Category: Changing Times

Nov 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Winding Down

My thoughts about when to retire have changed many times over the years. Early on, saving for the golden years wasn’t a priority. Retiring before 75 or even 80 seemed unlikely. Saving enough seemed impossible — even after I finally started putting money into retirement accounts. For the longest time, quarterly statements confirmed I’d indeed be very old before I’d have enough to fund my retirement. Oh well. Better not enough than nothing at all. I kept contributing through several jobs, ending up with 15 to 20 aggressive-growth mutual funds. Statements from several brokers came at different times without attracting my attention. Then I sat down and added them all up. The grand total made me nervous. I couldn’t stop …

Oct 23, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Seven Months Later…

COVID-19 has been with us for seven months. Millions of lives have been forever changed. My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones, jobs, homes, or peace of mind. For me, the pandemic has so far been more inconvenience than hardship. I’m grateful, but take nothing for granted. I rarely leave home and always wear a mask when I do. I canceled my gym membership due to COVID. A bout of plantar fasciitis has forced me to suspend my daily runs. Sprucing up the yard has become my total body workout. I’ve removed big limbs, cut shrubs back hard, and moved tons of rocks, edgers, soil, sand and mulch. I’ve kept off the weight I lost and …

Jul 14, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Cooking for One

Single people have long-lamented the challenges of cooking for one. Family-size packaging is the norm. I ain’t gonna lie. A preference for anything but leftovers has meant a lot of perfectly good food ends up in the trash. Not anymore. Shortages, guilt, and a desire to minimize trips to the grocery have changed my wasteful ways. Watching chefs on Chopped deal with mystery baskets helped. As with the TV show, transforming the ingredients is the key to success. Thought my recipe ideas might inspire you as well. Chicken thighs work better than breasts or tenders for leftovers. I season with salt and pepper and bake (375 for 20-25 minute) the whole package (usually six pieces). I eat two with sides …

Jul 05, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Pandemic Shopping

Some consider shopping to be a fun and enjoyable activity. I’m not one of those people. In the best of circumstances, shopping pushes my crotchety button. Grocery shopping is the worst. Before COVID-19, I ordered everything but perishables online, mostly from Walmart. Convenience, selection, low prices and free shipping keep me coming back. Aside from shipping delays, I didn’t anticipate any problems. Wrong. Almost everything I usually order has been out of stock. Substitutes have been in short supply too. Damn. I checked out pickup and local delivery options. The next available appointments/delivery dates were weeks away. Availability is better now, but I’ll pass. Sooner or later, another person choosing my produce would surely piss me off. Masked and armed …

Jun 22, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Social Anxiety

After more than fifteen weeks at home, leaving my little sanctuary makes me nervous. COVID-19 continues to spread like wild fire. Mixing with others hardly seems worth the risk. Trips to the garden center are my only nonessential outings. I wear a mask, stick to outside areas, and go early enough to avoid long checkout lines. Growing things makes me happy. A haircut isn’t worth the risk. My plan to let my beard and hair grow for a potential appearance on Queer Eye didn’t work. Trimming my beard is easy enough, but the thought of cutting my hair scared me. Previous attempts always required an emergency visit to the barbershop. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I finally used my …

May 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Stressed

My eleventh straight week at home is wrapping up. The first week I took off from work. Then the coronavirus hit the scene. I’ve been home pretty much ever since. I’m lucky and grateful. I still have a job, a regular paycheck, and everything I need. There’s no homeschooling at my house nor any children to entertain. Nobody I know is sick, incarcerated, or in a nursing home. Despite my good fortune, I’m anxious, stressed and more than a little overwhelmed. The increasing divide between science and politics doesn’t help. Ignorance, misinformation, and stupidity make things worse. The federal government is in shambles. Institutions I’ve trusted and relied on my entire life are under attack. Watch dogs and whistle blowers …

May 01, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My Online Learning Experience

The semester I’ll never forget is just about over. Switching from the classroom to the Internet during a two-week hiatus after spring break was a daunting challenge. Except for maybe graduating seniors, students and faculty alike are happy to see the semester end. Teaching online isn’t all bad. I see the potential. How to make it work is the challenge — especially for crotchety old men like me. A greater command of technology would help. I can do what I need to do, barely. Call me incurious, but exploring the capabilities of devices, software, or apps never crosses my mind. The switch to online teaching forced my hand. I’d used our online interface to post lectures, collect assignments, record grades, …

Apr 19, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Garden Update

Few things tickle may fancy more than impulse-shopping at garden centers every spring and fall. I hit several over spring break this year, but it was too early for the kinds of things I want. Staying at home has me chomping at the bit to fill my empty flower beds. Before the pandemic, I picked up a few things for a flower bed outside my front door. The petunias and dianthus I planted have settled in now and look lovely. Begonias planted in the same spot last year are coming back. The big yard at my old house had plenty of room for new additions. Running out of room in the tiny yard I have now is my greatest fear. …

Apr 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Creeping Toward the Apex

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost all track of time. Not the date, day, and hour — they’re readily available on various devices. Distinguishing one day from the next is the challenge. Since March 7, I’ve lived in my own little world. My car hasn’t left the garage more than six times. Toodles and I go for short walks two or three times a day, and I’m trying to run three miles three or four times a week. I’m not — twice a week is more like it — but I’m trying. Work keeps me busy. On top of additional demands related to the crisis, everything takes longer. Email exchanges over several hours or days have replaced the …

Apr 04, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Teaching to the Grid

The two-week suspension of instruction to enable faculty to transition to online teaching ended a week ago Friday. Students returned to class Monday. My first class was Tuesday. It didn’t go well. For starters, students couldn’t hear me. I have to lean in close to see anything on my laptop. Students watched a closeup of my forehead as I frantically scrambled through settings trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. Students tried to help without success. One day, I’ll laugh about it. Ended up dialing in. Had to use my phone to talk and my laptop for everything else. Didn’t help that my first online lecture was new to me from slides used by a guest speaker last …