Friday, August 14, 2020

Yeah, I Guess They Work

 Okay, I make a lot of noise.  Well, maybe not more than you do, but certainly more than I thought I did.  The new hearing aids work fine.  I've had them for about a week now and, just as an audio Christopher Columbus would have experienced, a whole new world of sound has presented itself to this old goat.  The new to me music of my coffee maker announcing a ready pot, a knock at the door, a timer going off, and the cacophony of the JACKHAMMER blasting my brains out as work continues on the deck outside my door are a mixed blessing.  I will admit that the cool trick of being able to answer my cell phone and also listen to audiobooks on the devices is a real plus, but the damn things still feel like a bug is stuck in my ears.  Looking like a mental patient while walking down the street while talking is certainly of no concern as I have been doing that for years, though I will admit that blurting out "We're looking for caller 96 for those Doobie Brothers tickets right now" does provoke some interesting looks. 

The real surprise has been the amount of noise my body makes and obviously has been making for several years,  of which I have been completely unaware.  A trip to the bathroom is not unlike a Halloween haunted house adventure with special effects from beyond the grave and don't get me started on the grunts and groans of everyday life.  Okay, do get me started.  Heretofore I had no clue about the "oofs", "ughs", sighs, and moans not to mention the sub rosa of profanity readily available to emanate instantaneously from my lips during the slightest bit of effort.   It's embarrassing!  Picking up the morning paper--yes, I still get one--tying my shoes and getting out of my chair is a catastrophic symphony of audio effort.  I keep looking around for my grandpa.

Eating sounds are a trip down memory lane.  I remember when I was a kid being grossed out by all the smacking and chewing noise associated with mastication.  Well, that's all back!  Just eating an apple sounds like a building demolition or a terrorist IED going off inside my head.  (By the way, how much mastication is too much mastication?)  I have nearly decided to forego wearing hearing aids during meals.  Well, either that or to simply go ahead and starve to death.  Let's see how I feel about that in a week or two.

All things considered, the move to old guy ears has been fairly trouble-free.  I'm saving time and effort by eliminating "huh" and "beg pardon" from my verbal quiver and it's nice to discover that not every movie actor mumbles as much as Marlon Brando.  That whole closed caption experience was getting tiresome.  

I do plan to lay off the aids whenever political commentary rears its ugly head during the weeks ahead and for damn sure won't be employing them anytime music recorded after 1985 foists itself upon my sensibilities.  There is only so much punishment a geezer can take!  

"Turn that crap down!"


Friday, August 7, 2020

What Was That? Another Benchmark?

 Benchmarks, life's mile markers or lines of demarcation, are mostly positive reminders of goals attained or problems solved.  We all recall the first kiss, making a team, getting our driver's license, marriages, and the passing of loved ones and friends.  As we age those benchmarks tend to be more negative than positive.  A doctor tells us to lose weight, major medical problems surface and we notice there are suddenly activities we can no longer perform.  Our bodies wear out in spite of exercise, vitamins, the elimination of bad habits and our own sheer will power.   In other words, it's a short ride from the halleluiah to the hoot.

"You don't have to shout!", my mother would exclaim when everyone clearly had to do just that in order for her to hear a word being said.  She stubbornly refused to even consider hearing aids well into her eighties because "they were for old people".  Time and again my brother and I would explain that hearing aids were no different than wearing glasses, but she just couldn't make the leap.  Now, I think she may have had a point.

This coming Monday, at age 72, I pick-up my new hearing aids.  Granted, they're far less obvious than those bulky contraptions of old but there is still no getting past the idea that the "old guy" just got his foot a little further inside my door.  Damn!  What's next?  A walker and a lifetime supply of Metamucil?  

I blame the #%$*&! Chinese and their stupid Covid virus.  Until the whole "let's all wear masks and look like we're sticking up a bank" sartorial movement, I feined being in on conversations by becoming a master lip reader.  Of course, I didn't know this until there were no lips to read.  I was lost in a sea of masks and mumbles.  That all ends Monday.

I can't say I didn't see it coming.  Forty years of wearing headphones that blasted screaming guitars and car commercials at me for four hours a day with the volume cranked up to mach 1 probably didn't do my acoustic receptors any good, but it sure beat working for a living.  When radio was good, it was great; there was no better place to be.

These days, having retired to the relative quiet of northern Idaho, it'll be interesting to test drive these new hearing aids. I'm told I'll hear things I haven't heard in a long time. (Maybe some of them I won't want to hear!)  I do know that there will be one appreciative blonde lady with younger far less abused ears who won't have to leave the room because the TV is too loud.  For her, I'm glad to do it.  She's worth it.

So, another benchmark noted in a life filled with mostly good ones. With these new aids, I hope to enjoy a return to the hearing of my youth, or at least a reasonable facsimile.  (What's next, a resumption of my athletic career?  Oh, wait, that never happened.)  I anticipate positive developments but do plan to remove the damn things when the news is on.  Why risk my sanity?  I'm getting too old for that!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Hey Buddy, Can Ya Spare A Trillion?

When I was a kid there was a word that was never heard in everyday conversation.  Even as most of the dads in the neighborhood could be heard working through the holy trinity of "hell, damn and son of a bitch" when their wives were out of earshot, NONE would dare add the queen mother of them all to their profanity palette.  F**k was something we kids would spot on the side of a boxcar scrawled by some hobo or mental degenerate.  A lad (never a lass) who dared drag that one out around the house would wind up as so much ectoplasm on the kitchen wall or, worse yet, be packed off to reform school with a bar of soap clenched in his teeth.  It was that bad.

Fifty years ago, while wearing Army green for our side, I watched all of the air go out of everyday maledicta as I soon learned the military greased the wheels of its entire operation with profane language.  No private, drill sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, colonel or general could get to the end of a sentence without employing a plethora of some of the most colorful profanity known to man.  Of course f**k was the Swiss army knife of them all, seeing service as noun, verb, adverb and  every other part of speech. This ubiquitousness caused it to lose most of its punch.  It became a mere space filler with no more shock factor than a simple flutter blast from the downtown orifice.

In 2020 that once taboo, now punchless word, is everywhere. As I am certainly no saint, I make no judgement other than to note we have become a less intelligent and far more coarse society than we were even thirty years ago and we are poorer for it.  

The same can be said for money.  In the 1950's there was a television show called "The Millionaire" which featured actor Marvin Miller playing Michael Anthony the ever faithful executive secretary to mysterious billionaire, John Beresford Tipton.  Tipton got his kicks sending old Mike out with a million dollar check made out to some schmo who had never had money.  The show revolved around waiting and watching to see what the nouveau-riche recipient of his largesse would do with the dough.  As I recall, the chosen clown would usually start out with some genius plan of putting the wad on Lucky Larry in the eighth race at Hollywood Park only later to figure out a better use for his or her new found riches.  There was always a message to appeal to our better angels.  That show would be much different today.  No doubt the lucky millionaire of 2020 would use the money to promote his new rap "song" which would go nowhere and he would wind up living under a bridge while waiting for the government to bail him out.

In the good old days of the fabulous 50's  a fully loaded Caddy cost $5k, a nice new house $20k and a million bucks was real money.  Today, for most of us, a cool million is nice but it sure doesn't go as far as it used to.  With congress it's merely tip money.  The oily thieving bastards who do our nation's business don't even bother to talk in billions anymore.  We're now so far down debt road that only trillions will do!  It seems not to matter to our crooks, err, representatives that these trillions they so blithely toss around are trillions of imaginary dollars we don't have in the bank and are putting on our children and grandchildren's tab.  Nope.  As long as they can buy enough votes from inattentive and hopelessly uninformed voters to secure their place at the public trough we should all just go along with the program.  "Nothing to see here, folks.  Pay no attention to  a bunch of well dressed criminals behind the curtain spending your future and, as yet uncollected,  tax dollars.  We're the government and we know best!"  
Yes, trillions is starting to lose its shock value.  Can anybody count that high?  Not to worry.  We'll soon be talking QUADRILLIONS  and that's REAL money.

Where's John Beresford Tipton when you need him?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Buy Ya Books And Buy Ya Books...

 (This is a re-post from 2017.  Hey, I get Father's Day off!)

"Act like you mean it!"
"You did a half-way job!"
"Don't take the lazy man's load!"
"Buy ya books and buy ya books and STILL you don't remember!"

I heard those admonitions from my dad throughout the years I remained under his roof.  Did I listen? Of course not.  I had to learn everything from experience or "the hard way" as he often put it.  Truth is I learned almost NOTHING from experience and have remained a semi-dunce for most of my adult life.  Fortunately for me there was a future in broadcasting, a natural destination for those of us who prefer to hang at the corner of Lazy and Stupid.  Dad's was a thankless job.  He raised a couple of goofball sons who resented nearly all of his advice for, no doubt, the same reasons he probably gave little heed to the guidance of his own father,  It's testosterone poisoning.  Young men are so completely and hopelessly full of themselves that they become their own worst enemy and that's why good fathers were invented.  Lucky lads have a dad with grit and manners to prevent their spawn from veering of course and into the ditches of life.  It's love designed to save a son from the extensive pummeling that the world is waiting to administer. (see ass kicking)

Like most of the Greatest Generation, my pop came home from "the big war" ready for some peace and a slice of the American dream.  He and his tribe were exhausted by the cosmic hand they had been dealt by the Depression and World War II so naturally wanted their sons and daughters to have the peaceful and happy lives they themselves had thus far been denied.  Naturally we Boomers didn't appreciate any of this sacrifice.  Nope, we, for the most part, thought them incredibly un-hip and Lawrence Welk square.  Rules?? We couldn't live by their rules!

What's that old saying?  "Too soon old, too late smart?"  I'm sure that if you look it up there is a picture of my brother and me right next to the definition.  Neither of us appreciated the tough love meted out by the old man until, well, after he was gone.  He died when we were both well into adulthood and, though it was never openly acknowledged, both of us had the impression that in his final days dad was fairly well satisfied with how we turned out.  We weren't in prison and we weren't hitting him up for money.

Two days ago would have been dad's 102nd birthday.  (It was always convenient that his birthday fell right next to Fathers' Day as it meant only one card and gift.)  He lasted through most of his 76th year which, frankly, seemed to be a whole lot more of an accomplishment in 1995 than it does in 2020 as I plow through my 72nd year.  Naturally I wish he were still around so that I could sincerely thank him for his good advice and guidance; also for not killing me when most likely nine out of ten juries would have acquitted him if he had.  He was a good man and an excellent father.

Though we never said things like "I love you" I often think about the final words my father said to me.  My late wife and I were leaving my parents' home in Springfield, Illinois heading for the airport in St. Louis for a return to our San Diego home when dad, suffering from dementia at the time, walked over to the rental car to apologize for not recognizing me on several occasions during our stay.  Through the haze of Alzheimer's he said, "Sorry I didn't know who you were.  You looked just like a man."  I told him that it was okay and not to worry about it.  A simple, "I love you too, dad" would have been the better and more honest reply.  To be "a man" was always the high bar he set for his boys.  I'd like to think that with this brief bit of clarity he was telling me that I had finally gotten there.  It sure felt like the best thing he had ever said to me.  Years later I recall his words when I am tempted by natural inclination to default to my immature and irresponsible self.

Being a dad is easy but being a good one is a job for a man like he was.  I hope that somewhere he knows that.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Too Much Time To Think

The social distancing thing hasn't been a tough lift for me.  Heck, I've been doing it since kindergarten when I would sneak home anytime the teacher would let us out for recess.  It's the reason I chose a career in radio where I was able to hide behind an electric curtain while saying horrible things about people who needed to be told off.  You might say I was in the vanguard of social distancing.  Isolate myself? Not a problem.

Too much time to think is another story.  For most of us, when we didn't have our head in the refrigerator,  the time to think afforded by all the Covid 19 hysteria has been a challenge.  For Americans  of working age the prospect of unemployment, reduced working hours or more time with the kids is scary enough but, for those of us on the senior tour, the reality of a clock rapidly running down with little chance of overtime is petrifying.  The sudden realization of being in a race with eternity and the encroaching physical limits of old age is suddenly writ large on the no longer very BIG screen of life.  How much time do I have?  What do I want to do with it?  Can I bounce the check to the funeral home?  All are major points to ponder at this juncture.

As a result of this government mandated navel gazing, I have put together a list of things I want to accomplish with whatever time I have left.  There are also certain experiences I have decided to either leave untried, or, having tried them before, never to repeat.  You may or may not agree with what I have decided here but, I have chosen to never again give a rat's ass about what others think regarding what I say or do.  That being said, here are a few of my do's and don'ts for the time I have left:

I will never EVER give money to any politician.  It only encourages them and they are the worst people on the planet.

I will try having a slice of apple pie with beef gravy poured over it.  It sounds awful, but I hear good things.

I will never attend an opera.  Those things are death by music.

I will go to Vietnam.  The Army sent me to Kansas instead and I want to see what I missed.  All the guys in Kansas who had been to Vietnam said, "Nam' was better."

I will never watch another reality TV show.  Those things are proof positive that the world has an unending supply of morons.

I won't return to Europe.  How many churches and castles does anybody need to see?  Also, their hotels are crap.

I will buy at least one more Corvette or Mustang convertible.  There is nothing like a rag top no matter how old you are or how little hair you have to blow in the breeze.

I will never spend another January-March in northern Idaho.  Too snowy and too cold.  Anyone who does is still farting snowflakes in July.

I will no longer agree with idiots.  Being polite only encourages them.

I will stop buying fishing licenses.  Every year I do and every year I never go.  Time to live dangerously and risk fishing naked.

I will shave more frequently.  I hate doing it but my whiskers are white now and make me look like Gabby Hayes after a bad night.

I will eat more raw oysters.  They are my favorite food, so why not?

I will listen more closely to good stories from real characters.  They are true treasures.

I will never waste a minute on CNN or MSNBC.  Journalism has been on vacation at both for their entire existence.

I will never take a well tanned person seriously.

I will not be led into temptation.  I can find the way myself.

I will NOT take accordion or banjo lessons and will avoid people who play them at all costs.

I will spend more time listening to traditional jazz.  It is America's gift to the world and Americans are the only people who don't know it.

I will avoid all prostate exams and biopsies.  They are unnecessary and only recommended by doctors who have a boat payment due.

I will never take a dog's temperature in church.  (Good to have one you know you can keep.)

Use one, go to jail!!

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Night To Remember With Alexa And Siri

I'm a light sleeper anyway,  so the ding that came out of nowhere a couple of nights ago had me awake and alert instantly.  It was a sound unlike any I had heard before. Where was it coming from and what did it mean?  Naturally I was ready for action unless, of course, it involved bad guys breaking and entering or anything requiring bravery or physical exertion.  Situations like those would call for plan A which is pretty much confined to me pulling the covers over my head and cowering.  Plan B is  to play dead.

After implementing plan A my mind began to race.  Why only one ding?  What kind of sound did the security system make when something was amiss and, more importantly, had I managed to turn it on before heading for bed?  Wait a minute.  Do I know how to turn it on and where is that instruction book that explains how the damn thing works?  I ventured a peak from my command post under the covers long enough to register that there was a yellow light flashing from somewhere in my bedroom.  Looking over my shoulder I spied the upstairs Echo device recently purchased to answer my upstairs inquiries on those occasions when I was too lazy to go downstairs to ask my original Echo such burning questions as "why are you called Alexa and how much do you weigh?"  (She gets a little bit testy with that one!)  It was Alexa flashing that incessant and very irritating yellow and I needed to get to the bottom of it.

Yellow flashing hussy, Alexa

Never having seen my dotty device flash yellow I decided to ask her what the problem was.  A power outage?  Special bulletin?  Signal problem?  What was so important that required waking me up?  "What's up Alexa?  Is Lassie trapped in that old abandoned mine shaft?  Has Gramps fallen off the wagon?  Tell me girl!"  She replied with her standard, "I'm having trouble understanding."  After several attempts at resolving the situation I decided to call on the "other" woman, Siri, who lives in my phone.  "Siri, what does it mean when your Amazon Echo is flashing yellow?"  Her response: "Here's what I found," was followed by a display of information on the web from which I gleaned that flashing yellow means there is some sort of message of importance for me available on Echo.  "Alexa, do I have a message?" brought the response of "You have no messages at this time."

No good tease, Siri

 Following repeated attempts to get Alexa to cough up a message I decided  channel my internal I.T. guy and unplug her for awhile to see if that would fix the problem.  No such luck.  After a few minutes and a reconnection, the damn device was still blinking yellow and I couldn't sleep.  "Thanks for nothing Siri, I hate you!"  "Alexa, you're a useless blonde bimbo of a machine and I hate you too," I exclaimed!  "You two bitches work this out!  If you need me, I'll be in the guest room!"

The next morning, with Alexa still blinking yellow, I cast her a scowl and sarcastically said "have you EVER had any messages for me?"  Ms. Alexa replied, "Yes, Ken, two days ago I reported a flood warning for your area.  I hope you took appropriate measures."  With that, the blinking stopped.
Women!!  They all expect you to read their minds.

Friday, May 15, 2020

We're All Sweating Gravy

I'm fairly certain that the airlines are cutting back on material for their seatbelts.  Right now, as I struggle to adjust mine in this suddenly much tighter Delta seat on my return flight from San Diego to the Northwest, it is apparent that we are being mocked.  There is absolutely no way I could have gained sufficient poundage to make air travel this uncomfortable.  Is there?  Oh, look!  Some fool left a candy bar in the seat pocket in front of me!

  Yeah, maybe that Corona corpulence crept into my jeans while my head spent the past two months in the refrigerator.  When snacks, leftover pizza, ice cream, peanut butter and cookies call, all real Americans listen!  We are a wider country now and it shows.  It's not global warming causing street flooding along our coasts, it's the U.S. land mass sinking because we've all larded on ten or twenty extra pounds during this government imposed house arrest.  Doing nothing begets boredom (see retirement) and when we're bored WE EAT.  Loose clothing, at this point in the Corona conundrum, is becoming an essential part of our collective wardrobe.  If you're a savvy investor, this may well be the time to put some cash to work in Weight Watchers or a company that manufactures sweat clothes.  After all, nothing says "I give up" quite like sweatpants.  Or, if this imposed nonsense continues, a little research into  companies that sew those flowing robes favored by tubby oil sheiks and their minions.  (Acme Tent & Awning, if memory serves.)  You can easily hide dunes of blubber in what looks like your laundry, and it also can serve nicely as headgear.

Looking around at the sparsely populated cabin on this Airbus 319, it is apparent that "wide body" is descriptive of more than just the aircraft.  It's time for the country to get back to work and the gym before we all have to call the Auto Club to tow us off the couch or, at least in my situation, out of the plane.

Now, if you'll excuse me, they sky waitresses are coming around with some more delicious fake cheese crackers and a couple of cookies.  Are you gonna eat yours??  I've worked up an appetite.  A diet will have to wait until we find a cure.

"A couple more of these moves and I'll be back to my old fighting weight."
Funny, these were looser yesterday.

The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders get  ready for the season.