Ladies and gentlemen, your elected officials. George Santos is a fascinating story, but one that tracks just perfectly if you think about the long, downward spiral that seems to be our government. Imagine you’re a regular person interviewing for a normal office job and you just invent a whole basket full of shit about yourself and totally fake your resume in order to nail the role. And your game face is so strong and convincing that everyone falls for it and you get the gig. Now, you probably don’t know what the hell you’re doing when take a seat in the role, but who cares? Fake it ’till you make it! Now imagine it’s Congress! How can you not help but laugh at the level of insanity that is going on right now? I, for one, can’t get enough of the Santos memes that are going around on social media, because they are hilarious. All you need to do is do a hashtag search and you’re in for endless amounts of fun. The below image, though, is not a meme. It’s a real story! Santos, the people’s representative from New York, stole money from a dying dog. The truth is indeed stranger than fiction!
One of my favorite news sources of late is The Free Press. You have to pay for the full boat of content (and it’s worth it), but if you sign up for their emails you can get a good tasting. They recently ran a piece mentioning another total clown, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, our latest example of what seems like an entitled 30-year-old in a 16-year-old’s body. The article isn’t about the billions (with a b) frittered away irresponsibly or the minefield that is crypto right now. It’s more about one of my favorite topics – age. Namely, how a 30-year old human man should probably be less sheepish, childish and dumb. What I find most interesting isn’t that the boomers are largely still in charge and the millenials are taking it on the chin a little and living with their parents. Oh, no. What I find most interesting is that yet again, there is not one single mention of the Gen-X’ers. It is almost like that generation is just floating out in space, or tucked away in a quiet, dark corner. Or left at home by themselves after school to…oh wait – that part is actually what we WERE. Anyway, back to Bankman-Fried. Don’t let me try to explain it, because the professional journalist will do it much better than I will:
Bankman-Fried’s fate will now be decided by the Southern District of New York, but his media charade of aw-shucks interviews and congressional testimony laced with brogrammer idioms built a public persona that we’ve largely come to accept: SBF is just a kid. Indeed, he’s so young that his law school professor parents were involved in his business and political dealings. (In this, they embody the helicopter style of child-rearing favored by nearly the entire Boomer elite.)
The reality, of course, is that SBF is a grown-ass, 30-year-old man. He is twelve years older than many of the men and women we sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Twelve years older than the adults we encourage to swallow hundreds of thousands of dollars in college debt before even declaring a major. And, if we’re serious about the math, SBF is a mere eight years away from the half-life of the average adult American man, who boasts a provisional life expectancy of only 76 years, according to the CDC. At 38, SBF would have already lived most of his life on Earth.
Katherine Boyle, The Free Press, January 17, 2023
Finally, it’s with great appreciation and interest that I read about John Laroquette, he of 1980s Night Court fame, who confirms that yes, he was paid in weed for his part in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We need more of this today. I want Woody Harrelson to only accept a role (as a crazed banjo-playing dean of students at an Ivy League college) if he can wheel a barrow full of weed out the door after the production is complete.
The concept of “life expectancy” would appear logical at the outset. “Hey, let’s let’s just use math to try and estimate the average lifespan of a human being.” Or a dog. Or turtle. Whatever it is. I think there’s subconscious comfort for people, perhaps, in knowing such things. And maybe it’s even good. Perhaps some people see that life expectancy number at age 50 and it just cold-cocks them. Wham! They realize they’re not where they want to be in life and then the consciousness does kick in and they make a bunch of huge positive changes for the good of themselves and others and everything is ducky and all is well. And I mean that. I’m not being sarcastic.
But the truth is there is no north star for us. I absolutely cannot live my life in such ways, looking out to some arbitrary number that some medical company or research publication published. All this life expectancy stuff might be factually accurate, but this is one of those rare times when I can’t let data drive the story (my co-workers, if they see this, are going to laugh at that statement).
CDC data shows that the difference between life expectancy among men and women has also widened. Now, men in the United States have an average life expectancy of 73.5 while women can expect to live until age 79.3.
This is a decline in life expectancy, by the way, from previous data. And I am sure you know why, but in case you don’t, there’s that little COVID-19 thing that happened. So, should I plan my life now towards having 22 years left? No. I should not. And I do not. It’s not that I am confident I have more time than that left, it’s that I don’t know how much time I have left. That is how I approach it. Now, I take pretty good care of myself. I exercise a lot, I eat relatively well, and I am fairly risk averse. This gives me some confidence (my god, knock on wood) that I have a good shot at exceeding that. But I could also get hit by the proverbial bus tomorrow. Nothing is ever guaranteed.
But hark! The article is really about life expectancy by state. So in this there is good news for me:
I go from 73 to 79! Thank goodness I have another six years due to the state I live in. BAH. Here’s the thing – you’re healthy or you’re not. You’re lucky or you’re not. Your genetics are good or they are not. Average life expectancy is just a collection of 1’s and 0’s, a calculator-driven algorithim that means nothing. It’s what you do with every day, every moment. Everytime I play a hockey game, I am grateful for having participated, experienced, and finished another game. I’m grateful I have a job that pays the bills. I’m grateful.
I know it’s kind of passe to use this quote, but Andy Dufrene was right in Shawshank Redemption – get busy living, or get busy dying.
Well here we are, another new year. Each year it seems like I say to myself “wow, another year, how did that happen” or “damn, this year went by so fast.” I was on a walk with Stephanie yesterday and we talked about 2022, but tried to keep it focused on the good things that happened. There was a lot of good, sprinkled in with some struggles. That is called life. And now I’m saying to myself “Electric word, ‘life’, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time….”
Anyway, I’m listing some (not all) of my 2022 highlights below, in no particular order. Yesterday’s walk will come into play here.
Grateful for Reading: At the beginning of 2022, I made a vow (dare I say resolution) to read more books than I did in 2021, and I did that. The bar was low, as I only read 3 books in 2021 and I suspect that may be a low point in my reading life. This year I read 11 books. I will list 10 of them here:
“Going There” by Katie Couric – excellent, honest memoir, she isn’t afraid to expose her weaknesses (or strengths)
“The Moth in the Iron Lung – A Biography of Polio” – very interesting look at Polio, though the end was unnecessarily preachy about vax avoidance
“Fighting My Way to the Top” by Shawn Thornton – I met him on several occasions for work stuff, super nice guy. Good story.
“Lights Out” by Ted Koppel – really made me think and assess a few things. See here.
“When Crisis Hits Suburbia” by Ted Riely – read this after reading Koppel book. A little over the top about “prepping” but also some sound advice
“The Nineties” by Chuck Klosterman – foremost pop culture writer on watershed moments in the decade. A gas to read.
“Devil in a Coma” by Mark Lanegan – a shorter Lanegan book about his time with Covid. I’m still so sad about his death
Hello Molly – A Memoir” by Molly Shannon – summer vaca book and terrific, harrowing journey. I love her.
“Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalen – frightening, compelling book about your body/brain abandoning you
“When to Rob a Bank” by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner – collection of blog posts from the “Freakonomics” guys. So great
Grateful for Listening: Of course music still plays a gigantic, meaningful role in my life. Here’s a few things I enjoyed this year:
Wet Leg (self-titled) – released early in the year, maybe the most pure fun I’ve had listening to an album in years.
Built to Spill, “When the Wind Forgets Your Name” – so rock solid and dependable, every time. What a band.
Spoon, “Lucifer on the Sofa” – I had not loved their last couple of releases, this one brought me back to them. Rhythmic and excellent.
Deer Tick live at The Sinclair, December 12 – i can’t get enough of this band’s music, especially live. There’s a comfort and happiness with them.
Black Keys “Dropout Boogie” – another remarkably consistent band, gritty, fun, bluesy.
Julia Jacklin “Pre-pleasure” – how she still flys under the radar is stunning to me. One of my favroite emerging talents in years
Pavement live, at the Boch Center, September 28 – I hadn’t seem them in maybe 20+ years, so it was emotional, they’re a top 5 band for me
Grateful for Working I am in my sixth year at Avid as VP of Web & Ecommerce and I continue to be thoroughly stimulated and challenged by work. What more could I ask for? My scattered brain loves bouncing between different things and my current job is perfect for that. I love all the challenges it brings, from forecasting/budgeting to managing a team of 15 excellent people to helping drive and optimize a digital experience for a global buisness. It’s rewarding, befuddling, funny and challenging.
Grateful for a Lot This part is probably the most important. As 2022 progressed, a very interesting thing happened to me. I’ve become more grateful in general for all kinds of things. I’ve really leaned into this. I’ve learned to let frustrations go far quicker than I historically have. If something crazy happens at work, for example, I don’t let negatively linger about it – I remind myself that I am grateful to have a job and if there’s other people involved in some kind of frustration, I just pivot and wish them well in my mind. They may be having a bad day or struggling with something I don’t know about or can’t comprehend. If someone cuts me off driving, same thing. I am here to tell you this works.
Not that I wasn’t grateful before, but I’m discovering that when you really focus on changing your mindset to be more grateful and having a positive vision, it reverberates around your whole life. I realize this is all very “woo-woo” to say, but it’s absolutely true. Be grateful for your family, friends, health and well-being. It truly pays off. Some of this realization has occurred through some work I’m doing on myself in a somewhat formal way but even before that I could feel myself leaning this way. Adjust the mindset. And it’s really worked.
Let’s talk about positive vision for a second. My neighbor sends out an email at the end of every year with a list of his favorite music and I received the 2022 email yesterday (Dec 31). I noticed that Midlake was on his 2022 list. Midlake is a band that is not very well-known that I also happen to love. Back in 2012 one of leaders of the band quit – the band soldiered on – but I’ve been keeping tabs on that musician who left, hoping and waiting ever since that he would make some music on his own. But he hasn’t. And I wrote back to my neighbor and we were both thrilled that we knew someone else who loved Midlake and how we both really wanted this guy (Tim Smith) who we haven’t heard from in 10 years to release some music. And just last night after this exchange, I said to myself that I’m grateful for Midlake still being around and I hope that TIm Smith was ok. This morning at 8:53am, on January 1st, about 14 hours after having that thought, this email showed up in my inbox.
Is this a coincidence that it’s been 10 years since Tim Smith has released any music at all and that yesterday I had this very specific thought and then this email arrived hours after? The practical skeptic in me says yes, absolutely a coincidence. Perhaps the evolving me doesn’t.
Now, I can’t tell you one way or another if anyone has noticed in observing me that I’ve become more grateful, positive, appreciative or perhaps spiritual (and I don’t mean GOD spiritual, I have my issues with formal religion. But I’m not focused on this self-work to enhance how people feel about me. Any perceived improvement in how people view me is (or will be) gravy. I’m doing it for me, because I think I need it. But I can tell you that in 2023 you’ll see some other stuff coming from me that maybe you (or I) didn’t expect. I’m looking forward to it, and grateful that I have the health, mindset, ability and wherewithal to pursue it.
A few of you have messaged me over the last month wondering why you don’t see comments right away when you submit them in response to one my posts. In a world of instant gratification, I understand why it can frustrating or odd, or make you think that the comments engine doesn’t work. There is an explanation for this – for every real comment posted, there are literally 100 posts of spam. Some of them are just stacks and stacks of porn links or other strange websites, but others try to “fool” the spam filter.
So I’ve basically set up any and all comments to line up for review before I let the real ones through. That’s right, I comb through all the chaff to find the wheat. Just for you! So don’t fret if you post a comment and don’t see it – I try to check a few times a week and if yours is a legit comment, I will green light it.
But since I’m here, I thought it might be fun to give you a sample of some of the comments that don’t make the cut. Lots of them make zero sense. I obviously won’t cite the “commenter” since they are probably not human anyway. Here we go:
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On this day 14 years ago, I put out the message below on Facebook about Lasik. Even back in 2008, Lasik was on my mind and I know it was on my mind before that, too, because I can remember talking to an Ask Jeeves co-worker (shout out, Chris Damsen!) about his experience with Lasik. In fact, I was talking to a lot of people about it.
My eyes are a pain in the ass. I first got glasses in 1988 when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school. I really wish I had a picture somewhere of me wearing them because they were, um, of the time. I haven’t been able to find one. What I am really trying to say is that the frames made me look like a mass murderer and I bet you know exactly the frames I am talking about, don’t you? Of course you do. Witness:
I remember putting the glasses on and being dumbfounded about how clear everything was, so obviously I needed glasses long before 1988. I am pretty sure the reason that there may be no pictures is because I tried to avoid wearing them whenever possible. But more and more I had to rely on them to see in class, to drive and to watch TV. Sigh. It also was a bit of a conundrum playing hockey, because my eyes had built up a need for them, so when I took them off to play, my vision was shit. You kinda need vision for hockey.
Anyway, back then it was just plain old near-sightedness. Over the years time has really done a number on them, as is the case with many people in their fifties. I have to take off my glasses for certain things, put them on for other things, sometimes I just lift my head and point my eyeballs down to see something on my phone or whatnot. Now I wear progressive lenses, which is my next step towards inevitable death (I joke).
I basically feel like that 50 year old man always having hold something out far or within an inch of my eyeball to see it clearly. Oh wait – I AM THAT 50 YEAR OLD MAN.
OK, I’m rambling. Back to Lasik. All I ever heard was how amazing it was, how everyone said “I can’t believe I didn’t do this 10 years ago!” And I was jealous. Boy, was I jealous. I priced it out, I checked insurance, I even called around to a couple of places and talked to my doctor about it. Now you might even be asking yourself why the hell didn’t I just do it then?
Well, here’s your answer: I’m a wimp.
That’s right. A wimp. I could never get over the mental hump of surgery on my EYES. I don’t think it was the prospect of pain, it was more about the notion of something going really south and then I’d blind forever in one eye and have to wear a patch. Or blind in both eyes! Or it wouldn’t work. Or I’d have to go back and constantly get adjusted. Well, now after 25 years of wanting Lasik, but being a wimp, I have my vindication and I now no longer want it.
So yes, it’s DRAFT guidance. But now I do take great pride in knowing that my wimpiness and fears were not unfounded! The Times fairly points out that the F.D.A. document is not final and they are now reviewing the input from testing while preparing the final documents. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, I say! And now I welcome all the comments coming from all of you Lasik lovers who’ve had no problems whatsoever. Good for you! I’m not joining your eyeball surgery club!
There have been a few moments this week where the topic of weight and how we judge people has come up. Something in the universe cooked up a bunch of random moments all tied to this subject that led to me to my post today.
First was this moment on Tuesday during the Bruins / Lightning NHL game when Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards had some kind of mental breakdown and decided that instead of talking about what was happening in the hockey game, he would just go momentarily rogue and body-shame one of the Lightning players.
The best part of this is that after the game, Maroon outclassed Edwards by donating to a charity in Edwards’s name and encouraging fans to do the same. The charity is a local nonprofit organization focused on strengthening behavioral health outcomes for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders and Maroon (+fans) at last count had donated $50,000 in Jack Edwards name. Classy and admirable response.
There was also some talk in our house this week about Body Mass Index (“BMI”), a simple but dumb medical metric where you take your weight and divide it by the square of your height. The result is a tiered set of numbers that places you into buckets as seen below, complete with body shaming images. You can already see where this falls apart. A professional athlete, for example, who is very muscular would obviously weigh higher on the scale, but is clearly not obese. See “Pat Maroon” point above.
Even on my recent physical, the BMI metric appeared on my visit summary.
Today, the New York Times ran this piece, which does a nice job of walking us through the history of BMI, interviewing a variety of medical experts on it and also includes what might be a better way to measure your level of health and wellness when it comes to weight – it’s simpler than you probably think.
Then I remembered that during COVID in 2021, the initial vaccines were starting to be offered and there was a phased rollout, people by age, people with pre-existing health conditions, etc. There was a lot of scrambling around to schedule our shots online and maybe even “cut the line” if we could, because we all just sought normalcy as soon as we could get it. We found out that one of the ways to cut the line was to have a BMI that was 25 or over, or “obese.”
I started wearing a Fitbit in May of 2020 and my BMI has consistently been around 25-26. I’ve consistently been at that number in the two+ years I’ve been tracking my health. My weight typically ranges from 175-180 all year long. And that allowed me to cut the line and get a vaccine a bit earlier than my age group.
So by definiton of BMI, I am overweight. And that is ridiculous. I consider myself fit. I am not overly muscular, though I have *some* definition. I still play ice hockey three times a week and walk 1-2 times a week. I feel as if I am quite ordinary and normal in terms of build and I think most who know me would agree I’m not overweight. I certainly don’t let this arbitrary BMI metric bother me and I hope you don’t either!
Weight and body image are tough enough subjects as it is. We don’t need this kind of judgment, nor does the world need to hear a man broadcasting to hundreds of thousands of people snide comments about someone’s body.