Hum, advice?

I was reading articles on the Internet and got caught up with one of those titles that start with a number and follow with something that is interesting.  Titles like “3 Ways to Independent wealth.” or “5 Sure Fire Ways to Fire Up Your Sex Life”.  There must free Internet classes on writing these titles, for they are all over the Internet now. I’m sure they teach that if you put a number first and the word ‘Sex’ in the title, you are assured to get someone to click on your title.

The one that caught my attention was: “1 way to save your marriage”.  If it were not for the obvious fake way to get one’s attention, I would change the title of this blog entry to: “2 things can improve your life.”  You don’t really have to list two things, you just need to say it.  However, since I dislike this technique so much, I’ll not change the title.

This article was about a guy who was having problems in his marriage.  He and his wife were struggling and close to divorce. He had a shower thought that he had to do something different to save his marriage, so he had this inspiration. He woke up one morning and asked her: “How can I make your day better?” 

As I often do, I scanned the article trying to pick up the salient point or takeaway.  So, the next morning we were in the kitchen and ask Rita: “How can I make your day better?” 

She looked at me with this confused look on her face and said: “What?”

I repeated the question.

In her somewhat iterated voice, she replied: “I’m not going to tell you what to do?  That is not something we do to each other. We don’t tell each other what to do!”

I retreated mentally into the fetal position and thought:  “That didn’t work.” 

Our marriage is fairly good and, even thought we have our struggles, neither of us feel divorce is over the horizon.  But, it could be better. Like many couples, we get caught up with life’s busy times, Internet or device distractions and other demands.  So, I filed that idea of asking her how to make her life better on the shelf and didn’t ask that question again.  

But, I did think about  it. I started doing dishes while she made dinner. I would fire up the vacuum sweeper and clean up dog hair and tracked winter debris.  I would start laundry, or fold that she started.  Make the bed, I would suggest we eat out instead of expecting her to come up with dinner ideas at home. I would often think: “What can I do to make her day better?” But, I knew better to ask it out loud.

The jury is still out to see if any of this has any impact on our relationship. But these are things I should have been doing all along. If anything, it makes me feel better, more like a equal partner.  I’ll have to report back on this later. 

Meanwhile, I went back to find and reread the article and do research on the author who suggested this idea. I realize that scanning often misses key points.  He continued to ask his wife this question until she cried and they had a come to Jesus meeting about their marriage. I had missed that point, but happy I did, for I think it would not help us much. 

The author appears to have some credentials regarding writing, but I’m not too sure about his credentials in regards to relationship building or fixing.  You can judge this yourself by doing your own reading by starting with his blog: “How I saved my Marriage.”  I’m not suggesting you try this, but introspection is often helpful.

I have to go now and do some dishes and work on stop scanning things I read. 

Cardiologist visit

Last Wednesday I had my 6 mo Cardiologist checkup.  It has been 18 months since my Aortic Valve replacement surgery.  I was dreading this visit for my weight was up and I knew he was going to comment on it. I also wanted to have a conversation with him regarding reducing the dosage of the beta blocker I was on, for I felt it was limiting my hearts ability to respond to strenuous workouts, mainly treadmill work.  I knew this was a sensitive topic for him.

I was pleased my blood test results showed that my triglycerides was down significantly. This, I think, is due to my not drinking for the past month. I was wanting a ‘atta-boy’ and got a ‘of course, drinking messes with test results and the calories are bad.’ 

As expected, the visit was disappointing. My blood pressure was up, he didn’t like that.  He did comment that I needed to loose weight.  He basically scolded me for not working out more, “what’s keeping for exercising?”  I didn’t have a good answer other than winter, which was a lousy reason.

When I tried to talk to him about reducing my beta blocker dosage he scoffed at thought that the beta blocker was limiting my workout ability telling me that I didn’t need to work out that hard.  After all, I was 74 years old.  He told me to forget about training hard, eat less and exercise more in moderation.

He also thought I may be depressed and that I needed to fix that.  Why am I trying to work out so hard?  I should accept that I’m 74 and can’t do things a 20 year can do.

He did say my valve sounded good and to call him if I had any chest pain. 

He is a typical guy, doesn’t listen well.

I left depressed.

After Shower Thought – 1/10/2018

Clean out the closet

I was looking for a pair of pants to wear after my shower this morning. I stood in my closet looking over my paints. I wanted something comfortable, leisure like, not business casual, not old-IBM formal black, but also not working in the garage ragged-like.  I didn’t want jeans with knees worn out and stains on them, nor khakis with the cuffs worn to threads. 

I had been thinking of my weight and how hard it was to loose that 10 – 20 pounds that I have been trying to loose for years.  Two summers ago, I had gotten down to 170 lbs, but that took open heart surgery to make happen and by that winter I was back up to 180.  Now, 18 months later, I was struggling to keep my weight under 190. I asked myself, maybe it was time that I admit I will never weigh 170 again. Maybe I will never fit into a 34 inch waistline. Maybe I should just stop worrying about weight but keep on eating more healthy and staying active.

Maybe I should clean out my closet. 

Keeping paints that I can’t wear only gives me a false sense that I have a large choice of pants to wear. So, I tried on all 14 pair of pants that were on hangers.  Many of these were many years old and some of them were purchased at the consignment store.  Of the 14 pairs, I could only fit into 7.  

So, I now have a pile of pants to get rid of.  If feels good to do this. Tomorrow, I may tackle the shirts.

It feels good to stop trying to do something that constantly disappoints me.  I may or may not get down to 170 lbs, but I am going to stop worrying about it. 

I will still continue to cut out sugar, fats, meat, to play the piano, write, learn things,  exercise, and have wishes, goal and dreams.

For now, it is time to clean out the closet in my my bedroom and in my life.





Shower thought of the day – Jan 5, 2018

Today as I showered, I thought of the term: “Farmer Technologist”.  It was a label my company’s UPS sales woman called me.  I think she met it as a compliment, but my insecurities questioned that.  Farmers are creative, innovated, MacGyer-like people that have to fix things around the farm that break with only material they have available to them – like bailing wire, band aids and duck tape.  Also, farmers, today, often have PhD’s in how to get the most from an acre of land with the least amount of work and resources.  They have to figure out how and when to invest, how to deal with major crisis and nature’s fury.  They have to negotiate with big businesses, big government, and the stigma of being stupid.  So, if I put my own insecurities aside, being a Farmer Technologist may be a good thing.

Then, I wondered if that applied to being a philosopher.  Could I also be a ‘Farmer Philosopher”?  A self made Aristotle, Plato, or Ann Rand?  An Ann MacGyer Rand? Then I got side tracked and wondered why Plato and Aristotle had only one name.

Later, after I dried off, streaked to the bedroom to fetch underwear, and dressed, I read email and got jerked back to reality by a technology problem at the company I support.  The backup program had a message that implied something didn’t work correctly.  A hour later, I concluded it was what I titled: ‘planet aligning technology’. This is where certain multiple technologies or software happen to be in a certain state such that they interfere with each other causing one or more of them to not work correctly.  I also found it was not worth the time it would take to prove it. 

Such is the world of today.  Sad, but true. It was not worth the time to prove it.

Is that a philosophical thought? A farmer technologist philosophical one?

New Year – 2018

It is a rare person who can start a new year and not think of making some change or resolution. 

I tried to not do this.  

Then I got on the scales. 

I didn’t like the number and to avoid making the resolution that is almost assuredly to fail, i.e. loose ‘x’ pounds, where ‘x’ is an imaginary number, I just decided to eat more healthy and responsibly.  Since both those terms are loosely defined, I have lots of room to eat ice cream, popcorn, and other things I love.  

Then, as I was in the shower this morning, I thought: “It is a wise man who knows when to throw away an old tee shirt”   I often have these crazy or deep thoughts while showering.  As I toweled myself off, I had a further thought that I should capture these thoughts.  Why?  Well I suspect it is because few of us humans have rational thoughts in the shower.  That is probably why so many sing the shower.

So, I thought, would it be interesting if I could, or would, write something every day of the year. Then I realized I already missed the 1st and 2nd.  

That is why one should not think of making resolutions for the new year. 

Nor, should they place any merit for thoughts in the shower.

I’m now going to the garage carrying an old tee shirt that will become a new rag.  

One year later…

How do you mend a broken heart?

July 25, 2016 – around 2 or 3 am

She was a beautiful black woman.  She was around 5 foot two inches, smooth skin, large loop ear rings and her hair cut in a buzz cut, nearly bald. Her skull was perfectly shaped.  She carried herself with an aura of pride, strength, and coolness.

Being annoyed at being probed, prodded, and woken up a number of times already that evening, I asked what do you need?  Most likely I was fairly abrupt, for I do that without really trying, even before open heart surgery.

“It’s time for your bath.” She replied softly.

Wondering how that was going to happen, I asked: “What do I need to do?”

“You just need to lie there and relax. I’ll take care of it.” No smile, all business was in her tone of reply.

She went to the keyboard on the computer that was near my bedside, somehow she pulled up YouTube, keyed in something and I heard soft blues sole music started to play. 

She proceeded to wet washcloths in a basin of warm water and started at the foot of the bed.  She pulled up the sheet and laid it just below my crotch.  She removed my socks and proceeded to wash my feet and lower legs.  She hummed softly to the music as she worked.  The music was some kind of soft blues played by a soul brother.

I laid back and let her work.  I wondered to myself:  Just how thorough of a job is she going to do?   

She was a beautiful sexy woman and I told myself this was not the time to test my ability to get an erection after open heart surgery.  All I wanted to do is to enjoy her beauty, listen to the soft music and make her job easier.

After she finished my legs, she then moved to the top of the bed.  She helped me sit up and removed the hospital gown, and after washing my back, she asked me to lie down again.  She then folded the top of the sheet down over my crotch. With fresh washcloths and something she squeezed from a bottle she started washing my chest and incision area.  The song on YouTube changed.  I recognized the song: “How do you mend a broken heart?” by Al Green.

I grinned to myself, thought about it, then said: “Nice, appropriate, selection of music you made.”

As she started to wash the dried blood from my stitches, she replied quietly in a smooth sweet voice: “It helps me past the time.”  I could have easily gotten lost in her brown eyes and in another time would have loved to touch her smooth skin.

I laid back and let her clean my incision. As words of mending broken hearts played in my head, I thought of the suddenness of the decision to have surgery and the relief that I was not going to die today.

As she finished my chest, she swapped the bloody washcloth for a clean one and moved to my arms.

Somewhere between her gentleness and  the lyrics:  “Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again”, I found myself fighting back tears.

When she was done with my arms, she took a fresh, warm, washcloth and in a single motion removed the sheet covering my crotch and covered my genitals with the warm cloth, never exposing anything.

 I didn’t get aroused and then wondered if that part of me stilled worked.  

She finished quickly, covered me with a clean sheet and helped me put on a clean gown.  I don’t remember her ever making eye contact, and I think the only other thing I said to her was ‘Thank you’.

Then she was gone and the music stopped. The normal hospital sounds of beeping monitors returned.

She was the most mysterious woman I have every encountered and I wondered if she enjoyed her job or just toiled through it.

Of all the nurses I saw in my four days at Shady Side, she was the gentlest of them all. I only saw her that one time.

Days later, when I got home, I wondered if she were real or was it just a dream. 

To this day, one year later, I can’t listen to “How do you mend a broken heart” without fighting back tears. I’m still trying to figure that out.

desktop time

So, I was sitting at my desktop doing some consulting work for one of my clients.  It was not a big job, and that was good for with my current back issues, sitting at the desktop is something that I needed to limit my time doing.  It should take me less than 15 minutes to do this job.

So, in starting this minor technical thing, I ran into a glitch. Glitches are common in  technical work.  So, an hour later of investigating and figuring out how to deal with the glitch, I got back to the one thing I originally sat down to do.  The glitch had to do with something in WordPress and just before I shut down my own blog that I use to test things, I noticed a few errors in my blog posts. How log can it take to fix these few errors?

An hour later, my back hurting I got up to take a break.  I answered a call, then as I went to put my phone down, I noticed an email arrived. I checked it and saw I needed to do another minor task for another client of mine. I returned to the desktop, with a bowl of cereal in hand.

An hour later, now my back hurting more and my cereal bowl empty. I went to shut down my blog that I had been working on to fix those minor errors.  Hum, I never noticed that many of the posts I imported from my Google blogspot had some many ‘uncategorized’ entries.  That needed fixed.

An hour later, I was still not done, now my back is really hurting and I needed to sit in front of the piano to practice some pieces before my lesson tonight.

So after five hours of sitting in front of my PC, I got up from my chair and left my screen with the blog still needing work. I hobbled away, my back bent and leaning to one side.

And we wonder why we are so busy these days, and why our body aches.


I Can’t Fix This

 Note: I first wrote this on November 11, 2016 as a post in my Facebook account.  I copied it to my blog for archival reasons, but didn’t make it public, for I normally want to keep my blog political free.  After a few months of consideration, thought, and healing. I decided to post it on my blog. I’m not too concerned about it being political for nobody reads my blogs except some of my family. And I consider them safe people from judging me.

When I was a parent of young children ,I would be on my way to the basement where my workshop was, and I would often find a broken toy sitting next to basement door.  I would take it to my workshop ,and more times than not, fix the broken toy. One time, I even took one to my place of work and had the engineers challenged as to how to fix it.  When it came to broken toys, my children may have thought that I could fix anything.

They carried that attitude into adulthood.  I would get calls to discuss them losing a job, a breakup in a relationship, or one of their kids acting out.  They would call to share in the moment, but they also wanted to see if I had some advice or secret that could fix whatever was going on.  Often, I would be able to shed some sanity into their life at the time. That may have enforced their opinion that I could fix anything.

Well, I can’t.

In the wee hours of November 9, 2016, we found that Donald Trump would be the next president.  Like stepping on a rake, shock hit us.

Donald Trump is a man who some think was one of the worst choices ever to run for president and others think he may be able to fix the wrongs of Washington.  Shock, anger, fear, disappointment, and many other dark emotions set in some like bad virus.  Others felt elated, happy, hopeful, and filled with good feelings like the sun shining after a long rain.

The gulf between those who despised Trump and those who saw him as a savor not only widened, but became impossible to cross.  Neighbors couldn’t talk to each other. Co-workers couldn’t discuss the results without anger and harsh words.  Social media was filled with posts and comments that contained the worst in many.  And, to be fair, the best in some.  News media focused on those negative traumas that got eyeballs or sold newspapers.

Many felt their world was broken.  And, in their eyes, it was broken.

Siblings exchanged messages that were filled with name calling, anger and hate.  Damage was done to relationships that events in Leadville were never able to do.

Well, I can’t fix it.

If I could, I would.  I know of nothing that should invoke such emotions and actions. But, this election did. Some of my children are handling disappointment much better than others. Some are not.  I want to step in the middle, wave my hands, yell, threaten, and send everybody to their rooms until they can be civil with each other.  But, I can’t. They are adults, not children. They need to be responsible for their behavior and deal with the ramifications of it.

 I can’t fix this.

And, I’m extremely sorry that I can’t.

The Recital


May 15, 2016
Northampton, MA

After spending over 70 years on planet Earth, I find little that moves me to tears.  But I recently attended a piano recital to see my granddaughter play and was surprised that I was touched by the other kids playing.  This recital was a special moment.

Click to play the music recorded below while you read on.  (I was going to make it auto play, but find that aggravating in other sites, so I put the playing control in your hands.)

If you pressed the play icon, the Beatles piece you are hearing was performed by a boy named Levi who was somewhere between 10  and 12 years old. All I could see is his blond curly hair as he sat on the piano.  He not only played the  piano, but he sang into a microphone. With his lips almost touching the mic,  he looked like a 12 year old  Randy Newman.  The audio is not very good for I recorded it with my cell phone  from the back of the room and Levi  had trouble keeping his mouth close to the mic while he played the base notes.

What touched me was not necessarily the quality of this performance, or any of the other kids that performed, but rather the expression of their passion for music.  I saw  Madeleine perform a piece she wrote herself,  Noah move his body in beat while playing the Star Wars theme, the tapping foot of Nicholas when he did his own jazzed up version of Lightly Row.

Kids age 10 – 12 do not  exude their passion for music, especially at a piano recital. They are normally terrified of missing a note, or forgetting what comes next.  They just want to get their playing done quickly and off stage.  But, what I saw that Sunday afternoon were a bunch of great kids that love  music and they were not ashamed to show it.

My granddaughter’s performance was good. She showed her feel for music when she put in the appropriate pause between notes for effect. She was not in a rush to get the performance done. She wanted you to feel the music, using the silence between notes to instill that touch.  If you were not noticing, you may think it was a mistake, but it was deliberate and effective.  Who teaches kids to do that?  This is special.

A few days later, after I got home,  I would catch myself humming  Ob-La-di, Ob-La-Da.  When I listen to these pieces, it still  brings tears to my eyes.

I emailed the teacher thanking her for doing such a great job and wishing her to never stop. Teaching young’ens to play the piano, a number of people can do that.  But to teach them to improvise,  compose and put a happy Beatles  tunes in your head for days,  now, that is great!