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On turning 75

Posted by John T. Reed on

Thanks to the 80-person silent majority who came out of my invisible, mostly silent audience here wishing me a happy birthday.
Sign of the times that many have names from Southwest Asia, one the recent sources of immigrants in our nation of immigrants. I did not used to have such friends or birthday card senders. I welcome the Southwest Asians and applaud their rapid success in our nation of immigrants. A few groups who have been here far longer need to take note and follow their example.
Several West Point grads told me to fall out, gaze around, and take big bites. Unlike when we were cadets. my body no longer rejects excess food. It just says, “Well, this is extra but no problem. We can store it around your waist.”
I want to get off the fat tables so I will stick the half thumbnail size bites. (176 this morning and 5'11")
I will give my annual “point man reporting back to the patrol” report on what it is like to be 75. Jeez, that’s painful to say out loud. That’s some serious old age. “In my seventies” was bad enough. But 75, that’s not only IN your seventies, it’s on your way OUT of them.
Three quarters of a century. Tortoise like.
So there is the “made it to another one” aspect that I did not used to experience. My oldest son just turned 40. I think that made me feel older than turning 75. And the number of peers who are no longer with us makes having another birthday an accomplishment—the ultimate accomplishment. Partly luck but not totally.
My mom died just before her 74th birthday of lung cancer. When she was a teenager, she thought it would be cool to smoke. It killed her. My Dad turned 75 in 1990. He was in bad shape with rheumatoid arthritis and terminal pulmonary disease. He also smoked and was an alcoholic. I neither smoke nor drink alcohol. But he did not die until age 81 and I think he only died then because he was in an east coast nursing home and had no friends or relatives there and stopped eating. My brothers are in CO and I am in CA.
As far as normal stuff is concerned, 75 is no different from 25. I went to the gym yesterday and did a half hour on the elliptical machine. The day before I did upper body weight lifting there. Walking and all those kinds of activities are the same as 50 years ago.
Years ago, sometimes when I was driving I would sometimes forget my destination. I found I could just keep driving the same direction and it would come to me. But that went away years ago. I do not know why. I sometimes lose my train of thought when someone says something slightly off the subject, but I can usually get it back quickly.
I drive and walk and exercise. I need to avoid running, but the elliptical machine is about the same only without the bouncing. I lately keep trying to have a game of catch with a tennis ball with the not-toilet trained wild turkeys that visit my back yard. I was surprised that I can still zip about a 60 mph fast ball at them. They never want to play though. They leave.
I learned to avoid eating certain roughage as the grown-ups used to call it. I can eat it, but not without limit as I could back in the day.
I just got a PSA test. Perfect. I had my prostate removed in 2016 because some Italian army dogs said I had prostate cancer—really—then had to get some radiation for a couple of months. All gone ever since and with each passing test that is perfect, the chance of a reappearance diminishes.
My grandmother died of colon cancer. No one should die of colon cancer. It is a consequence of not getting screened. I get screened.
My sister-in-law died of melanoma. That is a consequence of not getting screened or not screening yourself. I found two melanomas last year during covid when my HMO stopped those screenings and both were surgically removed.
I might be dead now if I had not been diligently getting the screenings and the recommended vaccinations. In the last year, I got the seasonal flu shot, two covid shots, and the first of two shingles shots. Get shot. Get screened. Get any symptoms checked out—including the ones you ignored when you were younger. Or die prematurely.
I also take my daily blood-pressure pill and statin and baby aspirin.
Some young people may be turned off at the daily taking of pills that old people do. It is not mandatory. But taking the pills is how old people remain old people as opposed to becoming dead people.
In general, follow the medical advice. I need to do my annual physical which I schedule each year around my birthday.
I guess the situation is I look healthy. I feel healthy. But I am not fooled by that. I know that at 75, screenings, vaccinations, staying at a healthy weight, daily prescribed pills, annual physicals, and prompt attention to any symptom are required to actually BE healthy and stay that way for as long as possible.
You often hear that old folks should do crossword puzzles to keep their minds sharp. Screw that crap that probably only lights up a tiny spot in your brain in an MRI. Better ways to do that are to spar with your Facebook Friends daily and to write a new nonfiction book a year.
I also taught my granddaughter how to break codes this year. And I am supposed to get her ready for fifth-grade math. Am I smarter than a fifth grader? Here’s what they know:
“In fifth grade math students predict the relative size of solutions in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, addition, subtraction, and multiplication of fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers. Additionally, they should have achieved mastery in numeration, rounding, money, and the customary and metric system...“
“Below are some concepts a fifth grader should know.
 
Rounding numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand and hundred thousand
Using partial products and mental multiplication
Dividing with two-digit divisors
Ordering and comparing fractions
Comparing perimeter and area”
We use IXL. I may need a slight refresher on multiplying fractions. When you get the answer wrong, they explain the correct solution. I think that will instantly restore that memory.
I do the other stuff daily in my writing here and in my blog and forthcoming books. The book I came out with in June 2020 had a lot of that stuff and Bayes Theorem and some other statistical stuff. If I do not use it daily, I need a quick refresher, but I do use a lot of it daily.
Also, lawsuits stimulate the brain. We are still being sued by my late brother-in-law’s landlord. And now we are suing him back (our “motion to add an omitted counterclaim” was allowed) and we file a motion for partial summary judgment this week. That’s pretty stimulating. Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake.
Motions, oppositions to opponent motions, replies to oppositions, summary judgment motions which are more detailed, and appeals which are really anal retentive procedure wise. My wife also has a suit in FL which we won, but we are now doing the collect-the- judgment phase which is also quite challenging and legalistic and financial. Hundreds of thousands at stake there. A bit more motivation than the daily crossword puzzle provides.
Then I also have the looming hyperinflation and all the counterintuitive math of that and my writing about it and buying and selling appropriate financial assets to prepare for it.
In one of his movies, Jesse Ventura was told he was bleeding. “I ain’t got time to bleed,” he answered.
I ain’t got time to let my brain atrophy down to the crossword-puzzle level.
Lawsuits and looming hyperinflation are like the lottery or casino gambling only with much better odds and they are, to a much larger extent, “games” where skill and diligence matter a lot.
Huah!

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