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Saturday, April 27, 2024


[11:15am, April 27, 2024]
Friday marked what a local Northeastern PA weatherman calls "another trip around the sun" for me.  Specifically, it was my 60th such trip. This is a monumental achievement, well, if this were the 1400's. As it stands, April 26, 2024, was pretty much another day, all be it in a rather bumpy week.  More on that in a moment.

Regarding the above-mentioned trip around the sun, Ms. Rivers had asked me if I wanted to do anything special for the big day.  (not) Shockingly, I said no.  I did, however, request coconut cream pie. And pizza. Both wishes were honored.  

Now is where I am supposed to offer some road apple of older-person wisdom, but I won't. Well, I won't other than this:  At age 60 I am still learning new stuff...both about myself and the world around me...and this is a good thing.  On a related note, a valid question to ask at this kind of occasion is "what does it feel like to be 60?", and based on this past week, my answer is a solid "I hope not like this".  Let me count the ways.

The week started with me trying to deal with the remnants of a cold I acquired the weekend before. Now I don't get colds very often; something like every other year sounds about right. When I do though there is about a 25% chance that it will cause some asthma-related issues. That was this case, and I am pecking this out now while sitting at a local DMV office, getting my driver's license renewal, with what feels like a feather duster stuck between the back of my nose and my throat. Interesting analogy, I know, but also a practical pain in the rear-end. 

Speaking of pain, coughing, at this stage, feels like an Olympic sport. Literally, my very diaphragm feels like it has run a marathon and now is being asked to swim 49 laps.  I want to cough, but it doesn't feel all that great plus it's also not that productive (from a "getting crap out of my system" perspective).  

[later in the day...]
Driver's license in hand, it's now the evening.  In totality, I was at the above referenced DMV office for less than an hour, which is nothing short of remarkable.  The staff was friendly and efficient, something one doesn't always associate with such places.  

Side Note:  Is complaining about one's health a stereotypical thing that "old people" do?  I may be skating on thin ice with this posting.

Anyway, back to the week that was.  Cold and asthma issues noted, I ended up going to a local urgent care, as breathing was becoming a bit of a problem by the time Monday afternoon came about.  After about a 20 minute wait, I saw an outstanding nurse practitioner, who was very, very helpful.  Some blood was drawn, nebulizer treatment performed and 'roids prescribed.  Also required was a chest x-ray, which necessitated a trip of about 3 miles to another health facility.  That was done in short order, as were the x-ray results: No pneumonia, arthritis in my spine and some kind of lump in my lungs.

Not the best of news.

Fast forward to Thursday and I ended up getting a CT Scan.  The good news is that lump really wasn't there...curse those two-dimensional x-rays...although there were other things of a lessor-but-still-sucky nature.  Still, it took a lot off my chest (figuratively speaking), and now I'm "just" dealing with dry coughs and the occasional wheeze.  I am also nearly done with the 'roids treatment, which has helped a bit, but not a lot.  I will say this though...I am feeling better, all be it at a pace that seems all too slow.  

There is something of a cosmic/karmic lesson in all of this stuff, what with getting older, health scares, etc. all coming together in a week.  I absolutely know that I have not been a friend to my physical body over the past few years, with it subjugated to a lessor importance as I try to navigate the murky waters of being late in my professional life, with all the stress that entails.  There is lots of irony to go around, including the notion that I have the potential for a long and fulfilling retirement in a few years, complete with a reasonable amount of financial stability, but yet I seem to be subversively doing things that might impede that from happening.  For someone who prides himself on being logical (me), it's all so very illogical.  

Difficult times though offer dramatic opportunities for clarity in life.  This is a kind of true-ism that is easier to write than to actually experience, but here I am, and I know where I need to go.

Post Script
I know the above reads to be pretty dark for something that should be a bit more uplifting, namely a "milestone" birthday.  The week, by the way, was not all terrible; for example, I had a chance to attend a half-day workshop on A.I. in Philadelphia on Tuesday that was very interesting.  I also had my pizza and coconut cream pie Friday, complete with candles, after a work-day full of birthday wishes from co-workers and friends.  There was much gratitude to be had.

I also received two thoughtful birthday cards, a bag of treasured circus peanuts (the candy that tastes like bananas, not actual peanuts), and Ms. Rivers and I went for a nice drive after dinner.  I wanted a simple day and that's what I got.  While a lunkhead at heart, I am learning that, as I do grow older, there is a kind of "seen but still unseen" beauty in simplicity.  My more intellectual view of the universe, complete with near constant analysis of anything and everything, makes this harder at times, but the ultimate importance of simplicity...such as taking care of your physical not to be trifled or diminished.

Here's to growing older and always trying to grow smarter at the same time.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Storyworth & Other Assorted Bits-O-News

It's been a while since I've posted, but not since I've done any similar writing.  That statement makes sense through the lens of Storyworth, a kind of project that will take most of this year to complete.  You can learn more about Storyworth HERE.  This was part of a Christmas gift from my youngest daughter, and I have to confess, I am enjoying it.  The premise is this:

  • Family members ask a weekly question
  • I write a response
  • At the end of the year the whole thing is turned into a book
This week's question, which I haven't started answering, is...

My answers to these questions generally run in the 600-900 word range.  Anyway, if you have someone in your life that enjoys writing, this makes a memorable gift...for both the writer and the people that get a copy of the book.

In other news:

  • Eclipse/Rapture...I was not raptured on Monday.  Hell, I didn't even get light-headed.  Thankfully, no one else did either (the rapture part, that is).  On a more serious note, maybe, just maybe, the idiots that spout this stuff should be publicly humiliated.  That would make a great website...tracking the stupid stuff public figures predict that never come true.  
  • Earthquake...I was working from home on Tuesday when we had an earthquake.  Details HERE.  I didn't feel a thing.  Ms. Rivers did, but then again I was in the work-zone, a not-so-magical place where I probably miss a lot of things happening around me.
  • Florida...Ms. Rivers and I spent a few days in St. Augustine, Florida, a week or two ago.  I enjoyed having time off in a warmer place, and going to Buc-ees is always a blast.  The place is definitely a bucket-list kind of thing, which sounds like an almost comically American stereotype (think "I aspire one day to visit the world's largest gas station").  Also on the docket was a trip to the self-identified Fountain of Youth.  I did drink water from the actual fountain, but I don't think that is going to stop my 60th birthday from coming in a few weeks.  As for the fountain water, the taste could best be described as being liquid scrambled eggs.  Finally on the Florida side of things, you can mark that as being one of the places I have no plans to ever live in, now or in retirement.  The winter weather is nice, but the one advantage we have up north is the exhilaration felt when Spring finally arrives.  It's as close to a legal high as I have ever experienced.
  • Scranton Times Death Spiral...The Scranton Times, a local newspaper, shut down reader comments a few days ago.  There was no article written about the change, just an email sent to those who partook of the seeming privilege.  I did, with some regularity, comment on articles, but only under my own name.  That was a rarity for the comments section, which was dominated by anonymous dog whistling keyboard komandos, spewing not-so-subtle racism and sports team politics.  Not the best presentation of Northeastern Pennsylvania residents, but then again this is what you get when you don't hold folks accountable for what they write.  A better solution would have been to require anyone commenting on an article to actually post using their real name.  This would make sense if the function was killed for reasons of common decency, but then again the actual reason was far more cost-cutting than anything else.  Yet another victim of the Scranton Times sale.  

As Billy Joel once noted, "and so it goes".  

More to come.