Something I've been dreading for a long time finally happened: I'm now one of the legions of folks who need to wear eyeglasses at least some of the time. Welcome to middle age.

It started out with having more and more trouble reading the morning newspaper. I could still do it without eyeglasses, but it was getting difficult seeing the smaller print (like the clue in the Jumble puzzle picture).

This condition is called presbyopia. What happens is your lenses lose elasticity as you age, so you can't focus up close like you used to. When this happens, whether you like it or not, eyeglasses become a part of your life.

I know I shouldn't complain. I went over 56 years before having to deal with this hassle. I remember having a friend when I was a kid who had eyeglasses with lenses so thick they looked like the proverbial bottom of a coke bottle.

So I've been very fortunate all these years. Even now, when I renew my driver's license, I can pass the eye test with no problem. Still, I'm a voracious reader, so eyeglasses are now one more thing I have to deal with.

Getting eyeglasses is one thing. Getting the right eyeglasses is another thing entirely. I've actually had several pairs of eyeglasses over the years. I'm slightly near-sighted, so I'd use these when going to a movie, a football game, or any event where the action was far away. Not that I couldn't see without them; they just made everything a little bit sharper. They came in handy that way but I could easily do without them and often did.

So now, being that I need eyeglasses to read, why not try to get one pair to do everything? Even I know about bifocals, so that's what I had made.

The problem with them is now you have a compromise. They work OK for distance, as long as they don't slide down your nose too much. But for reading you have to look through the bottom part of the lens, which affects where you place your book, newspaper, or whatever.

Having to look down while keeping your head straight gets old fast. An even bigger problem is they were useless for using a computer — that middle distance was just blurry no matter what I did. So much for compromise.

I wound up having another pair made for reading and using a computer. If I combine this pair with my distance pair I'm pretty much covered (though having a magnifying glass available, especially when working on cars or whatever, still comes in handy quite often).

So now the problem becomes the one I've always had with eyeglasses: Where do you carry them? Where does a man find a spot on his person for two pair of eyeglasses that will be convenient anytime — in a suit at work or in a T-shirt and shorts on the weekend.

I haven't figured it out, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to start carrying a purse around. Sigh. It's always something.

I basically just leave the reading and computer glasses at work, and keep the distance glasses in whatever jacket pocket I'm wearing at the time. Then I have some older glasses for reading — the kind you can buy off the rack at the drugstore — strategically placed around the house.

So I hope with all that going on I can find a pair of eyeglasses when I need them. Not an ideal situation but I haven't yet figured out anything better.

I know a guy who keeps his eyeglasses on a cord that goes around his neck, so they are hanging on him at all times. Very convenient, but I just can't handle that "look," pardon the pun.

Believe me, I'm not a vain person — if you've seen my goofy ties and T-shirts you know I don't give a flip about dressing stylishly. But going to the hanging eyeglasses is just too close to having a cane or walker for me, so I'll pass on that for now at least.

Funny story when I tried to pick out a frame. I looked at the various display pictures at the vision center, and found one of a really handsome guy in a nice and relaxing summertime pose. It was a great picture. So I asked to try on those frames.

The people in the store basically laughed them off my face because the glasses looked so bad on me (they claimed). I have no sense of style to speak of, I know that, but if they looked so good on the guy in the picture, how could they possibly have looked all that bad on me? I can't figure it out.

Then again, my wife and daughter always point out that I often wear my jeans "crooked." I don't even know what this means, so I guess I should just let someone else pick out my frames.

I've heard it said that wearing eyeglasses makes one look more intelligent. Huh? To me someone wearing eyeglasses looks like someone that needs vision correction. How that look ever got matched up with intelligence is beyond me.

It's to the point that some folks actually get eyeglasses made with clear lenses just so they can have that so-called intelligent look. Man, I just don't get that at all. That is something I would never, ever do.   

Then there's the way eyeglasses seem to slowly creep down your nose; how they steam up when you drink coffee; how they force you to look in certain spots of the lens; how they distort if you look in the wrong spot; how they constantly need to be cleaned, no matter how careful you are with them; how you always have to watch out lest you drop, sit on, or lose them; how they leave red spots on the bridge of your nose when you wear them for a long time; and the worst part, that you have one or two more things to carry around and be responsible for.

I always thought getting older would be easier simply because you'd have less to do, but with health issues, the greater responsibilities, and the overall craziness of the world these days I can see why the liquor business is always so good.

When you see me, please tell me how nice my new eyeglasses look.

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I used to tell people I was only on Facebook to keep track of my kids. While that's still true to some extent — with so many other social media sites, I wouldn't even have time to try to keep up if I wanted to – there is still every now and then something on Facebook that makes you appreciate it despite its overall basically soulless and trivial nature.

What brings this up is a post someone made recently that said, roughly: “My husband may not be the handsomest or funniest or make the most money, but I always wake up with a clean sink and that's good enough for me.”

Let me tell you my lovely wife could have written that because it fits me to a T.

When I was small, my dear departed mom did most of the cooking, until my father discovered his inner “Molto Mario” and took over. Regardless of who was cooking, they both knew the same two things: one, if you clean while you cook you have a lot less to do later, and two, you never go to bed with a dirty sink.

They say kids rarely listen to what you say but always watch what you do and it must have rubbed off on me because I turned out the same way.

I only had a bachelor pad for a little while, and, while I had one, I did all the things bachelors like to do and then some; I learned pretty quickly that, while a hangover was bad, a hangover plus a dirty sink was exponentially worse. I get a headache just thinking about it.

Not that I was then or even now am that great of a cook, but I can follow a recipe, and it's just so much easier to clean as you go like my parents showed me. Combine that with cleaning the sink before bed and waking up to a fresh, clean kitchen and you’re good to go for sure.

I can't say a clean sink makes every day a good day, but I know waking up with a sink full of dirty dishes with stuck, crusted on food is never how I want to start my day.

Truly I never saw dirty sinks until I got out into the world — it was shocking in many ways. When you grow up in a clean house and then see what a dirty place looks like, it's a really rude awakening. I'm so glad I never had to live like that.

Whenever I'd stay over with friends, I'd always do the sink for them. Cleaning up others’ messes was not my idea of fun — I guess that's why I never stayed over with anyone all that often — but I just couldn't stand a dirty sink. What a bummer. How can you relax and have a good time with that kind of a mess around?

My wife and I played landlord for a number of years. While it's a great move financially, there are too many negative aspects for us to ever want to do it again.

Often I'd have to pay a visit to a tenant to fix one thing or another, and way more often than not I'd find myself in a kitchen with a full stack of crusted-on dirty dishes and an open, overflowing garbage pail. When I saw that, I couldn't wait to get out of there, because I'm not used to living like that and I never want to be.

The dirty sink was bad enough, but the overflowing garbage pail always killed me. How hard is it to go to a store and find a nice kitchen garbage pail with some kind of a lid? Why would you choose one without a lid, or choose not to use the lid?

I may be missing something but to be staring at empty Chinese food containers, chicken bones, watermelon rinds, and who knows what else all day — I just can't imagine it. Don't think I'm a germ-phobe or even a neat freak, because I'm surely not.

I have my stacks of unread reading material, all kinds of junk in my garage and basement, and my over-stuffed drawers and whatnot need to be seriously gone through, to put it mildly. I simply draw the line at dirty sinks, open garbage pails, and real filth like that. There's messy and then there's gross and that's just the way it is.

When I cook a nice meal, I like to get it such that, when we finally sit down to eat, all that's left to clean are the dishes, glasses, and utensils we are using to eat with. That's not always easy to do.

Roasting pans stay hot for a while and, depending on the number of dishes you serve, there may be a lot of things to clean. Still, I'm often able to accomplish this if I'm left alone and “get in the zone” when I cook. This means ignoring phone calls and other distractions and just keeping to the task at hand.

I even refuse help in the kitchen when I'm really going to town, because another body just gets in the way. So I'll let my wife do the entertaining while I finish up the meal, for example. Works for me.

On special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays, I might take my wife to a fancy restaurant. What should be a very nice experience dampens quickly when you spend lots of money getting wined and dined and then come home to a sink full of dirty dishes that the kids left.

So, while the stripe on the credit card is still warm, I'm at the sink cleaning up a mess I had nothing to do with (well I did have the kids, haha). That's always a bummer. Wait until they have their own sinks to clean.

I say I'm not germ-phobic yet I must admit I rate restaurants on the cleanliness of their bathrooms. The thing is, you have to give them some leeway, because all it takes is one gross inconsiderate slob to ruin a bathroom; we all know that. Still, if a bathroom is nice and tidy, you figure the kitchen is too and that's a good thing.

I know one thing — when I go to a restaurant where there's a tropical fish tank in the waiting area, if the water is so dark you can barely see the fish, I turn right around and walk out. I mean, if you let your fish tank go what else do you let go, jeez.

I may not be the perfect husband — I'm far from it, in fact —but at least my sink is always clean, and that's something.

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I see they are having child car-seat inspection and instruction events at the local malls. Along the same vein, in my new vehicle's owner’s manual (which I've read three times and still don't understand it all), there are 18 pages devoted to child-seat installation and use. Clearly child car seats are a big deal.

This is not at all how it was when I was a kid. We didn't even have car seats back then.

I can remember sitting in the back seat of our tan Ford Fairlane, constantly adjusting my position — keeping my territory separate from my brother’s while watching out for any whacks from the front seat when we started acting up.

I even remember my mother carrying my new baby brother, wrapped in a blanket, on her lap in the passenger seat. They'd call Child Protective Services if you did that today.

You have to remember it was a different time back then. Cars didn't even have seat belts, to say nothing of airbags or anti-lock brakes. Yet somehow we made it to Grandma's, the beach, Great Adventure, etc. How so many baby boomers like me survived to adulthood is surely a miracle.

By the time my kids came, it was a different story. If you've had kids you know what I mean. Trying to deal with installing and removing car seats can be a back-breaking experience where you really need to be a contortionist or a gymnast or something.

Wrangling those thick webbed belts in and out of the many tight-fitting slots in the seat and all that, at such a low angle, is just really, really hard on your back. Truly, there is a need for a "next generation" car seat that simply snaps in and out. When the crowd-funding request comes in for that be sure to jump on it, because it will sell like hot cakes no doubt.

My all-time most amazing car-seat experience happened as I was bringing my kid to church. We had a mini-van at the time. I was attempting to remove said kid, still in her car seat, from the middle seat of the van in the parking lot of the church.

When I bent down to start the process my head hit the edge of the roof of the mini-van square on, hard. It was like someone hit me with a baseball bat. I was momentarily stunned; many would say I'm always in somewhat of a daze, but this was a daze on steroids.

Somehow I got my act together and got the kid and car seat out of the vehicle. I then dropped her off in the child-care room (church child-care attendants are saints and should each be given a free trip to Cancun once a year as far as I'm concerned). Then I headed back upstairs for the service. It was to be the most memorable church service I'd ever attended.

Sitting in the pew while gently massaging my crushed skull, I listened attentively to the pastor's sermon. Suddenly, in my coma-like fog, it all started to make sense: We should all just treat each other as we would like to be treated. Simple.Why hadn't this occurred to me before, I wondered, while slowly nodding in and out of consciousness.

I continued to listen attentively while feeling the slowly forming bump on my noggin getting larger and larger. If we really could just learn to treat each other as we would like to be treated, what a great world it would be.

It wouldn't matter what gender or color or sexuality or nationality we were, because we would all just automatically do the right thing. It wouldn't matter what agenda we had, because whatever agenda it was, we'd be treated exactly how the person or group considering our agenda would like to be treated.

What a miracle. Say goodbye to the United Nations because you would no longer need it. Turn that huge building into affordable housing in Manhattan, why don't you. Now that would really be a miracle.

What was most likely a small concussion had given me a clarity of religious thought I'd never experienced before. Just treat others as you would like to be treated. It's so simple and so powerful.

Somebody wants to make a left turn out of the drug store? Let them in because, if you were making the left turn, you'd want to be let it. Thinking about throwing a cigarette butt out of a car window? Don't do it, because the person living in the house by the street where the butt lands doesn't want their house to become your ashtray, same as you wouldn't want someone throwing garbage in front of your house. See how simple it is?

You can take all the great religions of the world, with all their associated dogma and theology, and, when you boil it all down, if we all just treated each other the way we'd like to be treated, pretty much you'd have the core message right there, wouldn't you? There shouldn't be much more to it than that. So simple yet so powerful.

You realize it took me a pretty awful head trauma to achieve this level of religious clarity; I'm not kidding, I was dizzy for three days after that church service.

Still, I know I shouldn't be the only one to finally get it when it comes to religion, so here's my proposal: The other day I bought a bunch of warped 2-by-4s cheap in the clearance aisle at the home center. So that you can achieve the same level of religious clarity I did — the realization that all we have to do is treat each other as we would like to be treated — I will gladly take one of the warped 2-by-4s and bash you in the head with it, just like when I bashed my head into the roof of the mini-van. That's what it took for me to see the light, so maybe it will work for you as well.

Treat others as you would like to be treated (and watch your head when removing a car seat). Easy-peasy. It really is that simple.

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There's nothing quite so quintessentially American as a Western movie. I'm a baby boomer and I can remember Westerns for as long as I can remember. Little boys back in the day (and many today still I'm sure) spent hours pretending to be cowboys as they imitated their Western movie idols.

The thought of a strong, handsome cowboy packing a six-shooter while straddling his gallant steed is a virile image we all know and admire. I guess that's one reason Western movies, books, clothing, and music are still so popular today.

So I've enjoyed plenty of Western movies, no doubt about it, but I've always wondered about some things when I've watched them over the years. For example, in every Western movie I've ever seen, when the bad guys ride into town, the first thing they do is find the local saloon and order shots of whiskey.

Now whiskey is a wonderful thing — in moderation of course — but if I'd come into a place all dusty, dirty, and dry like those banditos, the first thing I'd do is order three big glasses of water to rehydrate myself. I know Sports Nutrition wasn't a big thing in the time period of the Western movies, but humans are humans. Who wouldn't want a big glass of water after being out in the boonies with the rolling tumbleweeds all day before having that first glass of hooch? Never could figure that one out.

Then, of course, as they start drinking more and more, the guys in all the Westerns get all loosey goosey and want to have a good old time. That's when the music and the women come into the picture.

There always seems to be a guy just waiting at a piano to play some honky-tonk at a moment’s notice. I guess being there were no stereos back then they'd like you to think the piano player was a fixture in the saloons and bars, always available to get the cowboys drinking and spending their money.

I wonder if it really was like that. You'd think if you could play that well you'd open a piano studio where you could give lessons in peace and not have to worry about getting shot or punched out. Seems obvious to me, though I suppose the tips in the saloon would be pretty good — if you could live long enough to spend them.

Then you had the women. Without fail, every saloon in these movies featured the most beautiful women all dolled-up in the fanciest dresses you could imagine, with big hair, makeup, the whole bit.

What always killed me about that is you'd look at the towns these saloons or bars were in, and they were the most rundown, depressing, dirt-filled Podunks you could ever imagine. So how then did these ladies get all dolled-up all the time?

Was there a Macy's or a Kohl's or a Filene's around the corner behind the blacksmith's shop? Was there a hair stylist or beautician shop there as well? I know there was always a Sears catalog where you could order anything, so the fine duds could have come from there.

And maybe there was a gal or guy in town who could really do up the hair and makeup. But it always struck me that in these miserable, depressing places, women could achieve such levels of beauty and style that would still be admired today.

I know, I know, it's a movie and it's really just a story, but I like things that are somewhat based on truth or history. The more believable the better. That's why I never liked time-travel stories. If time travel were possible, wouldn't it have happened already? Yes, it's not easy being a fact-based party-pooper all the time but that’s my lot in life so be it.

A Western movie wouldn't be complete without plenty of horses. Now I bet on horses for many years, and that's really the extent of my knowledge about them, but it sure seems to me horses had it pretty rough in these movies.

When they weren't getting shot at, they were expected to run at top speed for hours and hours in the dusty desert heat. I know horses are big and tough, but I can't imagine that's a good way to treat them.

Every now and then, you'd see a horse drinking out of a wooden trough in a Western movie, usually in front of the saloon, but I don't think I ever saw a horse eat in one of these movies. You'd think horses, being that they were serving as primary transportation back then, would have been treated better (and I'm sure in real life they were).

Another staple of Westerns is the macho cowboy, say Clint Eastwood, riding around with a little unlit cigar in his mouth. Now Clint can do whatever he wants, whether in the movies or real life, but I know when I'm lucky enough to obtain a fine cigar it's either in my humidor or it's giving me a relaxing smoke. No way I'm just walking around with it unlit, just poking out of my mouth. That would be like having an icy cold drink on a hot day and not being able to enjoy it. What’s the point?

Of course, you can't talk about Westerns without talking about guns, a timely topic even today. I've never owned a gun but I've shot them, and I know they have recoil, yet, in all the gun battles in these movies, they are fired willy-nilly like they're water pistols. A gun, of course, is a precision-machined instrument, yet you rarely if ever see guns misfire or get cleaned in these movies, despite the dusty and dirty conditions.

Finally everyone in these movies shoots like there's no tomorrow, yet isn't it common sense that you'd only have a finite supply of ammunition? There's only so much ammo you could carry. If I were ever in a gun battle, I'd make sure, as best I could, that every shot counted instead of just firing wildly. But then that wouldn't make as good of a movie, I guess.

If I'd have been a cowboy, there are several things I would have done differently. First, I'd have kept my hair in a permanent buzz cut, to keep the dirt out of it and make it easier to keep clean. There was probably no sunscreen back then, so I would have asked the lovely ladies in the saloon for some of their facial cream, to keep my face from getting all dried up and leathery in the sun.

Then I would have tried to figure out a way to make my own toothbrush and dental floss — maybe from hemp fiber — to keep my teeth looking good. I'd probably always be carrying around a gallon of water and a change of clothes too, especially underwear and socks. I mean, yuck, after being out for day after day in the sun, you must get pretty rank

And I'd tell my fellow cowboys to at least treat the Indians with respect since they were here first. Now that I think about it, I'm sure I would have made kind of a wussy cowboy, but that's just how I am.

Western movies are a time-honored American tradition. If you don't examine them too closely like I unfortunately do you can still enjoy them very much to this day.

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Here's how it starts: You finish a 5K run and they hand you a commemorative event T-shirt. Then you go to the motorcycle store and see a great new T-shirt design that you just have to have.

Soon after, there's an open house at the local hardware store where you get yet another T-shirt. Of course a popular reward for volunteering for anything is a T-shirt. The next thing you know, your drawers and cabinets are so full the back or bottom is ready to burst. T-shirt overload has set in.

This happened to me recently, and it was so bad I had to finally take action to cull the herd. My lovely wife let me know of a family in need due to a devastating fire.

So I sorted out all my tees and selected 50 I no longer wanted. These would go to some folks who could really use them, so that was good. Even with this many removed, I still have all my drawers, cabinets, and closet shelves full, believe it or not.

Yes, I really did have a lot of T-shirts. They seem to be attracted to me just like mosquitoes.

The funny thing is, even though I'm very selective about bringing a new tee home — I have to really like the design or organization behind it — I'm the exact opposite when deciding which ones to wear at any given time. Most often, I just reach into the drawer and grab the first one I get my hands on.

This of course leads to some awkward situations — like wearing the BMW shirt to the Harley Davidson dealer and vice-versa. But it is what it is. Heck, it's only a T-shirt.

Sometimes the sheer happenstance in my T-shirt wearing selection process is a good thing. One time I had one of my many Norton (a long-gone but sorely missed British motorcycle marque) tees on in a museum, and a guy stopped me. We had a very long and enjoyable conversation that happened only because I was wearing that shirt. So that was good.

But, after wearing my bright red “I don't need Viagra, I'm Italian” T-shirt to my kid's school open house one time, I now at least try to make sure I'm not wearing anything odd or embarrassing to certain events. I must be getting older.

T-shirts are like bumper stickers for people. For every wild and outrageous bumper sticker, there is a T-shirt to match. I like funny ones for sure, but I have no desire to say anything political or controversial on my T-shirt.

Having said that, if they can sell you a T-shirt, then they should let you wear it, not turn around and have your arrested like what happened at Crossgates Mall a few years ago. That's just ridiculous.  

My two favorite T-shirts were purchased in Manhattan many, many years ago. The first one was short-sleeved and blue, with the saying, “Frankly Scallop, I don't give a Clam” on the front. At the time, I just found that so funny and clever, I had to have it. I wore that thing for a long time but I don't know whatever happened to it.

The other one was a long-sleeved ZZ Top concert tee that I bought on the street outside of Madison Square Garden after one of ZZ Top’s concerts. I wore that thing until it was literally a rag, and I still use parts of it to polish my bikes and cars. I really loved that one.

I've gone to a lot of quilt shops with my wife. She does some quilting when she has time, and it's fun to look at the often exquisite designs skilled quilters can produce. We've been in stores and shops where you have to put on white gloves before they'll even let you look at them.

What I'd like to do is have my wife take some of my favorite old T-shirts and make some really nice quilts out of them. She could do one on motorcycles, one on music, etc. I doubt she'll have time any time soon to even start one but it's nice to dream about.

As I get older, I don't wear T-shirts as much as I used to (which was all the time). These days, I prefer flannel shirts with pockets in the front. Those pockets are so handy for eyeglasses, Lotto tickets, etc., and I like having sleeves much of the time as well.

Still, if I go to an event or shop and see a new T-shirt I like I'll often buy it out of force of habit. Some of them are really nice, like ones with exploded views of engines and things like that. I can't resist those.

I've seen places on the Internet where you can get T-shirts made up in bulk for as little as $2 to $3 per shirt. That is so cheap that, if I were a small-business owner, I'd get a ton of them made up and just give them away. What better way to spend your advertising dollars?

People love anything free and that T-shirt you just gave away can give you free advertising all over the country and even the world. I know for a fact I've learned about new shops, products, and places to go from reading other peoples T-shirts. What a great way to advertise.

The only thing I don't love about T-shirts is how fast they tend to accumulate. Maybe I should practice my woodworking skills and build another cabinet or put up more shelves to hold the new ones. That's always fun, and I can even wear a T-shirt while doing the building. Of course, I could just stop buying T-shirts, entering races, and volunteering, but what fun would that be?

 

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