Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Manly Getting Older

Maybe I should quit reading MSN.com.  It seems every time I read an article on that website I only create more worries for myself.  The last time it had to do with the heart, this time . . . getting older.  MSN.com had an article, Five Things Men Most Fear About Aging . . . I was surprised that they only came up with five!  Heck, I could write a book about the things men worry about when they get older.  But, this article caught my attention and I decided that I should respond.  Especially since I prescribe to the Alfred E. Neuman school of philosophy, “What? Me worry?”

Number one on the list was impotence.  Shoot!  Since I have never been that impotent to begin with . . . who cares?  I think we make to much of being impotent in our society today.  People are only as impotent as they think they are.  What?  Oh . . . the wife just informed me that it is I-M-P-O-T-E-N-T not, I-M-P-O-R-T-A-N-T . . . never mind.  It is no business of any one whether I feel impotent or important.

Feeling weak was the second worry.  I have been called a wimp my whole life and I equate wimpiness with weakness . . . so why would I start worrying about whether or not I have any strength . . . that I am getting weak.  Once a wimp, always a wimp . . . I’ll just be an elderly wimp.

Irrelevance.  Lots of men fear retirement and getting older because they fear becoming irrelevant.  I don’t worry about this too much thanks to the federal government who keeps messing around with Social Security and retirement.  Since I started paying into Social Security they have constantly raised the age to where I will probably be dead before I get to start drawing any money.  Since I will be working until the day that they plant me in the ground, I really don’t need to waste time about my relevance at work.  They will just prop me up in the corner of the room.  I also don’t worry about this too much because I am pretty irrelevant at work already . . . basically I am the token male.  When women take over the world will any men be relevant?

Driving . . . men worry about losing their driving privileges.  Now, this is one I might worry about.  I enjoy driving . . . especially by myself.  This is my time to meditate, groove to some tunes, and get lost in my thoughts.  I guess in a way it is a sense of freedom issue, but I see it as a more practical issue.  If I am going to die in a car I might as well do it myself than to leave it to someone else . . . selfish, maybe, but at least it is honest.  I can handle my poor driving, but others make me nervous.  At the same time, the article said that losing one’s ability to drive signaled the fear of having someone else take care of them.  Having someone else meet the basic needs.  Shoot!  Anyone who wants to take care of my needs only has to give me a call . . . I am ready, but will they be?  I have some pretty extensive needs!

The last one?  Losing one’s mind (or the spouse’s mind).  I don’t worry about that too much as you can’t lose that which you haven’t found.  People tell me I lost my mind a long, long time ago.  I am already terrible with names.  My wife tells me I forgot conversations we have had.  I am thankful for calendars because they help me remember what day, month, and year it is.  I already do not make decisions as I have plenty of people who have been giving a piece of their minds for years.  And, if I do lose my mind, well each day will be a new adventure.  People better hope I learn some new jokes because they are going to get tired of the jokes I have now.  Losing the wife’s mind?  Heck, she can just ask me where it is as she has been giving it to me since we started dating!

Impotence . . . weakness . . . relevance . . . driving . . . losing one’s mind . . . is this the best that they could come up with?  I thought that is what they called a “mid-life crisis”!  I have lost all of those and much, much more since stumbling out of my twenties.  As Doris Day once intoned, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”  Worrying can kill you.  I think the best thing that I can do at this point, as I grow older, is to take one day at a time and make sure all my insurance policies are paid up.  I think I am going to be around for a while longer and I want to make the best of the time I have left.  What!  Me, worry?  Shoot, I am a man . . . I can handle anything!

Protecting the Ol’ Ticker

It must be the season or something when MSN.com comes out with articles chronicling situations that increase the risk for heart attacks.  Ever since my little escapade with my heart a year ago I have become a little sensitive to issues about the heart.  Even though I was given the “thumbs up” and cleared about my heart being healthy . . . it still makes one a little nervous.  The article, Six Scary Times for Your Heart, did nothing to relieve that anxiety that pops up from time to time.

According to the article there are times when there is an increased risk for heart attacks.  For example, being stuck in traffic . . . between Monday and Friday that is a daily occurrence in my life . . . there is a rise in blood pressure and the risk for heart attack increases by three.  I am amazed that I have kicked the bucket yet after nearly four years of commuting to the big city to work at the university!

Another risk . . . waking up in the morning.  The article states that the risk of heart attack increase 40 percent in the morning (it must be true because it comes from Harvard researchers).  Who would have thought that waking up from a restful night of sleep would increase one’s chances of heart attack.  I thought rest was good for the heart . . . now I am being told that having a good night’s sleep can knock you off because of the body making demands on the body to get started! 

The next situation that causes heart attacks is Monday mornings!  Apparently 20 percent more heart attacks occur on Mondays.  The reason?  Because people are stressed and depressed about returning to work.  Add that to the fact that there is a 40 percent risk upon waking up to the risk associated with Mondays . . . well, maybe we should get rid of Mondays on the calendar.

Pigging out doesn’t help either.  Having a five-course, calories-be-damned meal can have an immediate impact on one’s heart.  Such meals make the heart work harder.  Now I am feeling guilty for that second helping of Hamburger Helper I had last night!

This one surprised me . . . taking a dump . . . the bowel movement.  Bet you weren’t expecting that one!  Apparently straining puts pressure on the chest which slows the return of blood to the heart.  I would have never, ever, thought that my southern posterior was that connected to my heart.

Then, there was the unusually vigorous exercise or physical activity . . . such as shoveling snow.  Basically it comes down to an activity that the individual is not used to which messes up everything.

And last, but probably not the most surprising, was public speaking.  Extreme nervousness raises blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline levels, all of which is not good for the heart.  Glad to know that after having been in public speaking for nearly thirty years as a pastor!

Looking over the list it did not look good for me . . . I sleep, thus wake up every morning . . . I have to go to work every Monday morning . . . I pig out more than I should, but darn, food tastes so good and is necessary . . . my bowels move (thank God) . . . I shovel snow in the winter (about the only time it seems to show up around here) . . . and I speak to the public on a weekly basis.  I should have kicked the bucket a long, long time ago! 

After reading the article I decided that I would take their suggestion and attempt to wake up slower by hitting the snooze button more often . . . but I think the wife will kill me for annoying her with my obsessive behavior.  I decided to skip Mondays and report for work on Tuesday . . . but, I imagine that the risk will only shift over to Tuesdays instead of Mondays.  I will attempt not to eat like a pig, except on those days in which we are having pork chop sandwiches . . . I will watch my diet . . . for at least a couple of hours.  I will attempt having kinder and gentler bowel movements . . . eat more fiber, drink more water, and remind myself that I shouldn’t be a pain in the . . . well, you get the picture.  I promised myself to avoid vigorous exercise . . . almost a no-brainer there.  And, I will prerecord my sermons instead of doing them live . . . the congregation might enjoy that as they can fast-forward the tape.  Of course that will cut into their nap time. 

With these changes in my life, I can probably add a couple of years to my life.  Isn’t that the goal?  To live longer?  I don’t know . . . maybe the best thing I can do is to quit reading articles related to the heart.  Yeah, I think that is the way to go!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Be Careful

Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter on October 23
Obama: "Stage 3 Romneysia" - because cancer references are HILARIOUS. If he's "the smartest guy in the room" it must be one retarded room.

Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter on October 22
I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.

This is not a “political” rant . . . I think folks need to keep that stuff to themselves much like they do their sex lives, bank accounts, and whether or not they are cheating on their income taxes--especially if the rant is to beat another into submission or to degrade them because they disagree.  Our society has been filled with a lot of political rants for quite some time thanks to this being an election year . . . and both sides are equally adept at it. It is true that there is a right to the freedom of speech, but somewhere along the line our society crossed the boundaries of decency, respect, and what Jesus called his followers to—loving one another.

Because I do not watch much television beyond my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers playing football or volleyball, I really didn’t know who Ann Coulter was.  All I knew is that she sure was in the headlines this week for referring to the president of the United States as a “retard”.  So, I did what any half-way intelligent individual would do . . . I “googled” her.  What I learned was that she is an intelligent individual with a good education (University of Michigan and Cornell University), a lawyer (University of Michigan Law School), and a conservative and political commentator, author, and syndicated columnist.  Plus, she is obviously a beautiful woman . . . but her words betray her.  Twice in a 24-hour period she called the president a “retard”.  It was not funny . . . it was mean, hateful, and disrespectful no matter who she was referring to.  Apparently that is her style during this political season . . . check her out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter).  Is this what the founding leaders of our nation meant by “freedom of speech”?

Again, this is not a “political” rant . . . this is a rant about using words to hurt and belittle others . . . this is about using degrading words to describe others because we disagree . . . this is about using the “R-word” that ranks right up there with using the “N-word” and “G-word” . . . this is about doing as Jesus called for his followers to do, love your neighbor as you love yourself.  It seems that there is not too much self-love evident during this election year.

I grew up with and still have two brothers with disabilities . . . the “R-word” was a constant taunt and put-down growing up.  I have two sons with disabilities . . . and, again, the “R-word” was quite familiar.  Anyone who knows me knows that I do not tolerate such language to describe others.  Way back in March I wrote a blog—The “WORD”—dealing with the Special Olympics campaign to “Spread the word to end the word.”  You can read that at http://www.bogw.blogspot.com/2012/03/word.html.  I haven’t changed my opinion.

I imagine that there are those out there who think that I am being too sensitive about the issue . . . that Ms. Coulter and others are just kidding around and using tactics to get attention, but the old children’s rhyme about “words not hurting” is a lie.  Words do hurt . . . often for a lifetime and beyond.  I guess we should be thankful that there are people out there like Ms. Coulter who remind us that words do hurt and effect people as individuals and groups.  It helps us to remember that it is necessary for us to become “conscious” of our “words” as we speak them and our “actions” live them.  Violence does not only come in the form of physical harm, but it also comes in the form of the words that we speak and the actions or inaction we take.  A bruise may heal, but a spiritual bruise never leaves.

It is only right that someone speaks out to say that a statement or action is unacceptable when it crosses the line.  It has nothing to do with who one is voting for, but how we treat one another.  As I said, both sides have done a lousy job at treating each other with respect or love.  Nothing will ever stop this decline unless we stop it . . . and stopping it begins with ourselves as individuals.  It begins within ourselves and then spreads outward to include others.  If it does not begin with ourselves how can we expect anyone else to change?

Is this the best we can do for those who follow us . . . the children?  Is this the legacy any of us wants to leave for the generations to come?  Stephen Sondheim wrote these “words” in his wonderful musical (my all-time favorite), Into the Woods:

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see and learn

Children may not obey, but children will listen

Children will look to you for which way to turn

To learn what to be

Careful before you say "Listen to me"

Let us be careful out there . . . people are listening!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It Pays to be Dead

Elizabeth Taylor.  Michael Jackson.  Elvis Presley.  Charles Schulz.  Bob Marley.  John Lennon.  Marilyn Monroe.  Albert Einstein.  Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss).  Steve McQueen.  Bettie Page.  Richard Rogers.  George Harrison.  Besides being dead, what do all of these deceased people have in common?  They made millions after they died.  From top (Elizabeth Taylor) to bottom (George Harrison) they made between 5.5 million and 210 million dollars from the grave in the past year.  They made more money pushing up daisies than I will even come close to making in my lifetime . . . and, definitely after I am long gone.  It must pay to be dead!

Now granted, movie stars, singers and musicians, poster queens, cartoonists, writers, and world-famous scientists do make more than the average person . . . probably more than they are worth . . . but, hey!  Apparently they earned it through smart investments, copyright laws, and having more than they could ever count.  But these guys are still earning outrageous amounts of money and they aren’t even alive!  A little sweat equity would be nice!

Sure, sure . . . there are those of you out there reading this thinking: “You can do it too!”  Yeah, right.  I cannot act . . . I am not beautiful or ruggedly handsome . . . I look terrible in a one piece bathing suit, so I will never be the subject of a pin-up poster . . . I can’t draw a straight line much less a cartoon . . . nor can I write clever rhyming children’s stories with cartoon-like characters . . . can’t sing or even carry a tune in a bucket . . . and, science, never mind.  So where is the money going to come from?  My greatest talent is tying a cherry stem in a knot using my tongue!  People aren’t going to pay to see me do that.

Where is the money going to come from?  Maybe I should take that big two percent raise the state of Montana increased my salary by and invest that . . . about 25 cents a pay period . . . I can see my descendants rolling in the mountain of pennies now.  The money surely is not going to come from what I make as an employee of the state of Montana.

This was the first year since Michael Jackson died that he was not at the top of the list.  His good friend, Elizabeth Taylor, bumped him.  In actuality, next year he will probably be at the top as Elizabeth’s rise to the top was due to the sale of much of her property . . . costumes, jewelry, paintings, and other belongings that people wanted.  Maybe that is where my deathly riches can come from . . . my family could sell my collections.

I am sure that my baseball collection—balls that I picked up around Dehler Field in Billings before the Mustang games—is worth something.  Major league baseballs sell for about six to eight dollars each.  I have about 70 of these stack precariously in my closet.  They are a little scuffed up and dirty, which will probably drop their value . . . they could probably get between 70 and 100 dollars.  It is a start!  Better than that two percent raise I got this year!

Maybe they could sell my beer cap and wine cork collections . . . except the beer caps are not really mine.  I have been saving them for the youngest son as he plans to make a coffee table out of them.  The wine corks . . . not much demand for them.  I probably should have saved my money and not bought the wine and beer . . . could be a small fortune there!

I have a sports card collection . . . and there are the Beanie Baby bears I have stored away . . . possibly my Big Red collection, but we are in Montana and Bobcats and Grizzlies are more popular.  My books, but no one reads real books any more.  There are all the old license plates stacked up in the garage.  I don’t know if the sale of any of these priceless items would even come close to getting me on that list of the “top earning celebrities . . . especially since I am not even a celebrity beyond my own mind.

Oh well, I guess I am probably worth more alive than I ever will be once I kick the bucket.  At times I feel quite wealthy . . . I have wonderful children who love me . . . a son-in-law who respects me and enjoys being around me . . . a future daughter-in-law who does likewise . . . beautiful grandchildren . . . a loving wife . . . a great congregation . . . good friends . . . and not only one job, but two that I enjoy . . . I live in a beautiful state . . . and I can still afford microbrews instead of that crap they pass off as beer called Bud Light!  I am blessed and wealthy in my time . . . what more could I want?  It may not pay when I die, but in the meantime money can never replace what I have.