December 25, 2021

A Time For Us All To Pause

Whatever your religious or secular tradition at this time of year, the best wishes to you and your loved ones come from me and my family.

Beyond the hype, the money spent, the rushing about, and the inevitable letdown after the day or period passes, I hope you can feel a  spirit of love and connectedness to the greater community of human beings.

Whatever your present situation you are part of a larger family with many similar concerns. At this time of year, my wish for you is to find peace and contentment.

Even with the last two years beings ones with more than their fair share of challenges, I enter the new year with a fresh sense of optimism, misplaced though it may be! 

My Satisfying Retirement will be taking a brief, end-of-year break. Look for a fresh post to kick off 2022 on January 1st.

December 21, 2021

Volunteering : How Does This Fit Into Your Retirement?

 It has been a long time since I offered a post that posed a question about volunteering. It has always been a given that, after retirement, there is often a desire to spend part of one's time serving in some way.  The benefits of helping others have been well-known for quite a long time.

Like many, I over-committed myself during the first several years. While things like Prison Ministry and being a Stephen Minister counselor were fulfilling, both took a lot of time and energy. Then, I added in some food bank work and I found myself resenting the demands on my time, demands I had accepted. There was no one to blame, and no one who could put his life back into balance except me. So, I focused on what was the best match for my personality and skill set. 

That realization led me to write the post a decade ago asking readers for ideas on how they decided if volunteering was important. And, if so, how did they decide which opportunities to pursue. I hoped asking for ideas would help others decide on the proper balance.

It is high time to get some fresh input and ideas from you. The last time, dozens of comments presented possibilities for helping others and the community that apparently hit a chord. The number of views was one of the highest for this blog during its first year.

So, here we go again.

I know many of the folks who visit this blog are active volunteers in all sorts of ways. So, I would deeply appreciate you responding in the comment section below with answers to any of these questions (if they apply to your volunteer situation):

1. What volunteer work do you do?
2. How did you decide this was a good fit?
3. Did try a few different things before you found one that fit you?
4. Have there been any drawbacks?

Like everyone else, I am very interested in learning about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities that exist for us. I bet there will be things I have never thought of that would be a tremendous way to give back to my community while feeling good about myself.

So, please, anything you do to help....let us know. Teaching Sunday school, walking a neighbor's dog because she can't, school crossing doesn't have to be as dramatic as working with prison inmates, but it might be! Our society has more needs than we have volunteers.

Do you know someone who is an inspiration in this area but he or she doesn't normally read this blog? Could I ask you a favor:  would you ask them to come over this one time and tell us about what they do?

I am sincerely looking forward to your ideas, thoughts, and cautions.

December 17, 2021

Are You an Expert? More Often Than You Think

Whether retired or not, we all tend to gravitate to experts. If we want help managing our money we find a financial planner or adviser. For our health, we consult not just doctors, but specialists. There are experts ready to tell you how you save your marriage or put the spark back in your love life. Websites have all sorts of places that list easy steps to solve every sticky problem in your life. Our society worships experts. If someone is an expert, whatever he or she says must be right.

Yet, time and time again, we rely on experts and find the advice doesn’t work the way we have been told it would. Then we question ourselves up and assume we must be incompetent because “it worked for all those other people.” Yet, the pandemic mess should be proof enough that what constitutes an expert is often open to personal interpretation. Your expert may be a quack to me and an oracle of truth to others.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who try to separate older folks from their money with investment schemes that are little more than scams. A claim of legitimacy, a fancy title, a slick brochure, a four-color mailer, or a well-designed website is all it takes to separate lots of people from their hard-earned money.

My non-expert advice: don’t do this to yourself. Sometimes advice doesn’t work because it’s bad advice. Of the hundreds of personal development, financial planning, or retirement books I’ve read over the years more than a handful contained bad advice. The ideas and suggestions simply did not work for me in my situation. They produced zero results or even had negative outcomes. They were not just useless, but potentially harmful to me.

This doesn’t mean the authors were lying. In most cases, I could see a reason why the advice might have worked well for the author but wouldn’t work for me. We’re all different. What works for one person or even a group of people doesn’t always translate well to every individual. We can't out-source our life to others.

It really doesn’t matter how well schooled an expert is or what studies she has to back up her claims. Unless the author has spent time with you personally be suspicious of any advice that comes from averaging different types of people together. Do studies on “average” people apply to someone who isn’t average? Are you average, or are you a unique human being? 

Do you completely fit the average mold in terms of your genetics, diet, upbringing, education, finances, family situation, residence, hobbies, etc? Probably not. No one person does. That's why it is an "average." That means the step-by-step approach to solving your specific problem won't necessarily work like you hope it will.

At this point, stop and consider: experts certainly know less about you than you do. They want you to stop worrying and just do what they say, buy what they recommend, and live how they have determined is best. An expert is often self-declared. He may have no track record or experience to have earned that label. She has no idea what works best for you in your unique set of circumstances. Consider that maybe you are the best expert in figuring what is right for you. 

Study yourself as an individual, and use expert advice only as a general guide for new experiments of your own. Notice what works for you and what doesn’t. Trust your senses. If the experts say one thing, but your personal experience suggests the opposite, put more faith in your own experience. Stop listening to every talking head. Start listening to yourself. That will take you much farther down the road of a satisfying lifestyle.

How specifically could this apply to you? Without coming across as an expert (!), here are a few obvious examples to make my point:

Health care.  If any doctor said I need surgery or a course of treatment that is expensive, possibly debilitating, and risky I am going to get a second opinion. I am going to do my own research on the Internet. I am going to attempt to talk with others who have had the same medical issue. I very well might do what that first doctor suggested. But, not just on his say-so.

Finances. My financial adviser suggests I purchase something, sell something, or consider a new direction. Nothing happens until I have enough time to think about it, research it, and consider other options. It is my money and future at risk, not hers.

Blogging. There are thousands of bloggers ready to tell me and sell me something so I can be a "successful" blogger. They have a plan to add 10,000 new readers in a month, or 20,000 Twitter followers by tomorrow. All I have to do is buy their book or sign up for an online course, and I'll be the next big thing. Or, maybe it is better for me to continue the way I have been. After all, it has worked pretty well for over eleven years. Only I can decide what I want this blog to be and how to get there.

What decisions have you made and steps you have taken that were counter to "the experts?" Do you have examples of some piece of advice you followed that turned out to be all wrong for you? What is keeping us from trusting more of our own sense of what is right and wrong for us?

I have looked at "expert" advice, a life-time of experiences, and decided things work out best for me with a cautious blend of someone else's thoughts and my self-knowledge.

December 13, 2021

What We Have Decided After Your Input

Over the past month or two, I have raised a few questions in some of my posts, asking for your input. I figure you deserve an update on the effect of your comments and thoughts and my time to ruminate (love that word!) over my options.

Why is it so Hard To Buy a New Car? lead to a discussion of several options to resolve my dilemma. Keeping our 11-year-old CR-V for now, leasing a new car or buying out someone else's lease, buying an older car to drive until the hybrid plug-in we wanted becomes available, or using a service like Uber as a fill-in until demand catches up with supply were the primary suggestions. All were workable possibilities in our situation. After a week or two of reviewing our choices, the answer was clear.

Our decision: keep the Honda with 103,000 miles for now as our only car. When the plug-in we prefer makes it to the dealer's lot, we will purchase it and keep the CR-V as the backup second vehicle (assuming it is still running!). When that vehicle dies, we will revert to a one-car family, but now with an environmentally-friendly automobile that will require maybe one tank of gas a month.

Is Food Delivered to my Door...A Good Thing? I was interested in whether you had used the services of local supermarkets or services to have food brought to your home during the worst of Covid. If so, did you plan on continuing with the ability to skip the chore of in-person grocery shopping?  Also, there were some comments that dealt with meal delivery services that became quite popular, either from a local restaurant or the meal prep kits.

There didn't seem to be a clear-cut consensus. Some of us enjoy going to the store to pick our own items from the shelf, while others are very happy to pass that chore on to others. Individual meal delivery fared less well, primarily due to the expense and problems with cold food or incomplete orders. Meal preparation subscription services were mentioned by one reader (Janis).

Our decision: we will continue to go food shopping in person. If the new Covid variant forces us to avoid stores and crowds, the at-home option would be reconsidered. For most, it worked well, particularly as the user become more adept with the ordering procedure. But, we enjoy the shopping experience together and like to be able to make last-minute purchases or change plans on the fly, based on what is in stock and pricing.

One thing we are signing up for is the meal preparation kits. As a break from cooking, a reduction in what we buy at the store, and as a way of trying new main courses, we are going to have two or three meals a week for the two of us delivered. Our daughter has used a few of these options and recommends HelloFresh for our situation and tastes. 

Streaming Services: How "Plus" Are All The Plus Options?. Hulu offers Hulu Plus, Pick Disney or Disney+, HBO or HBO Max, Discovery or the plus version...with streaming the way the majority of us receive entertainment, the companies didn't take long to find a way to further separate us from our recreation dollars. For some, the monthly bills have started to match or even exceed what cable TV used to cost. 

The Lowry household is probably about average. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, PBS Passport, and the ad-supported Hulu. With an antenna, free over-the-air TV is also available; there are nearly 70 channels in the Phoenix area broadcasting in an old-school way. Kanopy is free with library membership.

The post was meant to help us to decide if any of the services we do not receive are worth the cost. There was good support for HBO Max, Britbox (all British shows), and Apple +. After reviewing our options we dropped Disney + and added Britbox. We last subscribed to Britbox in 2017 and were pleasantly surprised to discover several new seasons of shows like Shetland and Vera that we remember liking four years ago.

Since I wrote this post, we have started the meal prep delivery service. The dinners are quite tasty and the directions are simple to follow. The selection is broad enough to have p[lenty of choice.

 The biggest downside is the amount of packaging. The small containers of spices, condiments, and ingredients hold only enough for that one meal. Then the plastic plus the delivery bag goes into the trash and or recycling. It seems all rather wasteful. That rather than the cost may be what ends this experiment.

Thank you for all your thoughts and input. I will let you know if anything changes.

December 9, 2021

Here We Go Again...With a Name Straight From Marvel Comics

Omicron sounds like a Greek god I might have learned about in high school. Or, maybe the villain in some Captain America sequel. What it doesn't sound like is we are out of the virus woods...not by a long shot. 

In what feels like being trapped in a house of mirrors, a new Covid variant spooked the stock markets, worried the Federal Reserve, and sent many businesses into a new panic during the holiday shopping frenzy. Normally placid school board meetings became literal battlegrounds. Parents are left to figure out the best way for their children to be safe.

I think we can assume that those who are vaccine-adverse are not going to suddenly line up for protection. Whether driven by politics, religious issues, possible reactions due to underlying health issues, or the "freedom" banner, there will be a large minority of the U.S. population who would rather risk serious illness or death than change their stance.  The only time someone in this camp is likely to reconsider is when they, someone in their family, or a friend contracts the virus. 

There is no chance the government will try another nationwide lockdown. Enforced shots appear to be a non-starter in many instances. Several federal courts have put a stop to mandatory vaccinations as a condition of employment, even in hospitals.

So where does this leave us? I am afraid the answer is not very reassuring. In all likelihood, some form of Covid is going to be with us for years to come. Until natural herd immunity is reached, a rather constant state of higher death rates, various countries closing their borders to others, instability in our economic life, fights over masks and protection, plus an overall feeling of life being at least partially out of control will be our lot.

Personally, I have grown exhausted by watching the battles to convince otherwise rational people to not take horse deworming medicines, or blame the virus on cell phone towers. The conspiracy theories have become so bizarre that after a bemused shake of the head, I turn my attention to anything else.

I don't see any other way to continue living in a strange world where up is down and right isn't. I understand that some resistance to the vaccines is caused by fear, by the bandwagon effect, and by humans being very uncomfortable changing their position once their flag has been planted.

I will likely stock up the pantry again because of supply problems. At least for the moment what I won't do is barricade myself in the house again.  As Omicron, or Covid-B's effect becomes clearer I may go back to masks in public spaces. We will stock up again on hand sanitizer. 

Both my wife and I have had our shots and our booster. While that doesn't ensure our total safety, I am not going to stay huddled in a corner again. And, I am not going to waste any more time or energy trying to figure out why so many of my fellow citizens want to roll the dice with their health, and mine. That ship has left the dock.

December 5, 2021

Success is In The Eye Of The Beholder

From a very early age, we are "programmed" for success. Schools and parents teach us what they believe are the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the world. Our mastering of those tasks was measured with a grading system that clearly defined our progress. 

Religions have rules for keeping us on the straight and narrow to help ensure our passage into an eternal life filled with joy and love. Where we worked certainly had clearly laid out paths to success within the organization. Stay on task you will do well. Falter and you may be replaced was the clear message given to us all.

Running your own business had the measurement of achievement: money. Make enough and you succeed. Spend more than you make and fail.

Notice anything obvious about these parameters that attempt to measure success? They all come from external sources. Your performance is judged by someone else, using very different determinations.

Some are within your control, but many are not. You are judged by another person or system that is independent of your skills and talents, wants, and needs.

If nothing else, retirement frees you from this cycle of judgement, imposed on you by others. Now, what qualifies as success is defined by you. Being unique means quite simply: only you know what success feels like.

In fact, the whole idea of success in retirement is so singular that I can't offer my opinions or thoughts on the subject. So, I found a list from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  All the things on his list are not likely to fit your needs.

What if might do, though, is prompt you into some serious contemplation about yourself and feeling worthy and complete. Are you still allowing others to build a box that you are being urged to inhabit?

Consider the following:

 What is Success?

  1. To laugh often and much;
  2. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
  3. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
  4. To appreciate beauty;
  5. To find the best in others;
  6. To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
  7. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived

Rather than external markers, this list, and any you generate measures success in life using your ruler, your measuring device,  your sense of completeness and accomplishment.

Think about it.

December 1, 2021

Nothing Satisfies the Person Who Is Not Satisfied With a Little

About 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, expressed a truism that I find remains absolutely accurate today if given a qualifier: "a person who always wants more is never satisfied with whatever he has at this moment." 

From a material standpoint, he is correct. The mindset that says there is never enough money, or possessions, or power, or....whatever, is what drives many of us forward. It is the power behind the desire to upgrade our home, get a bigger car or truck, buy the biggest TV screen available. The children need to go to an Ivy League school. This urge to never be satisfied is what drives our economy.

While my family never really played that "more is better" game, we wanted the best for our kids. We bought an Apple computer soon after they became available so the two girls could learn about a new world that beginning to open up. We weren't above subtly mentioning we had spent Christmas in Maui, creating lifetime memories.

We just never got caught up in the "impress the Joneses" lifestyle. A purchase fulfilled a need for us, not to dazzle someone else. Frankly, since Betty and I decided very early on to live well beneath our means, we could not have afforded to play that game anyway. Even so, we were part of the materially-driven culture; it surrounded us every moment of every day.

Importantly, I have found that retirement has the potential to disrupt that mindset. Because so many parts of your life change when you leave the world of regular paychecks, it is the perfect time to reassess your relationship with material possessions, desires, and what drives you in your life.

If my experience is at all normal, pulling away from that incessant pressure to buy, to upgrade, to remodel parts of the house simply because you have become bored with the color, or the layout, or appliances, lessens the longer you are away from employment.

Quite often, when you start to spend more time at home, doing some freshening and repair work does occur. You notice that the wallpaper is starting to peel a bit. That huge sectional sofa was great when all the kids lived at home now dominates the room for no particular reason. You sense that the 15-year-old dryer seems to take forever to dry a load. The drafty back windows are hard to ignore when the snow starts to fly. Being in the same space heightens your attention to those things in your living environment that need some TLC.

When you find yourself replacing, upgrading, or adding to your possessions because you are bored or restless, you have to stop and think through the decision. Each new possession or change to your home comes with two costs: the original purchase price and the maintenance/upkeep expenses. Even if that means nothing more than dusting, vacuuming, or occasional repairs, these are events that tap into your energy and time, two parts of your life that may be better spent in something productive, creative, or simply restful. The fewer excess possessions, the more time can be spent on you and your interests.

In one sense, the Covid mess of the past 21+ months has had a potentially positive side effect. Like many of us, you spent many hours streaming movies, shows, and documentaries on your TV or laptop. Except for a few exceptions, most streaming channels are commercial-free. That means you have avoided hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of commercials on television. The first time you go back to a movie theater, you are thrust headlong into the consumer world: the first 10-12 minutes before the previews are packed with attempts to motivate you to buy something. Covid has meant you weren't in a reclining seat absorbing all that stimulation to purchase.

Malls, shopping centers, even individual stores are designed to trigger a "buy me" impulse. Companies spend millions each year to know what impulse products should go at the front of a store or on those displays at the end of an aisle. Packages are researched continuously to test what color, box size, and wording are most persuasive. If you aren't in those stores, all that emotional stimulus doesn't make its way into your consumer's brain. 

I have been fascinated with the (partial) idea of minimalism. Like many things, some people take a simple idea and go overboard: all your belongings in one suitcase, one plate, one cup, and one saucer. To me, minimalism is more a mindset than a physical representation. To me, thinking before making a purchase, any purchase beyond a bag of fries or a new t-shirt to replace one ruined by paint thinner, is how my minimalistic mind works.

We will spend money on a 10 day trip to Kauai without a second thought: a business purpose, seeing new friends, and taking our first break since Covid destroyed so many plans made that expense worthwhile. Memories and taking care of our mental health made that money well spent.

What if  I suddenly decide I'd like a VR headset. I will research the various products available and understand I'd have to spend hundreds on the headpiece and various games and simulations.

I am going to close the Amazon page until I can think through that purchase. Resisting the urge to just click has to become a learned response.

Each of us maximizes our contentment in different ways. Unless a purchase or decision jeopardizes someone's fiscal, physical, or mental well-being, none of us can judge another. If we can control our own impulses and decision-making, our chances of having a satisfying retirement are greatly enhanced. 

The qualifier I mentioned at the beginning of this post is if the quote is about a person who is not satisfied with a little creativity, an OK marriage or serious relationship, time with an enjoyed hobby, or time spent with family. In those cases wanting more is to be encouraged. That type of pursuit should not be stopped when there is more to learn, more to paint, more friends to enjoy. That is a positive part of being a human being. Fulfilling all we can be should remain a neverending quest.

November 27, 2021

Building Friendships Takes Work


I have lots of acquaintances. I have made some good friends through blogging, both virtually and in person. Even though I am happy with my own company, I understand that having a few companions can make this time of life more fulfilling. Having someone to turn to during a tough time can make a problem less fearful.  Before making a decision, asking for an opinion from a trusted source helps us make a wise choice. What are the characteristics we look for when asking someone else into our life?  

One of the keys is the ability to share openly. If we are with someone and we must constantly watch what we say or self-censor too much, then a real friendship is unlikely. Sharing both joys and sorrows is critical to a meaningful friendship. That can't happen if communication isn't open and expressive. We shouldn't be hesitant to open up to a real friend.

Be willing to try and experience new things together is a good test of friendship. When any of us leave our comfort zone there is some tension and nervousness present. Even something as simple as trying a different cuisine because your friend likes it can reveal a lot about the state of the relationship. Traveling might be a good test. Being together for several days while away from the security of home and routine can quickly test a budding friendship. If you can laugh together at misfortunes and share great experiences, then a deep friendship may be possible.

A core of common ideas and the acceptance of different beliefs must both be present. While these points might seem contradictory, I believe they are critical. Common beliefs might include the importance of respect for other people, that discrimination has no place in our society, or that children deserve the very best we can provide. 

Obviously forefront in our lives today seems to be highlighting differences in place of similarities. Where we stand spirituality, politically or in one of a dozen hot-button issues of the day can make finding people to share time with seem like a continuous struggle. For a deeper relationship, these differences can't be used as a wedge or weapon. Honest disagreements should create a stronger bond between two people that value that relationship.

There must be no pressure to "perform." Think back to a dating relationship you had. Small talk and overt politeness are part of that world. We want to present our best possible face to the other person. But, in a true friendship, it is perfectly OK for one person to be having a bad day and admit it. We don't have to always look or feel our best all the time. That isn't real life and friends don't want someone to put up a front or play a part. "Dress-up" isn't part of this type of relationship.

There must be a sincere interest to learn more about that person. Nothing could be more unfulfilling than to spend time with someone over a long period of time and never learn more about each other. That would mean one or both people are being dishonest about their feelings and needs. It would mean that the relationship would never become more than skin-deep.

Many people much wiser than I have made the point that friendship brings depth and joy to someone's life. True friendship is a special gift that two people give to each other. As Proverbs notes, "Disregarding another person's faults preserves love." Deep friendship can be an essential part of a life lived well and fully.

Luckily, my wife is my best friend, and my family (daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids) are a close second. My retired life feels nicely complete because I am surrounded by people who let me be me while still inviting me into their lives.

November 25, 2021

Giving Thanks

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is four days of family, food, relaxation, and no gift-giving pressure. I refuse to participate in the insanity of Black Friday. In fact, unless it is to visit family I make it a point to not leave the house. 

My life is blessed. I know that and I thank God every day for it. I also know it could be taken away from me, or someone I love, in an instant so I take no precious moments for granted. It is truly a satisfying journey.

I wish for you and your family a happy, joyous, and peaceful Thanksgiving weekend. Whatever your circumstances you have something to be thankful for. Dwell on that for a while.

If you have a special Thanksgiving memory, or someone you want to wish an extra-special weekend, here's your chance!

November 22, 2021

What Does All This Mean?

I had experiences twice in the past few weeks that were firsts for me. I visited a chain fast food restaurant to get something quick for Betty. She had just finished a medical procedure that required fasting; she was very hungry.

Inside, I was greeted with a sign that listed several standard ingredients and supplies that were unavailable. 

A few days earlier I entered another well-known chain to see two middle-aged men without the usual clothing of the company, along with two harried teenagers. trying to accommodate both the drive-through customers and those of us at the counter all while running the various cooking appliances and putting together the orders.

It is not my usual practice to be at fast food places very often, so maybe what I saw is the new normal. I am well aware of supply chain problems and the  phenomenon of low-paid workers walking away from burger-flipping positions. But, until last week I hadn't seen the direct impact on what has been a regular part of American Life.

These instances raised a question for me: will Covid and all its effects on both health and attitudes begin to force a fundamental readjustment in part of our social structure? Will a culture built on instant gratification and workers always available to take care of our needs have to rethink this foundational mindset?

The supply-chain issue should not come as a surprise. Yes, Covid has made it difficult for finished products and raw materials to move from place to place. Shutdowns and illness have thrown a monkey wrench into a system built around the idea of "just in time." Keeping inventory limited, knowing that restocking something was just a phone call or computer click away, has shown its vulnerability.

It made quite clear what happens when an economy that is built around having supplies scattered all over the world, suffers a disruption. For those of us old enough to remember the oil embargo of 1973, we watched as things began to shut down, gas stations had lines stretching for miles, and our economic system and national security were being seriously disrupted.

Now, with that lesson way back in our past, we are more dependent than ever on other countries to keep things humming. China is a major problem for us in the world, yet that country owns over 1 trillion dollars of American debt, and simultaneously, is the most important supplier of products that we have come to depend on.

The second part of the "fast food" lesson I learned is the direct impact of both Covid and an awareness that the "invisible" workers are essential to our business model. I quickly add that the term, "invisible workers" is not a judgment on the quality or type of work being done, rather it refers to all the people who work out of sight and are not part of our daily thoughts.

Think of many hospital workers and staff, truck drivers, clerks in retail, warehouses, and grocery stores, and the two teens I saw at the burger place. Think about the people who restock the shelves at the grocery store or the neighborhood Walgreens. When we stop to think about it, the list includes most of the people who keep our world working.

What is happening is that these employees are realizing they have some real power to change the equation that has left them behind any economic recovery. Millions of workers have decided that the wages offered by the companies they work for are unlivable and demeaning. With the demand for people to restaff, these folks are refusing to go back to the old model of minimum wage for long hours. They have the newfound economic clout to hold out for better wages and benefits. 

Consequently, the impact of our dependence on a worldwide supply chain to respond instantly to our needs along with the realization by many on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder that they have more bargaining power than ever before might cause a basic adjustment in how we live.

Being able to order anything we want at any time, expecting shelves to always have 50 different kinds of cereals, and becoming frustrated if our time in the drive-through window is longer than 30 seconds, we may find that Covid has done more than kill 775,000 Americans and over 5 million human beings worldwide. 

Maybe it exposed some inherent weaknesses in a system built around getting whatever we want, whenever we want it, at a price that harms those who provide that service. Maybe we will understand the costs of a society built around convenience and choice at any cost. Maybe Covid and its aftermath will teach us the value of patience and placing value on everyone who works at whatever job they hold, be it a doctor or a shelf stocker.

The next few years will reveal whether we have learned some valuable lessons this time.

November 18, 2021

Planning Your Own Retirement Party

For the last 20 years of my career, I worked for myself. So, I never had a retirement party. Frankly, I don't know they are still a thing. I'm pretty sure the gold watch cliche is history. But, a party of co-workers gathering to wish someone well as retirement begins probably continues.

What I want to do with this post is to use our imagination. Plan what others would say about you as you turned in your name badge for the last time.

What would fellow employees remember most about you? What uniqueness did you bring with you to work? Would clients miss your weekly sales calls?  Would people you see every day be happy for you...or envious? Will your former students stay in touch through the years?

I completely understand the idea of thanking someone for years of work, for dependability, for putting the job (whatever it is) before personal concerns from time to time. We all like a pat on the back and a "thank you" for a job well done. Even so, the concept of what retirement is and what it can be has changed so much over the last generation that a farewell party may be passe. 

Driveby teacher thank you.

When my parents retired, for example, they were about to start what every one of their generation expected after years of work. Whether it was my dad's engineering and sales positions, or mom's decades of teaching, their parties made the standard jokes about rocking chairs, long vacations, and sleeping late. 

Schedules and requirements were seen as ending. The hidden, or unspoken message was implied: "Your productive life is over. Relax and enjoy your sunset years."

Today, that is not how most people I know, those who I interact with on this blog or read about on the Internet, think about retirement. Yes, there is a major life shift after leaving the world of work. For too many their personal identity is so wrapped up in their employment status that they feel adrift, without purpose, and invisible.

But, I would hope that those who read this blog, and others, have come to the conclusion that not only is retirement not the end of anything, but actually the start of a stage of life filled with a sense of freedom and possibility that most of of us have not experienced since early childhood.

If this is true, then how do we plan our own retirement party? I think there are a few elements that should be included. Firstly, if you have worked for a company and with other people for a period of time, it is proper to thank them for what you have learned, been allowed to contribute, and being made to feel valued. 

If your co-workers want to throw you a farewell party, by all means, allow it and react with graciousness and good humor, even if there are foam tombstones and old geezer baseball caps presented as gag gifts. Likely, there is affection and a feeling of loss at your departure. A retirement party can be a form of grieving for some people. Your presence will sincerely be missed. The party is also a reminder that time is passing for all of us and someday we will be the person being given a desk plate and silly coffee mug.

The second part of your own retirement party should be a period of reflection. What parts of yourself were well utilized at work? What skills and talents did you develop? Importantly, what did not get a chance to shine, to be explored, to be exposed? What parts of you were left on the shelf?

Why dredge up those thoughts? Because, starting now, you have the permission, the freedom, even a strong need to bring those parts of you out of hiding. Open the storage door wide and allow the parts of you left in the dark for too long to shine, to be put to use, to be explored.

Part three of your retirement party comes later. It starts on the day you stop defining yourself by what you once did and frame the narrative around what you want to be, what you could be. This is when the retirement phase of life truly begins.

After any "official" going away party, I urge you to throw your own retirement party.  The most fascinating, creative, and fulfilling stage of life deserves nothing less.

November 14, 2021

Why Is It So Hard To Buy A New Car?

We have been without a second car for almost two years. At the time we donated the older car to a charity, Betty was a bit worried about the loss of freedom another car provides and about scheduling conflicts. Early on there were a few times when each wanted to be somewhere at a time that caused a problem for the other. Careful schedule coordination was required.

Within the past five months, I have accepted some additional volunteer commitments that mean driving somewhere. At the same time, our doctor appointments have shown an increase. One car has become an obstacle that is increasingly difficult to overcome.

Another factor is the poor gas mileage of our 2011 small SUV. Overall, even after 100,000 miles, it is performing well. This particular car was chosen for its ability to be towed behind an RV that we no longer own. So, its size is more than we require, and its appetite for gas and the pollution it produces grates on us.

We came to the logical conclusion: keep the SUV for occasional trips or chores that require extra room. Get a plug-in hybrid for everyday trips and 90% of our driving needs.

Unfortunately, right now vehicles are about as scarce as a TV without a remote. Forget about finding a new car that matches our criteria and comes in a color we could accept. Used cars? Just as bad. Plus, prices have inflated beyond reason.

Computer chips, metal, and plastic, fabric for upholstery...all the parts that go into an automobile are either stuck on a container ship somewhere or waiting to be made in a factory in southeast Asia. Repair parts for the vehicle we do own? Availability is hit or miss. Just pray something that is unique to a 2011 Honda CRV isn't needed anytime soon.

This puts us in a position we have never considered before: leasing a car that isn't one we would want to buy, but having it as a second vehicle until what we would like to buy becomes available.

With a lease, I have to pay a few thousand dollars in cash upfront and make regular payments for the use of the car, normally for 3 years. At the end of that time, I turn the car in, pay for any excess mileage or wear and tear, and walk away with nothing to show for the money I have spent over that period. In essence, I am renting the car. But, I am not paying for depreciation.

The key question we have is important: can a lease be terminated early if we want to buy a car? Will the dealer agree to such an arrangement?  As another option, can we lease a vehicle for one year, or two instead of three? Twelve months from today I have to believe new hybrid cars will be more readily available. 

Yet another option is to find a car, either new or used, that is acceptable and buy it. It may not be the brand, model, or color we would prefer, but it is just transportation. Neither of us bases any of our identity on the car parked in the garage. As long as the mileage is much better than the SUV we would feel less a part of the pollution problem. 

With our FICO score, I am sure we could find something that had zero, or very close to zero, interest. A decent down payment would mean monthly payments within budget, though a bit more than a lease. And, we wouldn't need to worry about an occasional spill, dog pawprint, or a scratch or two.

Then, in another year or so, when the hybrid plug-in we want becomes available, we could dump the SUV and have the car we originally wanted. Maybe, at that point, one car would be enough again, so the other newer vehicle could be part of the trade-in.

Not as easy as it should be, right?  Keep driving the SUV, hope it doesn't break down, and wait for the plug-in we want, or, lease a car for a few years, or, get a car that is OK for now, then buy the hybrid when they become available in sufficient choices. 

Frankly, I could choose any of the three options and be alright with the decision. But, I know you, dear reader, will offer sage advice and point out something I may have overlooked. So, comments, please.

I promise to let you know what is the ultimate outcome of this unexpected complication in what is normally a simple calculation.

November 10, 2021

What's So Wrong With Relaxing?

If the enforced isolation and social distancing of the last 20 months have taught me anything, it is that not being busy all the time is really a delightful thing. Not driving to an appointment, deciding right now is not the only time to get a new pair of shoes, or dressing up for dinner at a restaurant when the pantry is fully stocked. 

Of course, there is a new book I want to pick up at the library even though I have three yet to be finished on the side table. An online course catches my eye. Yes, it will require several hours a week of study and reading but, hey, I am stuck inside anyway. Yet, I postpone a decision to sign up.

Our minds often seem to be happiest when they are the busiest. Planning, projecting ourselves and our circumstances into the future makes the mind tingle with firing neurons. Reliving the past allows us to rewrite our motivations or decisions, some of which turned out well, some not so much.

The present is well, just present. Society has been put into a kind of deep freeze, so there is not much to do or think about unless it is to worry about toilet paper shortages.

Do these paragraphs kind of resonate with you? They certainly did for me. I have a low threshold of boredom. (So far) Covid has left me free of disease. But, it has had a rather interesting effect on my daily performance. I have discovered that not having multiple things lined up to do is not a bad place to be. 

I learned that I need not be afraid of silence, of quiet times, of inactivity for a while. I found that my mind can operate quite nicely, thank you, without constant outside stimulation. I can be very good company for myself.

For the last five months, Betty and I have begun the day with 10 minutes of meditation.  Sometimes it is guided by a pleasant-voiced man who helps us focus on some aspect of our life.

Other days we will choose to start and end with a simple gong; silence and our thoughts fill the gap. It has become enough of a habit that without it the day fills a little off-kilter. Studies show meditation helps seniors with stress, better sleep patterns, memory, and mental clarity, so we feel good about investing a few minutes a day.

Obviously, I have restarted this blog. The writing and taking the focus away from all retirement topics have made the creative process enticing again. Since all that is needed is a laptop and some quiet time, this almost post-Covid time has been the perfect opportunity to see where things go.

The weather is finally becoming pleasant enough for time on the back patio, with coffee, a book, maybe a sketchpad, or simply the sounds and sights of nature. A reinstalled hummingbird feeder has started to attract several of the tiny wings-never-stop creatures. 

Because my painting skills are strictly amateur level, I can relax even when facing a blank canvas. I have fun mixing colors and trying to create something recognizable. If the end result doesn't please me, I do not hesitate to cover the canvas with white gesso and start anew. Surprisingly to me, stress is never present during this time.

Yes, I remain busy with my volunteer work with the local library system's Friends organization. I am on a steering committee with United Way to help build a retiree group. I even joined the Rotary Club while in Kauai last month. That involves some time and money but keeps me semi-connected to the island.

So, it is not as if I am sitting and vegetating. But, when I decide to do something I think the decision is a bit more considered, with a bit more purpose than before. I have learned how to satisfy my buzzing brain while keeping my body mostly still and at rest.

Reading is one of the real joys of my life. The Covid lockdown followed by steps out of my safe zone has allowed me to indulge this passion. I get excited when I find a new author, or at least new to me, who knows how to write well, build characters, plot, and drama. At the same time, as the Internet privacy post demonstrated, non-fiction is part of my reading palette.

Since this is where this side trip seems appropriate, let me take a slight detour and list just a few books I have enjoyed over the past few months. If a title intrigues you, take a look:

Nine Perfect Strangers  by Liane Moriarty (a series on Hulu.. the book is better)

A Trick of The Light by Louise Penny

Mercy Falls by William Kent Kruger

The Voice Catchers  by Joseph Turow

Why Christianity must change by John Shelby Spong

Relaxation is assumed to be one of the primary benefits of retirement. After working for twenty, thirty, even forty years that makes sense. Yet, our mind has been working at such a pace for so long, relaxing just seems wrong, like a waste of our potential.

I bought into that perception for way too long. As I move through my seventh decade, I am realizing that the opposite is really true. At least for me, my fullest sense of potential comes when there is no one pressuring me to complete something. When I have the time and space to think and consider my actions and my options, and how  I spend my energy and time, the end results seem better.

November 6, 2021

Two People At Home: Not The Simplest Arrangement

Part of the post, Passionate about the Possibilities and Honest About the Realities, dealt with adjustments to marriage after retirement. Certainly, the same problems can exist in any committed relationship, married or not. For single folks, I would suggest there are just as many pitfalls that have to be faced. Let me address some of the situations most of us will face upon leaving work. I know, because I had to deal with almost all of them.

What is one of the most important questions that cannot be answered until it happens? "How will my home life change after I retire?" 

If you are the person leaving work, you are wondering about managing your time and staying busy. If you happen to be the person already at home you are wondering what is going to happen when your partner is around the house 24 hours a day. If the couple is like Betty and me with both people retiring together, these potential stumbling blocks definitely appear.

Figures that specify the divorce rate among retired folks are a little hard to come by. But, for married people over 50, the divorce rate has more than doubled in the last 25 years. Some lawyers report up to 25% of their clients are men and women over 65.

Certainly, there are lots of reasons for a marriage to end. But, a severe strain on a relationship can occur when at-home routines are disturbed by a newly retired spouse. Also, the reason for retiring can affect what happens at home. Being forced from work leaves a much different taste in one's mouth than voluntarily ending employment at a particular job.

Some of the problems that often arise when a newly-retired spouse or partner is suddenly home full-time are well documented:

  • The retiree has lost a major source of self-identity. Especially for men of my generation, so much of who we are is defined by our job. When that ends there is a shock to the ego and we can feel cut off from society. Men have to find a new way to define themselves outside of work or activities.
  • When the blush of sleeping late wears off, there is the realization of diminished income. Suddenly, expenses that were not questioned can become points of argument.
  • Seeing that other person all day, every day can quickly wear thin if the partners do not have a healthy relationship. After building parallel lifestyles for decades, their time is suddenly shared with just one other person. Folks discover they have little in common and very little to talk about.
A quote I keep in my files for use in posts like this comes from Dr. Larry Anderson: "There has been much less investigation of women’s retirement experience. It is reported that, as working couples age, men report greater marital satisfaction than women. Comparing men's and women’s retirement is somewhat like comparing apples and oranges. For instance, women are more likely to work part-time.  Women may have more interests outside of work and thus have less of an adjustment when retiring."

I would speculate that younger generations will produce more meaningful data in this regard. As women continue to be a significant part (if not the majority) of the workforce, there will be instances when the husband has retired and is at home, while his wife continues to remain employed. When she stops working, how will the dynamics change? 

The good news is there are definite actions that can be taken before things reach such a critical state. 

Communicate Openly.
Communication both before and after retirement is essential. Some of us are generally less likely to want to "talk," but in this case, self-interest dictates that we do. 

It is important that couples discuss their expectations for retirement from a personal perspective, such as interests, goals, even long-range goals. 

In addition, discussions from the couple's point of view are just as critical. What activities will be shared, what goals are the same, even intimacy issues.

Setting Boundaries. We all have different needs for "alone" and "together" time. To ignore that reality is harmful to the relationship. There must be a balance between "separateness" (personal privacy, pursuing individual hobbies, spending time with friends) and "togetherness" (participating in joint activities and socializing as a couple).

Don't forget to discuss time spent with family and friends, both his and hers. Women tend to have a stronger social circle of female friends while guys don't. Men can get jealous if his wife is busy with friend activities while he sits at home.

Obviously, that is his problem to solve by making friends, taking on new activities, and building an interesting life outside the home. But, just because he is the one with the friend deficit doesn't mean both partners shouldn't discuss the issue.

 Prepare for the loss of how you have defined yourself. The end of work can lead to feelings of depression, or of being worthless. One or both partners may have health limitations that must be dealt with.

Couples need to recognize this can be a serious problem. Working together to help each other feel a sense of fulfillment through other activities is important. This is where hobbies, interests outside the home, volunteering or discovering a new passion become so important.

Designate household tasks. This is one of the biggies. Deciding the role of each partner in keeping a household functioning is more important than many couples realize. A common source of conflict for retired couples involves the division of labor in the home. Will the division of chores that existed before retirement still work? Will the retired spouse be expected to divide tasks more equally? This needs to be discussed. Making assumptions can spell big trouble.

The number one complaint from women whose husbands have retired falls into this category. Assuming they operated with a "traditional" division of chores before retirement, the wife gets unhappy very quickly when suddenly she is expected to prepare three meals a day, plus do the shopping, laundry, and housecleaning like she did when he was gone 8 hours a day. Hubby is perceived to be expecting to waited on hand and foot as a just reward for working all those years.

That attitude will not fly. Younger men are much better at handling their fair share of the chores even before retirement. But, for some reason social expectations are that the female continues to be responsible for the "inside" stuff while the man will take care of maintenance and outside chores. The problem is obvious: there isn't nearly as much "outside" work on a daily basis. Plus, as we age we are more likely to hire someone to do repair and maintenance chores, so the husband's responsibilities disappear.

Just for full disclosure, I have done my own laundry my entire married life. I plan and cook half the dinners each week. My wife and I rotate house cleaning chores every two weeks, as well as who empties the dishwasher and makes the bed. At least in this area, we never have disagreements. is worth it.

A partnership only works if there is a sense of sharing, the good and the bad. That sharing becomes even more important after retirement. Take the time and make the effort.

Retirement is a major life adjustment. Take the time to think about what will happen. Then, take the steps needed to make your time with another person one of joy and contentment, not one of turf battles and resentment.

Single folks: Communication and setting boundaries apply just as much when there is one person at home. How you spend your time will be tested by requests from friends, volunteer organizations, even your own family. Be firm in how much of yourself you are willing to parcel out to others.

November 2, 2021

Two "Laws" to Consider

Recently, I read two "laws," philosophical phrases that pack a lot of truth into just a few words. The first is known as Stein's Law-"Things that can't go on forever don't." The second is referred to as Davies's Corollary-"Things that can't go on forever can go on much longer than you think." What a clever way to summarize the human condition, and to highlight the cause of so many of our problems. 

I am looking at these phrases from a few different perspectives. The first is the sadness we all feel when something really good ends. Think about a memorable experience from your childhood. Maybe the whole family was together for a picnic, everyone laughing, playing and enjoying each other's company. Or, that Christmas morning when the one toy you had hoped would be under the tree, was.

Your first date might qualify. Maybe it was homecoming, or with a group of friends. Possibly it was your first solo date with someone; no parents or wise-cracking friends anywhere around. Nerves, terror, anticipation, giddiness, and then what you had dreamed about for weeks comes to an end. A profound mixture of joy, relief, and sadness wash over you. Of course, if that first date did not go as you has dreamed it would, then a welcome release at the end: "Who knew three hours could last so long?"

Anything that we engage in, has a conclusion. Whatever the experience or feeling, good or not-so-good, has an end. 

The second statement is also very true. In this case, it seems that this truism is more often the case when we are in a not-so-pleasant situation. I remember quite vividly feeling several times, over a three-month period, that Army basic training would never end. It did and I survived; I am pretty sure I actually matured and grew more self-confidence during that cold and wet time at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri. But, those three months looked endless as I stepped off that bus.

Covid and all its ramifications certainly have seemed to go on much longer than I expected. Who would have thought we would be within 4 months of registering two years of this assault. Things that can't go on forever sometimes seem like they can.

I think how we respond to either of these phrases tells us a lot about ourselves. When we were younger didn't we live as if things do go on forever? The future is simply too far ahead to worry. 

Age has a habit of bringing the last part of that first statement into focus. Things in our life that we always assume will continue, don't. A relationship falters, a job ends, illness and a body not built to last let us down. Years of denying poor health and personal maintenance practices catch up with us.

Yet, as an optimist, I accept the first truism but absolutely believe in the second. Yes, my life has an expiration date. Unlike a carton of milk, I have no idea when that is, but I know it will happen.

in the meantime, I lean into the idea that my future will last longer than I know. I will take that extra time to explore what being a human means, love passionately and fully, spread joy, and relish the wonder of human existence.

When my future finally ends, I won't look back in regret that I spent whatever time I am given worrying about that invisible expiration date. 

October 29, 2021

Food Delivered To My Door...A Good Thing?

Being isolated for months by Covid forced us to alter several normal behaviors. One that has become obvious to me is the concept of food delivery to our homes. Both grocery and individual meal delivery have become major businesses. Actually, grocery delivery to homes started in the 1990s though it never really caught on.

Fast forward a decade. Being able to compile an order on a computer and have it ready for pickup became a viable option. Not surprisingly, Amazon was the first major company to try its hand at mastering the complexities of online order fulfillment. Amazon Fresh began in 2007 in select cities. In 2013 Walmart began to offer something similar.

Without turning this post into a history of grocery chain development, suffice it to say the outbreak of social isolation in early 2020 solidified the benefits and expanded the offerings. When it became clear that normal trips to the grocery store were not going to happen, Betty and I went the route of stocking up our pantry with several weeks' worth of food. Places like Walmart and Safeway offered special hours when only seniors were allowed in the store. With masks, social distancing, and lots of hand sanitizers, we would leave the house every few weeks to restock. Even so, it was nerve-wracking since this was before vaccination availability for many.

While we were venturing forth, a lot of the American public was making other choices: picking up bags of food that someone else plucked from the shelves and delivered to the car's trunk, or having those same bags deposited by the front door. While I can't find figures that always agree, somewhere between 33% and 45% of us have ordered our food online for pickup or delivery, at least once in the past 18 months.

Those who track these things are unsure what the future will look like. During pandemic times, use skyrocketed. But, when either Covid has run its course or we have enough vaccinated people to feel safer, what will happen? Will we be spoiled by the convenience of someone else doing the hard part? Or, do we miss walking the aisles to make our own decisions? Will delivery services make too many mistakes for us to trust them? Will the price of delivery start to outweigh the pluses? Or, have we found an easier way of living that we want to keep?

Do we consider the economic impact of the delivery vans and cars, or make the argument that our vehicle is not on the street; multiple deliveries by one driver have less impact on the environment? 

Ponder all that for a moment while I switch gears to ask about individual meal delivery. GrubHub, Door Dash, Postmates, Uber Eats....each month brings new companies to our attention. They all provide the same service: meals ordered from a restaurant or fast-casual restaurant are picked up and brought to you. For a fee, delivery charge, and a tip, getting that  Big Mac Combo or four-cheese lasagna dinner (with garlic bread and salad) no longer has to mean leaving your home. Specialty companies will deliver a week's worth of healthy, vegan, meat, or other mixture in a box and leave it by your door.

Staying socially distant has never been so easy. If your budget allows for it, why drive across town? Enjoy the same meal in front of your own TV screen or on the patio. No risk of rushed waiters, screaming babies, or a waitlist of 45 minutes. 

For others, eating a meal at a restaurant is considered a special treat. No cooking, no cleanup, an extensive menu, being served by someone else, seeing other human beings enjoying themselves, and I really want to get out of my house!

I will admit to being conflicted about this meal-at-home delivery option. The added costs make a relatively simple meal more expensive. I am a firm believer in dealing face-to-face with a waitperson, interacting with them, and leaving a generous tip for catering to me. Giving the same money to someone who drives the meal to my door doesn't have the same attraction.

Yet, there are times when getting dressed up (even a little) is beyond me. Dealing with traffic, parking, and that loud TV over the bar playing a soccer match from Romania turns me off. Home delivery becomes a special treat.

At least for my family, grocery delivery has never really been a draw. Even though we shop with a list, there are additions, a change of plan, or something that just appeals to us. That spontaneousness cannot occur when ordering online.  

Individual meal delivery is more likely to become part of our routine. There is a cost, but usually less than a restaurant experience. Every now and then not having to cook and clean is worth a premium.

How about you? Online or in-person? Delivery or pickup/stay and eat? Each of us has probably seen a change in attitude since the spring of 2020. I am fascinated to learn what you are choosing to do.

October 25, 2021

When Radio Was A Thing

courtesy Joe Haupt Wikipedia

I am sure you grew up listening to the radio. The day you received that first transistor radio was a big deal. There was probably one station that you called your favorite. You knew the DJ's names and what made them fun to listen to. Maybe one of them even showed up at your school to host a sock hop; that was a big deal.

There were some hit songs you just couldn't hear often enough. When you got your driver's license, one of the buttons on the radio became yours: no one touched your station. When a favorite song started, the instinct was to crank up the volume and sing along at the top of your lungs.

It is no surprise that this relationship with a radio station doesn't exist anymore. Oh sure, there may be a person hosting a talk show that you make an effort to hear. But, the days of DJs and music are gone. Just like streaming video channels are rapidly replacing cable TV and even movie theaters, streaming music services are the go-to choice. No commercials, no chatter from a fast-talking announcer, nothing that interrupts the constant flow of music. Spotify, Prime Music, Pandora...take your pick. They all provide instant access to millions of songs when you want to listen.

I miss the days when radio announcers were an exciting addition to the music-listening experience. Today, a DJ talking over the beginning of a song, stopped just a split second before the vocal part begins, is irritating (and almost never heard). 

For me, being able to do that was a point of professional pride. I would practice for hours to make sure I could deliver a rapid-fire patter of promotion or simply energy and song identification, stopping within a half-second of what was known as "stepping on the vocal." Still talking while the artist or group started the lyrics upset listeners, but also marked the announcer as not up to professional standards. 

I will admit that I still practice that "skill" in a car. The local oldies station is mostly announcer-free. So, as I am rolling down the highway, rocking out to The Stones or BTO, I will "talk up" the song, and give myself a fist pump if I "hit the post," or stop when the singing starts. Silly? Yes. Irritating to Betty? No, she is used to it. I will say that if the grandkids are in the car, they think old Grandad is a little odd.

I also believe radio lost a big chunk of its influence when it was no longer local. I am not spilling a big secret if I tell you that for stations that still have announcers at all, virtually all of them are located in some major city, far removed from where their voice originates on a local radio station. 

Their "show" is actually just them recording their talk segments. Then, those are inserted into the music programming for that hour by computer and eventually delivered to the local station by satellite or Internet. "Local" radio is local the way the Burger King down the street is "local."  All the possibilities for a true personality, talking about a local issue or problem are gone. The DJ is polished and professional, but she or he will never be at your school mixer. They are now faceless voices.

Jethro Tull
It was quite a kick for a 21 or 22-year-old guy to introduce a major rock act in front of a concert venue of 2,000 screaming fans. 

Spending time with the likes of Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, or Bob Seger before and after the show was exhilarating. Being asked for an autograph, being featured on the weekly music survey available at local record stores (remember those?), and being a minor, local celebrity was a real kick. Of course, eventually, I grew up and decided to earn my living in another area of broadcasting. But, while it lasted, it was a hoot. No great surprise, it fed my ego and made me feel like a success.

Bob Seger & his band

That experience is gone. If some teen or young adult says he or she wants to be a DJ, they mean the type who mixes music on a stage in front of a 1,000 writhing dancers, not the voice on a radio. I am not sure anyone under 35 even connects the term DJ with what comes out of a speaker.

Music remains an important part of my life, even if I am not being paid to play it. Today, Spotify fills my need to hear music from my past and what is popular today. I listen to oldies, all sorts of curated playlists, a carefully selected (by Spotify) of the best of new pop, rock, instrumental, and even classical recordings. 

During Covid, I bought a turntable, found some old vinyl LPs, bought more at a local vintage store, and have discovered the joys of music on large, black, platters again. Having to flip over the album every 15 minutes or so keeps me from dozing off!

I got rid of hundreds of CDs a year or so ago. Everything on them is on Spotify with instant access and better sound. Cassettes? Not for 20 years.

So, much like the post about the streaming video services you choose, what about music? Spotify is my favorite, but I also have the free versions of Pandora and Prime music that I spend some time with. What service do you depend upon?

Do you have CDs that remain important to you? Any vinyl album users among us? Cassettes, 8-tracks? 

And, in a question that interests me on a very personal level, what part do radio stations still play in your life? Do you miss the chatter and local touch, or was that always something you could have lived without.

You won't hurt my feelings with whatever your response might be. Frankly, I rarely listen to a real radio station much anymore, except in the car. But, I am interested whether you remember and miss those days of Wolfman Jack or your local DJ star.  At one point in your life was that important?

Thanks for sharing. Now, I must go and practice my ability to still hit the post and not step on the vocal.  

Some things never change.