Medicare, 2012 and Me

Well, it’s 2012, today’s my birthday and my official Medicare card arrived in the mail. You might remember me telling you this was going to be a Big Year. This was the year that they said I could retire when I went through orientation at The Palm Beach Post in 1973.

I figured that 2012 was a lot like the Second Coming: it might arrive, but I never thought I’d be around to see it. See, Dad and his brothers checked out by age 60, so I had established that as my official Sell-By Date. Here was my post from last year.

I discovered cycling

Some funny things happened along the way. I discovered cycling, which taught me that there was a life outside the office. I still worked long and hard hours, but I also looked forward hopping on the bike and feeling the stress drain away. I told folks that I could get hit by an 18-wheeler tomorrow and cycling would have added more years to my life than it could ever subtract.

The death spiral of newspapers also worked in my favor. It gave me an opportunity to take a buyout in September 2008 and early retirement. I was going to have a chance to enjoy what tomorrows I had left without the fear of being carried out of the office on a stretcher or in handcuffs.

Herding cats and blogging

My boys thought I might like to lead bike tours in retirement, so they set me up with a bike blog. I soon found out that I wasn’t made to herd cats, so leading tours morphed into writing about cycling. The next step was to start digitizing my old photos. That resulted in this blog.

Just jingle the keys

After spending the last 15 years of my newspaper career shoving electrons down phone wires (something that I actually enjoyed), I discovered the magic of journalism again. Telling stories and dredging up old memories is a blast. It’s also given me a chance to have a lot of fun with Mother, who is ready to hop in the car at the jingle of keys. She’s good company and has her own stock of stories (many of which, I’m afraid she’s going to take with her.)

I’ve been blessed with Wife Lila who has put up with my quirks and foibles for way too many years. I warn people that I’m much more personable in print than in person. Unfortunately, that’s often too true at home, too. I don’t tell her enough that I love her. More important, I like her.

Our two boys have turned out better than anybody could ever hope for. They met and married two of the best daughter-in-laws in the universe. Their marriages have produced two extraordinary grandsons for us.

It’s been a good run

So, it’s been a good run. I’ve had five years more than I ever expected. I’m beginning to get optimistic.

I had a chunk of cheek carved off, so I got the Big C ticket punched. I survived a car vs. bike crash last month with only road rash and a cracked rib, so I got that checked off the list. The exams after the crash said I was “normal,” which I thought was a let-down from Mother saying I was “above average” all these years, but still a pretty good grade.

I’ve reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones. Riding Partner Anne stood beside me, literally, as I was bleeding on the ground after the crash. She didn’t get a picture of it, but she’s a writer, not a photographer, so you have to make allowances.

Not gonna tempt fate

I don’t believe in tempting fate, so I’m not going to suggest you run out and buy me a birthday card for next year if you see one one sale, but I’m more optimistic now than I was when I turned 59.

There’s a new Tip Jar

By the way, (how’s that for a segue?) there’s a new little button at the top left of the page that says “Donate.” I have a new advertiser coming on board who wanted to be able to pay by credit card, so Kid Matt set up this link to make it possible. I’m not going to make a big deal out of it, but it can also serve as a “tip jar” for anybody who wants to help the boat stay afloat. (That’s not me above. It’s Tom Price, editor of The Ohio University Post, begging for money.)

(We used to have a coffee can labeled “TIPS” back in the telephone switchroom where we invited folks back for espresso a couple of times a week. This was a newspaper, remember, so we didn’t get much money, but we got lots of scraps of paper with stuff like, “Look both ways before crossing the street.” scrawled on them.)

This guy is still there

I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and wonder who that old geezer is who stares back at me. It’s strange, because this is the guy who is still hiding behind that reflection.

55 Replies to “Medicare, 2012 and Me”

  1. Happy birthday, Ken! You have enriched my days with your poignant stories and beautiful photography. I’m six months ahead of you and I can tell you ” the best is yet to come!”

    1. I’m not sure if you’re wishing me well or putting a curse on me. Are you limiting me to another 50 years or just 50 good ones with the rest of ’em sort of icky?

      I’ll take the 50 good ones and we can renegotiate the contract in 2062.

  2. Happy Birthday Ken! Thank you for your daily blog … it’s part of my morning routine … I read your blog, look at Facebook messages, and see if I have any e-mails. Oh, and being 65 … it’s not half-bad … medicare and all.

    1. THAT’S the way to do it. I had to take Reader Lori to task because she confessed that she reads it at the END of the day.

      She’s probably one of those silly folks who doesn’t eat their dessert first.

  3. Happy Birthday Ken!! Thank you for all you give to us, my day is not complete until I sit down at the end of the day to see what great things you found and posted for the day. Thank you and look forward to several more years of good posts!! Enjoy YOUR day.

    1. You wait until the END of the day? I was pretty sure that our contract requires it to be the FIRST thing you do in the morning. I’m going to have to enforce the slacker clause.

  4. Well congrads my friend. The guy I first met sitting in back of me in Mr. Ford’s Geometry class. “Kenny” in those days would go into a rant about “out of order” and crack me up. Mr. Ford was not pleased and I got in trouble NOT Kenny. I guess that was why I never hung around him too much as a kid. I was more used to causing trouble and walking away Scott free, and around Kenny, I got into trouble!
    As Ken the writer and the adult, he has become a daily part of my morning. Wake up, let Eddie the dog out, read my email and then click on the email link to today’s wonderfulness in pictures from MY past or at the least something I just did not know. Ken has a unique view on life and his thru the lens look at life which I enjoy…maybe enough to give a TIP online.
    So, “don’t take any wooden nickels” waiting on my visa card TIP!
    Thanks for what you do!

  5. Okay Bro,

    I just gave you a dollar for every year you been watching this planet circle around the Sun. Here’s your incentive for looking both ways TWICE when crossing a street this year. For every year you tack onto to this one, I’ll up it an additional $5 to the total.

    Not exactly the retirement plan you might have had in mind, so consider it a profit sharing plan for keeping the blog going, and for keeping yourself going as well.

    Just because you reached this milestone doesn’t mean you can skimp on the content from here on out. So get back to that trash can of negatives and start digitizing and scratching your head for the memories that go along with them.

    Oh yeah, Happy Birthday!

    1. Wow, there IS a reason to keep tacking on the years, then. You’re going to be in real trouble if I inherit Mother’s genes instead of Dad. Age + $5 a year is going to be a sizable sum when I make it to 90. Just to be clear, does that mean that 2013 will be $66 + 5 for $71 and 2014 will be $72 + 5 for $77, etc? Or is it just pure age plus five bucks per year?

      If it’s the former, I can built you a cool spreadsheet that will make the math easier for you.

      Or, maybe we could set it up like a reverse mortgage, where you give me the lump sum like I was, like 90, and I leave behind an urn of ashes that you could use to get up your icy driveway in the winter.

      By the way, the receipt you got says “Matt Steinhoff” on it. That’s because he set up the account for another project we did a couple of years ago. He swears that the loot is really going to me.

  6. Happy Birthday Ken! Your photos and stories are truly a delight. Some years ago, the Carpenters had a song, “We’ve Only Just Begun”. Take that to heart and keep on going. You have many more stories to share…….Thanks for all the memories you provide.

    1. Thanks for reminding me of The Carpenters. I’m working on a video and have been having a hard time coming up with the right music for it. One of their songs might just work. (Interesting factoid: the duo’s official name was “Carpenters,” even though almost everyone I know sticks “The” in front of it.)

  7. Hi Ken, so enjoy all your articles and pictures! Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many more to come!

  8. Happy Birthday Ken! While I never knew you personally in high school, only as the “guy behind the camera”, it’s been great “getting to know you” through this blog. Each day I find joy in the memories you bring to us through your photos and your great stories. You have such great talent and we’re so grateful that you would share it with us. You’ve also shared a lot of history with us that we otherwise may have forgotten. As Bob Hope would have said (or sang) “Thanks for the memories”, and again, Happy Birthday!

    1. Be careful there, Miz Laurie. You still have the bloom of youth about you, but it won’t be too many more years before you will be free of the burden of fearing you are going to die young.

  9. Happy Birthday Ken, I just discovered you this year, but your blog is always a great read. You were definitely styling in that 54 Buick, Wouldn’t you love to have it now? But, there was no power steering, and I don’t see any curb feelers, but then where would you parallel park in Cape?

    1. Passing my driver’s test on a hot August day in a 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon with no power anything and no AC makes parallel parking my Honda Odyssey a breeze.

  10. Carpenters music was all great. Hope you find just the right song for your video. I’m sort of an Oldies music buff – love listening to all the 50s/60s songs. Our wonderful CHS class of ’62 is working on the 50th reunion for next fall so we have been dredging up memories and songs to recreate the “good old days”. Enjoy your SPECIAL DAY!

  11. Your worries about an early death reminds me of a former colleague who had the same fears, after watching a few other folks die just before or after retirement dates, but enjoyed a happy retirement instead. I’m glad you’ve made a fool out of the Grim Reaper too. Happy Birthday kid.

    1. The key is to find something you enjoy doing and do it. Would you have thought five years ago that you’d be happy working at the zoo? I’m sure you get more satisfaction out of working with people and animals (I’m talking about the zoo, not the sports department) than herding commas and semicolons on the copy desk.

  12. What a beautiful day to be having a birthday in WPB – no HUMIDITY! yea!!! I love the fact that you can write about Cape in such a unique way that it can transport a person back in time and it makes you remember what you were doing, who your best buds were, where you were living at that particular time and life was much more simpler than today. It’s these memories that you stir up our brains into remembering and I Thank you for that. Don’t ever stop, you are my link to my treasured memories of my past, cause getting old sucks and I’m loosing brain cells as I type! Here’s to wishing you a super great birthday today and AT LEAST 50 more, and yes, 50 GOOD ones! =o)
    p.s. My brother and I had Mr Ford as our homeroom teacher back in ’57-’58, great guy, but a little on the serious side!

  13. Happy birthday Ken and congratulations on reaching medicare eligibility. I’ve been enjoying it for 20 + years !
    Joe Whitright “45”

  14. Happy Birthday Ken. I often look in the mirror also and wonder where did that other guy I knew go. But my tagline after hitting 65 in January this year is this.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I’ve got many miles to go
    Before I sleep

    Blessings, Gerald

  15. Ken, you old duck. Happy Birthday.

    One thing you said strikes me. It was: “I warn people that I’m much more personable in print than in person.”

    I’ve watched you for many years in person and in print. What you say may be true. But not by much. Actually, I find myself sitting here trying to remember an instance that you could use to justify that statement. I can’t think of one.

    Maybe it is me. You learn to let a whole lot roll off your back when you live in a newsroom.

    If you are talking about the times you were poking fun, well, that was accepted for what it was.

    From my perspective, you were always personable.

    Sarcastic, head strong, overbearing, just plain wrong, and ignorant, true, but always personable.


    Happy Birthday and many, many more.

    1. Keef, thank you for your kind words and your generous use of the Donate button. I guess I should tell the kid to make it larger so folks like you with aging eyes can find it.

      For the rest of you, Keefer and I worked together at The Post for more years that I like to think about. He sold me my first computer and first 300-baud modem, introduced me to computer bulletin board system long before the Internet was even a dream, was a convenient foil for scorn and ridicule and covered Ft. Lauderdale Spring Break with me when it was still a cool place to go.

      We even rode bikes together. He sold me a recumbent bike that I gave to Kid Matt, who gave it to Brother Mark. Keef even bought a light-weight carbon fiber bike like Lance Armstrong rode in the Tour de France, but then he rode it slowly that I said that one of these days Lance would jump out of the bushes and confiscate it to keep from having the brand tarnished.

      I’d like to say he gave as well as he got, but I was always one up on him. Back to you, Chuck.

  16. Happy Birthday. It is obvious the good Lord has more for you to do. I am glad that we finally met. Thank you for your friendship and all the help you have provided in my model railroading venture.

    Keep up the good work!

  17. A very happy birthday to you! You will never know how much your blog means to me each day. Once I lost my Daddy I felt that my connection to Cape was over but, you and your dedication to your wonderful blog each day keeps this little Cape girl connected to her roots.

  18. Have a Great Day, Ken!!! Another revolution about that Sun of ours and many more on the way. I enjoy your blogs daily, and occasionally find folks I knew from school, from CHS, and just good SEMO folks. Keep after it (i.e. life, love, and joys) and Be Well. Blessed Be. kkr, DHS ’65.

  19. Happy Birthday Ken! I hope you exceed your Mom’s lifespan with each year being better than the last.

  20. Happy Birthday, Ken and HAPPY TRAILS!
    ALL OF US BETTER PRAY THAT THE SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST OBAMACARE or that little Medicare Card won’t be worth a plug nickel! Instead of receiving medical care, we seniors will have to stand in line to hear mandatory “End of Life” lectures. . . .
    Great story and pictures of the triathalon.

    1. Well, I don’t want to get off on a discussion of national health care because I suspect we’d be on difference sides of the fence and this isn’t the forum for it, so I’ll just thank you for the happy birthday wishes.

  21. I want to add my 2 bits to wish you a Happy Birthday Ken!!! Thanks for all you do for us old timers. I appreciate you and your blog every day!
    Class of 1948

  22. Happy Birthday,Ken! Wishing you many more blessed years. Thank you so much for your articles and photos. They continue to touch my heart with beautiful memories of my past.

  23. Happy belated, Ken. Thanks for making my world curiously smaller and larger at the same time. Another conundrum to ponder in your golden years….

  24. A belated Happy Birthday, sometimes I skip over e-mails until I can get back to them and then imagine that, I forget to get back in a timely manner! It doesn’t seem that long ago {over 50 years) that we were riding on the same school bus! My Mother has a friend who just turned 101 years, I am pondering if that is a realistic goal for me to set!

    Thanks for all you do to keep us connected to Cape and those wonderful years in the past. It is not all about memories, you manage to slip some current events into the “mix”.

    I hope you had a great birthday. Keep up the good work!

  25. Happy Birthday, Ken. I saw the e-mail notification of this article several days ago but want to get in my greetings while I can still say I’m not old enough for my own Medicare card. I haven’t commented much here lately, but I’ve been by several times to show people good examples of what can be done on the web with photography from the past. Of course most people don’t have collections like you have, but there are some inspiring examples here.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, John. I’ve lurked over to your site from time to time and have been impressed that you do real history instead of just throwing stuff up from memory and then having people fill in the blanks.

      I like having that Medicare card in my pocket. I worked long enough to earn it.

  26. Ken, both you and Lila are real treasures. Best wishes on your 65th milestone. Your mom is a real model of how to grow older and keep having fun.

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