27, 2008

OK, THIS Makes Me Feel Old

Here is a headline for a story in a broadcasting industry website I visit daily: Lynyrd Skynyrd Keyboardist Undergoes Hip Replacement Surgery.

You don't even need to hear the details in the story to understand what I mean, do you?

These guys were a big deal in the early days of my radio career. In fact, I was on the air the night their plane crashed in Mississippi in the mid 70s and played nothing but their music all night. Many of the country music singers I now love were influenced by their country-flavored Southern rock sound and many country songs refer to them or their music. The remaining members still play.

But the thought that their keyboard guy had a hip replacement is almost too much to handle. How old are those guys anyway?

Monday, May 26, 2008


I paid $3.89 per gallon for regular this morning. The saddest part is that this amount is below the new national average. The station on the other side of the Interstate was selling regular for $3.98.

My friend at AAA reluctantly says that we shouldn't be surprised if it hits $5 this year.

Are you old enough to remember the gas lines in 1973? There were shortages that year so this is still better. In '73 there were odd day and even day fill up restrictions based on the last digit in the license plate number. In some places, gas stations that were usually open every day were closing one or two days a week.

I hope we don't get to that point.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another One

OK, I started another blog.

My new camera has seriously energized my photography passion and for the moment, my two photo blogs are the main outlet for that side of me.

I live near some very photogenic towns, and one of them is the subject of my new blog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Things Meme

I saw this on a site three months ago and I’m just getting around to posting my version of it. Give me some of your answers in Comments or post your answers on your blog and tell us where it is.

Two names you go by: Bern and Bern Man

Two things you are wearing right now: cargo pants and a sweatshirt

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship: Love and good conversation

Two of your favorite things to do: Listen to music and photograph landscapes

Two things you want badly now: More time and more time

Two pets you have or have had: Nash and ZeeZee, two of my Border Collies

Two things you did last night: Read an amazing email from my friend in Hawaii and washed clothes

Two things you ate today: cereal and jambalaya

Two things you're doing tomorrow: working and walking on my treadmill

Two longest car rides: If you mean longest stretches without stopping for an overnight stay, Frederick County, Maryland to Chattanooga, Tennessee and Milwaukee to New Orleans.

Two favorite holidays: New Years and Thanksgiving

Two favorite beverages: Coffee and Merlot

Two people no longer alive who you'd like to talk to: Mom and Dad

OK, it’s your turn.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Andrews Air Show

I love planes. I don't like flying all that much; I just love watching planes.

The annual Joint Services Air Show is this weekend at Andrews Air Force Base near DC. This is the President's airport. Civilians don't usually have access to the base, but one weekend each year, the various branches of the military stage this public event to show off their heritage and their hardware.

This is the 3rd year in a row that I've gone there and the first time with a good camera. You can see a few of the photos I took on my photo blog.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What’s Your Number?

Do you remember phone numbers? Has your memory of phone numbers changed with technology that stores those numbers?

I used to have a knack for remembering phone numbers. I knew my home number, of course, back when the whole family had just one number. In college, however, I remembered lots of numbers: school, work, a gas station that did repairs, the radio station request line, my girlfriend’s number. I also knew numbers of aunts, grandma, the record store and most of my friends. All of that information was stored in my head.

Later in life, as I needed to recall more phone numbers, I began the habit of writing them on the back on a business card stashed in my wallet. I used a Rolodex at work and carried a pocket-sized address book.

These days I still know my home number, although I rarely call it. But I don’t know the switchboard number at work or any co-worker’s direct dial desk number or cell phone number. I know the radio station’s request line number because I work there and have spoken it on the air thousands of times, but I do not know the special insider number employees use to call the DJ.

I was thinking about this today as I tried to remember my wife’s cell phone number.

I actually don’t know it, even though I call her several times a day. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to remember any phone number because every number I need to know is programmed on my cell phone. Several hundred numbers.

This is a huge technological shift, isn’t it?

Here is another change: in the Rolodex days, you looked up a number then punched the digits on the phone. Now you highlight a name on the cell phone screen and press Send.

As the number of numbers we need to know has grown … multiple home land lines, a separate cell number for each family member, friend and business contact … so has the number of numbers in a number, from six in the 1950s to seven for many decades to ten in regions like mine that require the area code for every call.

But we have another techno-change that offsets the additional digits: speed dial.

To reach my sister, press 5. Hit 6 for the boss, 7 for work voice mail; 2 will get me that DJ. My wife? 4.

This could be especially good as aging Boomers experience gradually diminishing memories. Instead of ten numbers per person, we just have to remember the speed dial number. Forget that? Search for a name on the screen. Forget a name? I don’t even want to think about that yet; my number will be up soon enough.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Missed It By THAT Much

I can’t believe it’s back. All of it. The telephone booth, the red sports car, the theme song, the cone of silence, CONTROL, KAOS, the shoe phone and the sexy never-identified-by-name Agent 99. The phrases that became part of normal conversation, like “missed it by that much” and “would you belieeeve …?”

And of course, the greatest secret agent to ever foil an enemy plot: Maxwell Smart!

Get Smart is back as a movie this time, based on the TV show that ran from 1965 to 1970. Do you remember it? Did you watch it? Did you think it was funny then and you wonder why when you see it now on TV Land?

It stars the ubiquitous Steve Carell (The Forty Year Old Virgin, The Office, Bruce Almighty, Dan In Real Life), who seems to be in front of a camera almost as much as Ryan Seacrest and Rachel Ray.

I wonder of this silly, but memorable and legendary television program has been brought to the big screen by Boomers trying to capitalize on Boomer nostalgia or by Gen-Xers who think Boomers will actually pay money to sit through 100 minutes of Boomer nostalgia. Either way, it’ll probably work. This could be one of those rare movies that actually draws people over 40. I can name at least one fifty-something who will see it.



Friday, May 09, 2008

Lessons From Mom

I don’t know the original source for this, but I stole it from a co-worker’s web page.

I Owe My Mother
1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
' Because I said so, that's why.'

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you' re in an accident.'

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

8 My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
'Stop acting like your father!'

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
'Just wait until we get home.'

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
'You are going to get it when you get home!'

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way.'

19. My mother taught me ESP.
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never gr ow up.'

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
'You're just like your father.'

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
'Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?'

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.

Happy Mother's Day!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Fifty-something Boomers certainly remember the menu of our youth. Burgers, steak, pork chops, ham, more burgers. Occasionally Mom cooked chicken (once a week in my house) and fish (on Fridays – we were Catholic), but the main meat staple was good old fashioned American red meat.

Steak with butter-drenched baked potatoes, burgers with mayo and ketchup-coated fries, fried pork chops. Oh wait, I forgot all about bacon with eggs for breakfast. And hot dogs for lunch.

Not so anymore, at least not in my house. My wife is a vegetarian so that means only one person is a meat-eater in our home. And I read a lot of health articles so I have convinced myself that red meat should not be part of my daily diet. Red meat is a rare treat.

This evening I treated myself to a Big Mac.

Not just any meat for me. Noooo. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun! It has been at least two years since I’ve had one of those. Yummy. Sometimes I cook burgers on the grill at home, but I usually get lean beef and I go easy on the condiments. But that giant, full color, backlit, poster-sized photograph of the Big Mac was too much to resist. Yes, I will have fries with that.

If you know how many calories that adds up to, please don’t tell me. Breakfast was cereal and low fat yogurt (like it is every morning), lunch was a chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with an apple for a snack. I deserved a break today.

Monday, May 05, 2008

$3.69 Per Gallon Today

I don’t really have to write the rest of this post, do I? The title just about says it all. I paid $3.45 at this same gas station less than two weeks ago.

As high as these record-setting gasoline prices are, people in some other parts of the world might be laughing at our reaction. According to CNN Money, gas in the UK, for example, is the equivalent of $8 a gallon. Rulers of a few oil-producing countries might be laughing at us for other reasons. Gas in Saudi Arabia and Iran sells for 50 cents a gallon or less; it’s only 12 cents a gallon in Venezuela.

These gas price comparisons aren’t perfect, of course, and the article explains why, but they do illustrate the bottom line: gas costs a whole lot more in some countries and a whole lot less in others, and it’s a lot higher here than it was just last week. Fifty cents a gallon or more than this week last year.

This web site has tips for getting better fuel economy. One of the best ways to save money on gas, however, is to use mass transit. I’m going to take a shot at that again soon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Songs In Commercials

It’s been awhile since I pointed out examples of Boomer-related songs in TV commercials. Here are a few I’ve seen recently.

Deep Purple’s “Hush Hush” in a Jaguar ad

Heart’s “Barracuda” in a spot for a Honda minivan

The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” in a Honda car ad

America’s “Horse With No Name” for Kohl’s Department Stores

Davis Bowie’s “Fame” in a Celebrity Cruises commercial

Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” in a Just For Men hair coloring ad.

That last one made me laugh because the product intentionally leaves in some of the gray instead of completely covering it, and because a character in the ad says, “Don’t trust anyone over 90.” The age reference plays off a sentiment from the 1960s that fifty-something Boomers might remember, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”

Do you think the advertising people who work these songs into the commercials are Boomers who believe the songs will lead Boomer consumers to feel good about these products or are they Gen-Xers with that same idea?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Does Size Really Matter to Boomer Men

My research and personal experience tells me that there is one part of every man for which size matters. It is something that men often obsess over and sometimes discuss with other men. Men often think if it’s bigger, it will attract women; this is especially true for older men who want to attract younger women. The bigger and bolder and more powerful, the better, if you know what I mean.

Almost every Boomer-age man I know wants to have a bigger … vehicle.

You thought I meant something else, didn’t you?

What we drive is often linked, in our own minds, to our self-esteem, our identity, our sexuality and attractiveness. We want a bigger car or truck with a bigger, more powerful engine and painted in a bright color. Sometimes the middle-age crisis car is a small sporty job, but it’s got a 400-horsepower engine. Maybe it’s an exotic sedan with a huge price tag. Maybe it’s a Hummer.

Where did this attitude come from? My guess is that it developed during the early Boomer muscle car era. Cars like the Pontiac GTO and the Mustang Shelby Cobra dominated the popular culture from the mid 1960s till the gasoline shortages of the early 70s. Of course there were cars with big engines in the 1950s too. Some were custom jobs but others could be purchased right on the showroom floor. During the early days of what we now know as NASCAR, some of the drivers would take the family car right to the track after church on Sunday and compete in regional stock car races. And, of course, Corvette envy spans the decades.

Some fifty-somethings I know have big vehicles. One drives a Cadillac, another has a 700-series BMW, a third drives an F150 pickup for work and a Suburban for pleasure. My ride is an Explorer with a V8 engine.

So what do Boomer men who think vehicle size matters do in today’s world of rapidly rising gas prices? That is my dilemma this month. My Explorer has outlived its usefulness but I can’t decide on its replacement. A few months ago, when gas prices were only $3.20, I was shopping for another 4-wheel drive SUV, like a Honda Pilot, which gets 22mpg highway vs. 18 for my Explorer. As I was pumping $3.69 per gallon gas this evening, the Honda CR-V ahead of me was looking pretty good. It gets close to 30 mph, but it has half the horsepower. And it looks so, well, uhh … small. In reality, a CR-V is only a few inches smaller than an Explorer, but some would say that, uhh, every inch counts.

Ninety percent of my driving consists of a solitary 85-mile a day round trip commute to work. I could probably do it in a Prius or a Mini Cooper. My sense of identity and attractiveness is not usually connected to my car; my previous two vehicles were station wagons, one of which I owned when my wife and I first met. But I just don’t like tiny cars. And I do like to be able to shop at Home Depot or Tractor Supply and throw my purchases in the back. You should have seen us trying to get stall mats into the trunk of a Taurus sedan a few years ago; we forgot we were driving that car and not my wagon that day.

I’ll keep you posted on my vehicle shopping adventure, and if you have a similar dilemma, please share the details.

My conclusion: size may or may not matter, but it is definitely a factor; and like many aging Boomers, I’m trying to accept the idea that quality often trumps quantity.