Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Baby Boomers’ Labor Lament

February 5, 2019

Here’s a little ditty of a rhyme to be sung to the tune of . . .

Oh Home on the Range,

a song from back in the days of Davy Crockett, Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans . . .

Oh give me a loan

so I can buy a home

where our kids and their friends can play,

where seldom is heard

a contentious word

and the mortgage is paid before my dying day.

Oh give me a job

so I won’t have to rob

from  Pete to pay Paul,

and so I’ll pay no interest on the cards;

and never shall we fall

on  bad times at all,

And I won’t have to work too damn hard.

BuildingUp

Oh give me job security

by the time I reach maturity

so our competence is not made obsolete,

and the skills we were taught

don’t get replaced by a bot;

and my dignity doesn’t just lapse in defeat.

Oh give me a timely upgrade

so my life’s work doesn’t fade

on the trash heap of obsolescence.

Oh please let me try

to outsmart the AI,

so my time’s not spent out in the dread convalescence.

King of Soul

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the Ole Firmer’s Almaniac

May 27, 2016

The ole firmer walked around the backside of the barn. His wearied eyes took a moment to focus on the horizon; dark clouds appeared to dominate that distant line; they’d been hanging there for quite a long while now. The immediate vicinity was clear, however, if BLS numbers are to be believed. Mixed signals here there and yon. The times they are a-changin’, thought he, and things ain’t ClasicBldgRuf
what they used to be.

The rules of the game have changed; the old computations are no longer working, with the ole firmer and his firm being blindsided by all the new manipulations, robo-washed sterile by robo-driven arbitragers as if someone behind the sprays and fluff were cleaning the clocks of commerce, wiping away the profits, constantly leveling the playing field and rendering the firmer high but not dry, now eyeless in nasdaq, then dumb in the dow, spooked by the S&P, then suddenly swept up again in a flood of liquidity, floating on Fed flotsam, pummeled by day trade dealers punting buyback fluff up and down the field. The firmer pondered all this while studying the broad side of his barn. Need to fix that roof-– the thought crossed his mind for the umpteenth time.

Then without warning, his step coincides with a pile of BLS. Oh shit, exclaimed he. Up on the rooftop, the ever-vigilant barnyard blackbirds squawked loudly, as if trumpeting their amusement at his misfortune.  Caw! Buyback! Caw! Quoth the raven: Evermore! Now and evermore! So shall your ascending P/E path be: driving under the influence of BLS, monitored by SEC, checked with OMB, hog-tied with Dodd-Frank, frothing high in P/E ratios, fearless Fannie and fawning Freddie sharpening pencils in the background, consuming FOMC reports, leaning on Fed puts, flummoxed at SEC stops, disgusted with IRS farts and bewildered by WTF surprises.

LOL . . . not.

The ole firmer’s labor participation rate was, and had been for awhile, after 89 months of zero-bound interest rates on the downward trajectory–headed south, as some folks say, although he  wasn’t comfortable with the phrase. And out there on what used to be the open prairie of Price discovery–that old crossroads of supply and demand– well, it has become well-nigh impossible to determine where, when, how and why, it seemed to the ole firmer.

This is what it felt like, he surmised, to be on Main Street in a Kmart world, then at Kmart in a Walmart world, now being disoriented in an Amazon jungle, no way out,  with the Fed ham-stringin all the supply lines so’s to simulate demand on a rising level. How this gmo steady-state staid new world of post-capital never-everland came about he’d never understand.

The old firmer would never understand. He felt like the onslaught of old-timers’ disease was gnawing away at his youthful entrepeneural sensibilities.

The obnoxious ravens on the roof calmed down, their screechy cawing now lapsing into a low zirping. Quoth the raven–Nevermore! There’s no real investment any more. No more frontier, no more exceptional expansion, no more manifest destiny, where do we go from here, caught between rocknroll and a hard face.

They say casinos are big now.

Where’s the high-flyin’ high-multiplyin’ authentic productivity? Inventories high, sales low. Slow go. What would Rockefeller do? Where’s JP Morgan when you need him? Carnegie’s steel has all been laid; Edison’s taking a nap  and Bell won’t answer the phone. No Ford nor Chevy on the horizon that I can see, thought he. Watson’s now a programmed response. Fairchild’s been implanted in a solid state econ. Gates is creaky; Jobs is gone– out there somewhere on that musky dark cloud horizon. What’s everybody doing?

Tappin’ on chinky glass, devolving in devices vices, sippin’ Singapore slings,  all sound and futility signifying no-growth, thought he, hobbling along on a programmed 2% inflation path. Old-timers like me can no longer hit the broad side of a barn with our antiquarian projections based on old-school free-market dynamics, rallies and hog bellies, bushels, widgets and gadgets, buy and sell orders ’til the bears come home, might as well lay bricks in mortars with all these start-up farters.

Out on the horizon, big dust-storm coming up. Bulls are at it again, trying to stampede their way out of the Everything’s OK corral, but Uncle Fed and Aunt Fannie shut ’em down every time.

Glass Chimera

Old Sun

April 4, 2016

OldSun

Old sun came up again today.

just thinkin:

worked hard all your life

little deductions week after week

all those years

do-dropping deductions into invisible

somewhere account

social security in the sky

stealthy NewDeal squirrels

stored and hoard

funds

that Lyndon extended.

lived through the sixties twice

I heard the drummer say, laughing

and don’t trust anyone under thirty

then one day you have bright morning

in America

no go to work

what it all about Alfie

the croupier wheels

roulette deals.

65!

ain’t no jive

now what

say what?

401k and IRA

but me wear no fancy pants jeans no mo

an ne’er been to belfast

never lived life in the fast lane

til now

now that I’m too slow

to know

how it all happened.

We’ll just hop on our horses

waiting for Roy

Rogers and Dale Evans

to ride into heaven

they still ride horses

don’t they?

It’s bright up there.

Glass half-Full

Never Came the Song

March 29, 2016

Last night we heard Graeme Edge, drummer for the Moody Blues, celebrating his latest birthday. It was heartwarming to see a 75-year-old dude romping around onstage with his tambourine while his bandmates knocked out a 2016 version of one of their mystic-rock classics.

Before his little rockaround the stage jig, the septuegenarian percussionist had been performing his customary 50-year gig up on the platform behind his trap-set.

From my perspective, it looked something like this:

MoodyBlues

There’s the dancing drummer, glowing beneath a lightning bolt.

Below his illuminated perch, down there on center-right stage, Justin Hayward and John Lodge do their uniquely musical Moody thing for the full house of baby-geezers who had gathered here in Charlotte at the Blumenthal performing arts center.

A good time was had by all.

It was a little strange though, and not just because of the eerily beautiful quality in which their songs always vibrated. It was strange for me because I spent the whole night waiting to hear a song that never came.

Back in 1970, there was a particular song that captured my young imagination for a long time–a time that has stretched from then all the way into  this present time, 2016.

Even though I have always greatly appreciated the Moodys’ unprecedented, unduplicated, unsurpassable music, I spent almost the entire first half of the concert in disappointment, because all I was hearing was loud rock music–newer stuff with which I was not familiar. And not only newer and unfamiliar, but also Loud.  Maybe I’m just getting too old to appreciate this stuff I thought. Then, thankfully, one of the great classics crept into their presentation when they performed The Story in Your Eyes just before intermission.

Here’s a YouTube that shows you what that song is:

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-iJ47in9YQ

After the break, a 20-minute period in which many of us frumpy, graying boomers populated the outer regions of the venue while noticing how many older people were wandering around and wondering where they all came from, even though we knew of course that they had breezed in from the cities and suburbs and hills and vales and cobwebs and freeways of my g-generation. . .the second part of the concert got steadily better when the band did much of their classic stuff.

I say the band. Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder were not there. No explanation about that. None necessary. Old folks like us understand these things. We know that people–even famous rock musicians– change, and move on to other groups or other gigs or other things they want to do with their life. So our concert was conducted by the three originals who remain: Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, accompanied by their younger, very talented new recruits to handle the other instruments. Of course Mike Pindar’s powerful presence on the mellotron was missed, as was Ray Thomas with his flute, vocals and other woodwinds. Those absences were admirably filled by the 2016 members: Alan Hewitt on keyboards, Norda Mullen on flute, Denny Laine on keyboards.

But I never got to hear the song performed that I most wanted to hear. Never Comes the Day is a tender, romantic tune that originated in the plaintive heart of a young man (Justin Hayward) who has not time enough to spend with the girl he loves. Hearing that song back in my college days– included as it was on the Moody Blues’ Threshold of a Dream album there was a deep place of longing in my heart that was occupied for many years only by that song and a few other special love songs like it.

So while I did enjoy the trip down memory lane with this new iteration of the Moody Blues, there was nevertheless a certain old feeling of emptiness–maybe it was just nostaglia– at the end of the concert, because I had not heard that special song. I waited for it, but it never came.

But hey! It was nevertheless a great ending. The beautiful woman sitting next to me last night at the Moody Blues 2016 concert–I took  her home with me.

She’s the woman who answered that hearthrob call of Never Comes the Day deep in my heart. She’s the one who, thank God, filled that plaintive void, beginning with our courtship and marriage over 36 years ago. And last night we had a wonderful date listening, with a few a thousand or so other old couples, to the Moody Blues do their musical wonders.

 If you like this, here’s another selection from the most unique, most musical rock group of my g-generation. It’s the song–Question— with which they ended last night’s concert that we attended in Charlotte.

Glass half-Full

Doing the Limbo at 64

January 9, 2016

I remember back in the 1950s when I was growing up and attending Catholic school. They taught us that there’s a place called Limbo, where you go after death if you had never received baptism while living in the world. Although I am a mere Christian now, having been baptized in 1978 by own choice choice at the age of 27, it has been revealed to this protestant that there is indeed a place called Limbo.

But it is not actually a place; rather, it is a time, a time of life.

How do I know this?

I am in Limbo now.  I am learning that it is a stage of life through which you pass, before–not after– death, a kind of a nether time through which the maturing American sojourns, somewhere between ages 64 and 66.

When you turn 64, there are multiple signs that indicate you have arrived in Limbo. The first is, of course, remembering back to 1968 when the Beatles raised the profound question “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x158z5_beatles-when-i-m-sixty-four_music

On one level, the song is profound for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status or love-condition in relation to one’s spouse, or, as they say nowadays, one’s “significant other” or lack thereof.

On another level, the question itself–about being needed and fed–is critical for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status in relation to “the System.”

You know the System I’m talking about, the one that–as we thought back in the day–would relegate us all to little ticky-tacky houses where we’d all look just the same.

And once you start seeing the signs that you are approaching–or perhaps have already arrived in– Limbo, suddenly the omens are all over the place, and very plain to see.

For example, as I happened to tune in, a couple of days ago, to Diane Rehm’s show, in which the Grand mistress of inside-the-beltway grapevine NPR confab discussed the big “R” word with Teresa Ghilarducci,

http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2016-01-07/teresa-ghilarducci-how-to-retire-with-enough-money/111702/@00:00

I learned that the assets so far accumulated by myself and my wife (six years younger than me) are, of course, not nearly enough to “make it through” the Retirement years, which is a special golden or rose-colored-glasses period  sometimes called the “rest of our life.”

Theoretically, our assets are not enough, especially with, you know, zero interest rates etcetera etcetera.

On the other hand, who the hell knows how much is enough?

Furthermore, this unstable scenario has been further destabilized by myself, yours truly, who recently, and oh-so-irresponsibly, decided to quit my job seven months before reaching the big SIX-FIVE road marker, because it was–as my body was daily communicating to me–wearing me out, after the past 45 years of uninterrupted work, the lion’s share of which was spent in construction and maintenance jobs.

There’s a reason (as I am discovering) that 65 is the big mile marker, the fork in the road where two paths diverge, as Robert Frost might have called it many and many a year ago.

In my case, I just didn’t quite make it that far, stopped short of the finish line with only seven months to go.

In one moment of time I morphed from one Bureau of Labor Statistical category to another. Whereas, I formerly was perhaps categorized as  employed but underemployed (being a college grad in a maintenance job), this statistical territory I now inhabit is a never-neverland somewhere between “unemployed” and “dropped-out of the labor force altogether–having given up on looking for another job!

Limbo!

The real hell of it is I’m still looking for a job, still striving to redeem myself from the stigma of being a labor-force dropout, still busting gut to add another few thousand bucks into that magic pot of IRA and/or 401K gold at the end of the Social Security rainbow.

Did I mention “gold”? Don’t even think about it, except all the online doomsayers are saying I need to buy it. But I wouldn’t know where to start. I mean, I’ve lived in the System all my life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, where I’m filling blanks and checking boxes in online applications, the question becomes: who is going to hire a 64-year-old who just may be one of those  off-the-chart non-entitities who has “given up” on gainful employment, when there are multitudes of unemployed or underemployed 22-year-olds out there pounding the keyboard and the pavement looking for work?

Who? I ask you who?

Don’t think too hard. That’s been my problem all my life–thinking too much, and maybe writing too much too. (And if you believe that, I’ve got three novels, poised in cyberspace on the website linked below; they’re hanging there, suspended in electrons waiting to enhance your historical reading experience.)

So here I leave you with a closing anecdote. It is a dilemma wrapped in an enigma.

6:30 this morning, still dark. I just delivered my wife to her nursing job. I’m at the gas pump of a convenience store. I’m thinking. . .maybe I should go in there and ask for a job. Then I’m looking blankly at the gas pump as the digitals flash, and my eye wanders up to a sign on the gas pump. It says:

“Polar pop any size 69 cents”

And above that message is another little sign, with pictures of “Crown” cigarette packs, and an offer that smokers cannot refuse:

“$3.18 if you buy two.”

Do I really want to spend the last six months of my working life. . .

Fuhgedaboudit.

Smoke

The Abyss of Desire and the Mountain of Age

December 12, 2010

Every teenager discovers the abyss of desire, but during the first years of that lifelong encounter, he/she does not understand the insatiable nature of it.  Desire, in all its worldly  forms, especially the impetuous sexual kind, is a bottomless pit. While it does lead to intense pleasure and a lot of fun, desire does not lead directly to lasting fulfillment.

As a person travels, through this life, deeper into the bottomless pit of desire, he/she will experience momentary satisfactions, but they are always short-lived, sometimes only instantaneous. Periods of yearning or striving between sexual release can be very frustrating.

True love, on the other hand, bears a sumptuous fruit called deep fulfillment. Our experience has shown that faithful lifetime union with one sexual partner provides the deepest expression of this fulfillment.

That spouse becomes, in fact, much more than a regular sexual partner. That person becomes, as life is lived, an invaluable partner in every avenue of life, not just the sexual one.  In fact, the sexual union becomes, when healthily and regularly expressed, secondary in importance as the couple grows old together.

The sojourn of life, taken as a whole, is something like climbing up a mountain, and away from the abyss. When you are young, just starting out, you may be in a forest or some such occluded position, unable to determine your position in relation to everything else around. You are clueless and you don’t know where the hell you are.

Our experience shows that if you can find a life partner, the journey is much easier, and more meaningful, because you can share your thoughts and feelings along the way. Sharing burdens makes them easier to bear. The sharing itself is easier to accomplish if your partner is intimately familiar.

This climb up life’s mountain is strenuous; by the time you get to the top, you’re plumb worn-out.  But guess what, when you reach that incredible height—with the life long lived in the distant environs behind you—the perspective is a broader panorama. You can see clearly where you’ve been and where you are; you can more accurately determine your location in relation to everything else around, and the wide world.

This is called wisdom; it is something you accrue as you ascend the mountain of this existence.

What about when you get to the top?  I call that arrival maturity, or old age, or maybe, in some contexts, retirement. But guess what. You can’t stay up there forever; there’s not much to eat up there, and the only water is what falls from the sky, and it gets cold. So you have to walk back down. But hey, as you descend that mountain of life, you find the traveling to be less strenuous than the climb up was, and easier to manage because you know where you’ve been and you know where you’re going, and of course you have gravity working with you instead of against you.  It’s all downhill from here.

That cliché could have a double meaning of course: it’s all downhill from here. The descent is not as demanding as the climb up, but it is degenerative, insofar as you discover that the old body, having ascended to the heights, ain’t what it used to be. In fact, it might be downright falling apart. So you need to take it slow and easy going down. Don’t get in a big hurry. Speed is for young bucks.  Old folks can just enjoy a stoll.

Along the way, the abyss of desire has always beckoned, but together you’ve handled it well.  If you haven’t handled it well—well, life goes on anyway, and you’re still kicking.

Our experience shows that having a community of support in the life expedition is quite helpful.  But that help should be authentic, which means trustworthy, and consistent with our individual purposes, not diverting us from our chosen mission. In regards to the abyss of desire, that troupe of people with whom you’re sojourning must strengthen and encourage the faithful bond that further unites a man with his wife. The truly precious community honors the marriage bed and does not intrude upon the hard-earned bond.

That is very different than, say, other groups or entities (such as show business) in this world whose intent may be to titillate or distract faithful couples  from their  fruitful union. You know what I’m talking about—forces like tv or the internet or sketchy work situations.

Take Twitter for instance. It can be a fun little ditty; it can be a useful communication tool. But when an old fart like me get tweets from unknown women accompanied by suggestive pictures, it is a useless diversion; in fact, it’s damned dangerous, because it beckons me, deceptively, to answer the death call of the abyss instead of the faithful union that I and my wife have worked so hard to achieve.  You may think, Freudian-like, that I’m repressing some legitimate desire to have sex with other women.

No.

I’m not suppressing any good thing; I am resisting, to use an old-fashioned term, the evil so that the good can continue to flourish. I don’t care what Janis sang before she od’d. You don’t necessarily do a thing because it feels good. The deceptive allure of those online women, or live ones for that matter, is as hollow and misleading as an empty wine bottle, as short-lived as Eve’s apple which disappears in the eating of it or is  cast aside to rot after a few bites.

Sexual fidelity in this life yields what we Christians call the fruits of righteousness. They are delicious, nutritious, and very satisfying. Couples who learn to truly love one another, learn also how to utilize the sexual union in a way that intensifies and simplifies their life purpose together.

Here’s one last thought about that downhill walk from life’s mountaintop. These days, we have a multitude of man-made medical procedures and  pharmaceutical extenders  to keep us propped-up so we can keep the journey going, instead of terminating at a point that it might have ended in earlier periods of history. So with stuff like blood pressure medicine and Viagra and whatnot around, the experience of aging on that downhill stroll  is in a kind of uncharted territory. Be careful how you handle surgeries and chemical substances. Don’t eat the green acid or whatever.

And keep your sights set—not so much on yourself–but on the one for whom you have cared, and who has cared for you. Consider also those others whom you hold dear, and you’ll not stray too terribly far from the favorable course. Then lo and behold you encounter at the bottom of the mountain a valley of death that takes you, whether you like it or not, into the abyss that you were able to elude for so long.

You need fear no evil, but defeat it.  Christ can help you with this.

Growing old could be hazardous to your health

June 6, 2010

The world  these days is frighteningly different from the one my 80-year-old father-in-law grew up in.
Laid up yesterday in medical suspension, his crankiest complaining-point centered on the attendant whose faulty assistance could not prevent the fall that now confines him to a hospital bed.
“No speaka de English,” railed the old white guy about the “foreigner” minimum-wage health-care provider.
Yeah, it was all her fault, dad, that you fell.
They’re not like your Irish-immigrant ancestors
who were speaking the Queen’s English (ha!) in New Jersey neighborhoods back in the day.  And I guess you forgot about the Italians who had lived around the corner, or maybe you blocked them out of your memory, although I know for a fact that you later gained an intense appreciation of their restaurants and their wine.

Anyway,
This slow drift toward chronic fault-finding with the presently-devolving world is something I’ve noticed lately. I’ve encountered it in my own late-50s bad self. My father-in-law, however, seems to have a full-blown case of the grumpies.

He always was a perfectionist, though. That’s how it starts, you know, as if Aristotelian attempts to impose logical order on the chaotic–or some would say “dumb”– world, might actually have a constructive impact. He’s an engineer, able to make sense–and productive systems or machines–out of numbers and physical forces. Unfortunately, human beings–and anything that they initiate or maintain–do not conform to those logical paradigms.

A little bit later, though, as our attention to his present circumstance mellowed his attitude somewhat, I became amazed at the old guy’s mental sharpness. Here’s the grumpy fella imprisoned in a hospital bed, but he’s been watching numerous reports about the infamous oil spill in the Gulf. While analyzing this world-threatening problem, his engineer’s mind had recovered every millimeter of acuity. With a precise understanding of what BP guys were attempting to do to stop the gushing oil, he spoke lucidly about their mud-pumping strategies. His practical brain was striving to ascertain where such a massive amount of mud would be readily obtained and stored, and calculating pressure differentials between inside the pipe and outside it, in the mile-deep water…62 and a half pounds per cubic foot of water times x number of feet in height…

What a miserable cataclysm was being presented, by hospital-room tv on the wall, to his octogenerian eyes. What’s happening to the world? Is it going down the tubes?  Where are ya when we need ya, Shirley Temple?

What a debilitating, toxifying effluent cast upon the fertile fish-yielding, mouth-of-Mississippi waters in which his sons had fished only six weeks ago!
What a screwed-up world has unwound during his eighty years…although it is maybe not so alarming compared to what Hitler was doing to Europe when the the Jersey kid was only pubescent.

What a messed up world!  Has it always been this way? Has it always been getting worse, with more pollution spewing, more politicians cheating, more lobbyists bribing, more people speaking alien languages at you, more rogue-states killing, more priests molesting,  more unruly kids fucking, more of the world sucking…has it always been this way?
Or is that paranoia just hyper-critical cantankerism of the washed-up geezers (could that soon be me ?) in a world that has always been so?
Well, I think not.
In times past, we could discern the possibility that man might someday destroy himself. But nowadays,  I fear we might actually have the technological capability to do it.
That’s not a comforting thought for a middle-aged guy like me watching his father-in-law with all those tubes and wires stuck in him, knowing it might be me in the not-too-distant future.
Assuming we have a future.
Oh, shut yo mouth, fool!