Today, I visited the doctor for my annual physical. It’s funny how things have changed. In my younger life, I rarely had a physical, and when I did, the entire thing consisted of checking my heart beat, determining my hearing by holding a watch up to my ears, weighing on a scale, and peeing in a
cup. The whole thing lasted no more than 10 minutes. Boy! Things sure have changed.
The first part of physicals these days is spent with a nurse. She checked pulse, weight, and blood pressure. Then Linda and I had an interesting talk about my medications. I nodded with the naming of every one of them. Then I asked her to make sure the doctor wrote a new prescription for Flonase and Nexium.
 I’d name the rest of the pills if I could spell them. All I know is that each morning and again each night I swallow a fistful of pills and capsules. When a couple of them run in short supply, I become nervous. The last thing I need is a case of acid reflux or a bout of restless leg syndrome.
Doctor Catherine Mathes is my doctor. She took care of my mother for several years, and I swear by her. She’s a no-nonsense doctor who takes excellent care of her patients. She came into to the room and sat down at the computer. The doctor reviewed my record while catching up on my condition at present. I told her I was worn out, and she surmised that being so was, in part, the result of getting older. Then she asked me how I felt, what physical problems I had experienced, and whether any things had changed unexpectedly. All answers were “no.”
An EKG was in order this year, so I lay upon the table as Linda attached a handful of wires to my chest. It occurred to me that those leads resembled the spark plug wires and distributor in my old Pathfinder. The car is 30 years old but still manages to chug along; I do the same. When I was young, those sticky things didn’t bother me a bit. Now, they are painfully removed along with a small crop of gray hair. How’d that stuff get there and turn so gray?
A few deep breaths, a couple of thumps on my abdomen, and new prescriptions led to the end of my exam. I managed to escape the prostate exam this year, and I said a quick, silent prayer. For some reason, I felt better; maybe the fact that no serious “Hmm’s” were uttered let me know that I was good to go.
Dr. Mathes escorted me to a waiting room, and ere long, a man came in with a small clear cup with a lid. Yep, it was time to pee in that cup, open a small metal door, and place it on the shelf. Some
people have difficulty performing this act; maybe it’s a form of panic. The only times I’ve experienced problems are when large lines of men at events are waiting for me to finish.
Soon, I was off to the lab where three vials of blood were drawn. Then I was sent to x-ray for a picture of my chest. Even though I’ve been a reformed smoker for 13 years, the doctor wants a yearly
check of my lungs. I always get a bit nervous about the results, especially since both parents and my older brother died of cancer after years of smoking.
Finally, I walked to the last procedure of the exam. A nice young women looked at the paper I handed her and then announced that I owed a $35 co-pay. I thanked the clerk and walked out the door.  Thankful for a good report and feeling healthy, I decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator. By the time I reached to ground floor, my legs were weak and muscles were burning. That was all right with me. My mind focused on finding something to eat since I’d been ordered to fast the following night.
The next visit is a year away. The goal is to do a better job of living a healthy life, something I plan to start as soon as I pick up an order of biscuit and gravy from Hardees.


I’m a political junky.  Nothing is more interesting to me than the games and antics that come out during a presidential election year. I’ve been around long enough to watch some dramatic and sleazy political contests, but this cycle’s antics are the worst I can remember. What I can’t understand is how we Americans are allowing such a mess.
The Republicans began the primary war with seventeen, count them, seventeen candidates. The entire GOP doesn’t have that many qualified individuals to run. The best are most likely the folks who declined to enter the race. The early “debates” weren’t helpful to voters because so many candidates on stage meant too little time to answer questions. Instead, GOP candidates turned on each other and devoured the weakest of the bunch.
Little by little, the field was narrowed until two and a half candidates remained. The half is Kasich because he has no mathematical chance of becoming the GOP standard bearer. Donald Trump knocked off opponents one at a time, and he finally got rid of Marco Rubio, who doggedly hung on without a snowball’s chance of winning. Trump managed to trash anyone who posed the smallest of threats to his candidacy. Now, he’s the leader of the race and has amassed more delegates and millions of more votes than his remaining competition.
Ted Cruz had a different path to survival. He kept a rather low profile and let Trump to do the dirty work. Oh, don’t think for a minute that he hasn’t engaged in some low acts. His email that Ben Carson was dropping out in Iowa and recruiting his voters was, at the least, unethical. He attacked Rubio when the two were close in the running. Yes, he’s survived and even succeeded…in some places.
Cruz appeals to voters with vows to carpet bomb Syria and to get rid of the illegal immigrants who supposedly have invaded America. His end game is to cast anyone who opposes him as a dirty liberal or a pawn of the liberal press. The man tries to separate himself from the “Washington establishment,” something of which he is a member. However, even his own fellow Republicans don’t much care for him.
The Democrats aren’t much better. Their leader is Hillary Clinton. Perhaps no other person has been
so investigated and vilified. She’s been at the center of too many firestorms, among them Benghazi, Syria, and Iran. Throw in a dose of email investigations, and many people don’t hear a thing she says. Maybe she’s guilty as sin; perhaps she’s as innocent as a lamb. The fact that the Clintons have been in politics for so many years leads to voter fatigue.
Bernie Sanders is another kind of politician. An Independent, he’s dawned the cloak of the Democratic party in his attempt to run for the highest office in the land. Yes, Bernie has sparked a revolution. He’s raised the hackles of the working class and the young. He’s brought out folks who might otherwise have skipped yet another chance to have a say in who leads this country.
The problem with Sanders is he promotes socialism. That will not fly in this country. He declares that college tuitions will disappear. He is determined to break up the big banks. He wants to end Obamacare and replace it with another program. His proposals are long on promises and short of details. Sanders’ stock answer is that the rich will pay for it all. Not even the top 1% have that much money.
So, we voters stare into the race with a choice. We can side with the candidates who vow to run out all the folks who don’t belong here and who will bomb our enemies into extinction. On the other hand, we can vote for the folks who would re-create the USA and turn it into a socialist state where all wealth is pooled and redistributed and taxing everyone else with escalating rates at the same time. Those are depressing choices that don’t promise much of a bright future for our country or our children.
The only realistic answer in this election is to seek moderation. That means no side gets all it wants. Instead, our next leader must be someone who isn’t right or left-wing. He or she will be someone who has the best interest of the country in mind and who is willing and able to work with both Republicans and Democrats in order to make things happen.
Moderation is NOT a bad word. It’s something that has been preached by philosophers and prophets for years. Our guiding principle for going
about the country’s business should be “whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me.” Let’s forget about party lines and extreme views and get on with the work for the good of the United States. 


The chasm between baby-boomers and younger generations grows with each passing day. Our lives are influenced by different things, and we have a different take on what’s important for daily communications. I’m not sure what strikes younger folks fancies, but I can vouch for a couple of areas that we oldsters think are worthwhile.
We seniors still think that handwriting is an important thing for individuals. We toiled for days to
perfect our block letters; writing on wide-lined paper that had a third line in the middle to indicate the height of lower case letters was hard work. We used index fingers to set the space between words.
Just as we finally perfected that kind of writing, the time came to learn how to write in cursive. It was a real pain for some students, especially those of us who were left-handed. Heck, we had enough difficulty understanding which way to slant the paper, and many lefties failed to do so as is evident by watching how they curl their wrist in awkward
ways or slanted their words in the opposite direction. A few unlucky students learned the proper way to do these things as a teacher watched with a ruler ready to slap hands that curled or slanted words incorrectly.
At some point, cursive writing no longer was an important skill to learn. Some “experts” in education said that demanding students to learn and use the style crushed their individual creative abilities. Then computers became the predominant method of writing, a fact that further lessened the importance of handwriting. I used to make my seniors write out the alphabet in cursive 5 times each day before we began class, and I refused to grade papers that weren’t written in cursive. Today, I’d be suspended with pay until the school board could fire me for such an egregious act.  
My handwriting has taken a turn for the worse, partially because I don’t practice it as much and partially because my arthritic hands find little comfort as I put pen to paper. Still, I can make those letters, and someone observed that cursive writing could be used as a code for old folks who want to keep secrets from younger people.
In our time, spelling was an important skill that teachers emphasized each year. We had spelling books and used them every day. Lists of words increased in difficulty throughout the year, and
Fridays always began with a spelling test. Most of us enjoyed the challenge and studied hard enough to make 100’s on the exams. A poor grade on a spelling test upset all of us. In grammar, we also learned rules of spelling that eased the problems of putting letters in the correct order.  Most often remembered was the rule “I” before “e” except after “c” or when it sounds like an “a” in such words as “neighbor” and “sleigh.”
I noticed the weakness in students’ spelling abilities throughout my teaching career. The curriculum placed more emphasis on other things. Subtracting 5 points for every misspelled word in an essay made students a bit more aware of correct spelling, but it didn’t end the problem.
Folks today confront spelling in a couple of ways. Sometimes they take the time to consult Spell Checker. Doing so alleviates many of the errors, but not all of them. I am guilty of sometimes using homophones but usually catch them during proof reading. That brings up the other approach. In it, people simply ignore any misspellings. They don’t see them as being important. Ignorance accounts for some of this attitude. So many modern-day folks text until their fingers ache, and they abbreviate and misspell on purpose to the point that they can’t tell the difference. Before long, communication in writing will be impossible without a standard of spelling.
All of this sounds too much like an old curmudgeon who once again laments the state of the world and how it’s going to hell in a handbasket with the ways of the young people. That’s certainly not my intent. However, I will continue to complain about a generation that all too often turns its back on some of the most important ways that we’ve communicated effectively for years. Maybe an outcry will rise for a return to cursive writing and correct spelling. Then again, I doubt that too many people care; just type stuff on a keyboard and let a computer program do the rest.


A couple of work buddies talked about their Easter weekend. Both had visits from grandchildren, and both admitted that naps were needed after the young ones left. What happened to those of us in my generation: we got old. The effects are more than a little disconcerting.
I, too, wear out from visits with my grandson Madden. He’s not a demanding child, but like all seven-year-olds, he is interested in doing “stuff.” Sometimes the boy wants to hang out and play video games; at other times, he’s more interested in taking hikes on nearby trails. A couple of years ago, Madden loved to play kickball, and he’d beg me to join him. I’d roll the ball, chug through the yard in pursuit of his kicks, and fail to get him out. The only way I ever got a turn was to declare a 5-run rule per inning. He beat my brains out.
Now the boy loves football. He always wants to play games. If his dad is home, I serve as quarter back for both teams. If Nick is away, I try to convince Madden to run routes as I pass to him. He is accommodating enough to allow this change to the game to take place. By the time we finish, I crash into the recliner and nurse aches and pains until naptime takes over.
Sleep is another thing that changes with age. In my 20’s, it was nothing for me to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I’d read, watch television, or engage in social activities. Then I’d sleep late into the next morning before rising and beginning a new day.
These days, bedtime is embarrassingly early. Getting up for work has something to do with it, but even on weekends, I find that I’m in bed long before the 11:00 new airs. Even then, on some evenings I fall into an unconscious state as I watch television.
To make things worse, my inner alarm clock rings about 5:30 a.m. Gone are the days of lying in bed late. From being a teen who could sleep until noon or later, I’m now a senior citizen whose feet usually hit the floor no later than 7 a.m. (on days when I don’t work).
Age has also brought on “pill taking.” Most people know about what I’m talking. Millions of us are on pills for blood pressure and cholesterol and a baby aspirin. In my case, I’m also a slave to Nexium for acid reflux, Mirapex for restless leg syndrome, and the daily vitamin for better health. I choke down a fistful of pills in the morning and at night. Having to do so is aggravating, not to mention expensive. I sometimes catch my friends and me sounding like our parents once did as we discuss pills and aches and pains.
I used to be able to work in the yard all day long. I’d wheelbarrow loads of mulch or rock; I’d dig weeds and cultivate flowerbeds. I could mow the yard, finish weed-eating areas, and then go on to other jobs. Other favorite activities were splitting wood with a maul or grubbing out tree trunks from land we’d cleared.
Now, I still love to mow and work in the yard. The problem is that I give out too quickly. I need multiple days to finish projects that I used to complete in a day. Too, I get “hitches in my giddy-up” when I work outside too long or too vigorously. A day of work outside leads to my walking bent over as my aching back rebels. Sometimes I jolt awake in the middle of the night as my skinny leg develop cramps and Charlie horses. Whew!
Worst of all, my generation too often sounds grumpy. We complain about the younger generation; some us carp about the government or the state of world affairs. In general, we sound like a bunch of people who have never found a minute’s happiness or contentment. How’d we get so hateful and whiny? Not so long ago we had the world by the tail and loved every experience as it came around.
I suppose every generation goes through what we baby-boomers are living now. I’d prefer to be a happier person who doesn’t ache, isn’t tied to pills, and doesn’t tire so easily. All of us should live by the saying that “any day above ground is a good one!”

I’m in the planning stages for a book of my columns. If you have a favorite one that you’d like for me to include, contact me at and let me know what it is.