My Retirement Diary
For “why this diary,” please see About My Retirement Diary. Click on images to enlarge
9/28/2023: Journaling in the Moment: Being observant. Let the pen lead.
I have just returned from my second class “Journaling in the Moment.” These are some of the 5 minute essays I wrote tonight, all lightly edited.
Our first activity was to look at an ordinary, unused chair in the classroom
and write an essay in 5 minutes that describes the chair.
This is a utilitarian chair designed to optimized storage and durability, not aesthetics. It has a pleasant, utilitarian design, but there’s nothing unexpected, nothing delightful, nothing humorous about this chair. Nothing about this chair would make me smile. It is designed to be a chair – nothing more, nothing less. It simply disappears into the ether.
Our second activity was to write an essay describing how the chair views our classroom.
I look around this room and I wonder: Why are these people here and why did they not choose me? Am I defective or unpleasant in some way? Am I less than those other chairs who look like me but obviously must be better than I as they have been adopted. I wonder how long those chairs will ostracize me? Do those chairs know how jealous I am of them? What can I do to get adopted?
Our fourth activity was to look at the first photo on our smart phone and describe the photo. For me, that was the photo taken by the Hubble or James Webb telescope.
This is a photo of an iridescent, blue hummingbird in space, 100 million light-years long!
How can you not love this picture?
And there is a red seahorse flying alongside the hummingbird!
The two forever entwined, the hummingbird and the seahorse. Over the next billion years they will dissolve into each other, and create new elements and new life. Even though I will never see it, it will happen. It is the circle of life, it is eternity in a photograph.
In the next activity, we were to write about the sound, smell, taste, and touch associated with a recent photograph. I took this photo in Cambridge on the way to my class tonight and sent it to my kids.
The turkeys were quiet, but there were sounds of people talking and children playing – were they really sound of children playing? I’m not sure.
Covid killed my sense of smell – that’s called anosmia. I’ve had anosmia since March or April 2000. My senses of taste has also been significantly deprecated. This is long Covid.
But long Covid could have been worse, it could’ve been much worse. I did not lose cognitive function nor motor function. I don’t experience profound fatigue.
If I was not vaccinated in January 2000, it probably would’ve been worse. A lot worse.
The final 5 minute writing exercise was to look at a recent photograph and create a message you would send to somebody about the photo but without sending them the photograph. I choose the photo of this painting by Ernest Barnes:
This photo, “Shootin’ the Breeze” shows a black teenager, stretched, with disproportionally long arms and legs, as he tosses the basketball with one arm over his head into the basket – yes, a basket for a basketball hoop. In the background is a relatively large well tended house, but there are no neighbors. It is both sad and happy photograph. Sad because of the lack of a. community, a lack of social interaction and happy because the ball will go into the basket. I’d like this painter, Ernest Barnes, an African-American painter who was systematically ignored by the contemporary art world. I am so happy he has succeeded despite all the odds that were stacked against him.
In the end, we were encouraged to pay close attention to our environment.
- ! Notice
- ? Wonder
- ~ Remember
Our instructor left us with this excerpted from the poem “Sometimes” by Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet.
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
One other thing I noticed is that when I start writing, I may go in one direction, but soon I find I veer off in another direction.
It was a good class.
9/28/2023: The US Constitution and Originalism
I’ve just finished listening to a debate, “How to Interpret the Constitution: A Citizen’s Guide” about the 6 or 12 theories which are the intellectual foundation that judges use to interpret the US Constitution. The debate was sponsored by the Federally funded, non-partisan National Constitution Center and the two principles were Cass Sunstein (Harvard Law School) and Philip Bobbitt (Columbia Law School.)
“Originalism” is a methodology for interpreting the Constitution has only existed for a few decades and there are several variants.
I found it interesting that Philip Bobbitt (more conservative) considered originalism to be an invalid methodology for applying the US Constitution to case law as originalism explicitly denies the legitimacy of the other methodologies which have been used to interpret the US Constitution.
As a non-lawyer but also a US citizen, I think the US Constitution has to be interpreted as a living document, or we are doomed to stagnate as a society. The egregious example is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1791) which reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
When the Amendment was adopted automatic weapons, which were explicitly designed to kill people in war, did not exist. Originalist interpret “Arms” to mean any weapon. However, no rational person could believe that the Founding Fathers intended for individuals to be permitted to own an AK-47, as the concept of an automatic weapon did not exist in 1791.
Similarly, if originalism is followed strictly, it means that women must loose the right to vote and many other liberties, which we all enjoy, must cease to exist.
Originalism neglects to recognize that human society evolves and this social evolution is precisely what makes Homo sapiens unique in the animal kingdom, for better (science, art, equity) and worse.
I think that originalism was disingenuously created so as to give conservative judges a methodology to arrive at a predetermined far right judicial results and to undercut society’s progressive trend towards becoming more equitable.
In 1925 Tennessee law forbid the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools.
John Scopes was put on trial for violating this law in July 1925. Known as The Scopes Monkey Trial it was consider the “trial of the century” as it pitted religion vs science and was the first US trial to be broadcast on national radio.
The following is a statement made by defense attorney Clarence Darrow on Day 2 of the trial:
“I shall not talk long, your honor, I will tell you that.
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.”
Attorney Clarence Darrow, Dayton, TN, July 13, 1925
Unfortunately, that statement rings much too true today. Maybe we have not evolved social as much as I had assumed.
9/26/2023: Mindful meditation – not so much, theater review
I’ve been meditating reliably for at least 10 minutes a day for the last 2 months, during the time and after taking Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 21 session Masterclass on meditation.
I have decided to stop meditating as I have noticed no appreciable benefit. Why did mindful meditation not “work” for me?
I am absolutely certain that meditation can be beneficial as so many people have done it for 2,600 years – durability is the “scientific” proof that it “works,” in some measure, for some people .
I began meditating with the intent that mindful meditation would somehow provide me with a greater understanding of my world. I did not begin to mediate to address an anxiety problem or depression, although there is good data that mindfulness meditation program are effective in treating depression, chronic pain, and anxiety and meditation has been shown to result in durable changes in brain activity between meditative sessions. Clearly meditation does something to our brains.
I believe that my two months of practicing mindful mediation should have been long enough to notice any benefits, if they were to be had, as most “training” session last about 8 weeks.
I found a lay article in Psychology Today which said “participants (who) meditated with the purpose of better opening up and accepting whatever thoughts and feelings may arise. … got all of the expected benefits of meditation: Less anxiety, less worry, less depression, and better mindful awareness” while those who meditated to treat anxiety or depression did not find it so helpful. This was the small study of only 50 people in each group, there was no control group, and no quantitative data were reported, so this was a low quality study of dubious utility to me.
Maybe mindful meditation did not “work” for me as I already get my meditative benefits from my thrive weekly cycling sojourn through urban and suburban forests, see The Joys of Cycling the Somerville Community Path / Minuteman Bikeway.
Maybe I will try mindful meditation again in the future, but it doesn’t appear to be worth the time/effort right now.
Last night we attended a play reading at the MIT museum of the play “Pure” which was about Alan Turing, the mathematician who was instrumental in helping the British defeat Germany in WWII. He was gay at a time when it was considered a immoral and a disease and he was treated with estrogens to reduce his libido. Ultimately this led to his death.
The big themes within the play were:
- the primacy of the “brain” (Turing’s view) versus the “body” (society’s opinion)
- the morality of creating a “thinking” machine
- whether a person should play the role that society expects them to fulfill or be themselves, society be damned, – even if the consequences are horrific.
The play was part of the MIT Museum’s “Science on Stage,” and collaboration between Catalyst Collaborative at MIT and the Central Square Theater. The play was immediately followed by a discussion which included a post doctoral research fellow at Harvard in the field of theoretical mathematics and an MIT assistant professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I enjoyed the play but felt it lacked sufficient emotional depth commensurate with the topic; but maybe the play will develop a deeper emotional impact in subsequent versions of the play. I also appreciated the post-play discussion.
I was very happy that Gail attended to play reading with me, originally she wasn’t going to attend. She thoroughly enjoyed the play. We made an evening of it; went to the Burren afterwards for dinner and got home about 10:30 PM. It was delightful evening.
I am looking forward to our next play at the Central Square Theater, Angels in America. Part 2 on October 1. We will attend a “meet the cast” event afterwards and I will get a chance to talk to Lee (Artistic Director at CST) to discuss my idea of creating a play reading group for the lay public.
9/21/2023: Journaling uncovers emotional roadblocks to political effective action
I just returned from my first class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (in Harvard Square) entitled “Journaling in the Moment.” Besides myself and the instructor, there are five of us taking the class. The Center was a hive of activity.
Among other things, our writing exercise for “Activity 3A” was: In 5 minutes “write about something that happened to you this week which stirred your emotions” and which you may or may not choose to share with a class.
Activity 3B was the same assignment except the writing was not to be shared with anyone – it was to be kept private.
My Retirement Diary (or is it a journal?) is suppose to be an experiment in radical transparency, and lead to a better understanding of myself and my retirement. Consequently I thought I should post both essays I wrote this evening, albeit lightly edited.
Activity 3A – potentially a public essay
This evening I saw a poster in Porter Square, Cambridge:
Cultural Jews died in the gas chambers too. Speak Up. jewbelong.org
This message is on point and too close to home! This poster rekindled my political angst and reminded me of my inability to significantly alter our potentially disastrous political trajectory.
I feel like the only thing I can do is yell “LOOK AT THIS,” “DON”T YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING?” and “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN?“
With my angst rising, I decided I need to distract myself with a science-fiction audiobook and remembered I am listening to a delightful audiobook, The Odyssey by Homer (Emily Wilson). Tomorrow morning I’ll go for a bike ride and listen to my audiobook. The greenery of the Minuteman Bikeway and the audiobook will make me feel better (or distracted)– even if it won’t fix our world.
Activity 3B – a private essay
I saw a poster today that said:
Cultural Jews died in the gas chambers too. Speak Up. jewbelong.org
This elevated my political angst – why doesn’t everyone know that we are on a path to fascism and an illiberal democracy, as have occurred around the world.
I should be on the phone, calling people and attempting to convince them to vote Democrat as the Republicans have forsaken our Constitution and democracy, but I just can’t do that as it will elevate my anxiety level – and that was precisely the reason I retired prematurely from the career I loved. I dreaded that feeling of anxiety and stress which were a daily part of my work life. I don’t want to feel like that again, but…
9/19/2023: just odds and ends
Last night I attended the MIT Club of Boston lecture about transportation in/around Boston. Three people affiliate with MIT and involved with the state regarding transportation issues were on the podium. What is clear to me from this lecture is that Republican governors do not prioritize mass transportation while Democrats do. Also, these projects take decades to plan and implement and have immense ramifications for the citizens and economy of Boston and Massachusetts.
Now that Elly the Elephant is essentially done, I’m finding that I have too much free time mostly because I am reluctant to resume (procrastinating!) my next woodworking project, which will probably be building our dining room chairs, although maybe I’ll decide to finish the wood platter or the child rocking chair.
I saw my primary care physician today and everything is good, or better than in the past because of my weight loss. Of course I still will need my aortic valve eventually replaced, but my cardiologist can’t predict when that will be necessary.
My political angst continues to be problematic as I believe Trump is an existential threat to all Americans who did not buy into his MAGA bullshit, especially Jews, Muslims, blacks, immigrants. The fact that politics is no longer based on facts, and the only thing that drives public opinion is emotional appeals is totally depressing and beyond my abilities to even think about it.
I’m starting to seriously think about my lecture which is to be given to the Regis college lifelong learning group in November. I’m going to talk about my retirement. I was asked to give the lecture because of this essay: A Physician’s Impending Journey into Retirement . Gail will be giving half of the lecture. Tentatively, my plan is to talk about my career, albeit briefly, my reasons for retiring when I did, how I tried to prepare myself for retirement by reading what others have said about retirement, what makes people happy in retirement, how I tried to quantify my retirement through journaling, and how I tried to implement a plan based on what I had learned. Obviously I’m very early in the retirement process, and there are many people who will be listening to the lecture who have been in retirement for years or decades. So I’m not sure I’m going to say anything that’s going to be useful to them, but it may be useful to me by helping me clarify my own thoughts. And maybe the comments will offer additional insights into retirement.
I continue to do meditation, 10 minutes 4-6 days a week. The 10 minutes passes quickly, but I’m not sure what it is accomplishing. For now I’ll keep doing it.
I’m still cycling two hours 4-5 days a week. I only allow myself to listen to my audiobook while I am walking or cycling and as I was very eager to see what happened next in my audiobook, Infinity Gate; the first 30% was a bit boring but that’s what it takes to set up a plot. The last 30% was excellent.
I have begun listening to the audiobook, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson. It is a recent translation (2017) and is delightful. The entire audiobook is about 13 hours and the first 1-2 hours was about the history of the Odyssey, which was a poem that was the basis of education for all the upper middle class educated men and was verbally communicated between the generations. The long introduction addressed;
- who created the poem (Homer and/or several authors),
- when (about 600-800 years BCE),
- when was it first put into writing (probably in the 1600s),
- why do yet another translation (to contemporize it for today’s culture),
- the complexities and choices inherent in creating a translation,
- elucidated many of the intricacies of the relationships between the characters.
I’m enjoying it.
I still have not fully figured out how to engage in sufficient intellectual activities. Obviously there are a plethora of opportunities in the Boston area beyond the MIT Club of Boston, including Cambridge adult education programs and online classes like Masterclass, edX, MITx online, Harvard Extension School, Coursera. I started to attend the Tufts lifelong learning program, but so far the lectures have not been as rewarding as I hope they would be.
I’m very close to getting the MIT Pickleball league set up. I have been waiting for a call from the person who actually does the scheduling of the courts, but this seems to be dragging on forever. Her boss said she will call me soon. After I hear from her, I will reach out to the MIT Club of Boston, and see if I can get them to begin advertising it.
My “Shoot the Shit Salon,” which happens every Friday afternoon, seems to be happening with regularity and attendance ranges from 3 to 8 people. I will continue doing this for a while.
My monthly men’s Rembrunch group has not been so successful. We haven’t met for the last two months as people were on vacation over the summer; hopefully now that the fall is upon us, it will start up with regularity. Regardless, I definitely need at least two more men to make this happen.
As should be apparent from the above that I have endeavored to augment my social network primarily because as all my readings about retirement and happiness have indicated that a strong social network is a prerequisite for a successful and happy retirement. Clearly, this will be a life long effort (maintaining a male social network) as men are much less likely to want to spontaneously coordinated social activities.
Finally, the theater season has started up. We saw one playing at the American Repertory Theater, the Half-God Rainmaker, it was only fair. There was a lot of interesting staging eye candy, but there was a dearth of emotional resonance with characters.
My plan to create a play reading group for the lay public has not materialized. I asked the Central Square Theater to take the lead on this, but so far they have not responded to my entreaties. I don’t have the expertise to coordinate this type of endeavor.
We continue to get pictures of our first grandchild, nearly daily, which is nice and we have rescheduled a second visit to see her again when she is about 6-7 weeks old.
Finally, the refurbishing of Elly the Elephant is complete! In October, after the paint has had time to cure, I will disassemble her and then re-assemble at her home on the Somerville Community Path at Cedar St. To see a video of Elly the Elephant in action, visit: Video of Elly the Elephant, refurbished
9/7/2023: My first attempt at creative writing, “Expand my mind”
Yesterday I posted my first fiction essay: Silently Swaying in Room 302.
A few readers asked me why I wrote the essay. I assume they are inquiring because of the topic (dementia) and my change from writing non-fiction to fiction.
A few months ago I read David Sedaris’ essay HAPPY-GO-LUCKY which was published in the August 9, 2021 edition of New Yorker. The essay was based on David visit with his father who was then living in an assisted living facility and celebrating his father’s 98th birthday. In his younger life, David’s father was an IBM engineer and likely had dementia at the time of this visit.
My story about an elderly woman, who had been an entertainer when she was a young adult and developed dementia late in her life, popped into my mind after reading the Sedaris essay. I do not know why. (Obviously my essays is not as entertaining or elegant as Sedaris’s essay.)
I carried the broad outlines of my story in my mind for a few months but it kept crying out to be written into a story. When an idea/thought/musing serially recurs in my mind, the only way I can expunge the thought from my mind is to write it into an essay. Then my mind is free.
I know that sounds bizarre, but it works for me. I don’t know why.
I was unable to motivate myself to put my imagined story to “pen and paper” until I stumbled upon the idea of using ChatGPT4 to assist in the writing process.
Retirement is mostly progressing well.
Since Josie was born (we FaceTime frequently) I have spent the vast majority of my time working on Elly the Elephant. This phase in my work on Elly the Elephant is coming to a close as the rebuilding and repainting are mostly done. The only thing left is for me to disassemble her, then do some final touch-up painting, wait 1 month for the paint to cure, then reinstall her on-site.
I continue to do meditation, 10 minutes daily, but have not appreciated any benefit, yet.
I still cycle 50-75 miles a week listening to an audiobook. I did not think the book “The Inner Workings of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul” provided me with sufficient insight to recommend it to others. For now, I have returned to science fiction, “Infinity Gate,” which has now captured my interest.
And I am still working on expanding my social circle. The MIT pickleball event is likely a long shot, but the idea is not yet fully dead.
I continue to ponder the future of my retirement (on the assumption my health will remain good.)
My short-term life goals are to strive toward: contentment, fulfillment, and happiness. I believe that “community” and “friends” are the most important component to a successful retirement. I still intend to “expand my mind” so I can understand that part of human existence which has been outside my experience and ken. I know that God is a creation of the human mind, so God is not part of my future.
By “expand my mind” I am referencing an understanding of / experience with a “spiritual” component of life. I am certain that a “spiritual” component to life is “real” as it has been part of human existence forever. Although that is not a scientific proof that there is a way to view the world beyond math/science, the durability an universality of this “spiritual” component of existence is sufficient proof (to me) that it is not a delusion, even if the definition remains incredibly poorly defined and the path/process of achieving this end remain elusive.
8/28/2023: A new family addition, a new understanding of our world
I just met my first grandchild, now 18 hours old. She was perfect! And both mom and dad are doing well. Baby Z’s parents had been without sleep for at least 36 hours when Baby Z finally went down for her very first nap; they thought they could recoup from the sleep deprivation when they suddenly realized Baby Z needed to be fed every three hours.
No matter how many times a prospective first time parent is told that their life style will fundamentally change with the arrival of the new baby, the magnitude of the impact cannot be truly appreciated until reality arrives.
While Gail was visiting with the baby for the first time, I was confined to the waiting room awaiting my turn. At that moment, I heard in my head Louis Armstrong sing What a Wonderful World.
I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and for you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”
I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world
When I first held Baby Z in my arms, I told her that it is a wonderful world (she doesn’t need to know the entire truth today) and she will come to see a beauty which is only revealed to those who understand how our world works and that she will assuredly learn far more than I have ever known. I also told her I am so looking forward to teaching her everything I know, including the values that I cherish.
In the last few paragraphs of my essay Retirement Update @ 8 months I explained that I had refused my son’s request to build him a birdhouse as it was contrary to my retirement mantra It is now my time. Today I promised Baby Z that when she was ready, I would help her build a bluebird house which she can give to her dad as a present, as this project is consistent with my retirement mantra.
While I intellectually understood the concept of “the circle of life,” it was not until my visit with Baby Z that I began to appreciate its ramifications. My grandparents and parents taught me and my progeny about life, and now the cycle repeats. Such a mundane concept, yet with such profound ramifications for one person, one family, and for humanity.
I am looking forward to watching my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild navigate this life journey; and I am ready, willing, and eager to provide any assistance they may need so as to ensure that Baby Z achieves her maximum potential.
Let the adventure begin, yet again.
8/21/2023: To strive toward: contentment, fulfillment, and happiness
I have continued to do my daily meditations but have not yet had an epiphany. As Jon Kabat-Zinn (Mediation/Masterclass) made clear, meditation is a skill which requires practice, like learning an instrument, and the payoff will take time.
And I am still cycling 3-4 times a week totaling 80-108 miles.week. Still ride the same path.
While cycling recently I have had a minor epiphany: My short-term (?long-term) life goals should be to strive toward: contentment, fulfillment, and happiness.
Definitions per ChatGPT:
Being content generally refers to a state of satisfaction with what one has, without strong desires or needs for more. It reflects a sense of peace and acceptance with the current situation, even if it’s not perfect. Contentment is often associated with appreciating the present moment and finding joy in simplicity.
Being fulfilled, on the other hand, implies a deeper level of satisfaction that comes from achieving one’s goals, realizing potential, or living in alignment with one’s values and purpose. Fulfillment often requires effort, growth, and sometimes struggle, leading to a sense of accomplishment and meaning. It’s more connected to a sense of purpose and long-term satisfaction.
While contentment is more about being at peace with what is, regardless of whether personal or professional aspirations are met, fulfillment often involves actively pursuing and achieving those deeper goals and desires. Someone who is content may not necessarily feel fulfilled if they haven’t pursued their deeper passions or purpose, while someone who is fulfilled may have a sense of achievement but might still strive for more or different experiences. Both states contribute to overall well-being but represent different dimensions of satisfaction and happiness.
Hopefully the meditation will lead to contentment while the educational lectures (beginning in September) and social events (my “Shoot the Shit Salon” seems to be enjoyed by some) will lead to fulfillment. And happiness will follow.
I am still trying to arrange a weekly pickleball league for MIT alumni at MIT and a weekly pizza and pinball bowling event – but no significant progress on either front
I have begun a new book recommended by Larry: The Inner Work of Age by Connie, Zwick, PhD. It is much to early to know if this book is worth my time, but the introduction and forward have piqued my interest.
At a recent Shoot the Shit Salon we had a very interesting discussion about hallucinogenics with discussants coming at the topic from very different professional and personal experiences. I tried micro-dosing psilocybin, initially 0.3 mg then 0.6 mg but it had no apparent effect. I still would like to try psilocybin with the goal of a hallucinogenic experience which may need a dose of 25 mg of psilocybin.
Psilocybin has been decriminalize in Denver, Colorado, Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Washington, D.C., Somerville, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Northampton, MA, Seattle, Washington, Detroit, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado (For state and locality specifics, see). The use, sale, and possession of psilocybin in the United States is illegal under federal law.
My repairs on Elly the Elephant have taken a giant leap forward and I will soon be able to attempt to the assembly of the repaired body for the first time. I am literally (still) waiting for the paint to dry completely.
Finally, this blog needs some technical work, but I am so sick of dealing with IT people who mostly just want to get off the phone and blame the problem on something or somebody else.
I have post my essay: Retirement Update @ 8 months
Henceforth, entries in this diary will occur less frequently.
8/7/2023: Keeping busy
I have continued to ride my bicycle about 24 miles every other day. I discovered a new app on my iPhone iOS 17 beta which displays current speed, average speed and heart rate and this definitely pushed me to ride faster; normally I cycle at leisurely 12 miles an hour, but the new data push me to average 14.2 mph.
I saw my cardiologist who tells me that the aortic value will need to be replaced at some point in the future, next echocardiogram is to be done in six months.
I continue to work on Elly the Elephant. Slow progress. I am worried that when I try to install her, I’m going to find some resistance either from the new neighbors in the building behind her or the construction crew, which is building another structure located behind her. We shall see. Elly is an expensive and very time-consuming undertaking but I’ve enjoyed it. I have essentially rebuilt most of her, using pressure-treated lumber, except for the components that were already pressure-treated lumber, but those had to be sanded down and everything needs to be painted. After painting I need to decide whether or not to cover the ears and head and maybe some of the forward facing wood with epoxy or something else to help prevent it from getting dirty. But definitely the ears and the head.
I continue to do my five minutes, mindful meditation daily, and continue with the MasterClass taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I have learned that he was working on a PhD at MIT in 1965 and he became interested in meditation as a result of a lecture he saw at MIT. I am not yet convinced I see a benefit for me, but I will keep at it for now.
I tried psilocybin micro-dosing (0.3 mg) but it had no effect. Therapeutic dose is about 25 mg. I will try again, but I have no way of assessing the true drug content of the gummies.
I am considering submitting a photograph to the Cambridge Art Association, but first I need to see it printed professionally. Time is a problem, or maybe I need to be more organized/efficient.
My newest audiobook, Big Ideas in the Universe by Sean Carroll, is too complicated to listen to while cycling, as I repeatedly need to look at the included pdf. Maybe I will switch to Ursula K Le Guin’s The Dispossessed or…
Last week’s Friday’s Shoot the Shit Soirée was enjoyed by the 7 attendees. Gail and I will continue to host these into September, then we will reassess whether to continue.
Fortunately we have some social events upcoming, D & R, (friends from Vanderbilt) are coming to visit and E & S will visit next week, E shared an apartment with me my senior year at Cornell.
I am still trying to organize a retired, mid-day, mid-week pickleball league at MIT for MIT alumni – so far without success.
And I added several Tufts Life Long Learning lunch lectures to my calendar. This is to address the lack of intellectual activity I mentioned previously
This was interesting about how to reduce the risk of dementia in elderly…
Finally, need to get back to writing my “Retirement @ 7 Months” essay.
8/2/2023: Friendship and political red lines
The most recent Trump indictment brings a bit of political relief (finally, the wheels of justice have turned!) while simultaneously reigniting my political angst regarding the future of democracy in America.
This indictment has also strengthened my conviction that there can be no compromise between democracy (in which everyone gets to vote and minorities are not persecuted) and fascism, where some people’s rights are deprecated, or worse.
One cannot be my “friend” if one supports a politician who wants to deprive me, my family, my friends, and all Americans of our liberties and Constitutional rights.
Consequentially, there are friendship “red lines” which when crossed, should legitimately end long-standing friendships. Asking me to ignore this “elephant in the room” every time I interact with my (former) friend is simply too distressing.
Democracy matters, now more than ever. See This Is THE Case
8/1/2023: Why fewer diary entries?, political anxiety temperature is rising
Lately I have been somewhat negligent in writing in my diary for several reasons.
First, I returned from our travels (Alaska, Maine) and getting back into a routine has been a little bit problematic. This was compounded by that fact that Gail was not home for the first week I returned from Alaska. Now she is home and our travels are done until we receive “the call” from CA that the birth of our first grand-baby is in process.
Second, I’ve been very focused on trying to get Ellie the Elephant rebuilt and writing is a secondary priority. Shortly after I awake I do my mindfulness breathing meditation for 5 minutes (still no “revelations”) then sometimes I cycle 2 hours and recuperate (1-2 hours) and then spend the rest of the day rebuilding Elly the Elephant. I really would like to get her reinstalled by late September and it’s turning out to be a much bigger project than I thought. As a result, I have had little time to write in my diary.
Third: I have already started working on my “Retirement @ 7 months” essay. In preparation for this essay I re-read all my diary entries and culled out useful insights which will be used in that essay and in my November lecture to the Regis College learning in retirement group. As a result, there is now less imperative for me to write in my diary as the purpose of the diary was to help me better understand my retirement. And the daily diary entries were immensely helpful in providing insights regarding “how to build a better retirement.”
I have yet to successfully increase my social network. I have several ideas, discussed on 7/26/2023, but nothing concrete, yet.
I have also become convinced that further incorporating myself into my community is absolutely essential for my long-term happiness. Elly the Elephant is one step in that process but it’s not sufficient in and of itself.
And my political anxiety is rising as it appears Trump is going to be the Republican party nominee and he’s gone full fascist. He has already made it clear that if he is elected, he intends to reconfigure all components of our government which are not directly under his control, and Steve Bannon had previously indicated he’s already selected ~4000 people to replace all the current government employees who are not fully loyal to Trump. If Trump is elected, there is no question in my mind that democracy in America will be finished. (See my essay President Joseph Biden, the Last Democratic President!?) Unfortunately, a substantial fraction of Americans, maybe 35%, no longer believe democracy is an essential component of America.
My only solution to the end of democracy in America is for the Democrats to implement Federal legislation to reduce federal taxes to zero. This is something the Republicans should support. Once that is done, we can try to starve the Federal government and simultaneously create a Federation of Blue States, with Blue state morality (it takes an village, etc) and eventually tell the Federal government to fuck off. Obviously, this is going to be more complicated than that simple scenario, e.g. Social Security, national defense, national debt, and innumerable other problems, but it is the only solution I can foresee which will allow the Blue states to continue as a democracy after the Federal government formally ends democracy in America. I probably should write a full IHaveAnIdea.us essay exploring this idea.
7/26/2023: Retirement require effort
Since returning from Alaska, I spent the first day and a half acclimating to the time zone difference. I have completely recovered from the gastroenteritis and I am scheduled to see my cardiologist in one week.
I have resumed cycling and listening to my book Ancillary Justice. I still do not fully understand the story, the character names are hard to remember, as are their relationships, but I only have four hours (two bike rides) left (12 hour book) to finish the book, which I will do. The story is starting to get more interesting.
I finally got myself to start taking mindfulness meditation more seriously. I purchased a one year subscription to MasterClass and started Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness and Stress class. I’ve watched the first 6-7 of the 20 lectures and I have been doing five minute breathing twice a day, mostly reliably.
It is a leap of faith that these breathing exercises will eventually have value by leading to new awareness or consciousness or understanding and this “leap of faith” runs against my intellectual instincts. On the other hand, there’s a lot of science behind it and, just as importantly, there is a long history that it’s beneficial (1000s of years) to individuals so I’m going to try to force myself to do continue to do the breathing exercises and finish the 21 classes.
I have started working on the platter again, as well as on the Elly the Elephant. Long way to go on both of those projects. The baby rocking chair is on hold but the end is in sight for that project. My first priority is Elly the Elephant. The dining room chairs project is on hold.
We are now at the Cove Cottage in Harpswell, ME with M and D for 3 nights. It is a small house, idyllically situated on a tiny peninsula on the southern main coast. Very pretty and peaceful, except for the roosters crowing in the morning. We did some short day hikes and I went swimming in the cove.
I am concerned about having enough social interactions in retirement, but I have a couple of ideas I may try to implement (all are outside my comfort zone):
- A bimonthly play reading group
- Midweek, midday senior pinball bowling and pizza at Flatbed Pizza in Davis Square
- Midweek, midday, pickleball for MIT alumni at MIT
- Friday 5:30-6:30 PM Shoot the Shit Soirée at our house for September
And I signed up for few lectures in the Tufts learning in retirement group (understanding music, big bang to intelligence), one zoom session about The Grateful Dead, one zoom session about the Oppenheimer movie with the MIT Club of Boston.
We have season tickets to Central Square Theater and American Repertory Theater, totaling 8-10 plays.
To have a fulling retirement (ongoing education, social events, creative activities, and exercise) requires effort. It does not happen spontaneously.
7/17/2023: End of the trip. And there is no place like home!
On 7/16 noon we left Denali on a train mid-day and it took about 9+ hours to get to Anchorage, 90 minutes late, because the rain increased the risk of mud slides onto the track and the train had to travel slow enough to be able to stop, if needed. After one night in Lakeside Anchorage hotel, it is now 7/17 8AM, and I am boarded on the flight to Seattle then home to Boston. Gail will be going to California for the baby shower. I am very happy to be headed home.
It was a really great trip for Gail. She wanted to stay in Alaska for another “five” days and she wants to return. It was a good trip for me but not as “revelatory” as last year’s “cognitive clarity” trip into the Wrangell St Elias National Park nor did this trip match the Wrangell’s for scenic grandeur and wilderness. There are many, more people on the trails on this trip, too many. On last year’s trip we were entirely isolated. And of course my illness on this trip. But it was still a great trip, especially seeing the humpback whales bubble-net feeding, the meadows of wild flowers, and view of Denali from the Overview Denali Hotel at 2-3 AM.
And there is no place like home! This trip has convinced me that, unlike other retirees who want to spend large amounts of time traveling, that option will not work for me. As I said before, I think my primary form of entertainment is “creating” either the written word or woodworking or ?other.
7/15/2023: Denali National Park
We did the 43 mile “nature” bus ride into Denali. The bus could not go any further (formerly the road went on for a toal of 93 miles) than because of the rock slide; road repairs should be done by next year.
I think the turnaround point was near where I backpacked with Everett in the summer of 1980. The scenery looked vaguely similar but it is possible that we hiked upstream at the subsequent river. As I recall, we spent a week in the backcountry, and we saw Denali for only 15 minutes. We kept looking around at the mountains and said “That mountain is a bit larger. That must be Denali.” and then the clouds cleared and it was obvious which was “the great one”
We saw Dall sheep, caribou, willow ptarmigan.
7/14/2023: Denali National Park
Today we hiked nearly 10 miles and climbed about 1200 feet in Denali National Park and Preserve. It wasn’t particularly spectacular; it was much like hiking in the Adirondacks or the White Mountains but I was able to do the hike without too much difficulty, for which I was grateful. I thought it was imperative that I did the last night both for Gail and group morale.
I still have mild diarrhea and some (mild) diaphoresis with (mild) exertion. I fully expect that if a stress test is done, I will become as diaphoretic as occurred when I was climbing up a mountainside. I have been unable to arrive at a singular diagnosis which explains both symptoms. Maybe there isn’t a singular diagnosis but my career in medicine tells me there usually is. I have a long history of moderate –severe aortic regurgitation and the cardiologist had told me years ago that it there was a high probability that the valve would eventually need to be replaced. Coincidentally and fortunately, I’m scheduled to see my cardiologist in about two weeks. Right now the diarrhea is markedly improved but my bowels are not 100% normal, yet.
Tomorrow we do the “nature” bus tour in Denali. On 7/16 we get on a train in the Denali visitor station to Anchorage, over eight hours.
I am ready to go home now.
7/13/2023: Alaska, mostly recovered from illness
I did not go on today’s long hike although I am feeling better and eating. The gastroenteritis has resolved or nearly resolved. It is unclear to me if I have such a hard time on the 7/11 hike because of the gastroenteritis or my AI issue. I will have to decide if it is safe to hike on 7/14. Fortunately I have an appointment with my cardiologist in a few weeks.
Today, I am hanging out in North View of Denali park. I have a picnic table in the woods, just me and the birds and bugs and mountains in the distance. I spent some time repairing IHaveAnIdea.us which appeared to have been rolled-back to 6/26 by Network solutions, but it is now mostly back to where it was on 7/6/2023.
I may have my days confused a bit, but I must mention the Denali Overlook Inn, where we stayed on Day 5, the night of July 12. The hotel is located 80 miles from Denali. It has a clear view of the mountain and we were immensely fortunate that the sky was clear all night. The sun set at 11:30 PM to the left of the Denali in the photograph. There is then an orange glow on the horizon which, over the next four hours, shifts to the right (east) until 4:30 AM when the sun rises. This photograph was taken about an hour before sunrise. I cannot imagine a more spectacular view of Denali. We were so fortunate! Gail was so excited she spent the entire evening photographing the mountain.
7/12/2023: Alaska, ill
Our 7/9 hike, which was about 7 miles and ~2300 feet elevation climb, was very difficult for me. I began sweating profusely and was nauseous. While hiking down, it wasn’t much of a problem, but ultimately I developed a gastroenteritis (no hematochezia) and went to bed at about 5 PM. I had some episodes of nausea and emesis at bedtime, but nothing came up and my abdomen was soft.
Since then I continue to have episodes of diarrhea, at this point it’s only water and the only thing I’ve eaten for 24 hours is water, probably not enough. I will not go on today/ short hike which will be only 60 minutes. I suspect I’m not going be able to go on tomorrow’s long hike (7 miles, 2400 feet). We drove to a towards Denali today. We left at 6:30 AM and we’re pretty close, now 4 PM, but we’re not there yet.we saw a moose on the drive today.
Once I forced myself to drink 3-4 cups of liquid, while sitting on the porch of the pot shop in Talkeetna (winter population 50), I began to feel improved.
Hiked in Kenai Fjords National Park by land. Saw vole, 2 black bears and 2 marmots
Eagle on nest and salmon (not yet red) swimming to their spawning pond, where they will die.
We drove to Seward and took a boat ride into the Kenai Fjords National Park where we saw the end of the Aialik glacier, 1 mile wide and 750 feet deep. We saw humpback whales bubble-net feeding, sea otters, tufted puffin, horned puffins, a black bear, coyote tracks, a bald eagle, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, porpoise (very briefly), arctic terns, various fish jumping, herring, oyster catchers. That is the most wild animal species I ever saw in one day. Seeing humpback whales bubble-net feeding was an animal behavior I was aware of but never even considering trying to observe because I thought the probability of seeing it was close to zero.
Humpback whales bubble-net feeding…
7/9/2023: Long hike in Alaska
Did a long hike 7 miles/2300 feet climb, Hope Point Trial, Chugach National Forest. Beautiful weather, scenery, and wildflower. I am sore and ready for bed. Tomorrow is a boat ride to the fjords.
7/8/2023: What people do in retirement and what will work for me
Today we hike up a mountain valley, Crow Pass Trail in Chugach National Forest climbed about 1700 feet over 4 miles. Everybody enjoyed the hike although I was spoiled by my experience on my “cognitive clarity” hike in Wrangell St Elias National Park 1 year ago.
During the hike we saw a black bear, bald eagles, mountain goats.
I have conclude that some people in retirement spend the bulk of their entertainment efforts on traveling. I don’t think that option is going to work for me as a primary form of entertainment in retirement, as I still think my preferred form of entertainment is creation rather than consumption.
A segment of our group talked about keeping friends and making friends in retirement, and how that requires a conscious effort, it does not happen spontaneously. I totally agree.
7/7/2023: Alaska – a joint adventure, culture enlightenment
We traveled from Boston to Seattle (5+ hours and 2 hour lay over) to Anchorage (~3.5 hours).
We first visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The “Center” is less a “museum” and is in fact a “heritage center” in that its purpose is to preserve the culture of the five native people’s culture and they had many people, from young to middle age present and either talking about their culture, demonstrating dances, singing, or creating and selling cultural imbued trinkets. My takeaway message was that a concerted effort by a determined people with external value system can slowly subsume and erase a native culture by repeatedly telling the native peoples what to think, that their culture is “wrong” or “evil” or bad and the native culture, native language, native values, native heritage, (in this case the belief in a respect for elders) will eventually cease to exist. I see strong parallels in today’s MAGA efforts to erase and re-write the values of America’s multicultural, representative democracy.
In the case of Alaska’s native people, there is now a very strong effort to teach the language, cultural values, and heritage to the younger generation. This does not mean abandoning all that it new, but preserving and incorporating the best of the old and merging it with appropriate components of the new.
Then we visited the Anchorage Museum, which is a jewel of a museum, showing Alaskans’s art, from old to contemporary.
Over dinner we met four of our fellow REI-ers. Our first hike is tomorrow on the Kenai Peninsula, after driving from 8-10:30 AM. All the fellow travellers are either recently retired or near their career’s end. And all have done extensive traveling, many have done cycling adventures.
I heard rumors that
- sockeye salmon are running on Kenai Peninsula
- there will be sun
- there will be large aurora borealis next Thursday
- there are a lot of mosquitos on Kenai Peninsula.
Hopefully only the first three are true.
Addendum of 7/13. The first two were correct.
7/3/2023: Loads of family time
Gail and I went to Scituate on July 1 & 2 and will return again later today for the semi-annual Whoriskey family gathering. These family gathering occur around July 4th at the Scituate house (which has been in the family since 1922) and at Julie or Susan’s Boston area home around Thanksgiving. Family members arrive from Iowa, Minnesota, California, Canada, Hawaii and now there are representatives from three generations.
This is the first family gathering in which there is no presence of the generation that preceded Gail and I. Gail’s father, in his will, had endowed the house with a fund to keep it within the family, unless all family members agreed to sell it, which is not likely to happen for the foreseeable future. The house is fantastic with a big, wrap around porch and located only a couple of hundred yards from the ocean with Egypt beach within easy walking distance, yet far enough from the ocean that the ocean has never reached the house.
Gail refers to Resthaven as “the cottage” but I think that’s a ridiculous term as it sleeps 22. Given the size of the clan that is still not large enough to accommodate everyone. Claire rented the house across the street for her family, others are staying at a hotel in Scituate Harbor, and Gail and I drove back-and-forth from Somerville daily (50 miles). Unfortunately, my kids are not here; one is attending a wedding in Greece, and the other is awaiting the birth of their child. But they are here in spirit.
Mostly it’s joyful, people catching up on what others are doing, shooting the shit, enjoying time together, walking to the lighthouse, playing on the beach, enjoying the newest-youngest generation, playing games on the double lot, watching TV in the house or tent, and of course, cooking and eating and eating and eating.
Julie takes responsibility for organizing the meals and she does a fantastic job but it’s a bit like herding cats, as all the sisters have their own ideas how the cooking should be done and that does not always comport with Julie’s plans.
Given the size of the clan and all the strong personalities, there is, periodically, a bit of family drama, but nothing unexpected and everything always works out just fine in the end – mostly because this New England clan sweeps disagreements under the rug.
Families and friends will come and go over the week.
We leave for Alaska on July 6, I think I’ve got everything I need.
When I return from Alaska, Gail heads directly to California for Gaby’s baby shower. When Gail returns, we head to Maine for a vacation with Murat and Deniz. When we return from Maine, we wait for “the call” that the Baby Z is on her way, and then we head out to California for a couple of days.
Great summer, so far.
My “moral injury” article is getting a lot of readings, some referrals are from a comment I posted on the New York Times website in response to their article about moral injury, and some referrals are coming from the comments I wrote in reply to other comments about my “retirement” article on the Doximity website. That article is approaching 500 up votes, which is amazing. I guess that’s one thing all physicians have in common is that eventually they are all going to retire, unless they dropped dead first.
Spent most of the day rewriting The Joys of Cycling the Somerville Community Path / Minuteman Bikeway
In the morning we took down Gail and my joint “Inside Out gallery” exhibit in the heart of Davis Square. This was a meaningful and fantastic joint venture for both of us.
Another delightful but hilly ride with Larry in the morning and then a visit to Great Barrington.
When we got back to his house, I felt like I had to create something, so I worked on my “Why Do I Cycle” essay – which still needs a lot of work (per Gail) before it sees the light of a blog. But it is moving in the right direction, thanks to her criticisms.
The Mark Morris Dance Company dance performance was not as good as good “theater” as I had hoped as it lacked significant emotional resonance. Or maybe it is my naiveté about dance. Lest anyone think dance cannot have the same emotional resonance as good theater, I have had first hand experience with a wordless Argentinian tango performance at the American Repertoire Theater which left me in tears. But the Jacob’s Pillow venue was an impressive and it is a wonderful temple to the art of dance.
6/28/2023: Time with friends, meaningful conversation,
Gail and I drove the to Berkshires to spend 3 days with Larry and Karen at their home. During the 2.5 hour drive Gail and I had a slightly uncomfortable but meaningful conversation which I initiated in response to what I learned from my book The Good Life, as discussed on 6/25/2023. It was productive.
From the book I also learned about the benefits of talking to strangers (the railroad experiment) so when we stopped for a break while cycling, I made an effort to talk with a stranger, with good effect.
As a group, the four of us had several meaningful conversations. This almost always happens when we meet and is why I so enjoy their company.
There is so much greenery here!! I did some reading about the health benefits on exposure to greenery, prompted by a suggestion from Nicole. I found two meta analyze that concluded that there are measurable benefits to exposure to greenery:
James, P., Banay, R. F., Hart, J. E., & Laden, F. (2015). A Review of the Health Benefits of Greenness. Current epidemiology reports, 2(2), 131–142.
“In general, greater neighborhood greenness or access to green space was associated with reduced risk of stress, propensity to psychiatric morbidity, psychological distress, depressive symptoms, clinical anxiety and depression prevalence, and mood disorder treatment in adults … In summary, the body of literature assessing the effects of greenness on health provides some evidence that greenness may be beneficial for physical activity, obesity, mental health, birth outcomes, cardiovascular outcomes, and mortality.”
Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental research, 166, 628–637.
Meta-analysis showed statistically significant reductions in diastolic blood pressure, salivary cortisol, heart rate, incidence of diabetes, all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, preterm birth, small size for gestational age, (did not assess psychological benefits)… “there is a convincing body of evidence to suggest that greenspace is beneficial for health”
Larry and I will cycle again this morning and tonight we will see a dance performance by the Mark Morris Dance Company at Jacob’s Pillow.
6/25/2023: cycling & reading, creativity, The Dead and Company
I cycled from Somerville to Bedford to Boston to Somerville, 31 miles round-trip while attempting to re-shoot my biking video to make it less jittery, and hopefully that will allow me to shorted it to < 6 minutes. This time I filmed at 4K and with 60 frames/sec and tried to keep the phone from bouncing around too much. Unfortunately, there is a segment that did not get recorded which will again have to be redone.
I did get a nice photo in Boston…
While cycling out to Bedford I was listening to The Good Life. “The key to satisfying relationship is affection, empathy, curiosity, and the willingness to engage with your spouse regarding challenging problems and emotions rather than avoid them.” Gail and I meet all criteria but I think we need to work on the last “requirement” more frequently.
I did more woodworking mostly on the platter and also tuning-up the bandsaw.
In the evening, Gail, Jesse, and I went to see Dead and Company at Fenway. It was a lot of fun. The acoustics, lighting, and audience were great. It was a beautiful summer evening.
This is supposedly the last tour of the Grateful Dead/Dead and Company. When all the remaining band members are dead (only Bob Weir, 75 yo and Mickey Hart, 79 yo are still playing and they have been tour for 60 years) then a new band will be created called “Totally Dead“ and they will do the nursing home tour along with the Rolling Stones, in their wheel chairs.
6/24/2023: woodworking and MFA
I cycled 18 miles and I spent a lot of time woodworking on the platter.
Jesse, Gail, and I went to the MFA to see the Katsushika Hokusai exhibit.
There were too many people in the exhibit and the lighting was poor. So I left and went and looked at the furniture in the American section (again.) The furniture was typically made and the 1800s, much of it in Boston.
6/23/2023: A list of events from the prior week.
I neglected to write in this diary for a whole week!
Since I last reported in, I saw the play As You Like It! by the Actors Shakespeare Project performed at Tufts. The take-home message of this production was that any of the roles could have been played by a person of any sexual identity.
I tried to attend the a biking movie “The Engine Inside”, but after walking into Harvard Sq, discovered it was sold out. At least I got in a total of 10 miles walking on this day.
I also tried to attend an event in a performance space (The Rockwell) in Davis Square called “HUMAN AFTER ALL” which was billed as “a corporeal cabaret with the drag, circus, comedy and more. But that too was sold out.
To take home lesson: If I see a flyer for production I should buy a ticket immediately and not wait to consult with Gail. If she’s interested, I can try to get her a ticket later.
Gail and I did a 5 mile loop walk along the esplanade on the summer solstice.
I attended my monthly Rembrunch meeting with Marty and Tony, this was Marty’s first meeting. Marc couldn’t join due to a last minute work demand. We had an enjoyable conversation. Still need to get a total of 6 men to join.
Gail and I saw the My Fair Lady in the Somerville Theater. The most impressive thing to me is how the role of women in society has changed over the last 500 years. Prior to 1500, (The Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci) women literally were property, who were committed to marriage at the age of 5 years old, and began living with husbands shortly after puberty.
I did the Senior walk with Somerville Council on Aging to Alex’s Place.
Jesse arrived yesterday for a visit. All 3 of us will attend the Dead and Company’s final “Dead” Boston concert at Fenway with only Bob Weir and Mickey Hart from the original Grateful Dead band participating. This will be the end of the Dead era as the remaining Dead band members say this is the last of the Dead.
We had an intruder in our backyard – we came home from a walk at about 7 PM, still very sunny, and I saw a person in the yard. I ran into the yard and he jumped the fence and said “My bad.” A Somerville police officer arrived then left. Nothing damaged or taken.
I did more work on Elly the Elephant. I can’t proceed until the wood is dry enough to paint, moisture content <13-15%. I am putting aside the child rocking chair as my first attempt to use the old dovetail jig failed – I will figure it out in the future.
I have continued to spend time revising my Bedford to Boston By Bike music video. IHaveAnIdea.us/b2b/ and may yet revise is again. I put a flyer in the window of three bike stores and promoted it on Twitter. So far ~64 views. I did some testing and I have concluded I need to reshoot the entire video with a handheld or head mounted camera as this will markedly reduce the jitteriness.
I tried mindful breathing for 1 minute. I guess this will require a lot more practice before I notice anything. Not clear I have the discipline to do this.
Today I am in Scituate with Jesse and the dogs o help Gail oversee the installation of new curtains.
I am continuing with my audiobook The Good Life and think I may need to purchase the digital version so I can take better notes.
6/17/2023: created somethings of limited appeal
I added an “index by category” page to my blog. I like this addition.
I created a flyer to promote the biking music video and will see if a local bike store will post it. I am also considering making a music video of a predawn to post-dawn ride as well.
6/16/2023: home repairs, an epiphany
I successfully replaced the bathroom’s sink faucet, and drain, so far no leaks. These little accomplishments, do you have meaning.
Ideas for future projects:
- Create a poster of my biking video and promote the video
- Create an index for my blog arranged by subject.
- Write an essay on the joys of repeatedly cycling the Minutemen Bikeway
- Make the circle frame for a painting that Gail will create after the frame is done
With respect to creativity, I have concluded I should just keep creating. While people may like (bonus points) or not like my creations (my blue whale silhouette /template was not a success nor appreciated) it is in the design and making the first prototype which makes me happy.
6/15/2023: walking, creating
During the 9 AM Senior walk, I showed the other seniors my display at the Inside Out Gallery and explained some of the back story.
I spent the most of the day working and ultimately completing the first version of my music video “Bedford to Boston By Bike.” I like it and uploaded it to YouTube.
The NYT had an article on moral injury. Nevertheless, Doximity rejected my moral injury article, again.
And Gail and I went for a walk in the evening.
It was a good day: creativity, positive feedback, social interactions.
6/14/2023: Cycling, reading, learning, and creating
Yesterday evening I watched the first 20-30 minutes of “how the Supreme Court is dividing America“ sponsored by the 92nd St. YMCA. The speakers were all highly reputable, but they didn’t say anything which added significantly to my understanding of the current Supreme Court morass. Fortunately, Larry called me during the talk and we spent a pleasant 60 minutes just talking about our lives.
Today I started reading the good life about the Harvard longevity study, which is been going on since 1940. The concept of the importance of “community” was raised and that immediately caused me to stop cycling and write this down. I need to come back to that because I think that’s an important component to my happiness, for me. Also, from the Harvard longevity study, the one factor that is most important for physical health, mental health and longevity is multiple relationships creating a joyful life is meaningful (warm) relationships of all kinds. The book mentioned Aristotle used the term “Eudemonia.” An enduring sense of deep wellbeing and a belief that life is meaningful and has purpose” vs hedonism or a transient happy feeling. Another line from the book: “Living in the midst of warm relationships is protective of mind and body”
In the morning I cycled to Bedford. Then turned around, adjusted my iPhone on the handlebars and cycled to TD Garden in Boston, then home. I spent the rest of the day working on my Bedford to Boston by Bike video… tbc.
6/13/2023: Men’s brunch, creativity is fun, and cycling with another rider.
At today’s Somerville Council on the Aging monthly men’s brunch, I gave a talk that was supposed to be 15 minutes about ChatGPT and DallE-2. There were five in attendance and it was not a tech group. The talk lasted for 45 minutes. I explained what I know about artificial intelligence, and I showed them some examples of what could be done in real time. They were clearly intrigued and appreciative of the talk. I suspect will go home tonight, get on their computer and go to OpenAI, begin playing with ChatGPT. After the meeting I met with the person who runs the technology lecture series at Somerville Council on the Aging, and I offered to do the same show and tell for their tech group which will probably be in September.
I made some significant progress on the child rocking chair, having rebuilt it using plywood. I came up with an idea to increase stability, but it still has a way to go. I’m getting itchy to move forward with using the walnut as I like to get it done. Today’s attempt to add dovetails was a failure. Now on to Plan B.
My retirement article which I wrote in November 2022 was finally posted on Doximity, is trending. I now have the ?most upvotes>350 and 300 comments. Again, it is always personally fulfilling when somebody says “you did a good job”
Last night Gail and I walked into Davis Square for ice cream (beautiful summer night) and subsequently walked over the the Inside Out Gallery window in front of CVS. While Gail was cooing over our creations, a person came up and said “that is a very cool chair”, referencing my vanity chair. Gail really loves seeing her paintings being displayed. Again, having an impact on someone is what drives me to create stuff.
Finally, yesterday afternoon while riding on the Minuteman Bikeway, I met a cyclist, Lauren, who owns a travel company that organizes cycling trips in Europe. We rode out to Bedford together and then back to Arlington, where we went our separate ways. It was fun and different for me talking to a hardcore cyclist while cycling, as I usually ride alone and listen to either music (I ride faster) or a book (slower).
I would like to take some classes at the Tufts Learning in retirement or with the Cambridge Council on the Aging, but I’m having a difficulty finding free time, which I guess is good.
6/10/2023: cycling into Boston!
I went for a bike ride this morning and discovered that the Somerville Community Path has been extended and is called the Community Path. Yesterday evening the trail was still blocked at 9PM but it was open at 8AM today and the fences had been removed.
I followed it all the way to the Museum of Science. Then I turned around and rode out to Bedford on the newly opened section of the Community Path, the Somerville Community, Path, and the Minuteman, Bikeway, and rode back home. Entire trip was about 32 miles, and then I took a nap. I had recorded a Time-lapse video of the one hour and 15 minute ride, which was compressed to 40 seconds but it’s much too fast to be of any utility. Eventually I’ll again take a movie of the entire bike ride from Science museum out to Bedford and compress it to 1-3 minutes. Maybe that will be fun to watch.
Annals of Internal Medicine rejected my article on moral injury for their “On Being a Physician” section. Of course I am disappointed, but I knew it was a long shot and I’m glad I tried. Will again try to get it into Doximity.
6/9/2023: blogging, shop repairs
I spent a little bit of time, trying to fix my shop’s dust collector, I think I was successful.
I spent most of the morning working on my article on moral injury, which I just sent to Annals of Internal Medicine for their “On Being a Physician” section. This is a longshot for multiple reasons. One reason they may choose not to publish it is that I posted a lay version of the article on IHaveAnIdea.us and on KevinMD.com and (supposedly) it will appear on TheHealthCareBlog.com. The lay version is 300 words longer well, while the Annal’s version was written specifically for physicians. Nevertheless, it is unlikely to get published by Annals but I feel that I should at least try.
6/8/2023: Movie night, woodworking prototype of platter, visit with Bernie in CT
Last night I saw the movie The Blues Brothers which I very much enjoyed. It was irreverent with a moral tale, fun, music was good, and a stellar cast. How did I miss this the first time? I walked out of the theater, smiling. The audience was fantastic, all theater geeks, who knew all the actors and actresses.
I have essentially finished the prototype for my wood platter although I may yet apply a finish finish. I now feel comfortable using the angle grinder to team the shape that I desire. Now onto my platter using my coast to technique.
On the senior walk today, and I learned that the Cambridge Council on the Aging has some interesting walks originating in the Collins library, ONeil library, including bird walks and Central Square Senior center .
I drove to Connecticut to meet with Bernie, we spent an hour and a half talking at a local restaurant and then I drove back home, a 90 minute drive each direction. It was good to see him and talk about our lives, and our family interactions. Interacting with friends is what matters most, or is it creating stuff?
And this morning before I went on the senior walk, I again revised my article on moral injury for Annals of Internal Medicine’s “On being a Doctor”. I think this is a longshot, but I will send it to them after I do one more revision.
6/5/2023: Woodworking, reading, friends, creations
I began the day at 7:30 AM by moving all the pressure-treated lumber, which I am using to rebuild Elly the Elephant, into the basement. I spent most of the day cutting the wood to its final dimensions and assembled it in front of the fan and turned on the dehumidifier. I’m hoping I can dry the wood in a few weeks which must happen before I can glue together the boards and paint it.
In the evening we had a delightful dinner at Guilia with Vineeta and Sanjay. -always fun to talk with them.
My retirement article on Doximity’s Op-Med column continues to attract a lot of attention. It is at the top of the “trending” list. I started to tracking the number of “upvotes” on a daily basis and it looks like interest in the article is waning after about 300 upvotes, far mort than the other article have.
Yesterday I took some measurements on neighbor’s 3 and 5 year old kids for my the child rocking chair. I want to get one more set of measurements before I begin cutting the walnut slab to size. Measure 2-3-4 times, cut once.
In the afternoon I watched the end of Apple’s worldwide developers conference when they announced the new Apple Video Pro, a new type of computer/hardware device which accommodates both augmented reality and virtual reality “XR”. Very cool and I’m looking forward to trying it. It seems like it can replace the TV as an entertainment center. Whether it will replace the computer is TBD. Clearly it is not intended for the mass market at this time at $3,500. The amount of tech they built into this is amazing but the battery life is short, 2 hours. I assume it can be plugged into an electrical outlet while being used.
I finished Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
“He enjoyed the challenge of conception more than the chore of completion.”
“But needless to say, Leonardo never finished executing his plan. Coming up with the conception was enough for him.”
This is exactly how I feel about “making things” and why I call my creations “prototypes.” Sometimes I wish I could hire someone to build version 1 of some of the projects which remain in my mind’s eye, although as I discussed previously, some of the creative process, (a lot of it) is done during the creation of the first prototype.
What set Leonardo apart was creativity, the ability to apply imagination to intellect and his ability to combine observation with fantasy
Learning from Leonardo
- Be relentlessly and randomly curious
- Seek knowledge for its own sake
- Retain a child-like sense of wonder
- Observe and wonder why
- Start with the details
- “If you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of object begin with the details.” Leo
- See things unseen
- Go down rabbit holes, get immersed in the detail.
- Get distracted
- Respect facts
- Procrastinate, Leo “creativity requires time for ideas to marinate and intuitions to gel”
- Let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is never done until perfect or nearly so.
- On the other hand, Steve Jobs: “Real artists ship”
- Think visually
- Avoid silos, neither art nor science, but both
- Let your reach exceed your grasp
- Indulge fantasy
- Create for yourself, not just for patrons
- Collaborate. Genius starts with a singular vision but execution requires collaboration
- Make lists
- Take notes (on paper)
- Be open to mystery e.g. Describe the tongue of the woodpecker (repeatedly on Leo’s lists)
I love this side-by-side comparison showing the original colors of the Mona Lisa.
Finally, when Gail was walking by the Inside Out Gallery window she came upon someone taking a photo of this painting/frame. It is a nice feeling when one gets that type of affirmation.
I preferred the painting when it is in this same frame but has a black inner border.
6/3/2023: Political angst rears its ugly head
I just sent this email to a friend who lives in Texas…
I started reading this (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/03/opinion/texas-preemption-bill.html) but only got through halfway before I got nauseous and gave up.
They, the red politicians and their MAGAmaniacs disdain democracy and will do everything in their power to ensure that only Republicans get to vote. And should Democrats win, they will figure out a way to nullify the election or local ordinances by selectively choosing Trump appointed judges to hear their case.
My daughter and her husband were planning on moving to North Carolina (from Ca) to be near to his family. They have decided they do not want to live in a red state and are willing to accept the higher cost of living.
If I was LGBTQi+ or any other minority (including Jewish), I would seriously think about moving to a blue state; at least in the blue states we espouse everybody is equal, whereas in the red states, they legislate in favor of inequality and death.
Life in the blue states it’s not perfect. It’s more expensive because land is scarce but at least we believe in democracy, education, science, and (most of us) believe in equality.
I do not give fuck what happens in the red states or to the people who live in the red states. You guys are on your own, just leave me the fuck alone! I am ready to continue America’s 250 year experiment in democracy with those states who still believe in democracy.
6/2/2023: Woodworking, new friends and a lesson from a snapping turtle.
Yesterday I worked on my baby rocking chair. I made some real progress. The oak loop and the maple runner are now glued together. Because of my less than stellar woodworking skills, it’s going to need some touchup work as there’s a gap between the the oak strut and the maple runner but this is this problem can be solved in a way that’s acceptable and will not effect the overall impression of the chair by the viewer.
Last night we had Marty and Ellen over for the first time. I met them in my yard during Somerville Open Studio. We sat on our deck and talked about life while eating fruit, cheese, nuts, crackers, beer, and wine. It was delightful evening, as they are both interesting people.
On my bike ride this morning I saw a snapping turtle trying to build a nest. I learned a lesson about homo sapiens hubris from the turtle and wrote about it here: His Hubris. Her (The Turtle’s) Story.
6/1/2023: Writing class
Yesterday I streamed a 45 minute writing class from the Tufts Learning in Retirement program. It was useful. The bottom line was “ignore the editor in your head and just keep writing.” As I’ve written about elsewhere, that’s exactly what happens when I write some of my articles particularly the personal ones which are most well received. e.g Retirement in 1 month and Moral Injury.
And my Moral Injury article will be posted on TheHealthCareBlog.com as well as KevinMD.com . The Globe declined it with a very kind note.
5/31/2023: Elly the Elephant, cycling,
Still more responses to my Doximity article, including phone calls from physicians who just want to talk. Now up to about 200 comments and “upvotes.” As I have mentioned previously this response is very gratifying. I think I will try some self promotion in Doximity comments section of my article about my other retirement and healthcare articles I wrote.
The wet pressure treated lumber is laid-out on my driveway to dry. Each 2″x6″x 8′ must weigh at least ?25 pounds, the dry weight will be maybe 3-5 pounds.
I am about 75% thru Leonardo da Vinci. Besides Leonardo amazing breath of endeavors, it is particularly interesting that he began numerous projects which he never finished and that he did not publish his findings (although he made notes in his journal that he was going to write a book on XYZ). The author, Walter Isaacson, speculated that Leonardo did not publish his finding because he did not understand that science progresses precisely as a result of the dissemination of information to other scientists. As Leonardo purchased non-fiction books about science and math (the press had just been developed) he obviously understood how information was passed on to others. My guess is that Leonardo preferred to spend his time in the process of discovery rather than spending time on writing a book for publication. Fortunately his process of discovery involved the equivalent of thought experiments where he did his experiments by creating drawings and writing in his notebook and we have those notebooks today.
Leonardo was literally 200 to 400 years ahead of others in innumerable disciplines mostly did not receive credit for these discoveries, because they were never published.
Leonardo’s preference to spend his time in the process of discovery over all other endeavors resonates with me. I too would rather spend my time creating designs for new things, rather than actually build them. I have designs for a couple of projects which I have not built.
I’ve even considered hiring somebody to build these designs (and repair some of my older projects) so I can continue spending my time creating new ones. However, my reality it that my creation process is intimately linked to the building the first prototype and in the first build, a lot of (most) of the designing is done.
5/29/2023: Elly the Elephant, cycling, and the rewards of writing
I finally got myself to work on Elly the Elephant. I moved her parts into the basement and assembled her front components on the floor and she just fits. I used Sketchup to get all of her measurements. I need twenty 2”x6”x8’ pressure treated boards to rebuild her upper half.
Also, yesterday I shorten my Moral Injury article from 2200 words down to 1640 words and KevinMD.com agreed to publish the 1640 word version and I replaced the long version on this site with the shorter version. In the addendum I wrote that the essay was revised for “brevity.”
We had a beautiful day in New England today, Memorial day, so I cycled down to Scituate (Gail was there) which was 30 miles – no problem. I left the house at around 7:30 AM, thankfully there was no traffic through Boston and I got to Scituate at 10 AM. There are some spectacular houses on the coast in Cohasset or Hull or North Scituate. I’m not sure where I was but they were amazing.
Yesterday and today I have been responding to comments on the Doximity website regarding the article that they posted “A Physician’s Impending Journey into Retirement.” I’ve received some private emails, messages, and phone calls from physicians about the article and their lives, mostly, I just listened. It’s very gratifying when my writings so resonated with a large number (for me) of readers. So far there are 95 comments, and they keep coming in.
The Inside Out Gallery display is now complete, including the artist statement.
Also did some work in the garden.
Great day. So far, retirement is good!
5/27/2023: blog work (with emotional insights), theater
Yesterday I wrote and posted my blog posting entitled Moral Injury: A Physician’s Premature Retirement.
Sometimes when I write these articles, there is a back-and-forth between writing, writing, writing, research, writing, research, revision, revision and finally having the computer repeatedly read it to me until it sounds right.
The moral injury article came out in one stream of consciousness. All I had to do was keep writing (mostly dictating). Of course, it required a lot of revision, which took all day, but the basic story was there in the first version. It was helpful to write this as it gave me insights into why I retired when I did and made clear to me that it will take time to get past the experience of working for corporate medicine and as a cog in a dysfunctional healthcare system.
So far, I’ve received some very nice feedback from some readers and KevinMD wants me to create a shorter version, (1000-1500 words) for their KevinMD website. I am not certain that will be possible as the article is 2000 words and I already have attempted to shorten it.
I went for a lovely bike ride this AM, two hours, listening to Leonardo da Vinci. Repeatedly the author states thatLeonardo‘s interest in art and science worked synergistically for Leonardo. The author also repeatedly stated that Leonardo started but never finished innumerable projects – supposedly because they were not perfect.
In the afternoon we saw Evita at American Repertory Theater and then ate dinner outdoors at Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge with Jean and Bob. The play was highly polished with innovative staging and high quality acting. While there was one amazing dancing scene of a man and woman doing a tango which wast was amazing and beautiful, the play (opera) mostly left me uninspired and I did not learn anything. Yet again, it appears that the ART believes it primary mission is to send productions to Broadway. I believe the ART’s mission should be to push the boundaries of theater, not simply to create yet another Broadway production using an old tried and true formula. I want performances that are emotionally resonant and/or challenge my preconceived notions and/or shows me art as it had never been done before and/or teaches me something. ART is repeatedly (mostly) doing the same thing over and over, either Broadway bound eye candy of formulaic stories of people who have been historically underrepresented in history and/or the arts. I expect so much more from ART and have now begun to look at other theatrical options in Boston area. I have been intrigued by the Central Square Theater’s alliance with MIT to bring since to the theater and am now also a season subscriber at CST.
Hopefully tomorrow I can begin repairing and repainting Elly the Elephant, who is now disassembled and in my backyard and basement.
5/24/2023: creating, exercise, spouse time, affirmation
Today was a great day.
The dogs woke me at 5:30 AM. I then decided to finish my new blog posting. It needed some final editing then I use DALLE to create an image of a person descending down the rabbit hole. I had to make some repairs in Pixelmator but in the end it looks good.
The blog is entitled “The Republican Party’s Path to Power is Predicated on Political Paralysis, Societal Mayhem and Worse” In it I again state the the Republicans have adopted the political tactics of fascists. I have been writing about this since at least 2019.
Later in the day, I saw a tweet dated 5/23/2023 7 PM from Bill Kristol who is the “godfather of neoconservatism” and one of the intellectual pillars of conservatism who wrote:
It was reaffirming to read that Kristol agrees with my ~4 year tirade that the GOP has gone full-blown fascist. I know that many of my friends and readers think I have gone of the deep end.
At 10:30 AM Gail and I installed her paintings and my creations / frames in the Inside Out Gallery window of CVS in Davis Square. For both of us, it was heartening to hear people say pleasant things about our work. One person wanted to buy her framed painting “Ode to Sargent” and then he wanted to buy her brown gemstones in my compression frame. Neither are for sale as Gail wants to keep the former and Calder wants the latter. And Sierra wants the other gemstone painting in the swoosh frame.
After Inside Out Gallery I went for a two hour bike ride, listening to Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Leo was a vegetarian and, apparently, all-round great guy and painter and sculptor and architect and mathematician and physicist and musician and builder of musical instruments and anatomist and physiologist and scientist and court entertainer and … The list goes on and on
Also today, my submission to Doximity was finally posted. I wrote it in November and it was about my impending retirement in December 2023. So far I’ve received a dozen comments, all of which are very pleasant and wishing me the best.
After dinner, we watched an episode of Ted Lasso which was fantastic. (Colin was outed in a pleasant way).
Then we went to the Inside Out Gallery window at night, and we saw a spectacular rainbow over our house.
And the Inside Out Gallery display looked great.
So it was a great day and the question is why. I think it was because many people indicated that some of the things that I had said, or written, or created had value. I also got him some exercise, I learned about Leonardo da Vinci and I spent sometime meaningful time with Gail.
Conclusion: The components for a great day include creativity, exercise, learning, friendship, and an affirmation by others that “it is good.”
5/23/2023: family vacation wrap-up, gratifying comments about my sculptural work, a new blog posting
Family vacation is done. It was very enjoyable spending time with the kids/spouses in Santa Barbara. The male half seem very happy with their career paths. The women half, although equally successful, seem less enamored with their career path (possible they find it too stressful.)
Baby Z (the current placeholder name) is due in late August. I still haven’t figured out how to get to Napa, where to stay, and for how long when Baby Z arrives.
Yesterday I disassembled Elly the Elephant. I intend to rebuild her entire upper half with pressure treated lumber.
I started disassembling her at 8AM and got her into my backyard and returned the rental truck at 7 pm.
I heard a few nice stories and words from the people passing by. One woman, who lives adjacent to George the Giraffe and Big Poppy, told me she frequently hears children laughing in the morning. Another asked me to repaint Elly yellow, as the mothers in the area have christened the Somerville Community Path between Elly and the next cross street as “Yellow Elephant Road” and have taught their kids that the Yellow Elephant Road is a safe venue for them to play. Many thanked me for Elly and I reassured many others that she will return before the fall. I wonder if maybe I should do the reinstall and have an Elly birthday party on/about 9/26 (my mom’s birthday.)
Although I am a bit intimidated about rebuilding Elly the Elephant, it was very gratifying to hear that she and my giraffes across the street have brought so much joy to so many.
On the plane ride back, I wrote my first draft of a blog posting tentatively titled “The Republican Party’s Path to Power is Predicated on Political Paralysis, Societal Mayhem and Worse.” I believe it is an insightful narrative as to why Republican federal politicians do as they do (obstruct) and thus has prognostic value. Hopefully I can finish it later today.
5/18/2023: a dream, a family vacation
I awoke from a dream today:
In the dream I was at my office during the last day or two prior to my retirement. I ran into a physician who worked at the same institution and told him I was leaving and mentioned that I thought the demise of the healthcare system was a consequence of the fact that non-physicians now controlled all aspects of the healthcare system see CHIPHIT. This physician told me that there was a group of physicians who met regularly to discuss social issues and said I should come and discuss (?give a lecture) about my experience but he implied I should not be too negative about the institution. I explained that I would consider the invitation but I was angry about my experience (moral injury) and was not sure I could give a lecture if I must adhere to that guideline. In the dream I note that I was very happy that I would retire in the next 1-2 days. After being awake for 5 minutes, I was also truly surprised at how angry I was about the way the institution destroyed my ability to provide healthcare.
Yesterday we had a lovely day in Santa Barbara with family, and their dogs Tiger and Harper. In the morning we all (including the dogs) walked to Santa Barbara beach and then found a restaurant for breakfast. In the afternoon we drove to the Funk Zone (no dogs) and found a Mexican restaurant for lunch. For dinner at our AirBnB, Gail made a lovely Greek salad and Chris grilled and spiced the chicken – which was excellent. But the best part of the day was the post-dinner wide ranging discussion mostly about our life and our short term futures, while sitting around a fire pit. Gail and I made it clear we love living in Somerville and won’t move to CA to be closer to the kids but may rent/buy an apartment to make it easy for us to visit. I tried to explain to the kids that I have a fulfilling life in Somerville, lectures to attend, theater, woodworking, it is a real community, and I’m do not want to give that up to become a babysitter for my grandkids.
5/17/2023: Elly the Elephant is hurting, Political angst is rising, small victory.
Yesterday I discovered that my sculpture Elly the Elephant has water damage where three 2×6’s are laminated together and create a horizontal surface where water can pool. I was very discouraged by this. I have, reluctantly, decided I need to replace the pine 2x6s with pressure treated lumber. The lower components and the ears are pressure treated lumber. The trunk is pine – if it shows no water damage, I won’t replace it with pressure treated lumber as there is nowhere on it where water can pool. All components of the giraffe sculptures are pressure treated lumber. I had assumed that the pine wood would not rot as it was primed and painted with several coats of exterior paint and I did not think that water would sit on any spot for any length of time. Damn!!! I should be able to dissemble her myself, as I had repeatedly assembled and disassembled her alone in my backyard during her creation. I will need to rent a truck to get her disassembled components home. I put a sign on her trunk that says people should not lift her trunk and that she will soon be leaving for R&R (repairs and repainting.) I tied a string to the trunk to discourage people for lifting her trunk. People will be disappointed when she is gone but I need to ensure she is structurally sound.
Damn, damn, damn. This will be a sizable project and hopefully the Somerville Police will not interfere.
I posted a graph and article to my blog that show that over the last three centuries it is the natural history of countries to divide into every smaller geographic units and
the underlying reason provides a rational basis to divide the USA into the Red States of America and the Blue States of America. The Red politicians are pursuing cretin-esk policies which ignore science, medicine, common sense, democracy, voting rights, personal freedom, rational public policies – if Red America politicians want to continue to kill Red Americans (e.g COVID mortality rates, firearm death rates, overall mortality rates) then they should continue to enact moronic legislation (more guns, less education, less public health, less self-rule), BUT LEAVE ME ALONE. I believe America’s only option to end political paralyzation is to amicably deconstruct the USA as the MAGAmaniacs will never allow Blue America to live a life according to our values and our electoral system and Supreme Court are structurally rigged against Blue America. Of the last seven Republican Presidents only three won a plurality of the total votes cast. The process of electing Senators and House members are designed to favor the less populace states. Concurrently the Supreme Court has ruled corporations have the rights of individuals with respect to campaign contribution and free speech (pathetic and anti-democratic), politically gerrymandering is legal, Supreme Court precedents are now optional, and the only legal theory that matters is “originalism” which is intellectual bullshit. This is not the America that I was hoping to leave to my kids.
My political angst is increasing daily. Fuck!
Fortunately I was able to repair the outside faucet with a new sillcock and I was able to attach the new sillcock to the house’s water supply. This little project gave me a sense of accomplishment.
We are on our way for a 3.5 day family vacation in Santa Barbara with the kids/spouses/dogs. THAT is good news!
Yesterday I began listening to Walter Isaacson’s book Leonardo da Vinci on my bike ride. Leonardo perfectly embodied today’s mantra of combining art and technology, which is an interest of mine.
Today, I got in a pre-dawn bike ride while listening to the birds and Leonardo da Vinci.
And I saw the sunrise.
5/13/2023: walk, woodworking2, social stuff, moral injury
Today was Porchfest in Somerville (the City of Somerville sponsors a lot of spring/summer/fall events) and my original plan was to walk the dogs, woodworking from 9 AM-noon then Porchfest from noon-2PM. I did walk the dog and was woodworking by 9:30 AM however, I was so engrossed in my woodworking that when I looked up, it was 1:30 PM. I decided to skip Porchfest and finish this stage of the project.
Although my woodworking today wasn’t perfect, it succeeds in conveying the image in my mind’s eye. In this video, the runners (maple) and loop (oak) are nearly finished. The chair is MDF and will be replaced with walnut but first I need to take some measurements on a neighbor’s 3- and 5- year-old.
I had a lot of fun making this project, hopefully I won’t screw it up in the future. I still have to figure out some of the construction and sizing details.
Beautiful spring day
I walked to the supermarket at 2-2:30 PM and the streets were swarming with young adults in summer attire moving from venue to venue. (The semester is nearly over.) Whenever we have the first few a beautiful days in Cambridge Somerville, in April, or May, after the winter, the streets are teeming with young adults out enjoying the end of spring weather. It is always a delightful ambiance in the Boston area when this happens.
This evening Bob came over for dinner after he was done listening to Porchfest. It is always interesting to hear his thoughts.
I received an email from Suetta to again thank me for having created ComChart (she was the first physician to purchase it ~2000) and how it made it much easier for her practice medicine and that it was better than any electronic health record she used subsequently.
Suetta also raised the issue of “moral injury” from having been a physician. This is the second time a physician has brought this to my attention.
Moral injury occurs when we perpetrate, bear witness to, or fail to prevent an act that transgresses our deeply held moral beliefs. In the health care context, that deeply held moral belief is the oath each of us took when embarking on our paths as health care providers: Put the needs of patients first. That oath is the lynchpin of our working lives and our guiding principle when searching for the right course of action. But as clinicians, we are increasingly forced to consider the demands of other stakeholders—the electronic medical record (EMR), the insurers, the hospital, the health care system, even our own financial security—before the needs of our patients. Every time we are forced to make a decision that contravenes our patients’ best interests, we feel a sting of moral injustice. Over time, these repetitive insults amass into moral injury… The difference between burnout and moral injury is important because using different terminology reframes the problem and the solutions. Burnout suggests that the problem resides within the individual, who is in some way deficient…
Prior to quitting the career I loved, I had sent innumerable emails to the hospital president and other senior hospital bureaucrats explaining that the way the practice was being run made it impossible to take care of my patients properly. I pointed out to them that 80% of their professional staff had resigned; but their response was either “we’ve got this under control” or “we’ll talk about this in the future.” These communications span the last few years – all to no avail.
Ultimately sent an email to the hospital president which included:
I am retiring 2 years prematurely because institutional constraints at the [facility] has made it impossible for me to provide care to my patients in a manner that meets my professional standards while simultaneously inducing an unacceptable level of stress which occurs when I am unable to meet my own standards. I believe it is for similar reasons that 3 other physicians and one NP have already resigned from the [facility].
I now understand that the reason I retired from medicine two years ahead of my planned schedule was in fact an attempt to protect myself from additional “moral injury.”
I am glad I retired when I did. And my wife has commented many times that I am much less “stressed.” I also wonder if the reason I left the MIT Grand Medical Hackathon prematurely was partly a protective mechanism from my previous “moral injury.”
5/12/2023: social justice, book review, cycling
As my prior attempt to get the colleges to advertise their student theatrical productions to the Cambridge and Somerville Council on the Aging (see 4/25/2023) does not appear to have been effective, I sent this to the Boston Globe:
Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe,
Since retiring six months ago, I have attended several free or low cost student theatrical productions at MIT and Harvard. While the quality of these productions range from fair to excellent, all exuded passion and were well worth my time. Unfortunately, discovering the “what, when and where” about these student productions takes a bit of effort.
I would like to propose that the Boston Globe create a weekly series dedicated to promoting the numerous college student theatrical productions which are open to the general public.
This series would be particularly beneficial to seniors and others with limited disposable income. In addition, it would be a win for the performing students as it would result in an increased attendance, foster stronger college-community relations, and enhance the presence of “theater” in Boston.
We shall see if anything comes of it.
Beautiful day today, sunny and in the low 80s. I just got back from a two hour bike ride during which time I finish my book: Checkout 19: A Novel read by the author Claire-Louise Bennett. The book is unlike any other book I’ve read, although I’m not a big reader. It’s more like a stream of consciousness, fictionalize autobiography, the story begins when the protagonist is a young child, and ends as a young adult. The narrator and protagonist discusses books, relationships, creativity, authors, how we want to present ourselves to others vs who we really are. There really was no plot other than the story (approximately) chronologically follows the life of the female protagonist, mostly. Mostly. And the author uses redundancy a lot.
I looked up some reviews, which said:
“a book that refuses to abide by conventional expectations of storytelling… as it loosely chronicles its heroine’s journey from school … to university and beyond.“
“Checkout 19 is about a writer’s fervid encounters with writing, her own and others”
“Reading Checkout 19 feels (like)… watching (the author) reminisce from within her own brain. (and)… to a life lived half in reality and half in the imagination, literature, and misty realms of self-reflection… (and) the novel (is) an extraordinary exploration of selfhood and self-expression…”
I am glad I listened to the book, but I would only recommended for people who are avid readers, and those who like looking-up unknown words.
I tweeted out a link to this diary/blog with hashtag “#retirement.”
I did the senior walk 9-10 AM and there were about 7 people.
Drinks this evening in Mary’s backyard with some neighbors
I did not have time to do woodworking today, although it was my intention when I awoke. There simply wasn’t enough time. This is the status of the baby rocking chair as of this moment and a video:
5/11/2023: cycling, reading, and familial conflict
Reading and Cycling
While cycling (1.5 hours) this morning and listening to Checkout 19: A Novel read by the author Claire-Louise Bennett, this quotation came up.
“Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.”
It was so powerful, as I had recently Tweeted this photo, that I stopped
cycling so I could look up the source, which is Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) in his 1820 play “Almansor”.
The author Claire-Louise Bennet then goes on write…
“…burning them (books) is especially appalling, is undoubtedly a sacrilegious act that stirs up and unleashes malignant and merciless forces in humankind which twist and maim and sully and eventually eliminate everything they search out …”
That so resonants with me, given that book banning has now become part of America’s political culture and Trump is now attempting to retake the White House. Distressing and depressing. America has so regressed.
I had a conversation with Gail regarding a conflict we had which likely stems from the fact that I am now “home all the time” (her words) and this has impacted her routine. After talking, we agreed that we both need to recognize my retirement effects both of us and we both need to remain cognizant of this when interacting.
Spent a few hours working on the baby rocking chair. Made some progress on the runners and oak loops.
Gail and I went to Moeca for drinks/supper. They have great cocktails and interesting food.
It was a very good day, a nice combination of exercise, creative activities, meaningful conversation, and dinner cocktails.
5/9/2023: Cycling, social, blog work and insights into my creative process
Went for a 1.5 hour/16 mile ride shortly after sunrise. Too cold for my preference at 47-50°F. Even though I was dressed appropriately, when I got home, I needed a hot shower to ]warm up. My cycling preference temperature is 55 to 75°.
I began a new book on my bike ride: Checkout 19: A Novel by Claire-Louise Bennett. It was on the list NY Times Book Review’s 10 best books of 2022. I am only about 2 hours into the book and it is definitely unusual in its construction of the story. I am not yet certain if I will finish it.
I attended some of our Somerville Council on Aging Men’s group yesterday. We discussed
- what can the new retirees learn from the old retirees
- why men’s circle of friends contract with retirement and that’s not true for women.
- Healthcare, quality and cost
- And Art recommended the Tufts Learning in Retirement Group, which I signed-up for.
I also spent a few hours tidying up my HZ Creations website and re-writing my “artist statement.” This was clearly a useful exercise as it helped clarified in my own mind why I create objects. Bottomline: I create best when there is an “instigator” which stimulates me to create: a need, an unusual piece of wood, or idea that “must” be physicalized.
5/9/2023: cycling, reading, socializing, and thinking about “why I create.”
Cycling and Reading
Went for a 1.5 hour/16 mile ride shortly after sunrise. Too cold for my preference at 47-50°F, even though I was dressed appropriately. When I got home I needed a hot shower to warm up. My preference is to cycle when it is in the 55 to 75°F range. But I live in New England. While riding I started a new audiobook “Checkout 19: A Novel” by Claire-Louise Bennet. It is far too early to decide if this is going to be an enjoyable book. The book was recommend by The NY Times and the New Yorker, so it should be good. I was considering Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci – maybe next.
This morning I re-wrote my artist statement and clarified in my own mind why I create objects. This was a very useful exercise. You can read it here.
This morning I will attend the Somerville Council on Aging Men’s monthly meeting.
5/8/2023: cycling, reading, local politics
Cycling and Reading
Woke up early and was on the bike at 4:40 AM, 45 minutes before sunrise. Delightful ride, 24 miles over two hours during which I finish my book: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde Series by Heather Fawcett. It was well acted and an enjoyable story which is partially detailed in the below entry. Total escapism from today’s stressful world. See NY Times review
I attended the Somerville City Council meeting for Ward 6 from 7-8:30PM. Very well attended. Clearly, all the city employees who spoke are dedicated and enthusiastically committed to their responsibilities. However, it is also clear from the Mayor’s comments that the city finances limit what the city can actually do for the citizens. It is equally clear that the city is listening to the citizens desires.
5/7/2023: Somerville Open Studios at our home, cycling, recognition
Cycling and Reading
Started the day with a 24 mile /2 hour bike ride, listening to my book, which is still enjoyable. I am at the climax of the story.
Emily, the main character and likely “on the spectrum“, has freed the fairy king from his tree prison. Her “reward,” which cannot be rejected, is that she is to be promptly married to the fairy king. Emily, who is a young academic who studies “fairies” (I am sure you already know that “dradology” is the study of fairies) has been unable to escape from the fairy king’s winter castle and the wedding is imminent! Back in the town where Emily was visiting, her associate, Wendell Bambleby who is also a dradologist, (he had recently proposed to Emily but she has neither accepted or declined) has mobilized the the entire town to rescue Emily. Complicating the marriage proposal is the fact that Brambullbee is also a fairy king who was exiled by his mother – of course Emily is aware he is a fairy as she is an excellent dridologist. Very exciting to say the least. I will finish the story tomorrow on my bike ride.
The Boston Globe published my tribute to my former nurse, Michelle Iadarola (one L, not two), which made her very happy.
Circle Health Diabetes and Endocrine Center
Michelle Iadarolla, Circle Health Diabetes and Endocrine Center
Michelle is a model nurse with outstanding clinical judgement and the patience of a saint. She also has a temperament and determination to battle on behalf of the patient when a pharmacy or health insurance bureaucrat throws up a roadblock or makes a decision to the detriment of her patient. I retired recently. When I told my patients I was retiring, many of them asked if Michelle, who is an LPN, could be their “doctor.” Others told Michelle that they want her to continue being their nurse, and asked if they could transfer their care if she decided to work in another clinic. I met many very dedicated nurses over my 30-year career, and I honor them all. But none were better than Michelle.- Nominated by Hayward Zwerling
I am very happy that I spent the time writing this. It clearly meant a lot to Michelle and her mother.
Somerville Open Studios
Gail and I had a great time today doing Somerville Open Studios. The weather was perfect, low to mid 70s and sunny all day. Yesterday (Saturday) we had about 150-200 people, today we had 110 people, today I counted. This is about half of last year’s crowd probably because there was a concurrent festival in Harvard Square.
Many people who visited our driveway, backyard, and She Shed “gallery” told me they love the sculptures on the Somerville Community Path, Elly the Elephant and George the Giraffe & Big Poppy. and that the sculptures provide entertainment for both their kids and themselves. One told me I was a “minor celebrity” because of those sculptures. Another person asked me if I would be interested in doing a show for my woodworking or frames, I think the latter but am uncertain. Of course I said I would be interested and she told me she would get back to me. We shall see.
During the two day event, I talk to a lot of the attendees and gave them back stories about my furniture, sculptures, and frame creations. This definitely added context and was entertaining for them to hear the how and why stories associated with my creations.
I met a couple during our event, Marty and Ellen; he’s recently retired and I suspect we would enjoy getting together. Both of them cycle regularly together. I invited Marty to become a member of my rembrunch (Relatively or Retired Elderly Men’s Brunch) group, which meets monthly. I really need to get our membership up to 4, 5, or 6 so it is sustainable. Unfortunately one of our members is dropping out so he can spend more time on his political work.
Both Gail and I were exhausted at day’s end, as it was a long weekend and we were also “on display” along with our creations all day. But it was a great day.
5/6/2023: Somerville Open Studios at our home
Somerville Open Studios
Today was the first day of Somerville Open Studios. Both of us had done prep-work for the last few days. We started setting up around 7-8 AM and we’re ready at noon (event was scheduled from noon-6PM) although a few people showed up at 11:30 AM. The weather was perfect 65 – 70° and sunny all day. The crowds were good, but only 50% of last year; today we had about 150–200 visitors. Gail sold one frame-painting combination. Several people thanked me for installing the sculptures George the Giraffe & Big Poppy as well as Elly the Elephant on the Community Path. Two people told me that in their mind’s eye those sculptures are the “symbol” of Somerville as they are creative and done without “official” approval.” Another said the Giraffe is used as a regular meeting spot for her friends. Many commented on the creativity of my woodworking.
I was very happy that Jessica came to see our display, with her entire family in tow.
Maria and Dan, who I haven’t seen since she stop working for me 15 years ago, also came by. I was so happy they did.
The last people arrived around 5:45 PM however we had started to disassemble everything about that time.
All in all, it was an excellent day and it was fun talking to everyone about my creations and their lives.
5/5/2023: woodworking, walking
Again spent all day finishing the “Is it the Frame or Is it the Painting” frame. It is far from perfect but the manufacturing and design errors will not be seen by most people and they do not compromise the concept of the frame.
Tomorrow is Somerville Open Studios and we are ready.
Went for a Senior walk and I directed the group to Alex’s Place on the Tufts campus. Talked a lot to Chuck and Jo who moved back here from Berkeley.
Again spent all day working on the frame that challenges the concept of “is the art the painting or the frame” by putting the frame literally in front of the painting, images above.
Spent all day woodworking. Still working on the steam vent railings for the baby rocking chair. Most of the day was spent working on the frame that challenges the concept of only the picture is art versus the frame also
5/2/2023: woodworking, reading,
I spent all day woodworking.
I re-did the oak strips for the baby rocking chair, and the technique worked well. I also started working on a picture frame which explicits challenges the notion that the only purpose of a picture frame is to enhance the painting.
It rained all day, so I did not go for a walk or cycle.
I read several reviews of Heroes of the Fourth Turning, which mostly agreed with my assessment and the reviews provided insights about the play and author. I was unaware that the playwright‘s father was the president of a fundamentalist Christian college (like the character, Gina in the play) which was a prominent feature in the play, and it’s obvious now that the playwright was mining his experiences to richly develop the play’s 5 characters. The play itself provided insights into a segment of the political right which I would describe as deeply religious to the point of ignoring objective facts, morality, empathy, and humility.
5/1/2023: reading, woodworking, cycling.
Finished reading Heroes of the Fourth Turning, which I would recommend but I need to reread parts. I was particular struck by one of the character’s statement:
Teresa (very conservative ~29 years old): Liberals are empathy addicts. Empathy, empathy, empathy. Empathy is empty. Hannah Arendt says we don’t need to feel what someone else is feeling– first of all that’s impossible, second of all it’s self-righteous and breeds complacency, third of all it’s politically irresponsible. Empathize with someone and suddenly you’re erasing the boundaries of your own conscience, suddenly you’re living under the tyranny of their desires. We need to know how to think, how they’re thinking. From a distance.
This denigration of empathy struck me as I always felt the singular difference between Democrats/liberals and Republicans/conservatives is the former experiences empathy whereas the latter does not. Only when the Republicans/conservatives experience the event first hand, are they able to comprehend how the event effected others. e.g. Nancy Reagan began to support stem cell research only after Ronald Reagan developed dementia. Jim Brady did not support gun control until he was shot (in Hinckley’s assassination attempt on Reagan.)
Justin: I can honestly say that, having lived in that (urban) world, and being a thirty-eight-year-old nomad, I can guarantee that ninety-nine percent of them are willing to just be led blindly into the cave, hooked up to a heroin drip of self-satisfied digital activism and committing vile acts of self-gratification because they’re told that it’s important to “experience” life, when actually they’re numbing themselves to the possibility of real sacrifice or any chance of an ethical life, rooted in the grit and toil of suffering in the name of Christ.
IMHO, both Teresa and Justin believe they “know” what is the “right” way to live one’s life and believe they have the right to force their views on others. As a liberal, I believe everyone should decide how to live their own life. I would not dare tell them they must believe science and adopt a secular life style. Similarly, they do not have the right to tell me I must adopt their religious values. That is the fundamental difference between us. I want to maximize everyone’s freedom to choose their lifestyle. They want to force everyone to adopt their world view – which is very Talibanesque.
The second glue up of the first set of 0.25 inch steam bent oak strip seems to have worked. I glued up the second set of oak strips and will let it sit for 24 hours. Next, need to cut the runners for the baby rocking chair.
I did a little bit of woodworking on the prototyping of the dining room chairs. This project has a long way to go and it’s not clear to me I’m going be able to complete the project.
I did a 1.5 hour bike ride today while listening to my story, which is still entertaining.
Did a little prep work for Somerville Open Studios, which is this weekend.
4/30/2023: home repairs, reading, family, friends
The glue-up of the 2 steam bent 1/4” oak strips did not hold. Will try to fix what did not work, but it will take 24 hours to dry. I am certain that four 1/8” strips will work and 1/4” thick strips would work if I used a metal strap to affix the wood to the form.
Setup a sprinkler system for Gail. Still need replacement parts to rebuild the sillcock – which I ordered. Spent way too much time on this issue over several days trying to understand how to make the repair. I think I found the least expensive solution.
In the afternoon, I began reading Heroes of the Fourth Turning. This is the first time in 4 decades, or maybe ever, that I am reading a play’s script -and a play I have never seen. I have been hoping to see a play that presents an empathetic view of Red America and I had written to ART artistic director, Diana Paulis, twice, explaining why she should do such a production. She never answered my two emails or Tweet. The play was staged and recorded at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia in about 2019-2021, but the recording is no longer public, probably because of Actor Equity rules. It won a Pulitzer Price and was apparently staged at Speakeasy Stage in Boston last year. I am keeping detailed notes as I go, trying to ensure I understand the 5 characters interrelationship / their back stories. Also envisaging the staging in my mind’s eye. More on this after I finish the play.
Again had a conversation with Calder about his requested bluebird house. I again told him “It is now my time.” Of course, if his future daughter, due in 4 months, makes the request, that will very likely induce me to build it promptly. Calder feels a bit guilty because of the “bluebird house and the lacrosse ball incident” from 2 decades ago. Talked to Gaby and I gave her some CDC references about Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy. She is eager to get the latest booster and it has been about 6 months since her last – I told her to discuss with her physicians.
In the evening, we had a visit from Randy and Fred. I did the REI trip to the Wrangle St Elias National Park in Alaska with them. It is always fun talking to them about family, travel, politics, and finally Gail’s paintings. Gail’s Selfie series is intensely personal for Gail and I promised not to promote it beyond Somerville Open Studios this coming weekend and the planned display at the Inside-Out Gallery (Davis Square CVS window) in May.
Finally, I really should write an article exploring the idea of dividing the USA into Red and Blue entities by having the Democrats argue for the elimination of Federal taxes then creating the Union of Blue States with its own federal tax system and rules. I wrote this… United We Fall, Divided We (One of Us) Stand in 2011
4/29/2023: home repairs, walk, blogging, woodworking
I attempted to fix the exterior faucet, without success, although I think I understand what I need to do. Will get parts from Home Depot and ask them about some options.
Did a 3 mile walk with Antigone.
Further refined the My Retirement Diary portion of my blog.
Did some work on the child rocking chair. The steam Bent Oak is not perfect, but I think it will be good enough as I laminated two pieces 1/4 inch thick and that should cause it to retain the shape and have the necessary strength. Also did some redesign work on the lower part of the rocking chair, again.
Went for a walk with Somerville Council on Aging. Phalen is our leader. Chuck & Jo were new. About 8 people today – largest group since I’ve joined. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to help Gail with something acutely.
Then Gail and I went for a short walk through Mount Auburn Cemetery. The plants are just starting to bloom. Maybe we will return in 2-4 weeks.
In the afternoon, I tried to do some woodworking, but found I was unable to focus so I created this page on my blog for My Retirement Diary.
And I watched most of PBS Newshour, then one episode of Mrs. Maisel.
Yesterday, I worked on a redesign of the dining room chairs . I’m still not happy with the design; as requested by Gail I added horizontal blocks of MDF between metal piping, in the upper back of the chair. Gail likes it. I’m also concerned about constructing it with sufficient precision for it to look good.
For the next prototype I will add a vertical wood panel that follows the contours of the chrome frame in the back of the chair. Although I may have a way of attaching the wood to the ?chrome frame , I’m still not confident that I can build it with sufficient precision.
Yesterday evening we went to Central Square Theater for a performance at 7 PM of Angels in America, part one. The staging was very sparse and effective and the performances were powerful. Afterwards we walked to Toscanini ice cream and both got a micro B3 flavor, their signature flavor, as they were out of my favorite which is chocolate #3.
I have noticed that my memory is not as good as it was. I have noticed episodes of recent events that were forgotten only to be recalled when another event jogs my memory. For example, yesterday I wanted to show Gail an old brick house on Beacon street . I had forgotten that I had already shown it to her before, in particular a small front door the leads into a basement speakeasy, used during prohibition. I think she to have forgotten she had seen it before although I am not sure about this last point. Similarly, I had a note to myself to buy tickets to Shakespeare play at Tufts but subsequently realized I had already purchased the ticket.
I’m not sure this is abnormal as I recently saw an abstract in JAMA which found elderly who were aware of their memory deficit were not at increased risk of dementia while those who were unaware of their memory deficit were at risk.
Ref: Measurement of Dimensions of Self-awareness of Memory Function and Their Association With Clinical Progression in Cognitively Normal Older Adults, JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(4):e239964. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.9964
I walked to and from (2.8 miles x 2) “MITCOB BioSummit Human Health 2050” at the Broad Institute. https://mitbiosummit.com. The MIT Biosummit 2050 conference was OK. One of the three sessions interested me. Not as good as some conferences.
Our trip to visit Debra and Randall in DC this weekend was canceled b/o a temporary health issue.
After signing papers for will, HCP, estate planning at lawyer’s office, I went for a 1.5 hour/16 mile ride today during which I began a new book: “Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries; Book One the Emily Wilde Series” by Heath Fawcett and Narrated by Ell Potter. I enjoyed the first 2 chapters/ 1 hour of 12 hour reading at 1X. Will escalate to 1.5 X next time. I need some NOT about politics/fascism.
Working on getting MIT Harvard drama clubs to notify SCOA and CCOA of free student theater productions for seniors on fixed income. SCOA and CCOA said OK. Email sent to Harvard MIT Tufts student theater groups …
To: MIT Musical Theater Guild, Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, Tufts Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies
I have a suggestion I think you should implement in the name of equity.
A few weeks ago I recommended that one of the seniors I walk with every Friday attend a free performance of The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, presented by the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club. As it was free and this woman had little / no disposable income, she was grateful for the recommendation and walked to the Loeb theater to attend a performance in The Ex theater.
As many seniors do not have sufficient disposable income to allow them to attend theater, I would like to suggest that you email a copy of your performance schedule of the free / low cost student theater productions, which allow member of the community to attend, to:
Somerville Council on Aging
Executive Director, Somerville Council on Aging
Cambridge Council on Aging
Executive Director, Cambridge Council on Aging
These organizations have agreed to redistribute the information to seniors in their community.
If you are aware of other free/low cost artistic productions, which allow people unaffiliated with your institution to attend, please forward a copy of this email to those organizations within your institution.
Attended Soirée with Scientists at Central Square Theater to CC@CST. Had a very enjoyable conversation with Lee (artistic director) about selecting plays and with MIT cosmologist and Herman (an attendee with a biotech company ) about dark matter (95% certain it is real), origins of the universe (he doubts the universe contracted to a point). Donated some money too.
I also signed up for season tickets to Central Square Theater. I’m happy to learn that they will do a performance of “machine learning”
I remain very conscious that I need to make an effort to schedule events to keep me busy.
Yesterday I organize my list of reading materials and it has become apparent that there is no way I’m going to be able to read all the magazine and newspaper articles I have set aside to read unless I force my self to dedicate some time every day to read, and right now, I am finding that my day is filled with woodworking, events, and cycling.
In AM, I changed the color of the inner frame from medium brown to maple and the frame now looks good.
In early afternoon, I went for a 2 hour bike ride to Bedford and had a cup of clam chowder and a too large chocolate chip cookie in Bedford. Napped after the ride.
I came up with an idea for another frame using brass in the corners (gold color in below) in front of the painting. This explicitly raises the issue “Is it the frame or the painting or both” (Gail wouldn’t let me us the bouquet of flowers painting so I will use her discarded “5 decanters” painting, not shown below.)
Idea for next frame:
Brown is frame
Gold is 0.75” brass or copper rod.
I think I have figured out how to build the child rocking chair in which the bottom rocker is a solid piece of oak while the loop is steam bent oak.
At the end of the day, I watched one episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel then went for a 9 PM 1.7 mile walk with Gail and the dogs.
I abandoned the MIT Medical Hackathon…
The reason I did not go through with the hackathon is that the track I was on, was “sustainability.” People pitched various projects, having to do with recycling syringes or recycling pill bottles, rather mundane, and uninteresting to me. The only topic that seems like it was possibly of interest was how to reduce suicide among physicians, but that was a topic I was not ready to deal with. I should’ve signed up for the track that was called “decentralized” healthcare, but we were not allowed to switch tracks.
Anyway, I walked a total of 10 miles that day and went home and began working on the frames which I finished today
Finished these two frames for Gail.
Calder asked me to make him a birdhouse for his backyard. He told me “it would only take a couple of hours.” Again, I told him that I am in retirement and “It is now my time” – which is my retirement mantra. Maybe I will make him a frame for next season but no promises- only if I decide I want to.
Walk at Senior Center with Valeria, Charlene, Elaine, others
Lovely dinner yesterday with Gail at Field and Vine in Union Square, Somerville.
Also visited Somerville museum in preparation for Somerville Open Studios 2023, which we will be doing in our driveway and backyard.
5pm MIT Hack Healthcare
The “sustainability” track was not the right chose for me and/or I am not ready to reengage with the healthcare system.
Finished adding third layer of finish to frame this AM.
Began 2nd swooping frame.
Yesterday prototyped new chair-not so good.
Didn’t exercise on 4/17 or 18
Yesterday we had an enjoyable Rembrunch with Mark, Marc and Tony.
Saw Dungeons and Dragons – not so good, last episode of season 4 of Marvelous Mrs maisel.
Did a bit of woodwork.
Fixed my website by removing “ad blocking” for IHAI on my eero router,
Added 2nd coat of finish to frame.
Started outline on Snyder’s book On Tyranny.
Gail came home yesterday and she had a spectacular trip, she’s in great spirits.
I spent all day stripping down the 6 old dining room chairs to their structural component and I’m hoping we might be able to rebuild them in a mode which combines exposed steel, walnut and fabric. Here is the before and after (stripped-down) photo.
Gail comes home today from Utah
In the morning, I spent several hours putting together this picture, which I think is totally amazing and tweeting it out. It would be as if an un-retouched photo showed a person at age 1, 25 and 75 years old in a single photo.
I saw the Great Comet 1812 performed by the Harvard Radcliffe theater group. It was an impressive production with the cast of probably 30 students and they did a very good job. Some of the singing was excellent and it was emotionally resonant. I understood a lot more of the story having recently read War and Peace (actually, I listened to it as an audio book – narrated by Neville Jason).
In the morning, I went for a 24 mile three hour bike ride.
In the evening, I had a wonderful Somerville Neighborhood Dinner at Mary’s house, lots of interesting discussions, it was a lot of fun.
At 8:30 AM I walked over to do the senior walk today, but apparently was canceled.
I spent the rest of the day writing my latest article
Governors Must Prioritize Health Above Supreme Court’s Unhealthful Edicts and I sent it to every newspaper. I haven’t put it up on my blog. I have created an image to go along with it
then I ran into problems with the website being too slow, and I reverted to the back up from yesterday. But I ran the website this morning at noon and it is working properly.
I took the dogs for a one and a half mile walk and now I’m supposed to go to listen to some music at the Armory.
I also went to the supermarket and the liquor store to get supplies for the Somerville Neighborhood dinner, which is tomorrow night at Mary’s house.
In the evening I went to the Somerville Armory Music Center to list to Ray Montbleau.
I finished the rough work on the compression frame. Just needs to be finish sanding, stain and finished.
I also cleaned up the shop.
And I went for a 24 mile to our bike ride, I finished the book The Hobbit and started Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny in which he lists 20 steps to take to prevent fascism.
I’m thinking of writing a letter to the editor tomorrow, for the Globe, about the need for the governor to stand up and say that she will not allow the banning of abortion option, regardless of the supreme court rulings.
Spent most of the day reworking the fractured compression frame. I’ve discarded the piece that was fractured as it did not really work as I intended and rebuild a new piece. That took most of the morning and tall early afternoon when I went for a two hour 24 mile bike ride. I’m am almost finished with the Hobbit, I only have about an hour left.
In the early evening, I listen to a lecture about chatGPT4 by Sébastien Bubeck Sr. Principal Research Manager Machine Learning Foundations, Microsoft Research. In his lecture, which I believe was given that MIT, entitled sparks of AGI in early ChatGPT4 (artificial general intelligence) he argues that there are indications of intelligence and chatGPT4, although that is strong independent, on the definition of intelligence. He recommended a book, which undoubtedly will be updated The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond by Peter Lee and 2 more, ISBN-13: 978-0138200138, ISBN-10: 0138200130
I watched 3-4 episodes of Marvelous Mrs Maisel
More progress on the fractures compression frame, but it doesn’t really look to me like the fracture conveys the sense of tension within the frame. Still have to add the bending side pieces.
Attended the monthly Somerville, men’s brunch, sponsored by the council on aging. Art is the person who looks like he’s responsible for organizing. He’s only been doing this for three weeks. We got into a heated discussion about racism, equity and ethical politicians. Conversation was mostly between art and myself, and one of the other participants stated that he didn’t understand most of what we were talking about. For our next meeting in one month, I suggested we talk about “declining number of men friendships in retirement” that should be less controversial.
I spoke to Larry and suggested that he and I do a 2-3 day bicycle trip. He states that he doesn’t want to carry clothes and instead suggest that we stay at his house in the Berkshires and do rides from their returning at night. I have to discuss with Gail to see if she’s interested although it might include some road writing, he states it is very safe, and that’s where his son learn to ride.
Continue to work on my new frame which I’m now calling “fractured compression frame“.
Also did a walk with the dogs today for about a mile and a half and a two hour 24 mile bike ride while listen to the Hobbit which I believe I listened to may be a year ago, but I’m doing it now at the speed of 2X.
Audio speeds range from 1.25 to 2x, depending upon the level of complexity in the story and the importance of avoiding missing any spoken word.
I drove Gail to the airport early this morning for her REI hiking trip in Utah.
I spent the rest of the day working on my new “fractured compression frame” although I’m not at all certain this is going to work. Still not done.
Momentum and inertia. That’s clearly a big problem. I have a problem getting started on my project of the day. This definitely applies to my woodworking and writing. Once I start, I am occupied for hours, but for reasons that are not clear to me, actually, getting started is problematic. I procrastinate. Sometimes I find that if I say to myself, “I’m going to the basement to clean up” then after that’s done, I start woodworking. I don’t know why this is, but it’s a repeatable experience.
Tonight, dinner with Miguel/Won Me and Michelle/Steve
In the morning, I went on a City of Somerville senior walk from 9 AM to 10 AM. I met two new members, Tony and Jane and invited Tony to join me at our room brunch meeting on April 19, if he’s interested.
In the early afternoon, I tested my redesigned bicycle helmet wind screen on a 24 mile/2hour ride to Bedford. It appears to work reasonably well but I wish I had a wind tunnel for formal testing.
In the AM
I steam bent some black Oak, about 3/16 inch thick. It worked well, but I haven’t quite figured out how to wrap it around continuously. This was a test run. I think I’ll let it dry, glue some of it off and see if I can figure out how to make it look seamless using this test sample.
In the early afternoon I road for only 1 hour with my new bicycle helmet “wind noise suppression system “. I can still hear the birds, if I want. The right side need to be larger.
Maybe this should not have come as a “revelation” but I now know that in order to remain busy I must make an effort and continually spend time scheduling events for me to do in the near and distant future.
Did not do much today, but wasn’t bored.
Bought an office chair to replace my broken chair
And an electric steamer for wood bending
Setup to steam bend oak for baby chair
Dinner at restaurant
No exercise today
Schedule appt to see PCP in Sept
Yesterday AM I finished rewriting my article, Political Thinkers Who are Concerned That Fascism is Coming to America, based on Gail’s criticisms
Late morning we met via zoom with financial advisors-they have work to do.
I was a bit bored in mid afternoon.
I sent photos to 3 reupholsters of 6 dining room chairs.
Late afternoon, did organizational work in prep for steam bending for small rocking chair project.
Yesterday PM I attended MIT Creative Arts final presentation in Kendall square from 5:30-7:30. I walked to/from presentation. It was entertaining and I was the oldest by 2 generations.
On the way to Kendall square I finished listening to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Now listening to audio at 1.75 x normal.
On the way home, I began listening to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Saw a reading of the play Young Nerds of Color at the MIT Museum. Ehh. Walked to Kendall Square but took the T home
Spent all day writing: Political Thinkers Who are Concerned That Fascism is Coming to America because people do not appear to understand the gravity of the political world.
Trump will be arraigned in Court tomorrow.
Yesterday, went for a 12 mile ride with my new helmet attachment to silence wind noise. Works very well.
Finished listening to War and Peace (50 hours at 1.25) read by Neville Jason. Excellent.
Had two couples for our first 6pm dinner party since Covid. They stayed until 10:30 pm a it was a delightful evening.
9 AM: senior walk at the Somerville senior center in Holland Street with Charlene, Annmarie, Elaine, and two new walkers, Adam and Judy. We walked to the Elly the Elephant and back.
Finished Gail’s frame
Yesterday I put up my posting entitled: The Beauty of Math and Physics in Nature https://ihaveanidea.us/math/ and I received three very nice emails from people who also have loved math.
I also had an email interaction with a friend in which I told him because of his support for Trump. I was hoping to avoid this but he kept insisting on us getting together and I really did not want to visit him or interact with him. I explained in my email that it is just too distressing for me to ignore the elephant in the room. For me, the most important issue facing America is democracy versus fascism, and I cannot ignore this imperative in the name of social niceties. I told him that I thought “our values were too different” and I also said that I thought he his wife were good people – but our values diverge too much.
Yesterday I rode my bike for the first time at the season and currently I’m in the middle of a bike ride, it’s about 45 to 50°. I intend to do 24 miles today, two hours.
And I caught a garter snake on the ride… IMG_9546
I love this quote from War and Peace: “he fell ill and was laid up for three months. He had what the doctors termed bilious fever. But despite the fact that the doctors treated him, bled him, and gave him medicines to drink, he recovered.” Leo Tolstoy
Today the temperature was in the mid 50s and I got on my bike for the first time this season, after resealing and inflating the tires. I did 16 miles, and it felt great to be out on the minuteman bike trail again. I am considering doing a one week road trip to somewhere.
Last night I wrote a new blog posting which I put up today: A Thought Experiment: Biden’s National Unity Government with a Republican Vice President.
I’m stalled on the rocking chair as I don’t like the way it looks at 1/3 scale model.
I have only 8 hours left in War and Peace (total was 50 hours.) Still enjoying the story, great reader. Tolstoy occasionally alludes to calculus. He also states repeatedly that the course of world events is not simply the result of decisions made by either Emperor Napoleon or Alexander and could not be explained as such. Also, no one individual is responsible for the course of a war.
Yesterday I saw this play THE BUBBLY BLACK GIRL SHEDS HER CHAMELEON SKIN which was a joint production of Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic club and Black student union. well the technical quality of the production in terms of acting quality, singing quality and technical support were not very good, the play was all heart, and for that reason it was worth it. There’s also an important story of a black girl growing up from childhood young adulthood in a white world, and how she needed to interact with the white world.
Also, today, I went on the senior walk again with Charlene, Elaine, Diane, AnnMarie.
March 23, 2023
Since I last published my blog article on 3/17, Retirement @ 3 months I have spent time getting my website to work properly and design the rocking chair (video) and the slab dining chair. Multiple prototypes.
I think I finally now understand that the runner’s radius of curvature has to ensure that the center of mass stays inside the tangent to the radius of curvature, regardless of how far the chair is tilted. That will prevent the chair from falling over.
I created a full scale model, and a a 1/3 model, which would be the size of a rocking chair for a child and I created a new version of a chair for dining room. See pictures.
And I mostly finished the frame although now, we may use it for one of her gemstone paintings rather than for her last self portrait. See photo
Walk6 at least 3-4 mile/day listening to War and Peace now 75% done.
Need more intellectual activity.
Maybe a play tonight, Harvard student play at Ex-Loeb.
I received an email from one of my readers that their spouse, a retired physician, has similar dreams as I described in the opening paragraph of my blog posting “Retirement Update @ 3 months”
Barbara is visiting for the next 2 days. Plan to do the MIT Museum and a pottery exhibit at the MFA.
Also, I sent this to the Boston Globe for their May 7 tribute to nurses. Hopefully they will publish it…
Michelle is a role model nurse. She has outstanding clinical judgement and the patience of a saint. She also has a temperament and determination to battle for the patient with any pharmacy or health insurance bureaucrat who is made a decision or thrown-up a roadblock which impedes with the treatment of the patient.
As I was in the process of retiring, (I am now full retired since 12/2022) a significant number of my patients asked Michelle, who is an LPN, if she would be could take over the management of the medical problems after I retired.
In my 30 year career, I have met many very dedicated nurses, and I honor them all.
But there are no nurses who are better than Michelle.
I sent my copies of both articles on fascism Fascism is Coming to the U.S.A. and The Negation of Expertise Precedes the Rise of Fascism to multiple magazines but I am not expecting anybody to publish it.
I finish the cutting all the wood for the latest frame, which looks great. Now on to sanding. I haven’t figured out the color of the inner frame.
I’m still struggling with what to do regarding volunteer work. City of Somerville offered to allow me to help to deliver services to client but I am interested in strategic planning and with being an MD and having had an IT company and having running a private medical practice, I am certain I can a wealth of experience that would help them.
I am looking to do something in management, such as strategic planning. I am very good at coming up with creative ideas. Is there something like this I can help with?
Hello Dr. Zwerling,
I hope this email reaches you well, firstly thank you for your interest and for reaching out. Currently we do not have a strategic planning opportunity available. We have some openings on Boards and Commission you may be interested in exploring further: https://www.somervillema.gov/besomerville
Boards and Commissions
Applications for some board and commission seats are reviewed by the Appointments Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations for appointments to the Mayor.
Board and Commission Vacancies
- Somerville Affordable Housing Trust Member (Apply by Wed, April 5, 2023 – 12:00pm )
- Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change Member (Apply by Fri, April 28, 2023 – 12:00pm )
- Somerville Conservation Commission Member (Apply by Tue, March 28, 2023 – 12:00pm )
- Biosafety Committee Members (Apply by Thu, March 23, 2023 – 12:00pm )
- Cultural Capacity Planning Participants (Open until filled)
- Somerville Arts Council Members (Open until filled)
I still do not know what I want to do.
Went for a 9 AM walk with a Somerville senior walking group. They were two seniors, Charlene and Elaine. There was the volunteer from City of Somerville and there was another person who I think works on the Somerville safe walking commission who came along for ideas.
I finished both the short and long versions of my articles
I finished my article about fascism, or at least until I revise it. It’s way too long at 29 Pages and I do not know how to shorten it. I sent a copy to the Atlantic but I’m not optimistic.
I am walking 2-3 miles when I wake up in the morning, sometimes more later.
I wrote to the City of Somerville to see if I can get on some advisory committee as a physician. They wrote back asking if I would be interested: staffing of warming center, attending Narcan, distribution events, assembling backpacks from house persons. I’m really looking for something at the management level, like strategic planning but not at the implementation level. I’m really not sure how to proceed.
Will start new routine today.
was suppose to be AM: walk and reading, PM: woodworking.
After AM coffee, went for 2 mile walk
8AM-noon then 3-5 pm, fascism paper, good progress.
Was suppose to do woodworking in PM but it did not happen
email to Mayor of Somerville
Dear Mayor Ballantyne,
I am I physician who recently retied from a 3 decade career in (mostly) private practice involving endocrinology, diabetes, and primary care.
As I begin to navigate my retirement world, I am looking for opportunities to use my acquired knowledge to the benefit of my community.
I have a very good understanding of the healthcare system and health information technology (I created a medical software company).
If you know of any opportunities within the Somerville government where my services might be of use, please let me know.
Hayward Zwerling, M.D.
Also worked on Fascism is coming to the USA (the business section)
Went for a 5 mile walk
Saw a play at ART, The Wife of Willesden. Lots of eye candy but lacked emotional engagement and too much focus on the importance of sex in a spousal relationship. Basically a play about a woman’s perspective based on a story by Chaucer. Gail loved it, not me. Likely headed for Broadway.
I am still struggling with the frame for the blue jacket, did more work in Sketchup.
I am still struggling with “Fascism is coming to USA” and need to push myself on this.
Saw “Alma” at Central Square Theater. It is simply an enactment of the conflict between an illegal immigrant mother and her American daughter over expected issues and expectations which takes place in their apartment. I was not emotionally engaged.
Yesterday was a good day – busy but not too busy all day.
8AM – noon/1 PM: I again worked on my article “Fascism is coming to the USA”. Mostly doing research but no significant writing. I am mostly done with the research. Introduction is good but the “examples” section needs a lot of work. Still unclear if the article will be finished – it depends on what happens with the “examples” section.
Early afternoon: Did a lot of messaging with Calder and Gaby, now 3 months pregnant, about whether she should attend an important business conference (No.) And it all worked out well with her employer.
1-3 PM: went for a 3 mile walk with the dog while listening to War and Peace
4PM- 7PM: woodworking on hickory picture frames for Gail’s paintings
7PM-9PM: Apocalypse Now Redux. Early career performances included a young Harrison Ford, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper.
At the Whitney in lower Manhattan, we saw Edward Hopper’s paintings in and of NYC. Not so great, IMHO, and not my preferred style of painting.
Leopoldstat by Tom Stoppard was an amazing play.
Three generations of a wealthy Jewish family from Vienna following over the years in 5 act taking place in 1899, 1900, 1924, 1938, 1955. We serially watch the family get decimated by war and antisemitism. Ultimately, the character who represents Tom Stoppard, gets raised in great. Britain are aware that he is Jewish and that his grandparents of both sides have been murdered by the Nazis. Only Jerry discovered this when he meets a long lost cousin who explains his aunt and Tom Stoppard‘s history.
I was crying several times through the play, and Gail was crying profusely at the end, and could not stand up for the standing ovation, the cast so deserved.
It is a stark reminder of what happens when antisemitism again takes control over a country, as has happened repeatedly in history and what is happening in the US now.
From my prior reading about Homo sapiens and human nature, I do not believe we will ever be rid of racism, antisemitism, mysogeny, etc. We see this caste system in the animal kingdom, as the pecking order, so there must be something about it biology itself as it also manifests in humans as a hatred for people who are not exactly like you. And it gives political leaders the opportunity to rise to power simply by promoting hatred of others, which apparently is written into our species DNA.
Drove to NYC MOMA and spent 2.5 hours mostly on the 5th floor looking and listening to music. It was fun.
Picasso is still my favorite
I love Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and you can get so close to it.
Having troubles completely filling up the day, some downtime is acceptable, too much is not good.
My original plan was to spend my mornings doing something intellectual, go for a walk or cycle in the afternoon and do woodworking at night. What I find is happening is I wake up around 6:30 or so then do whatever I want which depends on what which project I’m working on.
For example, when I wrote my Supreme Court article, I would wake up in the morning, sit down at my desk at eight or 9 AM and work until 5 PM, save a break for lunch, for maybe a week.
For the last week, I’ve been working on my Rockingchair design initially on SketchUp, then on paper than small scale models that on SketchUp. I finally figured out how to make a full scale mockup out of MDF. I started Full scale, model yesterday, and then finish that up this morning, after having done my 5 mile walk this morning. I still don’t know if the chair is going to be built as I’m not yet sure how to build it or if it’s structurally stable and make sure it doesn’t fall forward or backward rocking on it.
I am enjoying War and Peace, which I am reading while walking. The reader (Neville, Jason) is excellent. I am about 50% through volume one and I still have another 12 hours in volume one and maybe 24 hours in volume two.
I wish I can force myself to adhere to a schedule. That was my original plan. But I find that I do what I want to do when I want to do it.
I am considering when I should write my next blog posting about retirement. Haven’t decided that just yet.
I’ve also thought about creating a self publish book, entitled something like “radical big ideas for our politic system which nobody else has considered” with a Preface: The political world has changed significantly and the old rules of politics no longer apply. If we want to maintain our democracy, we need to play by the new rules as they are, not by the old rules as we wish they were. Articles that I would consider including are my
- supreme court article
- 8300 house of representative members
- move presidents day to election day
- the creation of presidential propaganda prohibition act
- Equity/Fortify the Circle of Prosperity.
- And finally mentioning United We Fall, Divided We (They) Succeed.
Considering writing an article about ageism, which was prompted by my creation of the artist statement (see below) for an art exhibit I am hoping occurs with Gail’s self portraits at the Inside Out Gallery and maybe at the Bromfield Gallery. Gail does not want to use it: GailArtStatement
I am also creating frames for all of Gail’s painting in the Selfie series.
Tomorrow we drive down to New York City to wander through MOMA. Staying with larry and Karen and dinner at their apartment. The next day we are going to see a play Leopoldstat with Larry Green (Karen is working). Dinner out on Wednesday. And on Thursday we are going to the Whitney to see the Hoper exhibit, then home.
My recall for names was never good, but I think is worse. Also for isolated facts needed for a quick conversation. (memory)
That’s all for today.
Calder and Gaby’s baby girl is due late August. Calder wants a “Z” name. I like Zarella. Maybe will have baby call me “Granward.”
Have created a schematic for my egg rocking chair…
Not sure I will build it. Need to create prototype to assess stability. Also, unclear how to build sections. Brown=walnut slab. Yellow=laminated oak
Not clear to me why I have stalled on building platter a la coasters.
Tomorrow I will try to finish the brass and wood frames for Gail’s Selfie exhibit but I still need to buy the brass.
Still walking nearly daily, yesterday 6 miles total. And still enjoying War and Peace
Sometimes I find I have too much free time if not walking or woodworking or writing.
I created a short version (660 words ) of my Supreme Court article as no one read the 3400 word version . I have learn my lesson on long articles, although I thought I needed all the references to justify the radical conclusion.
Need to force myself into a commit to structured day:
- 9-11 AM: Intellectual time: reading, classes, creativity
- 1-3 PM: exercise walking cycling with audiobook
- Late afternoon or early evening: woodworking
- After dinner: TV woodworking
We went to see August Wilson’s play Seven Guitars. The acting was very good, the play was engaging. Although I don’t think I fully understood all of it, after reading about it on Wikipedia, I think it is mostly a study of the interaction of the characters.
I’m happy to report I’m making real progress on my blog article about the Supreme Court. I know nobody’s gonna read it, it’s too long, maybe I can figure out a way to shorten it, and I know it’s not gonna change anything, but I’ll feel better posting it.
This afternoon we saw seven guitars, and all yours Wilson play the acting was excellent. I can’t say I understood everything, it probably needs to be see it again, and I need to read about it on Wikipedia.
In the evening we saw Batman returns with Danny Devito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Keaton. I saw it in the Brattle theater, which was the debut of the new sound system, which is very good.
In AM meeting with financial advisor, again little real progress and they again made mistakes on a form we were to sign. I am read to move on.
5.5 mile walk with Gail
Saw the play “The Heathers” @ MIT MTG. Heavy subject but student quality singing and performance. Good thing Gail chose not to attend.
Still stuck on last section of my SCOTUS article-it is outlined but…
Tomorrow is August Wilson’s Seven Guitars.
Yesterday went to the MITCOB “tour New England through cheese” which was good
I think I’m starting to see a pattern in my retirement. It looks like my activities rotate between:
- Walking 3 to 5 miles a day, now averaging 4 miles daily of the week
- Working on my blog
- Search/surveying in the web for interesting item
- Watching YouTube videos for interesting items or learning how to do something.
- Reading the magazines, rotating between the New Yorker, the Atlantic, New York Times, Washington post, Boston Globe,
- Listening to audiobooks while walking. I just started volume 1 (24 hours) War and Peace, read by Neville Jason.
- I’m also trying to plan a exhibit for the “inside out” window display in Davis Square for Gail’s self portraits.
- And I’ve been attending a lot of theater, w and w/o Gail
- 11/2023 The Chinese lady at Central Square Theater, very good
- 2/4/2023 The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Baggage, experimental opera at MIT, not so good
- 2/6/2023 A play reading of “Machine Learning” at the MIT museum, by Francisco Mendoza. Excellent
- ?Jan 2023 A student play at MIT theater about harassment of a woman who wrote computer games. excellent.
I still find I have some free time but not much.
I haven’t really gotten into a daily pattern. That should probably happen.
I had my first Rembrunch with Mark and Marc we’re going to start out meeting monthly, next 3/8/2023.
Finished South to America by Imani Perry. My conclusions:
- Only historians are capable of understanding the details of history which are a requisite for truly comprehending what happened, why and how this affects the future.(Expert opinion matters)
- Most white people will never truly comprehend what it is likely for a Black person who is living in America
- Homo sapiens, as a species, are inherently tribal, selfish, and always want somebody they can look down upon, as if that will make them a “better” person. As such, the barriers to true equality are beyond legal remedy. Thus it is unlikely America will every truly be an egalitarian country.
- That sucks, so all we can do is push the needle slightly in the proper direction but we will never get to the mountain top and MLK’s statement is purely aspirational, unfortunately.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.(https://www.afscme.org/about/history/mlk/mountaintop)
So far, I’ve had no problems, keeping busy, and my to do list is longer than it should be.
The most notable thing about retirement is the complete lack of stress, a welcome change from my prior existence.
Financially, I think we’re in a good position although I’m not convinced that the advice we are getting on our allowable spending is consistent with our finances. Regardless, we will be OK.
My article about gun control, Fewer Guns = Fewer Gun Deaths, There is a Solution…, is too long and has had too little impact. I am trying to revise/shorten it and alter the tweets and “excerpt”. I think this is called A B testing. Or maybe asking the country to treat the SCOTUS as a political entity (which it has become) is a bridge too far for today’s blue state residents.
Had dinner at Jean and Bobs house.
I spent almost all of the last three days researching and writing my blog article on guns. I’m going to send out notification to my readers today. I am aware it’s too long, but I don’t see a way of shortening it out and retaining the logic/content.
Spent the time from 1/14 to 1/22 creating frames for Gail’s self portraits. I wanted to try to create a gallery showing of 8 paintings, but she wants to try to sell them individually. Together, I think the ~8 paintings, created unique story (covid, isolation, self portrait, or, fashion, elderly women) and gallery would accept it, but I guess that’s not going to happen.
Dinner at Murat and Deniz’s house with Jane and Mike, it was a pleasant evening and Mike recommend War and Peace read by Jason Neville
A second Retirement Party for me in Lowell at Cafe UTEC for retirement. MDs and others from the Tufts Medicare Advantage group, as I was a founding member ~25 years ago. It funded my office and life style. And we provided high quality care, rate 5/5 by CMS , always. It was delightful see everyone.
Heading home today
We went on a 2 mile hike, Debra, Randall, Gail, and I along the Nepali coast. It was remarkably beautiful. Unfortunately, the beach, which was where Gail and I spent four days, 40 years ago, naked, was mostly ocean as a surf was very high, and it was very little sand exposed, so we sat on the rocks, overlooking the ocean, and then hideout.
Thom and Dell cooked dinner. We had a meaningful conversation at dinner about family and friendship. I think I went to bed at 8 PM.
The waves at our Sea Lodge Beach are now 20-25 feet. The photos did not capture the majesty, grandeur and power. I spent one hour sitting on the rocks, watching the waves come in. Powerful, or inspiring. It’s somehow serene and mellowing.
In the morning, we visited the Daniel K Inouye Kauai lighthouse and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Beautiful scenic sisters. Doucent told a great story about former Senator Daniel Inouye and his fathers immigration to Hawaii from Japan, in order to pay off a debt which occurred as a result of a house fire in his grandfathers home, which also damaged the neighbors home. The village seniors told his grandfather that he would have to pay $400 to his neighbor because of damage is done to the neighbors home. At that point in time, they were earning pennies today. Daniel K Inouye family was sent to America to earn money and they sent back money every year. The first year they sent back $10. After two generations, and in 1929, the guy was fully paid off. And they had a party. With World War II, Daniel K Inouye, who had some medical training, join the army fought in Italy. His entire unit of 25 men were killed safe for him. He received medals for valor, and in the hospital back in Michigan was in the bed next to Robert Dole. Apparently, Robert Dole told him he was going to go into politics and that gave Daniel K Inouye the idea. In 1959, when Hawaii became part of the United States, he was the first representative in the house for one term, and then ran for Senator and remain senator for 35 or 39 years
In the afternoon we went on a whale watch. The best experience was seeing two adult humpback whale synchronously dive in parallel and simultaneously displaying their tail fluke, likely a courtship display. Unfortunately I did not get a photo. Also saw a mother and a 1-2 month old humpback during while the baby repeatedly breached.
Very high surf at the beach
ATV trip. Scenery was mostly old sugarcane farm land. Some very pretty scenic vistas and a pretty beach. Too much noise and jolting ride for me. Thus it was a bit stressful driving the ATV and not much fun for me but the others liked it.
Cruise and dinner along Nepali coast on a catamaran (Capt. Andy) with about 30 other people. Saw several humpback whales. Food was reasonably good and it was an enjoyable experience. Apparently the ocean was much less rough than usual. Very beautiful.
The others did not want to go down to the beach in the morning, so I went down by myself.
As a group, we did a boring 5 mile hike to a dam as the “forest” was planted in row (maybe some type of old tree farm) and very flat. At the end of the hike, at the dam, there was some sort of religious shrine.
Rob cooked an elaborate and delicious farro based dinner.
In the morning, the group climb down the cliff to the beach. Last 25 yards on step rock face. Looked a bit dangerous, but it wasn’t. Very isolated and pretty. Sand has uniquely very large grain. We ate Gail’s dinner. Did nothing all day, which was good.
Arrived at House near Princeville, on the northern side of Kauai. House is on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. Beautiful view. Several albatross live near the driveway. Shopped for food, Gail cooked a meal. I went looking for a farmers market for fresh fruit. Unfortunately, farmers markets are held Saturday mornings until noon and it was too late by the time we arrived. The supermarket fruits were exactly the same as what we would get in Somerville, which sucks. The others arrive later than expected so dinner is not eaten on Saturday night and was pushed the to Sunday.
11.5 hour flight from Boston to Honolulu, then a short flight to the big island. Arrived at Sophie and Dave’s house around 8 PM. Spent two nights with them. They took us to a very pretty beach with Caighley, their are two-year-old. It was a pleasant visit.
I got to eat some great tropical fruits, which I’ve never tried before. Strawberry papaya was fantastic.
January 4, 2023
Got high with Gail for the first time in ~30 years. We had a fun time together. I explained my plan for her career, to finish the self portrait series, while I finish the framing series. Then to see if we can get this displayed somewhere as it makes an interesting collection of about six or seven paintings. We started to work on an artistic statement, something like: in the time of Covid the opportunity to interact in person with others was nonexistent. Gail loved doing portraits, and she also loved fashion and decided to do portraits of herself in various clothes that she would purchase. And the resultant collection says something about elderly women having the power to put themselves forward in the world, to appear in the way they want to appear rather than the way others think they should appear. I’m hoping I can take this back to the Broomfield gallery where she had one of these portraits on display. They did tell her that they were interested in her work. If that doesn’t work, then maybe I’ll see if I can rent a storefront (Gaillery) for one month and display some of her work there. I also told her that I thought she should consider attending Museum conferences. People probably know her name as she works for Matt who is well known by everybody in the field. Clearly her management background along with her museum training and experience, gives her a vision and insights which few in the museum industry field have.
From mind and machine Philosophy lecture online at MIT), I learned Data ->information->knowledge->wisdom
And while reading Songs of the Cell, the author used “Data ->information->knowledge”
I frequently wake up early, 5 AM, 4 AM, because I go to sleep early. I can’t find much on TV that I enjoy watching. I still do not like to watch stressful TV as it makes me feel like I’m back in the office. They go to bed at nine or 9:30 PM, it’s not a surprise I’m going to wake up at 5 AM as I’ve already had eight hours of sleep.
So far, I’ve been pretty good about my exercise routine, walking for one or two hours every day, lately, I’ve been listening to Songs of the Cell and the Philosophy of Modern Music. The latter is a little bit problematic as I need to stop every three or four minutes to jump from the audiobook to the music app, so I can hear the song that Dylan is talking about.
I’ve also been doing a lot of woodworking, making a new frame with brass trim for my wife’s paintings. I’m working on my third and final variation, and have an idea for the next frame, we shall see what happens. We have a disagreement as to whether the frame should be made at all, and she’s not thrilled with the plan, but I’m hoping a prototype (her suggestion) will convince her that it is a good idea.
I saw for the first time Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Brattle St Theater. It helped me appreciate that I had an impact on many of my patients (I did not believe them when they told/thanked me) even if I did not succeed in having a significant impact on the US health care system.
THE BEGINNING OF RETIREMENT
12/22/2023 Day 1 of retirement
I awoke as a result of two dreams.
Dream 1: I was at my first day of an internal medicine “fellowship’ training program but I arrived 1-2 days late, and did not know where to go and I could not find the program director
Dream 2: I was going to take a train somewhere. First I wanted to buy something and the store had to find the item in the back of the store. I decided I could not wait for them as I only had minutes before the train left. So I was running down the stairs, trying to get to the train platform, before getting on the train. Awoke before I discovered if I missed/got on the train.
——-> My last day of work was 12/21/2022. <——-