This is my second blog.

My first blog chronicled my experiences over three years caring for my dad as he lived through and finally died from Alzheimer's. That is the book that is for sale.

This second blog kind of chronicles of life, what it is like to start your life over in your late 50's. After caretaking, you are damaged, file bankruptcy, and the world doesn't care what you did. After 8 months of unemployment, you wake each day knowing the world doesn't want you. Finally you do find a job, 5 weeks before homelessness, but doing what you did 30 years ago and getting paid what you did 30 years ago. So this is starting over.

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Over the past four days, I've taken a few hours to watch the entire Life on Mars series, again.  I absolutely love this show and every time I watch the series, I catch new clues in the earlier episodes that I missed the first four or five times I've watched it.

I'm not going to give away the show, in fact, you really don't fully understand what is what unless you watch the sequel Ashes to Ashes and get to the end of the third and final season to fully grasp what is what.  But there are clues along the way, the episode with the guy who takes the newspaper office hostage is a good example.  Even in the first episode, you get some clues and even more if you pay attention to things like numbers, hint hint.

On the surface, the story line will turn many off.  It's about a DCI, that is Detective Chief Inspector, who gets hit by a car in 2006 Manchester and wakes up in 1972 Manchester as a DI working for the ultimate retrosexual DCI Gene Hunt.  Sounds stupid, doesn't it - yet it works and is so believable you will be sucked in big time.

I'm not sure younger viewers will fully appreciate the differences in 1972 versus 2006, but for those of us alive in both those eras, it comes through the screen like someone hitting you over the head with a book.  One of the best lines in the series is:

Sam Tyler: An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding.
Gene: You make that sound like a bad thing!

But you see a good example of life and the struggles of life in the 1970's; the Irish in Britain, the growing asian population, the introduction of heroin - I thought that was a little out of place since that really is a 60's thing - and probably the best collection of music you will ever hear in a series, though they did make some mistakes with dating the show to the day and month and then having music like Yellow Brick Road playing 4 months before it was ever released, but why be a nancy boy about the thing.

What really gets to you is in the last episode, little bit of a spoiler here so if you plan to watch the show after my rousing endorsement, stop now and jump down at least two paragraphs, after the final Nelson quote.  In the last episode when he wakes up back in 2006, everything is done in blacks, blues, and soft whites.  As he walks around the town, everyone in the background is either on a cell phone or has ear plugs in their ears, everyone in their own little world.  And the music by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow is haunting.  And then he finds himself sitting in a meeting everyone will recognize, talking about something that seems so important but Sam realizes is not and then he is so zoned out he cuts his finger and doesn't even know it and realizes he can't feel it at all.

NELSON We all want that, Sam. What's real, what's not. I see folk who walk about in a sunken dream 'cause they feel nothing. Are they alive?
SAM (heatedly) I wake up every morning and I tell myself, "I am alive."
NELSON When you can feel, then you're alive. When you don't feel... you're not.

So what makes this show, now, so appealing to me?  Okay, besides the music, the cars, and the great banter of a retrosexual?  It's because, right now, I feel like Sam.  I've been secluded from the world for 5 years.  I've been living a life that was dedicated to caring for my dad 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only going outside to grocery shop, take my dad to a doctor, everything about dad, dad, dad, and now I awaken and am looking at a world I really don't recognize any more and not sure I can live in successfully again.

The other day I went to get gas and because I'd let my debit card expire and tore up the credit card, I had to go in to the store to pay cash before filling.  No longer, even if you have been buying gas somewhere for 3 years, you still have to pay first.  And the guy in front of me was at least my age, or looked older, grey hair and all, and he bought a pack of cigarettes and the woman had to card him.  Company policy, don't you know.  Have to card everyone when a pack of smokes is sold; can't leave it to the discretion of the clerk because it's all recorded on video surveillance and they watch the tapes to make sure the clerk is not selling smokes to people in their later years without carding them.  And you thought those cameras were for crime prevention?  No, employee monitoring.

So I am watching Sam in that meeting where 8 adults are all dressed in blue suits with blue ties and off blue shirts discussing something so totally moronic and now after taking care of my dad for 5 years I think of all the moronic meetings I've sat through and I just can't go back to that life.   I'm too damn independent and such to work for some company that monitors my behavior constantly.  When I work for someone, I try real hard to earn more than I'm being paid, I won't steal from a register, I don't even take home pens or staplers.  But I resent being treated like I'm the enemy to corporate balance sheets.

I've noticed the world has passed me by.  I hate how technology has moved from being something to help us do a job better to some mindless system of monitoring all of our behavior.  It drives me nuts when I give someone an address and start to give directions and they say no problem they have GPS in their car.  Oh good, so you won't have to think, you can just follow directions and hope like hell there aren't road closures from construction or some street is now one way but your brainy GPS hasn't been updated recently.

I emailed off a query letter to about 10 agents last week and I have this sudden feeling in my gut that most of those won't be read by a person, but will by scanned by some computer algorithm and the algorithm will make the decision based on reading level or something whether it's worth pursing.  That is how resumes are done now.  You can't walk into a business and say you want a job, write a president or owner, no, you have to go online, attach a resume which then comes back all screwed up cause the algorithm can't really tell your name from your address and you spend an hour fixing the algorithms mistakes and then that same algorithm will decide whether your resume should see a human resources drone who doesn't know anything about the business they work for but just how to comply with rules they don't even know who wrote or why.

We had a world, once, where those who were 2 sigma or more away from the mean to the left, the criminals, muggers, rapists, and such didn't fit in society.  Now we have a world where anyone more than 1 sigma away from the mean, left or right and that is not a political left right thing, but any direction straying from the mean/median, no longer fits in our society.  I'm sure some fake it or are far enough along in their career to be immune to it until they get laid off, but if you spend most of your adult life pretending to be something you are not, at some point you actually become what you are pretending to be, not what you thought you were.

And now I am coming back into a world where you need five meetings, an ROI analysis, have a legal team and human resources signing off on whether the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom should spin over the top or from underneath because someone might be offended if it comes over the top or you might save 3 rolls of toilet paper a year by having it come out one way over the other.

I read something the other day where 1/3 of male baby boomers have lost their jobs over the last 6 years and most are still either not working or asking people if they want fries with their burger, wondering what happened to their goals and dreams while they slowly siphon away their retirement accounts in their 50's and wonder where they will be when they are 70.  It won't be on a golf course, unless they are working at the golf course.

And there is no improvement coming.  We are going to see 20 million illegal aliens legalized, and they are filling up those lower level jobs, keeping wages down while prices skyrocket.  More americans will be unemployed because there is a little section in the bill that says if you hire an american, you have to pay for their heath insurance but if you hire a new Obamazen, you won't so the Obamazens will get hired over someone who was born here.  Now 50% of baby boomers will be unemployed.

And the really funny thing?  The 1970's were not considered a great decade by any means.  Wage price controls, the market lost 1/2 it's value over a 6 year decline, union jobs were cut by at least 1/3, inflation skyrocketed during the 70's, interest rates were double figures.  And yet, compared to today, it was nirvana.  Plus the tunes rocked back then.

But in those days, for better or for worse, people made decisions, not technology.  People were smarter, kids were kids but smarter than kids today.  I guess the pot wasn't as strong and we hadn't spent our youth using our heads to hit a ball.

I'm about to rejoin a race I don't want to run.  I know there are not enough chairs for the number of people playing musical chairs.  I want time to go back, but I don't want to go back being what I was but I don't want to be what I've become; a stranger in a strange land and strange time.

(blog was edited after I realized I'd made a dozen stupid errors in my English)

What if you reached the age of reason
Only to find there was no reprieve
Would you still be a man for all seasons?
Or would you just have to leave
We measure our days out
In steps of uncertainty
Not turning to see how we've come
And peer down the highway
From here to eternity

And reach out for love on the run
While the man for all seasons
Is lost behind the sun
Al Stewart