1. The attached photo shows me as a small child, probably sometime in the spring of 1960, with my brothers (Robin, Roger, Jeff, Kelly) in our back yard. I was the object of a lot of attention at that age, particularly since there was a five-year gap between Kelly and me; however, that spread in age proved detrimental to me in the end, as it wasn't too much longer before my brothers started growing up and ignoring me for the most part. (And, of course, our mother had another baby, her only daughter Kristen, in 1961.) I was always a relative wimp -- heck, in many ways I was an absolute wimp -- and my getting eyeglasses at age 8, an ignominy that none of my siblings faced until later in life, compounded my fear of being punched in the face. I wouldn't say I had an unhappy, or even a deprived, childhood, but most of my character flaws and personality shortcomings had root in my early years. As I've always said, there is no part of my life that I'd want to re-live if it meant having to live out the intervening years again -- but, if I had to live my life over again, and if I had the benefit of the wisdom I've acquired through experience, there's a lot I'd do differently.
2. The massive difficulties associated with the roll-out of the "Healthcare.gov" website, by means of which people were supposed to be able to enroll in various Obamacare-related healthcare plans, didn't exactly surprise or dismay me. Rather, it further serves to confirm my strong suspicion that the Obamacare legislation was never intended to foster a functional healthcare system, but merely to create inertia sufficient to arrive at a full-blown single-payer system within a short period of time. Don't be shocked when, a year or two from now, we hear comments like the following from Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi: "This isn't working -- we need to give more control to the government!"
3. My health continues to go south. I've written endlessly about the combined effect that my sleep disorder and my mal de debarquement have had on my life, but things are continually getting worse, not better. My medications are like a band-aid to a gunshot wound -- and possibly a dirty band-aid at that. I've more or less given up on the idea of running three miles in 30 minutes at the gym, as I don't have the aerobic fitness for it, much less the ability to bear the physical toll on my connective tissue. (Lately I've been doing 2.7 miles in 30 minutes (5.4 mph), which, for the moment, is a fairly comfortable workout.) And the mental fatigue caused by sleep deprivation and the constant sensation of motion could ultimately force me to retire from work sooner than later. We can't afford it, but neither can my employer afford to keep paying a dullard.
4. I'm losing my ability to sit down and read something -- virtually anything -- on the printed page. First, I can't remember the last time I read a novel (or, at least, one that I hadn't read previously). Second, despite my being a "JFK assassination" buff of long standing, it's taking me a long time to read Vincent Bugliosi's Parkland, a book that would have engrossed me ten years ago. And, third, I can't even sit down and read an issue of Sports Illustrated, something that I loved to do thirty years ago. I have a subscription to the magazine and receive it in the mail every Friday; however, most of the time I give it a cursory look and never get back to reading the feature articles. (Now, SI has changed through the years, and I find the current format to be overly "busy" and distracting -- although its being condensed down to less than half of its former number of pages actually tends to make it an easier read -- but it still represents high-quality sports journalism.) I simply don't have much of an attention span anymore.
5. As usual, we've got lots of things to do to our house but little will to do them. We did recently install a new storm door, which was more work than it ought to have been, and we'll have to get a new dishwasher soon; however, the trim on the outside of our house is a weather-beaten disgrace -- and we need a new garage door, and the stucco needs repairs and/or painting, and we need to chisel/grind down the uneven parts of our driveway (caused by tree roots passing underneath it in years past), and we need to cut down more trees (and trim the others). I think it would be worth paying other people to do all these things, but there's very little that Dorine doesn't prefer us to do ourselves, however long it takes to get to it.
6. The list I made in 2008 of my fifty favorite movies is still fairly representative, but there are a lot of movies that I like about as well as most of the films on the original list. Here are some, in no particular order: the Austin Powers trilogy (especially Goldmember, oddly) (1997-2002); The Blues Brothers (1980); Lonely Are the Brave (1962); Men In Black (1997); The Fugitive (at least the first three-quarters of it) (1993); Sherlock Holmes (2009); Little Big Man (1970); The Day of the Jackal (1973); Airplane! (1980); Chariots of Fire (1981); Roxanne (1987); Wayne's World (1992); Rudy (1993); Little Women (1994); Amazing Grace (2006); Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003); Mission Impossible (1996); Cold Comfort Farm (1995); The Breakfast Club (1985); Blackbeard's Ghost (1968); The Mummy (1999); On Any Sunday (1971); and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966).