Monday, January 31, 2011

Diaries from Our Lives

Since my days working and living just over the Hudson River from New York City, I've been a fan of the New York Times. I'm a blogger, a writer on the Internet, so the Times really got my attention last week with a piece on how US President Obama seems to have lost his way on the Web after he very successfully used it to fund his campaign.

From For Obama, Getting Message Out Online Is a Challenge:
"Perhaps, though, the president’s team is over-thinking the challenge, putting too much emphasis on how to use the trendiest applications or on how to interact with voters, when what really matters is creating an authentic narrative. One of the most pervasive activities on the Internet, after all, is the basic conveyance of personal experiences by way of the written word — a tendency to share stories widely in e-mails or on blogs, rather than talking one on one to a friend on the phone. In the online age, we are all diarists."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Teenage Decisions

The other night I watched the film of the musical 'Passing Strange' ( by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. I really enjoyed the experience. I thought it was well written and well sung.

One of the lines struck me as a jumping of point for a good discussion. The narrator Stew( made the following statement and I paraphrase <Isn’t it strange that, when we wake up, we realize that all our adult life is based upon the decision of a teenager, perhaps a stoned teenager>.

I think those of us who have had a midlife crisis or two have some understanding of what Stew was getting at. I look at some of the decisions that my friends, acquaintances and I made as a teenager that affected our adult lives.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Music to Our Ears

I recently encountered a great magazine called Stereophile. It is now available on a digital reader program, Zinio, which has some nice features to combat the far-sight that comes with mid-life. The magazine focuses on what it calls the High End of audio.

Reading it takes me back to my first week as an undergraduate and the thrill of discovering that the students' union building had a state-of-the-art listening room for our LPs. You could book it to wallow in your latest record acquisition while sitting in really comfy chairs and with truly great acoustics. Carefully made new recordings (sometimes even direct-to-disc!) heard through new hi-tech cartridges were a far cry from teenage 'doo-wap' years listening to cheap sounding 'record players' or tinny portable radios. Us '60s undergrads spent our time auditioning potential hi fi equipment purchases and dropping audiophile jargon endlessly to our peers (then mostly men), when we weren't off listening live to the latest pop group, jazz or folkie 'discovery' in a local dance hall.

College kids today are of necessity more committed to the 'journey of learning' but they love their music just as much as we did.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year’s (Resolutions?)

This year I did not make any New Year’s Resolutions. I followed the example of my wise wife and decided to live this year based on a motto. This year’s motto for me is “Positive Rants Only”.

By the sixth of January I have already been challenged several times to live with this new motto. I belong to a 'Men's Group' which has been meeting every two weeks for the last 20 years. During the discussion we were having I decided that one of the other members was looking at the world the wrong way and he needed to be informed of his ignorance, i.e. not knowing. I proceeded to point out to him all the things he was misinformed about, how he just didn’t understand the whole idea, how he did not have enough experience to see the whole picture, and how he must have received his knowledge by reading the 'Encyclopedia of Misinformation'. Boy, did I have a good time. I was eloquent, passionate, involved, charismatic and in the flow.I was really into explaining how he had gotten it wrong and how I was right. 

I then told the group about my new motto and for some reason they all laughed. I did tell the group that my response may not have been the best positive rant. 

Please be supportive, it takes at least twenty-one days create a new habit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Booming Industry

Boomers are the first generation ever to have a name and be a category. Market researchers tell us that as a category they consume big and, as a group, are the wealthiest amongst all those who do. And we've already written about how they also spend for today, not tomorrow. Here in Canada the sponsors and advertisers of Zoomer Radio, Zoomer Magazine, MORE ("Canada's Magazine Celebrating Women over 40") and others who care about us as a tribe, are dying to know us better and better. They now hire social media consultants to teach them how to be our Facebook 'friends' and to Tweet us.

Inconveniently for them we aren't actually at all brand loyal.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Apocalypse approaches

Last week the Toronto Star newspaper ran a feature article Poor Figurehead for Elderly by one of its leading columnists. This reads as a rant around how Canada's new federal minister for the elderly, an ex-cop called Julian Fantino, is totally the wrong guy to represent the oldies amongst us. The Star is notable for being a left-leaning rag, perhaps Canada's most so, and attacking the current Conservative Prime Minister's choices is de rigeur for it. However, while claiming that seniors' needs deserve more attention, Ms Heather Mallick's piece is notable for its stereotyping, witness: "a tide of emergency hip replacements and crumbling spines approaches".

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Future in 'Another Country'

American psychologist, Mary Pipher, in the late 1990s wrote Another Country, published as an audio-book. It's a moving and eloquent summary of the communication difficulties we as Boomers have with our parents' generation. Our elders' beliefs about life are usually different from ours and can separate us profoundly. Add to that the self-absorption of many of our generation and you have a recipe for loneliness in the truly old.

Dr Pipher bemoans current society's lack of understanding and acceptance of the inevitable dependency that old age brings.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Demented or What?

The Alzheimer Society of Canada has been surveying a thousand of us Boomers. They found we mostly don't have a clue about dementia - how to recognize it coming on and what it means for the sufferer and the caregiver. Yet some of us already are involved with relatives in decline or soon will be. Some of the most unlucky amongst us may even be sufferers, mostly with the early stages - what the docs call Mild Cognitive Impairment. Two thirds of those will go on to full-blown dementia if they live long enough.

In my days running biotech companies researching potential treatments or diagnostics, I got to work on two occasions in the field of dementia medicine. It's the Holy Grail for medical R&D since it's becoming an epidemic and there's still no good prevention or treatment. Worse still, detection is a bitch of a problem. By the time the brain looks like scrambled egg, things are all downhill. And you can only confirm the signs in the brain after death.

Denial is a lot of the issue.

Monday, January 3, 2011

72 and Still Lacing Them Up

This was the title of an email my big brother sent out and the title of the program for his 72nd birthday hockey game.  He had a heart attack at 58, 2 years older than when our Dad had one, Dad did not survive. Following the family tradition I had my quadruple by-pass at 58 also. My brother was always a hockey player and raised two sons who also played. At age 65 he decided to play again and started this annual celebration of his birthday by organizing a hockey game for like minded men. Every year since then he has gathered together 22 men to join him in a hockey game. Most of the players are over 60. He does play on a line with his sons which scores every game.

I tell this story for a couple of reasons.