Archive | Aging RSS feed for this section

Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.

5 Jun

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So the wife finally convinced me to do this ancestry DNA thing you’ve probably heard or read about. Ya know, you send in your DNA sample to this mad scientist type place somewhere in Utah and a few months later you get to find out you’re not Scotch-Irish like you’ve been told since you were 3 but are in fact one-fifth Bosnian-Herzegovinian with a touch of Latvian Orthodox and a slight dusting of the Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Clan. Which is probably why your family just said you were Scotch-Irish and left it at that. Much simpler.

Anyway, one day the wife hands me this cardboard box and excitedly proclaims, “Here’s your kit! Time to provide your sample!”

I was instantly horrified. The only “samples” I’ve ever had to provide for medical/research purposes involved either (a) needles, blood, and pain; (b) sitting alone in a room with a tiny container, some tissues, and a “men’s” magazine while trying hard to think sexy thoughts; or (c) forcibly going to the bathroom and then, while completely mortified, placing my uncomfortably warm “sample” into a tray in the wall of my examination room while praying to God no one opens the tray from the other side of the wall while I’m providing my uncomfortably warm “sample.”

To my great relief, I found out that the ancestry guys just wanted my spit. For a moment, as I self-consciously began earnestly trying to hock up a nice loogie, I eyed Ralph asleep on the floor and pondered what the results would be if I gave them a vial of elderly long-haired dachshund saliva. “Dear Mr. White,” I envisioned, “from your unique DNA sample, our labs have concluded that you are eight-tenths Old World German with a family history of hunting badgers and an unusual tendency toward heartworm. For long-term health, you may consider drinking less from the toilet and going for ‘walkies’ at least three times a week.”

But no, I diligently hocked up my sample, sealed my little vial, and we both shipped off our DNA data in hopes of discovering if great-great-great-great-great grandpappy was perhaps Nebuchadnezzar II or Spike Jones or whoever.

We have since been in the “waiting phase,” while—according to the company literature—the DNA lab experts and biochemists in white labcoats spend arduous weeks attempting to deconstruct our respective spittles down to the double-helix level and painstakingly extract our ancestry information. A substantial part of me thinks that in reality, there’s a big basement room in Provo somewhere with a giant wall map of the world and a bunch of guys in t-shirts and sweatpants armed with darts.

“OK,” a rotund guy yells out, still munching a pizza crust, slouched at his chair. “Watch out. This one is for, let’s see, this dude’s name is ‘White.’” He reaches into a coffee can full of darts, takes a dart and heaves it at the wall. “Rocko,” the guy yells. “Where’d that hit?”

Rocko takes a swig of Miller Lite from a longneck bottle and shuffles over to the map. “It’s in the middle of the damn ocean. Try again.”

The rotund “lab expert” sighs and throws another. “Bingo!”

Rocko burps and leans down to inspect the dart’s landing zone. “Bolivia. Somewhere in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Wow.”

“How ’bout that? Bet the guy never knew he was one-quarter Titicacan. OK, watch out, here goes again…”

I’m hoping that’s not how it goes, but the cynic in me can’t help but think the whole thing is at least a little bit scammy. I did read somewhere that the results aren’t 100 percent accurate and that some folks tend to be over-identified Scandinavian for some reason. I guess Scandinavian is the default heritage, kind of like on the Magic 8 Ball how more times than not the answer is “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”

 

Roger White is a four-sevenths Scandinavian freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely six-elevenths Creole wife, two half-Sri Lankan daughters, a full-blooded Obesian dachshund, and a cat that refuses to provide a sample. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Ya Wanted More Fernie, Ya Got More Fernie

24 Apr

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Well, gang, it seems that the literary stylings of my old compadre Dr. Archie Ferndoodle have truly struck a chord with many of you. Since the appearance of Sir Archie’s poetic elucidations in a recent episode of “This Old Mouse,” the Oldblouse offices have been inundated with a letter heaping praise on the feckless Fernman and further beseeching the master muse for more obtuse observations. Well, who am I to deny my faithful the mental goosefeather that so tickles their collective ulnas?

You surely know this by now, but the Doodle Doctor insists I preface his epistles with the following: The esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspon — oh, to hell with it. If you really want to view the good doctor’s curriculum vitalis, write me, and I’ll send you a mimeographed copy.

Sir Archie, in his own peculiar patois, has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with his edgy, pointy-like lyrics so pertinent to today’s roiling rambunctious rutabaga world.

Disclaimer: The Spouseman—and the newspaper/periodical/bathroom wall compendium in which this diatribe appears—doesn’t necessarily agree with the views and opinions of Sir Archie. He is his own creature, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his verbal effluence.

Taking that into account, I give you Archie’s first offering, called “Healthcare for Millennials.” Keep in mind, you have to know the popular tune to latch these lyrics onto or none of this makes any sense whateverso. But if you’ve made it this far, sense is something you know is a rare commodity in this time/space.

 

Healthcare for Millennials

(to the tune of “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young)

(verse 1)

“You under twenty-one,

Will be under the gun to pay for healthcare,

By the time you reach my age,

You’ll spend a year’s wage just to rent a wheelchair.”

 

(chorus)

“So keep your bodies well,

’Cause you’ll pay like hell to see the surgeon,

Think hard about having kids,

You’ll be on the skids, better stay a virgin.”

 

“No use in asking why, it’ll cost less to simply die,

Better yet you just might tryyyyyyy….

To move to Canada.”

 

Huzzah, Archster, well done. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered a little ditty he calls “Little Trumpy,” regarding the precarious existence of PBS and shows such as “Sesame Street” under the current regime:

 

Little Trumpy

(to the tune of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Ducky” )

 

(verse 1)

“Little Trumpy, you’re the dude

Who sent PBS down the tubes,

Because of Trumpy we are all royally screwed.”

 

(verse 2)

“Oscar lost the lease to his can,

Elmo’s turning tricks in Japan,

Little Trumpy, I’m not very fond of you.”

 

(chorus/bridge)

“Oh, every day when I see Big Bird in the gutter,

And I think about Kermit’s suicide I mutter,

What a motherlubber.”

 

(verse 3)

“Cookie Monster OD’d on crack,

Miss Piggy’s somewhere dealing blackjack,

Oh, Little Trumpy, life’s really the pits now,

Oh, Little Trumpy, me and Bert called it quits, and how,

Little Trumpy, it looks like I’m shackin’ with you.”

 

Bray-vo, bray-vo. And lastly, Ferndude gives us his take on the ramifications of oilman Rex Tillerson taking over as top guy at the US State Department:

 

Rex Will Survive

(to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”)

 

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified,

Kept thinkin’ my ties to Russian oil I could never hide,

Friends said, Rex, why take this job, it’s a massive pay cut,

To be Trump’s head of state, you must be some kind of nut,”

 

“But here I am, from Wichita Falls,

Make way for ol’ Tillerson, ’cause I got some big ol’ b*lls,

I’ll go easy on the Reds,

But North Koreans I will kill,

I got a tiger in my tank, my Exxon stock’s worth 100 mill,”

 

“Yes, Putin and I, we will survive,

Just don’t look too darn deep in KGB archives,

We’ve got such friendly ties, so don’t you be surprised,

When Moscow becomes home to the next Exxon franchise,

Hey, hey!”

 

Sir Archie Ferndoodle’s classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and perhaps his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” Roger White is a Ferndoodle protégé or else owes him big time. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Time for Old Rockers to Tinker with their Tunes

24 Aug

by Roger White

A friend recently posted on Facebook a snippet of herself at a Kansas concert, and it really got me thinking. No, it wasn’t a concert in Topeka—it was a show featuring that well-seasoned rock band Kansas. Yes, they’re actually still around, and yes, they’re actually still touring. My first thought upon viewing this short clip was to make a mental sticky-note to myself, which will read: “Note to self: Never post a clip on Facebook of you singing along with any band anywhere.” All you can hear in this video clip is our friend wailing out “Carry On My Wayward Son” at the top of her lungs, presumably as the guys on stage paid to sing the song are doing likewise. It weren’t pretty.

The second thought that swam across the shallow stream of consciousness that is my brain was “Aren’t the members of Kansas like, 87 years old now? Shouldn’t they be singing something like ‘Carry On My Wayward Grandson’?”

gads

Apparently, as Bob Seger opined long ago, rock and roll never forgets—as will attest many an aging rock outfit (they call them “legacy bands” now, which is code for “old fart rockers”). And these antique acts haven’t forgotten that we old fart fans will still pay good cash money to hear “Satisfaction” or “Born to Run” live just one more time before we all keel over. It’s amazing how many wrinkled ol—er, I mean, legacy bands are still at it. Just look at the lineup for Austin’s One World Theatre for any given month; nine out of ten acts playing there are card-carrying AARP members.

And this got me thinking further. I do believe it’s time for some of these long-in-the-tooth bands to tinker with their repertoire a bit to more properly reflect where they are in life. I mean, come on, Donny Osmond’s pushing 60. Can he still authentically pine about his “Puppy Love”? Instead of “Dust in the Wind,” Kansas should be singing something more along the lines of “Dust in Your Depends.”

double gads

So, herewith are some gentle oldspouse suggestions for revisions to many of our generation’s classic, albeit geriatric, gems, in no particular order:

  • The Rolling Stones: “I Can’t Hear You Knocking”; “Ruby Snoozeday”; “When the Hip Goes Out”; “You Always Forget What You Want”
  • Chicago: “Does Anybody Really Know What Day This Is?”; “If You Bathe Me Now”; “Questions 67 and, Uh”
  • The Eagles: “Hotel Neuralgia”; “Life with the Gas Pain”; “Glaucoma Sunrise”; “After the Pills Are Gone”
  • The Who: “Talkin’ ’Bout my Medication”; “Behind Bad Eyes”
  • Bad Company: “Feel Like Makin’ Fudge”; “Rockin’ Chair Fantasy”; “Can’t Get Enough of Your Prunes”
  • Black Sabbath: “Iron (Deficiency) Man”; “Hemorrhoid”; “Bark at the Nurse”
  • Beach Boys: “Be True to Your Stool”; “Catatonia Girls”; “Good Fibrillations”
  • Bruce Springsteen: “Vitamin E Street Shuffle”; “I’m Goin’ Down (And I Can’t Get Up)”; “Tenth Avenue Wheeze Out”
  • Crosby, Stills, & Nash: “Almost Grew Some Hair”; “Find the Cost of Lasik”; “Helplessly Scoping”fourple gads
  • Deep Purple: “Stroke on the Water”; “Face Tuckin’”
  • Doobie Brothers: “Long Vein Runnin’”; “Angina Grove”; “Takin’ It to the Sheets”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Rest Home Alabama”
  • Foreigner: “Feels Like the Last Time”; “I Wanna Know What Today Is”
  • Steely Dan: “Rikki Don’t Lose Your Walker”; “My Old Stool”
  • Neil Young: “Down by My Liver”; “A Man Needs a Nurse”; “Enema Girl”
  • The Monkees: “Last Train to Restville”; “(I’ve Got Your) Kidney Stone”
  • Billy Joel: “Just the Way You Snore”; “Scenes From an Italian Rest Home”
  • Todd Rundgren: “I Saw the Nightlight”; “We Gotta Get You a Bypass”
  • Sly and the Family Stone: “You Can Wake Up If You Try”; “Thank You (Falletinme Feed Mice Elf Agin)”
  • KC & The Sunshine Band: “Get Sleep Tonight”; “Shake Your Footies”
  • The Kinks: “Dedicated Follower of Napping”; “You Really Got Gout”
  • Three Dog Night: “Try a Little Dulcolax”; “Just an Old-Fashioned Gallstone”
  • Jefferson Airplane: “Go Ask Cialis”

These are just suggestions, mind you. I had a few more in mind, but you get the picture. Besides, this compilation began to seriously eat into my nap time.

 

Roger White is a freelance old person living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

Our Daughter Could Be a Banana Slug, or Maybe a Gorlok

10 Apr

by Roger White

 

There are certain events and milestones in one’s earthly existence that make one realize one is brushing up against one’s own mortality. Wifey and one—I mean, I—brushed up against one of these awareness-of-impending-antiquity events recently when we escorted our youngest offspring to a college and career fair at the convention center. Jamie’s a junior in high school now, and I’m a senior. In life.

It dawned on me, watching the myriad college counselors and admissions folks—some of them looking to be approximately 12 years old—that if our ol Methy himselfyoungest spawn is hunting higher education options, that must mean I’m way past AARP recruiting age. As in dirt, comma, older than. See Methuselah. See Codger. See your Chiropractor.

This preoccupation with my own demise and decay aside, my flabbers were downright gasted at just how many colleges, universities, service academies, trade schools, and other alleged higher ed institutions were represented at the fair.

Did you know, for example, that there is a Colorado School of Mines? At the little table set up for the Colorado School of Mines, I joked with the counselor that some of the school’s most prominent alumni must be Big Bad John, Darlin’ Clementine, and Loretta Lynn’s dad. The counselor didn’t appreciate the humor. I then asked the guy if they were looking for prospective students or prospector students. Again with the stone face. Tough crowd.

Actually, the now-peeved counselor explained, the Colorado School of Mines, a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science, has CSMone of the highest admissions standards in the country. This I did not know. I also did not know that they offer athletics. Their teams are—no, not the Miners—they’re the Orediggers. I went to point this out to Jamie, our college-hunting offspring, but she was long gone, off with her mom at the University of Hawaii table.

I noticed that the University of Hawaii table was jammed with people—young and old—poring over the brochures and literature, which seemed to feature many more scenes of island splendor than actual college information. Questions from prospective students also seemed not so much directed at curricula and faculty credentials as they were concerning recreation facilities and proximity to the beach.

Come to think of it, any college table associated with Hawaii (and there were more than you might think—Honolulu Community College, Leeward Community College, Windward Community College, Windy Leeward Land Ho School for Lei-Making) was overrun with eager would-be island scholars.

At the table set up for Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne (I think that’s, like, overseas somewhere), I noticed that they offered a Masters in Bursary Information. I asked what exactly that was, but I didn’t quite understand the answer. In fact, I wasn’t sure if the friendly muttonchopped representative was speaking English. From the brochure, I found that the ozNorthumbria also offers a PhD in Numeracy. Yeah. I suspect they also feature a BS in Proper Powdered-Wig Wearing (for pre-Law students), and a Bachelor’s of Understanding What the Hell Ozzy Osbourne Is Saying (BS in UWHOOIS).

Some of my other personal faves included the University of Arkansas-Monticello (primarily because their teams are known as the Boll Weevils), Webster University of St. Louis (the Gorloks, whatever a Gorlok is), Scottsdale Community College (the Fightin’ Artichokes), and the University of California-Santa Cruz (the Banana Slugs).

The UC-Santa Cruz lady made mention that despite a budget that is about half the size of similar schools, their athletics program boasted 15 All-Americans last year. She didn’t say exactly what sports that the Banana Slugs were named All-American in, but judging from the neon yellow mascot and the, oh, “relaxed” look in the UCSC lady’s eye, I would bet unicycle polo, dog surfing, and quidditch are among them.

Jamie came away from the fair with tons of brochures, pens, decals, and other freebies but with little notion of just where she plans to apply. Her mom and I figure any decent school that produces an independent Jamie the slugswith an expanded worldview and ability to make large bucks—and that does not require a second mortgage on our humble abode—would be just fine.

UC-Santa Cruz would be cool, though. I would be the owner of a bumper sticker that proclaims: “Proud Dad of a Banana Slug.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Hey, You! Get Off My Cloud.

29 Apr

by Roger White

 

Our eldest offspring graduates high school this spring, and as we help her gear up for her college adventure, we find ourselves dealing with periodic outbreaks of sanguine eagerness and heartrending nostalgia. Not from Lindsey, mind you; steady girl she, this one can’t wait to hit the road. Nooy, these schizophrenic episodes of brilliant, optimistic sunshine followed by immense black clouds of wistful despair emanate from her mother and me. One minute we see our dazzling world-changer bound for an abundant horizon, and the next we cover our heads with ash lamenting lost childhood. Oh, where is that little girl we carried? If I were a rich man, yadda deeba deeba...

 

But that’s for another episode.

 

Hang with me here, however. The point I’m meandering to involves clouds and horizons and atmospheric disturbances. Kinda sorta. You see, one of the many things on the higher ed checklist for daughter numero uno is the purchase of a new laptop for our bright, shiny grad. For middle-aged, big-pink-eraser-loving boomers such as ourselves, attempting to pinpoint the optimal laptop computer amid the chrome and plastic jungle of touchpads and notebooks and ultrabooks and RAM capacity is a daunting task.

 

For example, one such high-tech, high-priced gizmatron we’ve been considering is something called the Chromebook. Have you seen this thing? From my limited understanding, a Chromebook is a laptop computer—and it isn’t. Apparently, the Chromebook doesn’t have any actual real things in its innards, such as word-processing programs and photo-editing da cloudfunctions and the like. Nope, the Chromebook points its user to the web for all that stuff. If you want to create a document, you have to access the internet to find the appropriate program, and if you want to save said document, you have to store it on the internet, too—in some nebulous realm called the Cloud.

 

I have several issues with this concept, not the least of which is understanding just what the hell it is. So I’m buying a slick, sleek, razor-thin, state-of-the-art laptop that has nothing in it? Whenever I hit any function key, do I simply get shuffled off to the interwebs?

 

Me: “Let’s see. Let’s try the calculator.” Click, clack, clack.

Chromebook: “See Cloud.”

 

Me: “Hmm. Create Word file.” Clack click.

Chromebook: “See Cloud.”

 

Me: “Well, f*#@! Chromebook, see wall.” Throw.

Chromebook: “See8 Cloj j4j. Sorry, Dave. Don’t, Dave. 601.”

 

Now, you should note that Chromebook didn’t invent this odd paradigm; it’s just the most visible example. This setup is known in the geek world as a thin client. Thin clients, to use the vernacular, “only provide a web browser and rely on web applications to provide general-purpose computing functionality and storage facilitation.” So if I crack open this here thin client, I imagine I’ll find nothing but a tiny modem and a sticker that reads, “For repair or maintenance assistance, you guessed it, pal: See Cloud.”

 

So what is this Cloud? Is it the interwebs its own self? Does it hover above the interwebs? And who runs the Cloud? God? Bill Gates? Is there one great big Cloud or 650 million tiny little head cloud guyClouds? How do I know that you’re not poking around in my Cloud? Hey, you, get off my Cloud.

 

And why the Cloud? Clouds are so ephemeral. Clouds tend to disappear or drift away. Or turn into messy storms. The idea of storing my vital documents, such as my personal collection of cats-playing-the-piano videos, on something called the Cloud doesn’t fill me with confidence. How about calling it the Vault? Or the Core? Even the Big Weenie, for crying out loud. But the Cloud?

 

Aha. I looked into this a bit more, and in my research I found this unsettling piece of info. And I quote: “Network-based services, which appear to be provided by real server hardware but are in fact served up by virtual hardware simulated by software, are often called cloud computing. Such virtual servers do not physically exist and can therefore be moved around and scaled up or down, somewhat like a cloud becoming larger or smaller without being a physical object.”

 

Hence, the Cloud. So the Cloud doesn’t physically exist? Is this like the tree falling in the forest? If a writer’s soon-to-be-blockbuster novel was stored in the Cloud, and the Cloud drifted away, did the writer actually write a novel at all? Where the hell is my dark and stormy night? And what if a college student’s term paper is due tomorrow and a dark and stormy night knocks out internet access? Is she up the creek, in the forest, with the trees falling, in the night, under the Cloud, with no paddle, in the thing, with the deal?

 

Upshot of all these lamentations: The whole idea feels like a hoodwink. A scam. A fiddle faddle. state of artThe reality may be that we just aren’t tech-savvy enough to get it, but we’re taking no chances. In the meantime, dear daughter o’ ours, here’s a spit-shined, reconditioned Smith-Corona with new ribbon. The “n” sticks, but you’ll get the hang of it.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

College Twerk-Study Program? No, Thank You

19 Mar

by Roger White  

Shakespeare nailed it when he said it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Or was that Kipling? Whatever. That’s what it is, all right. Around our house, it’s the best of times because our eldest offspring has been accepted into two top-tier universities. And it’s the worst of times because our eldest offspring has been accepted into two top-tier universities.

As parents, we couldn’t be more proud—or more terrified. If you haven’t window-shopped prices of higher education lately, let me explain it this way: Imagine you are a master chemist and you’ve cooked world-class blue crystal meth for years until you’ve amassed eight barrels of nicely laundered cash. Now, imagine a gang of neo-Nazi thugs meets you in the desert, shoots your DEA agent brother-in-law, and takes seven of your cashcashcashcash barrels, leaving you with only one. OK, never mind. Bad analogy. I’m in no way likening college to a gang of neo-Nazi thugs. In fact, let me state for the record here and now that I am extremely pro-higher education. However, I am also extremely pro-eating food on a daily basis and pro-paying the light bill and pro-not living in the highway median with the nocturnal wildlife and those creepy guys in the wool sweaters who hang out at the stoplight.

Yes, folks, college be expensive. Sticker shock isn’t the term for it. It’s more like sticker electrocution. With two girls nearing high school graduation, the wife and I figure that I can retire around age 146. The good news is I can gear down to a part-time job at about age 125 or so.

greenstampsNeedless to say, we are hunting high and low and medium for any and all forms of financial aid, scholarships, grants, loans, subsidies, handouts, lottery tickets, coupons, cash-back programs, and loose change. We’ll take S&H green stamps if you have them.

This is why I was morbidly curious when I read somewhere that a rapper by the name of Juicy J recently offered a $50,000 college scholarship to “the best chick who can twerk.” If you’ve been cave-dwelling or living in Nebraska of late, twerking is, and I’m quoting here, “a type of dancing in which an individual, usually a female, dances to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrusand a low squatting stance.” Yeah. It’s that highly objectionable derriere-jiggling move that an obviously chemically-altered Miley Cyrus performed on stage last year at the MTV Video Music Awards. Needless to say, I’ll never watch Hannah Montana the same way again. Not that I ever watched Hannah Montana. No, seriously. I only watched a few episodes because my kids were watching it. Actually a cute show, although I thought the guy playing Hannah’s dad just wasn’t believable in that role.

Anyway, no daughter of mine is going to twerk for anybody anywhere, if I have something to say about it. At least not for anything less than a full ride, textbooks, and room and board.

This got me thinking, if a rapper can step up and sponsor this unique, albeit disgusting, higher ed opportunity, why can’t others? How about Apple offering a Texting Tuition Scholarship? I know for a fact my youngest can text and tweet longer and faster than anyone I know. Sprint could perhaps pony up big money for the Best Selfie Student Grant Program. Maybe the automotive industry could get behind a Guess the Next GM Recall Scholarship. Or what about a Dennis Rodman Foreign Policy International Studies Student Loan Program? The potential here is unlimited.

Unfortunately, my retirement account isn’t. Pass the peanut butter and crackers, please.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com

Listen to the Wife. Don’t Put Off the Doc Visit

7 Mar

by Roger White

Musician/songwriter Dan Fogelberg. Actor Dennis Hopper. Musician Frank Zappa. Television producer Merv Griffin. Actor Telly Savalas. Psychologist/writer Timothy Leary. What do all these guys have in common? They all died of prostate Dancancer, a highly treatable disease if caught in the early stages. Why am I telling you this? I guess you could say it’s become a personal mission of mine to get the word out about early detection. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2013.

It was a shocker, to say the least. It all started with a routine physical, grudgingly agreed to after the insistent urgings of my lovely wife, Sue. One of the many things the doc checks for in guys my age (50+) is the level of PSA in the bloodstream. PSA, short for prostate-specific antigen, is produced by the prostate gland, located down in the male nether regions. Its main function, to put it in terms appropriate for family-friendly reading, is to produce a substance that, um, allows one’s boys to swim more freely. An elevated PSA level is a red flag, however.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. PSA tests, as Sue and I found through voracious research, are somewhat controversial because some health advocates have cited an overdiagnosis and overtreatment for prostate cancer in otherwise healthy men. Only 30 percent of men with elevated PSA levels are found to have prostate cancer following biopsy, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. And the biopsy is no picnic, let me tell ya. Many men, I discovered, opt to skip the biopsy—a quite literal pain in the rear—and conduct what’s termed “watchful waiting” over the years, wherein they’re obliged to check their PSA level regularly to see if it’s rising.

Unfortunately, it seems this controversy about PSA test accuracy has been used as an excuse by many men to simply skip the whole screening. Well, I’m here to tell men over 50, despite the clamor about overtreatment, to get your PSA level checked. I was in the 30 percent. My biopsy report came back stamped in red, in cancerall caps: “CARCINOMA.” Cancer. After the initial terror wore off, we went into action. And here is where it helps immensely to have a supportive partner. Sue read everything she could get her hands on about prostate cancer. We found that every case is different and that treatment options are varied—and confusing. We discovered that although prostate cancer is among the most common cancer in men, some men can actually live with the disease into very old age.

This, however, was not my case. The biopsy showed that mine was advanced to the stage that I required treatment. My options were surgery (removal of the prostate gland), external radiation (a series of treatments in which a beam targets cancerous tissue), or brachytherapy (inserting radioactive “seeds” directly into the body). Considering my relatively young age at diagnosis and at the recommendation of specialists, we chose surgery. Radiation, we found, is more viable for men in their 70s and beyond. My main fears regarding the procedure weren’t about being cut open; the possible side-effects were truly frightening: risk of urinary incontinence and loss of sexual function. With all this swirling in my head, we chose February surgery15, the day after Valentine’s Day, as the day to go under the knife.

I don’t remember much about my hospital stay, except that I was in much more pain than I had anticipated. And I was sent home with a “little buddy”—a catheter. With that cumbersome bag strapped to my leg for more than a week, I hobbled around the house looking somewhat like a nude gunfighter.

But the catheter’s off now. I have a nice scar running from just under my belly button to just above my crotch. I have a little pain, and I’m moving slow; however, I’m not wearing adult diapers and my ability to function as a man is coming back day by day. TMI, perhaps, but this is important stuff. I have some obstacles to overcome, but I have my life.

prostate-cancer[1]The upshot is this: Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States—sixth in the entire world. According to the American Cancer Society, of all the leading new cancer cases and deaths estimated for 2014, prostate cancer accounts for 10 percent, second only to lung cancer.

Listen to the wife, men. Get a physical.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Daddies, It’s OK to Miss Your Little Girls

28 Aug

by Roger White

Watching my oldest daughter stride so smartly into her senior year of high school, and my youngest girl, a sophomore, confidently follow in her steps, I found myself struck recently with a peculiar mix of great pride and vague twinges of guilt. It took me some soul-searching and serious contemplation—and serious contemplation comes grindingly hard for me these days—to determine the root of my emotional mélange, but I think I figured it out: I miss my little girls. And I feel guilty for missing them because they’re not even gone!

But in a way, they are.

Somewhere along the line, at some moment in time among those precious years, my little girls grew up. Somewhere between those nights reading them Goodnight Moon while they settled to sleep in their Winnie-the-Pooh footsies and then suddenly watching them, dressed so beautifully, walk out the door with their boyfriends, my babies became young women. How did that happen?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll the old jokes about sitting on the front porch with a shotgun aside, watching one’s little girls mature into womanhood is such a tough and tender time for fathers. It’s not so much that I’m not the No. 1 man in their lives anymore. Heck, most of my daughters’ boyfriends so far have been pretty good guys—most of them, mind you. And if you don’t know which list you’re on, boyfriends out there, that’s intentional. Watch your step. No, it’s the small things I miss—those little girl moments like the times I would take them for a ride up the stairs, either piggyback or on my feet, as bedtime came; those long summer days at the neighborhood pool when they would yell for me to throw them higher into the air for that great splash; the giggles and smiles I’d receive when I’d bring them little toys and trinkets; and the unashamed kisses and hugs I somehow took for granted. One of my sweetest memories of those days is the time I was tucking my youngest in for the night, and she asked me: “Daddy, can I marry you when I grow up?” Gets me every time when I think about that.

Now that they’re teenagers, most shows of affection—and bits of parental advice—are usually met with a long roll of the eyes and a sarcastic “Oh, Dad!” But I know that’s only normal. The species humanus teenageus can be a snarling, confounding breed. My wife and I often sit and ponder when that time will come when they first realize we’re not complete lamebrains and they utter those cherished words: “Mom and Dad, you were right!”

And now that I’ve had time to work through my thoughts, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK to miss my little girls. They’re big girls now, and I love them with all of my heart for who they are and for the bright, talented adults they’ll become. One of the things I’m most thankful for is that even though I’ll always miss those days of Barbies and cartoons and forts made of bedsheets—and letting them do makeovers on me in their Two Sisters Salon—I didn’t miss the days as they happened. It wasn’t all roses; all parents know and ruh rohappreciate the great challenge, the tremendous patience, and the utter lack of sleep involved in raising little ones—but I wouldn’t trade those days for anything in the world. Well, on second thought, if I had it all to do over again, I’d skip the fingernail polish. How on earth do you get that out?

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.