Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Steps Slower

     When a baseball player begins to reach the end of his career you will frequently hear the commentator say, "He looked a step slower in making it to first base on that ground ball".   Speed decreases and reaction time increases as one ages whether it is a baseball player or just us ordinary folks among the geezer population.
      Yesterday my wife and I took the AARP Driver Safety Program course.   This was a six hour program with review and instruction intended to improve and maintain safe driving for senior and perhaps not so senior drivers.   I had taken this course maybe eight years ago for the first time and even trained to be an instructor.   (Must be they had plenty of instructors since they never called me for a class).  Our instructor was excellent and we learned about some of the newer driving laws as well as picked up some tips to insure safer driving.   This course is so good I would recommend it for everyone.  One of the exercises was to determine our reaction times.   I always thought I had above average reaction time.  To my surprise my reaction time was only average.
How Quick Can you Grab the Ruler?

 So I guess I must be at least that "one step slower" now.   Perhaps I am even creeping over into the "two steps slower" category.    I played some doubles tennis on this past Friday  which was also a test of my reaction time.   With focus, I still had pretty good reaction at the net.  Perhaps this was because some of the balls were coming right at me and I didn't want to get hit.   Motivation and fear can reduce your reaction time.
     Yes, I may be moving at a rate of two steps slower now (the coeds all pass me when I am walking briskly on the Cornell Campus).   However, maybe that is alright since I get to savor the things around me.   Like stopping to smell the roses,  inhaling the  fresh air and noticing the beauty that I missed by rushing through life before.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bucket List

     I guess everyone has had a bucket list at one time or another.   As one proceeds through geezerhood a bucket list begins to have higher priority because probably there is less time to check off items.   I don't put much store in bucket lists.   For the most part I have been able to see the things in the world that I really yearned to see and have done adventurous things when the opportunity has arisen.   Therefore, I like living in the moment and being surprised when new opportunities come by chance.
    However, there have been things that I have really wanted to experience.    Probably over 10 years ago I had wanted to see a live show of the Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.   That wish was granted when he appeared at Bailey Hall on the Cornell University campus.   Unfortunately daughter Victoria and I were seated almost behind a column that seriously restricted our view.    We enjoyed the show but we certainly would have been more comfortable with better seating.   Since that time in the last few years I have enjoyed three more mid April live performances of the Prairie Home Companion show at Town Hall on 43rd Street in New York City with daughter Victoria.   Because  my birthday comes in mid-April these shows are now becoming a celebratory tradition.    It was a grand show this past Saturday and we had wonderful seats with an unobstructed view.
Finale at Town Hall April 14, 2012

      Leading up to the show we toured Bryant Park and enjoyed 75 cent a slice pizza (tax included).   Imagine that in New York City!  We even have photo proof.

With Son-in-Law Matt

     Walking the Brooklyn Bridge was also a part of our weekend adventure.    I guess you could call that a bucket list activity too.   As an engineer, it is almost a must to have actually visited this engineering marvel since this is the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world.   The bridge was undergoing some repairs as one might expect for a 129 year old structure.   I guess you could call it a geezer bridge.   Wikipedia summarizes its importance as follows.
"The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning theEast River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge."
Suspension Wires and a Tower -A Happy Geezer

     Our entire weekend was full of adventure and fun and even included for Nancy and I a Seder at our daughter's in-laws home.   No need for bucket lists.   New adventures and experiences come spontaneously.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birthday Reflections

  By the time one has become a geezer, you have experienced a plethora of birthdays.   Today marks my 77th so I have pause to reflect on birthdays past and birthday traditions  I've experienced.   The family of my youth made very little note of birthdays.  In fact I can't remember any particular celebrations of my birthdays throughout my toddler, preteen or teen years.   As a child of the  World War II era, there were few resources for celebrations with gifts and special foods.   Perhaps my memory is failing but I think I may have had a cake on my birthday.  However, candles would have been in short supply.
   My father was not a very demonstrative man.   He seemed to be embarrassed to overtly show affection.   The one memorable gift of my childhood birthdays was given on my 11th birthday of April 11, 1946.  With the war over consumer goods began to appear.   On the afternoon of my 11th birthday my father arrived home, stepped out his car and tossed a rectangular box to me.   What a surprise!  Inside was a brand new high quality softball.   This is still a most delightful memory 66 years later.
A Special Gift on my 11th Birthday

   During my adult life I have been blessed with many joyous birthday celebrations.   Both my 70th and 75th birthdays were milestone events with my dear wife Nancy assuring that they would be special occasions with friends and family.   Although today is my official birth date, this past Sunday  much of the family gathered for our Easter dinner that had a birthday cake especially for me.   This weekend will include another celebration with our youngest daughter.   My dearth of early year birthday celebrations certainly has been amply compensated for in my adult years.
   Probably birthdays are such special things because they celebrate the beginning of existence as well a markers along the way of ones earthly life span.  After initial birth the continuing birthdays can be the mechanism to celebrate being a part of the great universal cosmos.
A Happy 75th Birthday

Monday, April 2, 2012

Unexpected Pleasures

   In conversation with my wife a week ago or so, the subject of sauerbraten entered our discussion.   Maybe I was reminiscing about my annual professional society meetings in Chicago when I would go to a German restaurant on the Loop for a meal including sauerbraten.   This also jogged my memory about a dorm mate from my freshmen year at Syracuse University, John Hoenig.   John entered this discussion because I once visited him during a break to go to a German Club in Rochester, New York.   During the visit I dined with his family and was treated to a dinner including sauerbraten.   These were fond memories of gustatory pleasure.    Unexpected as well as expected pleasures.
Mouthwatering Entree of Sauerbraten
    This story continues.   My dear wife over the next few days unknown to me,  took the sauerbraten discussion to heart and to my unexpected pleasure she researched a sauerbraten recipe on line and meticulously prepared a heavenly meal including sauerbraten about a week later.   Her sauerbraten dish was certainly much better than any I had had before.  Not only was this meal a special gustatory delight, but it was also a celebration of the wonderful devotion and love of my wife of nearly 30 years.   Surely I am blessed.  Life for me is full of unexpected pleasures!