Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for August, 2007

Blast from the Past

Two weeks ago today was the 25th anniversary of the CD – August 17, 1982 (

Strangely, I remember first seeing a Walkman cassette player that same year – and it was a pretty hot, new item at the time. The one I listened to had Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” playing. Cassettes were only about 19 years old at the time. Odd to think that the technology that would replace the cassette was already in production at the time.

But CD’s weren’t going to last long as the standard. According to Wikipedia, MP3 became an ISO standard in 1991, only 9 years later. Since it’s been about 16 years, it’s probably reasonable to assume the next next generation technology has already been invented.

The longest lasting technology of the last century? The record album. Early 1900’s to late 1970’s!

Life Lists

Even though my personal life list of things to do before I die has been around since the mid-1980’s, apparently the trend of creating such a list is catching on nation-wide! There was an entire story on NPR’s Talk of the Nation this past Tuesday about life lists and there is even a movie coming out about life lists called “The Bucket List” (things to do before you kick the bucket!) starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

It was interesting to hear people’s opinions in the story (one person called the entire idea of a life list “pathetic and sad”) and to read the blog comments on this story. Some people truly find the idea of a life list appalling, though I really don’t understand why. Perhaps these are the people – and I have known some – what think that if you never have expectations, then you can never be disappointed. But I believe they are also missing out on some of life’s highs trying to avoid the lows.

Some were puzzled by the fact that there are actually professional life coaches to help people accomplish their goals. But really, EVERYONE needs someone to be a cheerleader and support person in his or her life. I am blessed to have a spouse who serves that role for me and saddened for my friends whose spouses treat their dreams as unimportant.

Some people were like me and had been maintaining a list like this for years. Personally, making a life list helped me identify and clarify my heart desires, the things I really wanted to do with my life. Having had an 8 year old sibling die suddenly when I was just 12, I certainly understood sooner than most that life is fleeting. I wanted to be sure to focus in on the activities I truly wanted to accomplish. As I became a parent and my focus shifted away from myself, the list helped to keep me grounded in my own desires so that my personal identify wasn’t subsumed in my children.

In general, I believe goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. (Read more about that here).   In contrast, my life list items are more like dreams than goals: they may or may not be attainable and definitely are NOT bound by realism – the point is to dream and dream big! Many of my items aren’t time bound, either, although some are time-related (like earning enough money for John to retire at age 52).

Do you have a life list? What is the most wild, far out thing on it? Do you believe in your heart that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to? That kind of belief in myself is perhaps one of the greatest gifts given to me by my parents – and one of the greatest gifts I hope to pass on to my children.

An Interesting Morning

Yesterday was the second day of school, and Megan walked.

You see, last year, the girls had some problems getting up and moving in the morning, even though Megan, the 6 year old, goes to bed at 7:00 and Emily, the 8 year old, at 8:00. So this year, I told the kids that whoever missed the bus would have to walk to school. It seemed to impress them – school is, after all, 1.4 miles away! I figured I’d have at least a good week before the “back to school” euphoria ebbed away and the routine feeling started setting in, at which point I’d have to remind them again to get moving.

But on Day 2, Meg decided not to get up and I decided 45 minutes of nagging was enough. So Megan walked and I accompanied her in the car. She ran the first quarter mile without stopping, I got out and personally walked her across every road, and the first part of the journey was uneventful. Just across from the school, however, I got pulled over by a police car!

Although he sympathized with my attempt to teach a lesson, he told me I was a traffic hazard. Plus, the police department had received 10 calls about a van following a child, so I would have to find another solution. Meg got wide eyes when I told her that a policeman asked why she was walking to school instead of riding the bus! I decided to milk it and told her the policeman said she would have to go to jail if she kept missing the bus (yeah – that one will probably come back and bite me, but I was mad!).

Truth be told, even though the depth of her stubbornness amazes me, I was proud that she did actually walk the entire way to school without complaint – and proud of myself for following through and doing what I said I would do. That said, I sure was glad when she got up without incident this morning! We even had enough time to read a book before she set out for the bus stop. Maybe the lesson sunk in after all. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Two years. It’s been two years since Katrina wiped out New Orleans. The news outlets are searching for nuggets of hope, but the overwhelming news is not good. Major parts of the city still look like they did the day after the disaster. Violent crime happens 10 times more frequently in New Orleans today than in New York City (details here). Over 80% of the allotted federal funds have already been distributed (details here).

New Orleans Councilman-at-Large Arnie Fielkow blames the federal government. He claims that the disaster was caused by “the massive failure of a flood protection system caused by the negligence of our federal government.”

But he’s wrong. Human denial and indifference was the ultimate cause of this disaster.

New Orleans lies, on average, 8 feet below sea level – and it’s sinking at a rate of 3 feet per century (details here). Global warming trends aside, the pumping system of the city itself is increasing the rate of sink. I don’t have the magazine at my fingertips, but a copy of National Geographic magazine I read recently made it pretty clear that it was just a matter of time before a disaster of this magnitude hit New Orleans – and that it WILL happen again.

Yes, it was a unique city with an interesting cultural history. But it makes no sense to try and rebuild it.

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