Wow. I turned 66 this year. I can smell my impending 50th high school reunion and I’ve long passed my 40th college. I founded an arts council 33 years ago. George Orwell and I started a business 31 years ago. It’s six years since I shaved my head. A year since I qualified for Medicare. A day since I reached “full retirement age.”

Today is Monday, July 20, the 201st day of 2015. On this day 46 years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong took one small step …

I’ve had an epiphany. I don’t want to retire. Mostly.

My mom had a real problem when I turned forty. “How can a 39-year-old woman have a 40-year-old son,” she asked me. My own son mentioned that he’s just eight years from retirement.

Say what???

My mom was about my age now when she stepped out on Gay Street in West Chester and darned near got run over by a cab.

“The headline in the Daily Lack of News flashed before my eyes,” she told me: “‘Elderly woman smushed by hack’.”


I don’t like the idea that this is middle age, let alone geezerhood, this time when before a hard day of yard work my manly brain feels like 40 and after a hard day of yard work my manly body feels like 80. I suppose it’s justified.

Or maybe I just need some exercise. I almost put “more” there, but I am supposed to be a teller of truths.

I need to plan for my mid-life crisis.

I’m getting stale in my job and in the arts council. When I ran for the Legislature, I campaigned for term limits. Staleness was one of the reasons I gave.

So I’m making lists. Lists of the things I want to do, lists of the things I don’t, and lists of the things that would be fun but I won’t. It’s interesting (to me) that the lists seem to have stuff that belongs on a resume, rather than stuff that belongs on a tombstone. I don’t know what’s up with that. One interesting exercise is over here in the form of a “did ya do it” list.

The BIG chunk of my life that I spent goofing off in school, hanging around noisy greasy places like race tracks, and pursuing wanton women–usually shamelessly and usually unrequitedly–was only a single decade.

A long time ago I discovered that my ideal job was to be paid (handsomely) to sit around being a Very Smart Person. People in my company (and even others) could seek me out and pose questions. After appropriate rumination, I would — in Carnac-brilliance — provide answers. A Fortune 500 company is the best place to have that happen. Big companies or even divisions of same have the necessary support staffs to keep a smart person looking smart.

I do sit around now being a Very Smart Person. People do seek me out and pose questions. And after rumination, I do provide answers with appropriate fanfare. I guess the down side, and the reason this job is not satisfying enough, is that I am also the support staff required to keep this smart person looking smart. Google has become a lifeline.

Although that is still my ideal, I haven’t found a Fortune 500 willing to provide the desk. Of course, the search might go faster if I actually, well, looked.

It’s still up there on my list.


Race cars. Probably not even vintage. BTDT. Have the Nomex long johns. They still fit. If I stretch them a little.

Get a pilot’s license. Can’t afford it.

Race boats. That’s like racing cars in three dimensions.


Plenty of examples but really just one category. I went south last fall and discovered I needed to repair my roof. I came north this spring and discovered I needed to replace the water heater and fix the lawnmower.

The category? Home repairs. BTDT. I’d like to retire from that.


Twenty-mumble years ago, I ran for the state legislature. I still like the idea of telling people what to do, but the gamesmanship has gotten worse and it just doesn’t interest me today.

Work at Walmart.

Work in a factory. Been there, done that, have the scars.


It’s time for a little shift. I’ve been putting more emphasis on the commercial side of my photography so I have an online gallery and everything, but you can still buy a photo from me direct. And I’ll keep on telling stories. And solving universal questions like why can’t we teach kids to do math.

My big epiphany is pretty simple. Like most folks, I’ve found that the things I don’t want to do keep getting in the way of the things I do. I need a support staff so here’s your chance.

HELP WANTED: Support staffer able to raise enough business to keep me in the guru seat and the rest of the staff employed.

Easy peasy!

The Proust Questionnaire
I believe Marcel Proust answered these questions every five years:
• what do you consider your greatest achievement?
• what is your idea of perfect happiness?
• what is your current state of mind?
• what is your favorite occupation?
• what is your most treasured possession?
• what or who is the greatest love of your life?
• what is your favorite journey?
• what is your most marked characteristic?
• when and where were you the most happiest?
• what is it that you most dislike?
• what is your greatest fear?
• what is your greatest extravagence?
• which living person do you most despise?
• what is your greatest regret?
• which talent would you most like to have?
• where would you like to live?
• what do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
• what is the quality you most like in a man?
• what is the quality you most like in a woman?
• what is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
• what is the trait you most deplore in others?
• what do you most value in your friends?
• who is your favorite hero of fiction?
• who are your heroes in real life?
• which living person do you most admire?
• what do you consider the most overrated virtue?
• on what occasions do you lie?
• which words or phrases do you most overuse?
• if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
• what are your favorite names?
• how would you like to die?
• if you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
• what is your motto?



When you find a button, push it.

I celebrated a birthday this year. While I still have my whole life in front of me, it no longer seems as infinite as it did forty years ago today. I’m thinking I should decide what I want to do when I grow up.

Or not.

Although I am indeed more than 50 and less than 100, this is the Internoodle™ and probably not a good place to publicize the actual day or month or year of one’s birth.

Writer, actor, and Shaq-twin in the cable ads Ben Stein spoke about the happiness that “comes to those who pursue careers that define their passions.” He delivered part of the commencement address he didn’t give at UVM on CBS Sunday Morning and I pulled a quote for an article about an early morning apartment house explosion last month. The resulting fire left one man in the hospital with severe burns and several families homeless. The other six residents of the four apartments, including Jimmy Branca’s family, escaped without injuries.

Despite the fire, despite playing the blues for a living, despite the fact that he says he is “one flat hat away from being an Amish guy,” Mr. Branca is a pretty happy fellow.

“What about the happy people,” Mr. Stein asked in his address. “What did they do?

“They made a decision to live.

“They decided to do what their hearts told them to do, to do what was in them to do. They took risks and they took chances, and they tried a lot of different things until they got to where they wanted to be.”

I’ve been working on my tan.

I rebuilt, extended, added an angled entry and reshingled the back porches here almost 30 years ago. The one-by tongue-and-groove lumber that sheathed the original porches could have been 100 years old then. Time and shingles that had developed some leaks have taken their toll. It is time for plywood. And shingles. And some redesign. The new porches will have a nice roof deck, a much better entry, and a garbin.

It gives me a certain amount of pleasure when Rufus, a guy two years younger than I, tells me, “You are out of your mind. After helping you with your porch roof in New Jersey, I swore I would NEVER do roofing again. I was… what?…. 25 years old?

“You are totally out of your f-ing mind. I wish you luck. Seriously.”

And I’m doing it by myself. At my age.

I can almost guarantee I won’t do this again but I enjoy planning a job and really like seeing the physical results. Improving my tan in the process is a nice side benefit.

Happiness ain’t overrated.

After our concert last night, I helped the Fire Department Auxiliary take down their folding tent. We didn’t know how it worked until I found a big button hidden in a plastic bracket on each leg.

“Push the button,” I said.

We each did and the canopy collapsed magically into its carry bag.

I have pursued my own passions but I wonder if I’ve pursued them enough.

Over the years, I have built fine furniture, milked a cow barehanded, raced at Watkins Glen, designed and built a 30′ boat in my barn, taught college, founded a health center, hosted a television program, invented machinery, touched lion cubs and sharks, learned how to make stained glass windows, had dinner at the Tavern On The Green, published more than a half-million words in newspapers, shaved my head, sold and donated photographs, lived on an island, and made two great friends, one via the Interwhatsit™ although she lives thousands of miles away. Recently, thanks to this blog and the same Intertoob™, I’ve convinced all of my rug chewing right handed friends — including the bikers — that I am the devil spawn of Leo Trotsky and all of my loony left handed friends — including the Far Green true believers — that I am the consummate mouthpiece of Genghis Khan. Lots of buttons pushed.

It is time to find some more buttons. I don’t know yet if I’ll write the Great American novel. I don’t particularly want to learn to belly dance but I wouldn’t mind learning to juggle. I want not to worry about bills and taxes and appointments but I may sell my business. I do know I will work to keep my two friends.

You can’t leap over a canyon in two small jumps. And when you find a button, push it.