The Crotchety Old Man

Aug 28, 2011
By Michael Rupured

The Last Square

We’re used to seeing sizes shrink so the manufacturer can avoid a price increase.  A pound of coffee becomes thirteen ounces, a box contains a few ounces less cereal than before, and a half-gallon of ice cream is now only one and one-half quarts. The price stays the same, but we’re getting less for our money.  Manufacturers figure we don’t mind paying more per pound (or ounce or whatever) as long as we don’t have to pay more at the cash register.  Makes sense.  Or maybe they think we won’t notice. As a man of a certain age, I’ve adjusted to countless of these petty little changes with little more than a grunt and a shake of the head.  Yeah, …

Aug 27, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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Things I Would Do Over

For better or worse, the things I’ve done (both good and bad) have shaped me into the person I am today. While far from perfect, my life has turned out pretty good and certainly much better than I ever expected. In fact, those who know my story consider the fact I’m even alive today to be downright miraculous. Yes, I made a lot of poor choices and stupid mistakes. I’m a slow learner and tend to try things without bothering to research my options, read the instruction manual, or heed the advice of those who’ve gone before me. Even so, considering the way things have turned out, I have no regrets. But given the opportunity, there are a few things …

Aug 26, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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My Retirement Roller Coaster

After finishing college and launching my career, retirement seemed like an impossible dream. Work was my life sentence for a frivolous youth and a mountain of credit card and student loan debt. Any money I could set aside was more likely to be needed for a casket and burial plot than a condo in a retirement community. Before I finished school, several of my employers required me to contribute to a retirement plan. I always kicked in the minimum and when I left their employment, promptly withdrew any cash I’d accumulated. In one case, I passed up a two-for-one match and in every case, I paid taxes and a ten percent penalty for taking the money out. Let’s just say …

Aug 23, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Disincentives

I was thrilled on weigh-in day this week to see I’d lost another pound. My delight was short-lived. My bubble burst when I discovered my daily point allowance had dropped another point. Compared with the women I know on Weight Watchers, I can’t complain. I still get 43 points per day, plus 49 extra points every week, and whatever activity points I earn from riding my bike, walking the dogs, or mowing the yard.  The point is I still get enough points to support my ice cream habit. The general trend, however, is disturbing. When I started Weight Watchers, I got a generous 46 points every day. Yes, I’ve lost almost twenty-two pounds. But my progress has cost me three …

Aug 22, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Today I was re-reading an e-mail I received several months back from a devout Evangelical Christian. We first met many years ago when we were both unaware of a central fact of our existence. She wasn’t yet religious and I had no idea I was gay. She is a few years older than me–a difference that doesn’t seem like much today. Back then, however, the age difference was huge. She was a college sorority girl and I was still in high school. She was a smart, sophisticated role model and a sane voice during a crazy time. While her brains impressed me the most, she was also beautiful with natural blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes. We lost touch, only …

Aug 18, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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Pee Talker or Not?

Today I drove down to the conference center in Tifton, Georgia. The conference center is about 170 miles from my house. That means I spent seven hours in the car driving down and back. Thank God for books on CD. Upon reaching my destination, I headed straight for the bathroom. Despite having stopped in Madison and again in Perry, my need was great.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the 20-0unce coffee I brought with me from home or the 32-ounce iced-tea I picked up in Madison. A meeting of farmer types let out just as I entered the building. When I walked into the bathroom, half a dozen dudes in Wrangler jeans and square-toed boots stood before …

Aug 17, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Evil Reality Show Chefs

Nasty characters are among the most memorable reality show cast members. Omerosa from The Apprentice, Nene Leakes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, Danielle Staub from Real Housewives of New Jersey and the entire cast of Jersey Shore (except for maybe Pauly and Vinny) are famous mostly because of their inability to get along with other people. Until this season, cooking shows have been relatively free of the nasty personalities that make other reality shows so much fun to watch. Yeah, Gordon Ramsay yells and screams a lot. But in the end, he almost always turns into a big sweetheart. Jeffrey Steingarten, the over-blown stuffed shirt judge from Iron Chef, doesn’t count. He’s a food writer, not a chef. In truth, …

Aug 14, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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My Shifting Line in the Sand

Everyone has a weight above which they refuse to go. Years ago, my line in the sand was 200 pounds. Now 200 pounds is my goal weight. Funny how things change with time. Back in April I weighed 246 pounds–dangerously close to 250.  Other than shoveling too much food into my mouth, I never got any exercise. The doctor put me on two different drugs to battle sky high cholesterol. My habits were slowly but surely killing me. Something had to change. In May I started riding my bike again. Having spent the better part of the last two or three years on my ass, I lost eight pounds fairly quickly. Exercise was a good start but not the solution. …

Aug 13, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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My Summer Vacation

Here in Athens, a dramatic increase in local traffic signals the end of the summer. Public schools started a week ago. College students who live off campus moved into newly rented apartments in early August. The opening of the dorms last week drew most the rest to town. Classes start tomorrow. When I was a kid, school never started before the last week of August or even into September. At least that’s what I remember. The early August end of summer leaves a lot of folks my age feeling at least a little short-changed. For students in every grade, writing an essay about summer activities was a perennial first week of school activity. Most students groaned when the teacher announced …

Aug 11, 2011
By Michael Rupured

My Barefoot Walk on the Beach

Yesterday I drove down to Jekyll Island for business. Today we took a break from the business for “afternoon excursions.” Instead of hooking up with coworkers from other parts of the state for networking, I decided to take a barefoot walk on the beach. Although the hotel where I’m staying is oceanfront, there’s not a lot of beach. In fact, unless you count the volleyball court, there’s really no beach at all. Walking back and forth on the volleyball court wasn’t exactly the walk on the beach I’d envisioned. I shared my disappointment with a coworker who’s familiar with the area. She told me I’d find a walkable beach about three miles down the road. I changed into swim trunks …

Aug 10, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Following My Dream

Writing a book is easy. Writing a good book is more difficult. Unless you’re somebody famous (or infamous), getting even a good book published is a great deal more challenging. My dear friend, Terri, posted on my Facebook wall today that The Help was rejected sixty times before author Kathryn Stockett found a publisher. Two years ago, just the idea of writing a book overwhelmed me. Then, thanks to encouragement and support from a lot of people, I penned my memoir. I definitely hope to see Glass Houses in bookstores one day. But if it never gets published, the fact that I wrote it will always rank among the proudest accomplishments of my life. To learn more about how to …

Aug 08, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Six New Foods in My Kitchen

Since starting Weight Watchers eleven weeks ago, my eating habits have changed. They haven’t changed enough–this week I gained almost half a pound. Apparently I’m retaining fruit. We’re buying a lot more of some of the healthier choices we made before Weight Watchers–especially fruits and vegetables which don’t cost any points.  Yesterday I ate blackberries, blueberries, plums, grapes, an apple, and a banana. No wonder I’m retaining fruit. We even bought some tofu. My partner marinated it in mostly soy sauce and grilled it. I ate three pieces and was surprised to keep them down. We might have it again one day (though I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t). These days our grocery cart is chocked full of …

Aug 07, 2011
By Michael Rupured
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Where Angels Fear to Tread

According to Miss Manners, talking about politics or religion is impolite. Why? Because people passionately hold onto views in both areas, often with little or nothing to back them up.  Daring to talk about religion or politics is walking where angels fear to tread. Today I’m taking a walk on the wild side. Miss Manners can sue me, if she’s even still around. Far as I can tell, the notion of polite society vanished when states turned red or blue. Our nation has become increasingly polarized. The people we elect to public office are largely responsible for the great divide.  Cable “news” and talk radio make things worse. Talking to each other, debating differences of opinion, and seeking compromise are …

Aug 05, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Glitz Pageant Awards We’ll Never See

I almost hate to admit how much I enjoy watching Toddlers & Tiaras. In case you’ve missed it, T&T is a reality show that follows little girls (sometimes little boys) and their parents as they prepare for and compete in glitz pageants. It’s another one of those train wreck shows that is so bad, you just can’t look away. The children featured on the show are usually 3 to 7 years old. The parents insist that competing in pageants was the child’s idea, and that the child absolutely loves everything about competing. What an empowered bunch of preschoolers! Except, of course, they’re not. They compete because Momma (or rarely, Daddy) is living vicariously through them and attempting to make up …

Aug 03, 2011
By Michael Rupured

Hanging with the Seniors at the Retina Specialist’s Office

I was diagnosed with advanced macular degeneration in my left eye back in October. I have a milder case in my right eye. Macular degeneration is a swelling between the layers of the retina that eventually leads to blindness. There is no cure, but it’s treatable–with injections of one of several drugs to the eye.  Though still no picnic in the park, the eye injections sound worse than they are. My Augusta-based retina specialist travels to Athens once a week to see patients here. Normally someone unlocks his office before he arrives. The patients come in, sign-in on a clipboard, then take a seat in one of the waiting rooms. The doctor and his staff arrive en masse, dragging equipment …

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