On Getting Older: Too Much Media

We actually read newspapers

Picture this:  dad in his easy chair reading a newspaper.  Something out of Norman Rockwell, right?  But that’s how I grew up.  Either the New Haven Register or the Hartford Courant were delivered by a paperboy.  Dad brought the Wall St. Journal home every day for me to read.  I remember once in particular he told me I’d be getting a wish – that a developer was planning to build taller than the Empire State Building, and of course the article was about the twin towers, gone now for 21 years.  Life magazine and National Geographic came in the mail. 

We listened to AM stations on little transistor radios that came with leather cases with perforations in a design pattern at the speaker.  Speaker, singular.  Only one.  Larger sets at home also picked up FM stations.  The top 40 count-downs were popular among the young people.  The days of the family sitting together in the...

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On Getting Older: Smartphones and Communication

Smartphones and conversation

Ok, I’m going to say it:  cursed be the man who untethered phones from walls so that women could walk around talking on them.  Hurl all the abuse you want at me.  But I’ll give the men an equal diss:  why do commuter trains have quiet cars?  Because people of both genders are so obnoxious – so impressed with themselves – that they need to share their important business conversations with everyone in earshot. 

In many ways, I stand in awe of the things my phone can do for me – and in other ways, I recoil in horror.  Now I know that every generation believes that the yutes coming up (that’s youths – a reference to My Cousin Vinny - watch the quick clip here) are clueless and will ruin the world.  And I guess I’m no exception, because it is my observation that young people today simply have not learned the art of conversation!

Terrific apps!

On this recent trip up...

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On Getting Older: Money and Credit

Money and Credit

As I mentioned in my introduction, my parents are products of the Great Depression.  It was my mother who first taught me about money and budgeting – she controlled the family purse strings.  Dad was the breadwinner, and he brought home cash each month and turned it over to my mother to run the household.  This was a common arrangement at the time. 

The Envelope System

While I was in high school my mother sat me down with her checkbook and this folder that consisted of various envelopes, each with a label (food; clothing, etc.) and cash in them!  This was mother’s system – Dad brought home cash, and she put it in the envelopes, and that’s what was there per category to use that month.  There were no Excel spreadsheets then, nor budgeting apps.  So if there was more month than money, and an envelope was empty, there were two choices:  defer the spending until next month, or borrow from another...

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On Getting Older: Environmental Friendliness

Virtue signaling

Virtue signaling.  What a term.  Having to show the rest of the world how virtuous you are.  Done by putting up appropriate banners at your house, driving one of those teeny tiny Smart Cars, or an electric vehicle, or some such.

I’ve got news for you young people – you should take some lessons from your elders.

How it used to be

When I was growing up, we had a milkman.  Everyone had a milk box, which was just that – an insulated box at the head of the driveway or on the front porch.  The milkman delivered the milk to that box in glass bottles and collected the returns.  My mother would rinse the bottles we’d emptied and replace them in the milk box along with her completed form for her next order.  He came on a schedule, and there was no waste – the glass bottles were used over and over again.  The milkman was an employee of a local dairy, so everything he delivered was fresh and organic. ...

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On Getting Older: Things I Promise Never to Do

Things I promise never to do (in no particular order):
  • I’ll never dye my hair or moustache or goatee. Looks ridiculous on a man, IMO.
  • I’ll never wear shoes with Velcro straps.
  • I’ll never wear horizontal stripes. Haven’t since I was about 10. 
  • I’ll never wear socks with sandals.
  • I’ll never wear one print on my shirt and another print on my shorts.
  • Even if I’m entitled to one, I’ll never drive with a handicapped placard hanging from the rearview mirror.
  • I’ll never wear black athletic shoes as a substitute for black dress shoes.
  • I’ll never wear black socks and black shoes with shorts.
  • I’ll never carry the wife's handbag.   She knows this.  Pro tip:  bring along an empty shopping bag, drop the wife’s handbag in that, and then I’m okay. 
  • I’ll never wear a toupee. It is what it is. Don't this have this issue.  
  • I’ll never fall asleep in my car while in a parking...
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On Getting Older: Courtesy Titles

Mr. Downing, if you please

Picture it:  I’m checking into a hotel after two different flights.  Just taken the shuttle to the hotel.  I know the drill, so I hand my driving license and credit card to the bright young thing behind the counter, who says, Welcome, Glenn!

Am I the only one this bothers?  I simply reply, Thank you, but I prefer Mr. Downing.  And that’s that.  I appreciate that times are far less formal than they were when I was a child, but really – there should be some basic rules of how we address one another.

My default is always to use the last name unless and until told to do otherwise.  Or, if that seems awkward to me, I simply ask, How would you like me to address you?  Not the least bit awkward to me, and most people appreciate it.  And if you notice, I always refer in these writings to my wife as Mrs. Downing, not using her first name. 

Please use my last name

My American grandmother had...

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On Getting Older: Use of the Language

Frenchy Duffnuts

We had a family friend growing up named Evelyn.  Evelyn was a widow of many years, and a professional travel agent.  Fascinating person.  She’d gather groups of travelers together and take them all on a trip somewhere – usually in Europe.  My grandparents traveled with her many times, and, as she lived near them, and we lived next door, she was an occasional dinner guest and part of my life growing up. 

Evelyn grew up in Quebec, so her first language was French.  When she was a schoolgirl her family moved to Massachusetts, and she told this story:  it came her turn to read aloud in class, and one of the words in her sentence was doughnuts.  She reasoned, well, I know rough, and I know tough, so this must be duff-nuts.  The children let out gales of laughter, and she picked up the moniker Frenchy Duffnuts which stuck for years. 

She eventually studied at a music conservatory in Boston and was a classical...

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Physical Fitness and Weight Loss at 68 - Part II

Now for the fitness part. 

Watch some older people walk:  they shuffle, or their steps really aren’t steps at all; they’re merely shifting weight from one foot to the other.  This is the result of muscles not being worked – they tighten and contract.  I am determined not to be that guy!

Overall, I am blessed with great health.  My blood chemistry is good, and I really don’t have a lot of bad health history in my family.  Dad didn’t quite make it to 80 and died from Alzheimer’s complications.  His mother, my grandmother, didn’t quite make it to 100.  My mother is in her 90’s.  So I’m hoping for another 25 active, productive years.

Active and Productive

Note the adjectives:  active and productive.  Riding around the Villages in a golf cart is my idea of purgatory.  But if that’s what you want then enjoy.  Since I've accumulated more life experiences and wisdom...

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Physical Fitness at 68 and Weight Loss, Part I

At a physical crossroads

At 68 there are many times I can feel my age.  But it is only about the last year or two that I’ve noticed a definite slowing down.  Which begs the question:  What am I going to do about it?  Fit it or accept the inevitable?

As I look around at other men my age, to generalize, I see men stooped slightly as they walk, with paunches or guts.  And that is/was me.  I say that because I’m working on it – more later.  Actually, not the posture bit – I’ve always maintained good posture, and have to slump way down for my barber, because my usual position in a chair is bolt upright.  When I walk, I am intentional in keeping shoulders back and head facing up and forward.  But I’m ashamed to tell you that I porked up to 245 lbs.  I carried it well, but my 38 waist trousers were getting tight, and I absolutely refuse to wear anything beginning with a 4.  So I was at a...

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On Getting Older: Airports and Tattoos

Airports and Tattoos

As many of my readers know, I’ve done a good bit of traveling over the last several years, teaching 4-day Live Review classes to students preparing to take the CFP exam.  The exam is offered in March, July, and November, so the months before that are my busy travel times.  I’ll be teaching my last cycle in October of this year.  We’ve got a lot going on at CameronDowning, and the time away has become too much, so I’m closing the teaching chapter of my professional life down.  All told it has been some 15 years now that I’ve been teaching CFP students, and it has been a wonderful experience getting to meet and connect with students all over the country.    

The usual teaching cities include San Antonio, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Raleigh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and here in Miami.  Traveling to some of these cities requires a change of plane, and air travel this year has been, well,...

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