I’ll be 50 this week. Here are 50 things I learned (or think) at 50
1) I’m happy I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Not that it was “better”, but we seemed to have more fun than you guys do today, and about a thousand times less social anxiety.
2) Quitting smoking 15 years ago was a great decision.
3) A great marriage is everything. I love you, Maryellen.
4) To me, “Netflix and Chill” actually means Netflix and Chill. I’m an adult – I don’t need code words for sex. And I have no idea who the @$#% “Bae” is.
5) Everybody, to a person, thinks “they” work hard. Your co-workers who “do nothing all day” – they think they’re working like they’re in the coal mines. My observation is maybe 10% of people actually work hard, and the rest are simply doing enough to not get fired.
6) And now that I’ve mentioned coal mines, remember there are people who actually do that for a living. Think about that the next time you complain about your job.
7) Nothing good comes out of a microwave oven. Nothing.
8) Always have adequate insurance. Home, car, renters, etc. You don’t get to buy it after you need it.
9) I drink much less alcohol these days, but enjoy the actual drink far more. I suspect this is the better way to do it.
10) Continuing on drinking, there’s a sweet spot in whisky pricing. It’s $30-$75 for a 750ml bottle. Under $30, it’s probably not so good. But there’s very little difference between Dalwhinnie 15 ($69) and any bottle of more expensive scotch you care to name.
11) By the way – it’s ALL whisky. Bourbon, Scotch, Rye, Irish Whisky, Canadian Whisky – it’s all Whisky. Bet that cleared it up for some of you.
12) Really liking your home is wonderful.
13) Liking your work doesn’t hurt, either.
14) Those previous two are totally within your control.
15) People like to focus on someone like Brad Pitt or Steve Jobs in saying “see, see, follow your dreams”. That’s fine, but they might also want to take into account guys like Melvin Toadworth (and the 1,000,000 others like him) who failed to do much of anything pursuing the exact same dreams. It’s fine to dream, but dream practically.
16) I wish I took better care of my teeth when I was younger. Crowns and bridges are very expensive.
17) Kindly tell that friend who’s trying real hard to get you into Multi-Level Marketing to @#$% off. And trust me, just wait a year – they’ll be into a completely different MLM company.
18) Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are”. This, to me, is the single most relevant (and decidedly bullshit-free) piece of life advice out there. Your life is your record in this case.
19) I really like good tools, and I’m pretty handy with them. Yea, I’m not going to construct an addition, but I’ve learned to build, fix, and wire well enough. It’s good to know this stuff if you own a home, and not be timid about pulling out the circular saw or opening your panel box. Teach your sons how to use tools. Heck, your daughters too.
20) It’s ok to not like some family members, and it’s ok to not have anything to do with them if you so choose. Some people really need to learn this.
21) People often ask me “how do you become a writer?” My answer is always the same “Writers write. Start writing, and post it anywhere. Go where that leads you”. It’s the same for *any* creative endeavor. Just create. Don’t worry so much about where it’s going to go or who you send it to or whatnot. Just create, and keep creating. If it’s good, the world will find it.
22) Say “no” more often. And don’t feel the need to explain yourself. “Nope, can’t make it” is all the answer “Can you come to little Johnny’s party?” needs. No need to make an excuse or justify it.
23) Other people think about you WAY less than you think they do.
24) I have bought Led Zeppelin IV five times. Once on vinyl, once on cassette, once on CD, once as a legal download, and then, in full circle, I bought the vinyl again recently. You’re welcome, Robert Plant. (I could say the same about a lot of albums, really.)
25) Water is an underrated drink.
26) It’s getting to the point where I’ll need to take people’s politics into account when making a guest list, especially for an informal gathering where politics are likely to come up.
27) By the way, if you actually get *angry* over politics, you’re a big part of the problem, no matter what side you’re on. Lighten up.
28) Pets really make it a home.
29) Fast food is absolute shit. Don’t eat it. If you’re on the road and hungry stop at a rest area and buy a bag of mixed nuts or something. Even a chocolate bar is better. I’m not saying I never have a burger out, but I start with places that use actual meat (Five Guys, Smashburger, etc.)
30) Until you can pay your own way in life, shut the @#$% up about the big stuff. I’ll listen to what you have to say about national affairs when you can pay for your own rent, food, and insurance. Until then, you still have growing up to do.
31) If you’re 30 or over and my number 30 speaks of you, you aren’t doing things right. Change it up. I speak from experience.
32) One of the most important things I have learned is to respect other’s lifestyles. Not everybody lives like I do, and that’s ok. As long as it doesn’t affect me negatively, and you’re paying your own way, have at it.
33) Liking your work is one thing, but holding out for something you “love” or are “passionate” about as a career can be dangerous. Because unless you can make adequate money at it, what you have is a hobby that is costing you a lot of money. Make money during the week, and go be passionate about something on the weekend.
34) You’re going to regret those giant ear gauges. I promise.
35) I’m one of the most liberal gun guys you will ever meet. I carry legally (and support that right), but I also support more restrictions and background checks/etc. Remember, the second amendment (like the entire Bill of Rights) was written by people who thought it was ok to own other people.
36) Being a good neighbor is all about your influence prettymuch ending at your property line. Yes, a little noise is ok once in a while. Three barking dogs or loud music/car engines all night isn’t. Want to do whatever you want without complaint? Then buy more property.
37) If you know me personally, you know Maryellen and I are very guarded with our free time. We had to learn how to do that (see #22 for more info).
38) I usually buy high quality, but for certain things, I go real cheap. For example, I hate cleaning and storing a pool cover, so you know what I do? I buy the cheapest one, and throw it away after one season. For $39, it’s sooo worth not having to clean it and find a place to store it.
39) Xbox is better than Playstation. It just is.
40) I like listening to albums. I like the ritual of putting the record on, and taking time out to relax and focus on the music for the entire album side. Albums demand time and patience, and are great for clearing your head. But it’s not for everyone – try as she might, Maryellen can’t sit still for an album.
41) The best decade for music is debatable, but for movies, I think it’s indisputable – the 1970’s were the golden age of great cinema. Nothing has come close.
42) I already mentioned politics once, but I’ll mention it again. It saddens me to see people who used to be interesting and well-rounded become nothing but… politics / social issues / more politics. I hate what politics has done to a lot of friends.
43) I like my age a lot right now, and don’t really dwell on the past. I hope I always feel that way.
44) Another awesome thing about albums is the hunt/find in used record stores. Finding a good copy of -insert album here- for $7 is fun.
45) I had this idea where we break down how much a vote counts by age. Three groups – from 18-30, your vote counts 2/3, because you simply haven’t lived long enough to get a well-rounded perspective. From 30-65, your vote counts as normal. And then after 65, it drops down to 2/3 again. This is because your vote affects the people behind you more than it does you. So let them have a bigger voice in their future. I think this is a good idea.
46) I generally do not care what others think of me. It’s a good way to go through life, but it does help if more people have a positive feeling about you than negative.
47) Remember, the insane guy thinks everyone else is insane.
48) Honesty really is the best policy. Not only do you not have to worry about your “story”, you sleep better at night.
49) I use my treadmill every day. I setup a laptop on a shelf, and watch Netflix/dvd’s of TV shows. Entire series – The Wire, Breaking Bad, Justified, The Shield, etc – it’s a good use of time.
50) Have to end this with an old-man thought. I love technology and the internet, but I liked society better before smartphones.