Thoughts & Observations on Life, Society, and the Times by Al E.

Archive for the ‘How did I get this old?’ Category

Remembering When – These were the Good-Old-Days!

In How did I get this old? on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 at 1:26 PM

…recently,  just how much FUN the kids of today are REALLY missing out on with all the technologically, “political correctness” and sensitivity toward not OFFENDING anyone over anything!

This recently came into full focus when I attended the High School Graduation of a close friend’s daughter.  My wife and I paused to think about Our Graduation – shocked to realize they were 47 years ago!  Talk about a reality check!!

Listening to the adults: the Principals, Superintendent, and Board of Education bigwigs – trying to sound “cool, hip and with-it” (kinda really dating myself there); then the accomplished Student Dignitaries, the various “-dictorians” trying to justify, qualify and otherwise legitimize today’s youth’s philosophies, was both sad and amusing – a really bittersweet experience.

I came away with the overall comforting feeling in that it did renew my faith in the youth of today – maybe there IS a chance for the future to be healthy, safe and productive after all.  But I still couldn’t help but feel sorry for those same future leaders for all the real-life experiences we, the “other” Seniors at the ceremony, had had that shaped us, gave us something that is missing from those kids – stamina, the strength to endure, survive, make the best of and go on.  That is what’s scary, disappointing and made me remember the following “memories.”  No, our lives weren’t perfect, but they were built on a broader base.  I pray these kids can look back on some fond memories too – but I doubt they’ll hold the same good feeling these do – I hope they give you the comfort and peace they give me!


1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s!!
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank
while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs
with bright-colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets,
and, when we rode our bikes,
we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.
As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..
Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died.
We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon.  

We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar.  And we weren’t overweight.

Because we were always outside playing…that’s why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day

–And, we were

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride
them down the hill
only to find out we forgot the brakes.

 After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Play Stations, Nintendo’s and X-boxes. There were no video games,
no 150 channels on cable,
 no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.
and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits
from those accidents.
We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.
 We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, 22 rifles for our 12th, rode horses, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and – although we were told it would happen  we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
Those who didn’t had to learn
to deal with disappointment.
Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.

They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever.

The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1970,


You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.
While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it ?

The quote of the month

Jay Leno:

“With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist
attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?”

For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us…go ahead and delete this.
For the rest of us….. please pass this on.


Is Super Clean KILLING US??

In How did I get this old? on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Is it just me or is anyone else wondering why we seem to be experiencing an upswing in infections, allergies and mysterious ailments?  It seems to me that as a society we are getting sicker, more susceptible and frailer and not more hale and healthier.  Don’t you think?

Aside from the obesity crisis facing the nation – society as a whole, and its related health issues, there are more and more cases of “killer” viruses, bacteria, and infections of unknown origin then I can ever remember coming to light.  It seems that everyone, if not a victim themselves, know a loved one, a friend, or a friend of a friend who is or has had a serious infection, a long recovery or worse, died from it.  Why, what happened and where did these microscopic invaders come from?

I have a few thoughts, observations as to this epidemic crisis.  Some may be questionable, some controversial, some just opinion, but hopefully they will get you thinking.  Maybe if enough of us start thinking, then acting – letting our concerns be known, no matter how unpopular or how much of a “hot button” a thought may be – this major health problem can become the minor concern it should be in light of modern medicine.

Might as well get the first “hot button” out there and over with – Foreigners.  Yes, aliens, not from outer space, but the massive influx of Peoples from other countries all around the world, legal or illegal, that have descended on our country.  While I am not implying these people should not be admitted, at least the “legal” ones, or that they harbor any intentional malfeasance to us, their fellow-man, I am concerned about what “germs” they carry along with them.  The facts are that through vigilant and diligent vaccination and immunization programs, many of the dreaded crippling and life threatening diseases that are still virulent in other nations have been, for the most part, eradicated here.   After all wasn’t it the Conquistadors – the “white men” – who came from Europe, that unknowingly wiped out the great Inca and Aztec Nations not through force, but with disease?  While these men did not have the best intentions to begin with, they had no idea that the ailments and illnesses they had developed immunities to would be fatal when carried to these healthy, but susceptible Peoples.  I feel our current “infections everywhere” scenarios are, in part, due to the same circumstances that befell the unfortunate Incas and Aztecs.

While this introduction of new, and the reintroduction of old, eradicated diseases are an issue, and an ongoing vigilance of cleanliness and disinfecting is necessary, as usual, we as a society, have lost all prospective and sight of some realistic and practical resolutions to the problems, opting to extremes.  Rather than approaching the situation with calm, well thought out plans and procedures, we have reacted with an all out WAR on germs; sanitizing, disinfecting, sterilizing everything we come in contact with, including ourselves and each other.  And still the infections spread!  Why?

I firmly believe that the current obsession over GERMS has become a contributing factor to the overall spread of infections.  Bare with me on this, please.  Why/how is it that it is only fairly recently that these health situations have become not only an issue, but epidemic?  Anyone old enough to remember back before there were vaccines for every childhood disease: chicken pox, mumps, measles, etc, etc. you got them, the diseases; were nursed back to health, and never had to “worry” about reinfection.  Why, because your body – miracle that it is – developed anti-bodies that fought off these and other lessor ailments.  I’m not in any way implying that advances in sanitation, cleanliness or personal hygiene should be discounted or ignored.  If anything they should be taught and fostered – just not as obsessively as our current marketing and health experts tout.

Without some exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses, the body has no opportunity to grow or develop any defense mechanisms or antibodies.  Our systems, by being protected and sheltered from any and all potential disease, illness or malady are left open and vulnerable; powerless and unprotected from any and all manner of ailment, infirmity or syndrome.  The more excessive and fanatical the avoidance of germs, the more susceptible to damaging results we see.

As a result to this cleanness obsession, when the body encounters a bacterium, virus or germ, it is unarmed, exposed and easily ravaged by the organism.  All too often the introduction of these silent, invisible enemies is at a time when the immune system is already diminished or compromised due to another illness or during or immediately after surgery.  To further compound matters, the patient often assumes the discomfort or feeling of malaise is part of, or the result of the illness or surgery, allowing the infection to run rampant, undetected.  It is not until it becomes obvious that recovery is not only longer than expected, but that the patient’s condition is not improving, but actually deteriorating that a concern as to the cause is sought.  As a result of this inaction, the infection has gotten a strong foothold and is much more difficult if not impossible to treat with any immediate relief or success.

I realize the overall status of the current health and infection crisis is far more complex and intricate than these comments could begin to address, let alone resolve.  However, I believe we need to consider these points and give them serious consideration; all toward the goal of finding and implementing realistic, effective solutions, techniques and procedures.

Bullied or just a Wimp?

In How did I get this old?, This makes me nuts!! on Friday, October 28th, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Before you get your ass all up and out of joint over the title, give me a minute to express some thoughts and make some points and explanations from a different time and place.

First and foremost NO, I do NOT condone or in any way justify true, relentless, vicious bullying, harassment, or tormenting!  I know they’re out there – the bullies – and their victims, who are real and hurting.  To the victims I say hang tough, seek help, support and relief.  It’s out there, but you need to speak up, find it, ask for it and put any shame or fear behind you in order to benefit.   While I do appreciate that it may be hard or scary, and you may feel any effort is hopeless, don’t give up.  If you do – the bullies win!

Now my thoughts from another prospective, a different point of view, regarding, bullying.  It is a fact of life.  It’s been around forever and in all likely hood will be around for a long, long, long time to come.  It’s NOT right but it’s a reality.  Any real effective change is not going to be made by a campaign to “Stomp It Out,” any more than the “War on Drugs” has ended crime and addiction.  To be effective any plan, campaign, action must be based on facts as to what are the basis or roots of the problems.  What causes the situations or circumstances that result in a bully’s NEED to bully?  That should be the thrust of the questions, campaigns or efforts toward solving the bullying problem.   If we don’t start at, or fix the causes of bullying, no amount of  legislation, rules, policies or penalties will have any long-term benefit, or be truly effective in minimizing if not eliminating bullying.

As with any social or cultural flaw – Education is the key.  Rather than invoke knee-jerk policies, mandates or initiatives, and impose  inequitable, unjust or unenforceable consequences on the bullies society MUST look to understanding and resolving the base issues and causes that drive the bully.  Only then can effective, productive progress be made to end this blight on our civilization.

At the risk of being labeled a lunatic, insensitive or a bully myself, I feel that, to some degree, there are some positive aspects to bullying.  Again, a moment please and allow me to elaborate.

In this day and age it seems everyone feels that our children need constant coddling, reassurance and praise – less their “self-esteem” be dashed – sentencing them to a life of feeling inadequate, inferior or a failure.  This over-protective, no negative, everything is always fair, equal and rosie, philosophy is contributing to bullying as it is giving our kids a distorted view of reality and works to creating and sustaining an inherent weakness.  The lack of accountability, consequences or punishment for unacceptable behavior further fuels this flaw. Could it be that if the truth be told, bullying is no more prevalent today that it has always been, but rather given all the coddling, bullying SEEMS worse, more intense or frequent?

If  you stop and think about it, in reality, some degree of bullying could and has had a positive effect.

Bullying in small,  accountable doses could be beneficial toward building character and a tolerance toward: disappointment, frustration and weakness; developing and strengthening self-respect, and thus how NOT to treat someone else.  If you don’t like the way a bully treats you – and you know how it makes YOU feel, than you shouldn’t do things to make someone else feel that way – right?

When I was growing up bullying existed.  Yes, we did tell our parents and teachers and they did respond.  However, it was usually with advice to the victim.  They often suggested to avoid the bully and “don’t let them see that they can get to you.”  While they did watch the situation to be sure it didn’t escalate, we were encouraged to toughen up, stand up to the bully, don’t just whine, moan, whimper and bellyache.  Do something.  Grow up.  Our parents and teachers tended to let us work out our issues ourselves.  They didn’t fight our battles, we did.  As a result we learned what was acceptable and what wasn’t.  We paid the consequences for our actions and were none the worse for ware.  Suicide – not an option!   The real word is tough so deal with it!

I appreciate that many may still disagree with my thoughts on bullying.  Perhaps you would be more comfortable, find it more acceptable, if I substituted the words rude or disrespectful for the word bullied.  In fact that is a major part of the issue – rampant rudeness and disrespect – two behaviors that would NOT have been tolerated when I was growing up.

Today so many parents not only tolerate blatant rudeness or disrespect from their child, toward themselves or anyone else, but they will often defend it.  It is not unusual for a parent to turn around and not hesitate to be rude, themselves, to a teacher, another adult or another child who is trying to correct or defuse a confrontation, all the while not expecting their child to view this behavior as “acceptable”  Yes, I realize bullying can go beyond disrespect or rudeness, but isn’t that the basis for bullying – a total lack of respect or the ultimate rudeness and disregard for another’s position, situation, property or feelings?

If we are to truly quell this bullying epidemic we need to foster a renewed emphasis on RESPECT.  However, Respect is NOT a right – it is EARNED.  We need to give respect and demand respect; for each other, our parents, teachers, police, animals, property: public, private and personal, the environment, and the world in general.  We need to let kids be kids, work out their issues and ensure they learn and appreciate respect.  The best way to teach is by example and it MUST start with parents.  So what say you parents and adults in general – step-up and show some RESPECT.  Start with your parents, if you’re lucky enough to still have them.  Then respect yourself and stop taking shit from your kids or any other kid.  Then respect the kids, their teachers, your neighbors and fellow humans.  You’d be surprised how the world will follow your lead.


More “How did I get this old?”

In How did I get this old? on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at 3:31 PM

It was interesting to read the comments I got after my first “HDIGTO” post.  I had planned that this category would be a regular post, as I’d decided not to shoot my whole wad at once – pointing out things that today’s parents – and their wimpy, over-indulged, little “darlings” would NEVER think of doing, rather doling out more memories as the mood struck.  Then the comments made me realize that while I had more to give, I’d forgotten plenty of things, and, as memories are jogged and comments continue to come in, I’d only noted the “tip of the iceberg.”

So here are some HDIGTO memories of  friends, and a few more of my own too.

Jarts – the back yard game we all played at a friends, on a family picnic, or at the beach, one time or another.  There were two plastic rings, about 18″ or so in diameter – that were laid on the ground about twelve or fifteen feet apart, and six heavy steel shafted – red or blue plastic finned – pointy “darts”, about 14 or so, inches long, each.  There were two “teams” of two players each – one of each team at each end of the range.  Each team took turns tossing their color Jart at the opposite ring, hoping to score a point.  (kinda like Horse Shoes, but with lethal weapons).

The scary part is, we weren’t wearing any “protective”: pads, helmets, gloves, shoes – actually we were usually bare-footed, or goggles – when tossing.  There wasn’t a bottle of “Purell” in sight, nor was there a prize, trophy or other “reward”, other than bragging rights, to be won.  I don’t recall hearing anyone was maimed or killed playing, needed counseling for loosing, or any cease and desist orders to stop the bullying.  We somehow just knew; to stay out of the path of the Jart; that there wasn’t anything to “win” and we’d have to endure the razing until a victorious rematch could be played.  How did we know these facts – well, I’m not sure, as I don’t remember any formal training, detailed instructions, or over zealous parental interference.

Anyone remember calling “shot-gun” when you went for a ride in the car?  You know the front-passenger-seat-side in the car.  Or even better, sitting on dad’s lapsteering, while he did the shifting and peddles?  What were our parents thinking??  No child proof door latches; window locks, or rear-facing – buckle me in like an Astronaut – safety approved, child-car-seat, properly installed by a professional.  Actually, there were no seat-belts for anyone.  Talk about taking your life in your hands!!  How did we ever make it to our destinations and live to tell about it?

As if going for a ride wasn’t bad enough – how about when you messed up at home, in a store, at a friends or just about anywhere.  You know, when you did or said any one of the ten-thousand “DON’TS” on Mom or Dad’s list – got “the look” – and proceeded to do or say it anyway?  At the time it never seemed to enter my mind that they – my parents – had weapons, legal, weapons that they had no qualm about swiftly welding, throwing or otherwise using to inflict pain.  If I had all the shoes, slippers, forks, spoons (wooden or metal), Melmac plates, bowls, cups or other utensils that were thrown at, or used on me as I grew up – I could open a department store to rival Macy’s.  Try that today – parents – and see where that lands you!

I once told my mother, when I was well into adulthood, even married, I think, that if we were kids today, and she tried any of her punishments on us, she’d have been in jail.  “Oh, really“, she said “and why’s that?”  “Well if we went to school and told the teacher or called the police and told them you’d have been arrested for ‘child abuse’” I said.  Without skipping a beat she said, “That’s all you would have had to do.  IF a cop came to our door with that information, I’d have beat you – again – in front of him, then I’d have said, now take me away, I’m guilty, and I could use a vacation from these effin kids!”  I somehow knew that’s how it would’a gone.

Wow, those were “fun” times – and I wouldn’t trade them for all the X-Boxes in the world!  See ya again – soon.

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