Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I haven't had much to say for a week, but I didn't want this blog to go dormant. So tonight I did what I usually do in this case: I dug through old posts in search of repeatables.

And I found this brief post from September 8, 2006:

Gas is only $2.75/gallon today! Woohoo!

I can't believe I'm doing mental hi-fives at the Exxon because gas is ONLY 2.75!! I'm happy the price is going down. I paid $3.09 per gallon at this same station just 2 months ago. I've paid as much as $3.59, shortly after Katrina.

But even $2.75 seems high. Only 20 years ago we were horrified that the price had crossed the dollar-a-gallon line.

So just two years ago, I noted that the highest I had paid for gas had been $3.59. Tonight I paid $3.96 at the same Exxon station that inspired the old post and thought: woohoo! - it's below $4 again.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Small Barely-remembered Step For Man …

Today, July 20, 2008, is the 39th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon.

Space geek kids of the 1960s like me make note of this date every year. The total absence of any mention of this anniversary in today’s Washington Post tells me that my claim that Boomers run the world might be in error. A quick scan of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC and CNN backs up my observation that this scientific and cultural milestone isn’t considered news any more. (It is possible that one or more of those news networks might have mentioned it, but I haven’t seen any mention).

Two days before this momentous event in 1969, three thirty-something men were launched into space while the whole world watched on live television. There were no 24-hour news networks then, just three networks that still exist (NBC, ABC and CBS). All three pre-empted their soap operas and aired the launch live, with reporting and commentary by their star anchors, most notably CBS’s Walter Cronkite.

The only “moon” story on cbsnews.com today is about Rev. Moon’s injury in a helicopter crash. The next closest Apollo 11 story is from two days ago; it is about a piece of the spacecraft being donated to a museum. A search of abcnews.com shows no story today and just some passing reference to Apollo 11 in a story about the bald eagle. I couldn’t find anything current on NBC sites either.

Wired.com did something on it a few days ago on the anniversary of the launch. Their story is mostly about Michael Collins, the “forgotten” astronaut on that mission; he’s the one who circled the moon in the orbiter while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind on the grey, sandy lunar surface.

In my opinion, those first steps were an event that changed the world. Apollo 11 redirected in a positive way how we as Americans felt about ourselves and how the rest of the world looked at us. The successful voyage there and back was the culmination of a dream spelled out by a dynamic president years earlier, even though he didn’t live to see it happen. July 20th is a date that should be filled with celebrations every year. Maybe someone will notice next year on the 40th anniversary; our culture tends to acknowledge zero year anniversaries.

At 10:56pm tonight, the exact moment when Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and said “it’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” I’ll drink a toast to the event as I continue looking for the pictures I took of our TV as those moments were broadcast live. They’re around here somewhere.

Here is more information about Apollo 11:


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Geezin’ Tonight

I do a pretty damn good job of masking my age. If I didn’t talk about this blog to friends, they’d never know I’m even 50 yet, much less … well, you know. And I’m proud to say I’m not locked into or stuck in any era. My attitudes, music tastes, etc. run the full spectrum from then till now.

But after listening to country music all day at work and 30 minutes of alternative rock on during my ride home tonight, I surfed to the 60s channel on XM for a few moments of age-appropriate nostalgia.

And there it was …

Duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh; duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh …

That heartbeat paced jammin’ bass and organ line starts … Duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh; duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh … climbing the scale, the bass drum and snare kicking underneath.

Four bars in, that 60’s guitar soars in on top with the organ melody behind it, with the ever-present Duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh; duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh folding into a staccato drum bridge to Eric Burdon’s soulful voice:

When you complain and criticize
I feel I’m nothing in your eyes
It makes me feel like giving up
Because my best just ain’t good enough
Girl I want to provide for you
And do all of the things that you want me too

Oooooh oh no don’t bring me dowwwnn!!

By now I’ve cranked the sound as loud as I can stand it while driving, singing at the top of my lungs, cruisin’ somewhere between I-70 and high school.

Some music really sounds dated as the years unfold, but this song is just as cool to my fifty-something ears as it was in 1966. Hit ‘play’ below and tell me what you think, especially if you're thirtysomething and have never heard the song before.

... duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh; duh DUHH duh, duh DUHH duh …

Saturday, July 12, 2008

News and Age

Do you watch the news on TV? Do you read a newspaper daily? Weekly? At all? Do you listen to a newscast on the radio? How old are you?

If you’re over 50 you might remember when an average midsize city had three television stations and two newspapers. Add in news headlines on the radio and you get maybe ten news sources.

In some families like mine, watching the news was a daily ritual. The local news was part of dinner time, followed by national news delivered by Huntley, Brinkley or Cronkite. And at some point in my youth, there were two daily papers. Mom read both, daily.

Now with cable television and the internet, we have hundreds, maybe thousands of news sources, with the potential for timely updates 24 hours a day. Does anyone still use TV or newspapers as a source for what is going on? And is the source age-specific?

My impression is that younger people don’t care much about news (by news, I mean something other than the latest on Britney’s sister’s baby), and when they do care, they hit the internet for the details. I also assume older people care more about news but choose newspapers or TV for the stories. But I might be wrong about some of those assumptions.

A recent online AARP article says that “Forty-two percent of users 50 and older check the Internet for news daily or several times a day, compared to 18 percent of users under 20.”

Note that I’m over 50 and saw that story on the internet.

Keeping up with the news is still a habit for me and I still like turning pages with ink-stained hands. But I only buy a newspaper about two or three times a month. My main news source is television, followed closely by the internet. Most 20-somethings I know don’t care about the news no matter what the source, even though the same 20-somethings regularly use the internet on their cell phones and use texting constantly to spread the news within their own personal community.

Any thoughts on this from your perspective?

P.S. - I picked up a paper twice this week. A friend was profiled in a local daily paper and I was profiled in a local weekly. Both stories also appear online and I saw the online versions first. Both stories got much bigger play in the print versions; hers was front page in the Food section with several more photographs and mine was on the front page of the paper. And both stories were about blogs. Slow news week out here in the boonies I guess.

Monday, July 07, 2008

This Made Me Laugh

This message is on a baseball cap advertised on a Boomer web site:

What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 4th of July

This is a slight rewrite from something I posted two years ago. I still feel this way.

There is a great song by the country-rock duo Montgomery Gentry called “My Town,” which celebrates small town life in America. Their town is in the middle of Kentucky (Lebanon, population 5700).

My wife and I live near a small Maryland town (pop. 3500), less than 50 miles from the Capital of the Free World. As I watch Independence Day fireworks shows from a park in my town each year, I think of the lyrics in the song.

There's a "For Sale" sign on a big old rusty tractor.
You can't miss it, it's the first thing that you see.
Just up the road, a pale-blue water tower,
With "I Love Jenny" painted in bright green.
Hey, that's my Uncle Bill, there by the courthouse.
He'll be lowerin' the flag when the sun goes down.
And this is my town.

The story continues with images of a closed mill, a diner, and the crowds at church on Sunday. Life goes on, the kids grow up and have babies of their own. The storyteller buys the rusty tractor, paints it and proudly shows it off in his front yard. When you hear the song, you can picture the scene and recognize it as a part of the mosaic of lifestyles we celebrate every year on the 4th of July.

The Washington DC suburbs are slowly beginning to invade my small town, but the mentality is still more rural than urban. Many of the families watching the fireworks in the park each year are the children or grandchildren of farmers. The crowd in the park numbers in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands who witness the rockets’ red glare on the Mall in DC, but they are no less enthusiastic as they watch the modest fireworks show.

Even though I’ve been a city/suburb kid most of my life, I have grown to enjoy small town Independence Day celebrations with their red, white and blue saturation of the senses. Each year I experience the sound of a local country band, the scent of barbeque, the taste of home-made ice cream and the thrill of the grand finale: the fireworks show.

The rockets’ red glare! It doesn’t get more all-American than this.

Although I’m relatively private in how I show my patriotism, soaking in a small town 4th of July connects me with those things that make me proud to be an American. I encourage you to seek out a similar experience near where you live.

Happy Independence Day!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Fun Time-Waster Survey

I saw this on KJ’s blog a long time ago and have been saving it for a week when I don’t have anything else to say. This week, for example. Answer these questions on your blog and let us know where they are. Here are my answers.

If you could get a brand new car for free what kind would it be?
Acura TL 3.2

Have you ever lived in a trailer?

What is your favorite talk show?

If you could be another race would you?
probably not

What did you last color with a crayon?
can't remember

What is on your bed?
two of my dogs, snoozing on the lighthouse-themed comforter

What is your favorite thing to drink when you first wake up?

What is your favorite brand of shoes?

Have you ever been to jail?

Have you ever caught some one in a lie?

Have you ever flirted with a cop just to get out of a ticket?
This must have been written for women to answer. If I flirted with any of the cops I’ve met, they’d shoot me.

What do you think about clothes with polka-dots?
looks like a Target commercial

When you see a WAY overweight person does it gross you out?
I feel bad for them

Do you like to drink beer?

Ever broken your cell phone?

Do you rather write with a pen or pencil?
a roller ball pen

If you could have 1 thing for free right now what would it be?
round trip airline tickets for two to Hawaii

When is your birthday?
early in the year

What is your favorite color?
depends on what it’s on, but often it’s red

What do you do for a living?
make radio commercials

Where are you from?
New Orleans

What's your favorite food?
Chinese or Italian

Do you like snowy weather?

How often do you watch the news?

Do you prefer coffee or cappuccino?

Have you ever cheated on a test?
a few times in high school.

Are you on a diet?
not officially.

Have you ever had braces?
Yes, in my 40s

Have you ever had a root canal?

Do you have a good memory?
I have an annoyingly detailed memory for things relating to cars or first meetings

What is your biggest wish?
to know that something I did helped make someone feel good about themselves

What is your worst fear?
being ignored

Do you like rainbows?

Where is your favorite shopping place?
the internet or an Eddie Bauer Outlet

Where is your favorite vacation place?

Are you scared of the wilderness?
not especially

Have you ever been fired?
yes, more than once

How old were you when you shared your very first kiss?
real kiss? 17, I was a late starter. I made up for lost time later.

Do you like Astrology?

Are you scared of airplanes?
I love airplanes but I’m not a big fan of flying

Do you fear heights or the dark more?
the dark

Do you like junk food?
sadly, yes

Do you believe in God?
sort of, but not the God I was taught about growing up

What's your religion?
Unitarian Universalist

Are you scared of death?
I’m afraid of dying before I’m done all the living I want to do

Are you scared of needles?
I don’t like them at all

Are you paranoid of the police?

Do you follow or break rules?
a little of both

Cupcakes or soft baked cookies?
soft baked cookies