Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Record Changer

The Record Changer

Went to Best Buy and asked to see some stereos: ones that play records, CDs and the radio.  Sales kid looks at me and says “I hate to tell you this, but things have changed”. 

I’ve got hundreds of old record albums that we’ve moved many times: they’re treasures from our past, a link to our younger years.  Lots of CDs and some music on an iPod: “is there something that will connect or integrate (more or less easily)” was my question. I was trying to figure out how to listen to old records and what I got was a dose of feeling old.

Kid said “Bluetooth streaming from my smart phone is the way to go”; so I guess I have to put music on my phone. I do have a smart phone, but I use it for calls, emails and calendaring: I guess there’s more to these gadgets than I thought. Actually, I hoped they would have applied some of these new ideas and technologies to updating older technologies (like old-fashioned stereos) as well.  Kid was right: a lot has changed.

Somebody probably thinks about which of the old-fashioned things get upgraded and updated, and those which remain, well…. old-fashioned and obsolete (probably anything non-digital). With all the talk about millennials, I guess there’s less focus these days on us baby boomers: maybe that’s how getting old starts.

But I don’t feel old: I’m still working, playing and listening to music, and walking many miles a day; I read  a lot and talk to students, so I figured I was keeping up with what’s happening these days.  So this ‘stereo’ incident was a reality check on known versus unknown: not even close.

Wait a minute: medicine is keeping us alive longer, work is employing us longer, and there are lots of ways to keep us active longer. All of these are antidotes to feeling and getting old, and should, if juggled and used appropriately, slow or reverse this feeling of falling behind.  The friends we have, personal and professional networks, and all the information available throughout the internet all help keep us ‘in-the-know’ – we just have to make sure we use all of them.

I’m going to do all that and see if there isn’t a way to listen to my records and not feel old; maybe then I’ll go back and teach that Best Buy kid about record changers, and change in general.

My message this week is about working around life’s obstacles:

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” Michael Jordan

What do you do when faced with an obstacle?   When that happens the important thing is to stop, think about ways to improve, and re-try with a new perspective and attitude. It’s a moment when you need to focus all of your skill and dedication, and a lot of determination: your response tells a lot about your character. Don’t make excuses or blame others: use it as an opportunity to learn.    I’m sure your mother used to tell you that if you don’t succeed, try again: that was good advice to remember whenever you’re doing things, and especially when you’re attempting to overcome life’s obstacles. Everyone’s been faced with something like this and has a story about it: what’s yours?

Stay Well!

Friday, July 25, 2014



My kids gave me a Fitbit for my last birthday: it's one of those devices you wear on your wrist that measures your daily steps. It’s pretty cool, and it’s also a little intimidating when notice that you walk more than a mile each day just around the house. Since getting it I’ve walked more than 1600 miles: while that’s almost unbelievable, this story is not about the Fitbit.

This gadget motivates me to walk 5 miles each morning around my neighborhood here in downtown Las Vegas. This older section of town has streets and alleys that make walking easy and fun: every morning I see an older gentleman out walking too, and when I ask how he is, his reply is always: “trying”; now that’s a good attitude.   

Some of the houses have been here more than 40 years and are naturally starting to get rundown. There’s an old retired couple that did not have the money to keep their home and lot up to standards and this week I noticed a sign in front of their home saying  “Heroes at Home”, a local non-profit group that’s a partnership between Sears and Air Force veterans.  They were putting on a new roof, fixing the air-conditioners, repairing the plumbing, replacing sheet rock and redoing the landscaping: a wonderful example of neighbors helping neighbors.

Recently Zappos re-located its headquarters to downtown Las Vegas and its owner, Tony Hsieh, has taken the lead in the redevelopment of our city. He is now leading a communitywide effort to reverse the flight of people away from downtown.  This is something that most people don’t know and never see about Las Vegas:  I guess this town is like that fellow I see walking: it’s trying.

It's pretty interesting to see what happens when individuals try to stay healthy, or groups get together to help one another and keep a neighborhood alive and beautiful, or companies give back to a community that’s trying to come back. All too often people, neighborhoods and entire towns get run down to the point of no return: we each need to get involved at some level to try to make sure that point is never reached.

Seeing people, neighborhoods and companies ‘trying’ is inspiring.  This fitbit is all about motivating people to walk and get healthier: what they probably didn’t anticipate was that it also created opportunities to slow down and notice all that’s going happening at ground level. At this rate I’ll soon have walked 2000 miles this year: I’ll probably then need a new pair of sneakers (from Zappos, of course).

My message this week is about doing something:

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” Mahatma Gandhi

How professionally we act determines how effective we are: focusing on improving the first will have a positive impact on the second. We’re continually faced with challenges that test our skills and abilities: doing what it takes to be prepared for those challenges is imperative; practicing and perfecting those skills keeps your mind sharp; being active mentally and physically keeps you on your toes; having lots of other interests helps maintain your balance in life; and remaining alert and on-point makes you ready when called. And when called, you must act; and even though you may never know the results of your actions, you can be assured that if you do nothing there will be no result.  Professional are always ready to act: that’s how to be effective today! 

Stay well!