Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Years Later and Another One’s Coming

This weekend marks the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating attack on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. This is a weekend to remember but definitely not one for celebration.

Katrina is personal to me because I grew up in New Orleans and much of my family still lives there. An artist cousin lost a lifetime of his work to the flood and my sister lost most of her belongings, including a lifetime of family photos. At least her house survived, the house we grew up in, and she was finally able to return to a rehabbed version of the Dad-built structure this year.

Mom wasn’t so lucky. She died shortly after a stressful evacuation from the nursing home where she lived for her last four years. Her health wasn’t very good at the time and she might have died that day even without Katrina, but that doesn’t make us feel any better.

My sister's house in Oct. 2005, after the 1st day of cleanup

New Orleans is still a broken city. The tourist areas have recovered and those parts of town suffered less damage to begin with. However, many parts of town still look like they did right after the water receded. My sister’s neighborhood is slowly coming back, but vacant lots dot as much as a third of each block; houses that couldn’t be repaired were torn down, a sad but safe alternative to leaving them there in moldy squalor.

And now another hurricane is threatens New Orleans.

Same house in April 2007, part way through rehab. Note the vacant lots on either side

Some people wonder why anyone would live in an island-like city that sits three feet below sea level. I often wonder that myself, as I sit here perched on high ground thirteen hundred miles away. But if you grow up there, or spend extended time in the “city that care forgot,” you understand the attraction and comprehend the risk. San Francisco has earthquakes, Nashville has tornadoes, Chicago has blizzards; no place is totally free from natural disasters.

So this week the cycle begins again: watch the weather forecast, say some prayers, hope that places like New Orleans just get a little rain and wind. And if you live along the Gulf Coast, pack your “ready kit” and fill up the gas tank.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Looks Good

Have you ever heard (or said) the words “she looks good for her age”?

A sentence like that is often spoken in reference to famous women over 50. If you are a woman (or man), famous or not, does it annoy you when someone says that? What if a fifty-something person looks good without that qualifier? Can’t someone just look good regardless of age?

I recently met a fairly famous fifty-four-year-old who looks good. Period! Without qualification or reservation. Remember the Mandrell sisters of music and TV fame, especially in the 1980s? This is Louise Mandrell, the middle sister.

She visited one of my radio shows recently to talk up a Christmas season show she is putting on in Nashville this year.

And she looks good. Great, in fact! Age has nothing to do with it.
By the way, she is also talented, friendly and fun.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pop Queen Turns Fifty

Even by today’s definition of fifty, Madonna doesn’t look fifty. But today, August 16, 2008, is her 50th birthday.

Called The Queen of Pop by some, she has been making hit songs since the 1980s, with twelve of them reaching Number One, and she has sold more than 63 million albums. Madonna was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. In addition, she has been in more than twenty movies. Some sources say she is worth $400 million.

This was her look in 1985:

And she is still recording. One of her hits this year is “Four Minutes,” a duet with the 27-year-old Justin Timberlake. She holds her own vocally and visually. Here is a video of the song:

Happy birthday Madonna Louise Ciccone from Bay City, Michigan.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Boomerandomness 5

Here are a few random musings:

- XM Satellite Radio has a channel called Fred. And another called Ethel. I just got that. Doh!

- The price at my neighborhood BP station is down to $3.79/gallon tonight. Woohoo!

- “Did you really think the lane wasn’t going to end in ½ mile? 1500 feet? 1000 feet? 500 feet?! NOW!?!?” HONK!!! “Jerk!”

- What if you never bought an iPhone or a Blackberry? Would it matter?

- Do you remember when power steering, power brakes, power windows and air conditioning were expensive options on a car and not standard equipment? Do you remember a manual transmission shifter on the steering column and not the floor? Geez, you must be as old as I am.

- Do you remember when each candidate wasn’t chosen until during the convention? And this year do you sometimes wish they’d just skip the conventions and go right to the election?

- Thunderstorms can be mean and dangerous. But the sunset after a thunderstorm can be incredibly beautiful.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why Being 50 Is Good

The AARP Newsletter I read on my computer includes an article this week called “50 Reasons to Love Being 50.” I’m sure if I thought about it for awhile, I could find an equal number of reasons for hating this age, but I’ll save that for another post (or for a post that I’ll write but never share).

Their reason #36 is close to being my #1 … “we’re living longer.” The average American born in 1900 didn’t even make it to age 50. My parents, who were both born in the first quarter of the last century, beat the odds by making it to their 80s (Dad) and 90s (Mom). If genetics is a predictor, I’ve got a lot of time left. Even just going with the odds, someone who is 50 today will live to be at least 80, according to this article. I’m shooting for 100.

The article also says that love, sex and confidence are better, our brain is more efficient and we are less neurotic than we used to be (well, I don’t know about that last one).

But for me, the most important part of their article only ranks in the 30s on their list: “we are powerful.”

Here are the statistics that back this up (quoting reasons 30 – 35 of their 50):
- 41 percent of American adults are over 50, the highest percentage in U.S. history.
- 80 percent of Congress is over 50.
- Half of the Americans who voted in the 2006 elections were 50+.
- People over 55 own 77 percent of all financial assets in the United States.
- 50+ adults account for 45 percent of U.S. consumer spending, or $2.1 trillion per year.
- By 2011 the American 50+ population will surpass the 100 million mark.

So there you have it. Just when I thought 20 and 30 year olds were taking over, this article backs up the assertion I’ve made since I started this blog two years ago: Boomers rule the world!

To my twentysomething and thirtysomething friends and readers – you are welcome to have the world, eventually. For now it’s still ours. The good news for all is that some of the idealism we had when we were 20 and 30 will actually become reality when you’re in charge. The bad news is that it might take that long because we can’t seem to make it happen. For example, caring for the environment.

If you get a chance, read the article. Number 10 is embarrassingly cool, as are #s 8 and 14.

I’ll close this by quoting #48, which they’ve quoted from Maggie Friede of Quincy, Massachusetts: “Happiness no longer seems like an unobtainable goal—it can reside in a superb cup of coffee.”