Sunday, February 26, 2017

What's this about?

I don't want to suggest that the CIA is spying on me through the camera in my MacBook Pro or anything like that, but how does the Internet know how old I am?

I mean, shortly after I turned 66 a few weeks ago, I started getting unsolicited junk emails from something called Navajo Medicine to reduce my hearing loss IN JUST TWO WEEKS (yes, it was shouting at me in capital letters, because, you know, I can't hear. Apparently, I've been sitting too close to the fiddle player in the Blue Eyed Bettys the past few years and it's ruined my eardrums).

I've actually gotten several emails from this thoughtful Native American outfit. That's really nice of them to be so concerned about my hearing loss, but, hey. Don't call me. I'll call you.

Speaking of calling, I got another junk email lately from the CellPhoneForSeniorsSite. It was all one word, just like that, and it arrived in my computer's email box the day after my birthday.

On the one hand, it sounds like something I'd be interested in: Large buttons for those of us who can't see; no contract options for those of us on fixed incomes; clear photos for those of us who can't focus an automatic camera, and best of all, it's easy to use for those of us who are technologically challenged.

Sounds perfect.

On the other hand, I didn't ask for it. Stay away from me.

On Valentine's Day, I got an email from the LASIK Vision Institute. I visit my optometrist every two years, so I figure she'd tell me if I needed any eye care assistance. Besides, I wear glasses. I'm content with my glasses. I like my glasses. They turn shaded in the sun. Leave me alone.

I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but I haven't been getting any male enhancement ads lately. Maybe my 66th birthday is the cutoff for ads like that because I'm too far gone for help. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that one.

Many of these ads have "Unsubscribe here" actions, and occasionally, if I get frustrated enough, I'll unsubscribe from something I never subscribed to. But I can't help but feel as if I've opened my email address to other solicitations whenever I do that. You know, because they can see me in my computer's camera.

There is one thing I can't figure out. How come all these ads are targeted straight to me, even including my name in the teaser line? But the DMV sends all my bills and license tag notifications to an address where I haven't lived in 15 years.

What's that all about?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I broke the law. Again

There were those pesky blue lights again, filling up my rearview mirror.

"What now?" I said to Kim as we were approaching the city limits of Asheville, our destination, Friday morning.

We soon found out what.

"Is this your vehicle?" asked the State Highway Patrolman.


"The reason I stopped you is because your license (at this moment I thought he was going to say our license plate had fallen off) tag has expired."


He was talking about the little sticker in the upper righthand corner of my license plate, which had not fallen off. The sticker was a year old. It was still a black sticker, not the current white one, which is no doubt how he spotted our illegal car in a pack of traffic moving at 60 miles per hour on I-240.

From his perspective, he was the exact right officer at the exact right location at the exact right moment in time to make the collar. A minute or two earlier or later and maybe I'm scot free.

I was dumbfounded, of course. I quickly sorted through the confusion in my confused mind.

"We never got a license renewal bill in the mail," I told the officer, pleading something resembling ignorance of the law.

That never works.

"It's still your responsibility to stay current," he said, essentially telling us it's not the DMV's fault for not sending us the bill as he walked back to his cruiser.

We've been billed annually — just like everybody else — for years, and have never missed updating our license tag.

Then the officer returned, with our citation. Our $190 citation. Kim calmly looked it over because I was a hot-wired mess.

"Sir," she said. "This isn't our address."

Good catch, Kim. I thought she might have found our way out. For some reason, despite years of sending our annual renewal to our correct address, the DMV apparently and suddenly reverted to sending our bill to our former address, where we haven't lived in 15 years. And our bill, of course, wasn't forwarded to our current address.

I asked the officer if he couldn't just issue a warning, pretty much feeling like none of this was our fault.

"It still doesn't matter, and not after a year," said the officer, who said he updated our current address with the DMV on his in-car computer (so there goes our proof of a wrong address). "You're still responsible for renewing your license."

The news did get slightly better. My court date is in June. If I show up in court — in Asheville — on that date with proof of renewing my license tag, the citation will be dismissed. So now I need to make a six-hour round trip to the mountains for a 15-minute court appearance ... never mind.

Back in November, we were pulled for a rolling stop at an isolated intersection near Sunset Beach. I think I'm developing a severe case of blue light syndrome. And I just thought I had a cold...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Traveling down Rt. 66

Okay, I'm going to bring it right out front.

Today's my birthday. I'm 66 years old. Please hold your applause.

I look at that number and kind of wonder how I got here. When I was (by age) a single-digit child, back during those elementary Pennsylvania days on the playground, climbing jungle gyms and waxing down metal sliding boards without the hint of adult supervision, anybody older than my parents was just plain old.

(Spoiler alert: I suspect my parents knew what I was doing at every moment. The city playground was just across the street from our house, and Dad even spent one summer as the playground supervisor. But I was given — gifted, actually — an incredible sense of independence for a 6-year-old. Thank you for that.)

My parents were my frame of reference. Therefore, my grandparents were old. Grey haired. Blue haired. Wrinkled. Kindly, that's true enough. But that's because they were old.

Never figured I'd cross that threshold one day. And just which day did that happen? Was I asleep? Or daydreaming? Watching TV one night, eating pizza and drinking beer, and I got old?

Now that I'm here, 66 doesn't sound that old anymore. And I don't feel what I once imagined being 66 might feel like. I still work out at the Y (I'll have to remember to key in "66" as my age when I set the parameters on my machine Monday). I take a minimum of medications, primarily for my heart, so I reckon I'm probably lucid on most days.

I started Medicare last year and next month I receive my first Social Security deposit, which are sure signs that in the eyes of the government, I'm old.

Yet, I still have two parttime jobs, so I'm not wiling away wasted hours waiting for my wife to come home from work. If I wasn't working, I'd probably be doing one of two things: playing golf, or puttering around the yard. The yard, of course, is in constant demand. So is my golf game.

And I still like to write, which is the reason for my blog. To me, writing is like magic, where words and ideas take form on a blank sheet and — poof — suddenly appear as artistry, or a memory, or a smile. And if readers can relate to that, that's cool. I've done my job.

So today I start another trip around the sun. I'm looking forward to an unpredictable ride.

But first, cake. I gotta have cake...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Big Game

When the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, I think I was actually pulling for them back then.

They were playing the St. Louis Rams, for one thing, so it was easy for me to draw battle lines. Plus, the Patriots hadn't won a Super Bowl in their two previous attempts, they had great young quarterback in Tom Brady, and this game was just months after the 9/11 attacks. What could be more patriotic than the Patriots? It all seemed to fit.

And the game was a good one, with the Patriots winning 20-17.

I didn't know the victory was going to set off a Cowboys-like dynasty. The Patriots came back in 2004 and defeated Carolina 32-29 in another close game (the one where Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake made boobs out of all of us). Brady was the game's MVP for the second time and I'm starting to scowl.

The following year, the Pats defeated my beloved Philadelphia Eagles 24-21, and I can never pull for New England again. This was lead-in to the Spygate era, which, of course, was the precursor to the current Deflategate era. The Pats were (to me) cheaters, even though they didn't have to be because they were just so... so... darn good. Always looking for an edge...

A decade of winning (but no Super Bowl titles) went by until 2015, when a bonehead call by Seattle coach Pete Carroll resulted in an interception in the end zone as time ran down, giving the Patriots a 28-24 victory.

That one still rankles. Bonehead.

And now, here we are. Brady started the season with a four-game suspension as a result of Deflategate and Patriot fans are livid. I'm not sure why. The team still rolled through the regular season with a 14-2 record. It seems to me that missing the first four games of the season probably kept Brady fresher than most QBs for the playoff run.

In any event, Brady's stats are spectacular. He's thrown for 3,500 yards, 28 touchdowns and has just two interceptions in 12 games. He's 39 years old, has four Super Bowl rings, is married to a super model, and he's a genuinely nice guy who signs autographs and visits kids who are seriously ill. He'll be in the Hall of Fame before his uniform is out of the laundry. What's not to like? Except for all that winning, I mean.

The Atlanta Falcons, by contrast, are in the Super Bowl for only the second time in their history. They're coming into the game with an 11-5 record and not much national recognition. Most people probably know who their quarterback is (Matt Ryan) and wide receiver Julio Jones (1,400 yards in receptions, and who just might be the player player in the NFL). Everybody else is a shadow.

But the Falcons have a high-powered offense. If they aren't awed by their surroundings and play their game, it could be an interesting evening. To me, it's all a toss-up anyway, although I'll have a slight lean toward the Falcons.

Pass the chips and dip, please.