Any time I get a chance to go to a museum, I take it. While not artistic myself, I do enjoy seeing all kinds of creative things, like paintings, sculptures, dioramas, and more.

This often puts me in the position of defending some kind of art to someone who may not get it (think so-called “modern art”). My philosophy is simple: If it makes you feel good when you look at it, then it is good. Still, even I have to admit there are some really crazy things in the world of art.

One time we went to MASSMoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), a truly wonderful place where you never know what you will encounter. They once had a car hanging from the ceiling.

Right as we got in, I noticed a stepladder with an open can of paint and a wet paintbrush on the little fold-out shelf. I thought that was a little odd but I figured that the maintenance guy was on his break.

After we’d toured the museum, we passed by that stepladder again and it was only then that I realized that it was actually “art.” How about that.

This is like the exhibition I read about where the garbage on the floor — empty coffee cups, McDonald’s wrappers, and the like — was art as well. The janitor got reprimanded when he tried to sweep it up.

True story: A 91-year-old woman wound up inadvertently vandalizing a $116,000 piece of art. The piece, hanging on the wall of a museum, looked like an empty crossword puzzle. Alongside it was a sign that said, simply, “Insert Words.” So that's what she did.

The management decided not to press charges because “she didn't mean any harm.” Very similar to the stepladder I saw at MassMOCA. Is it art or isn't it? Who knows?

This is where it gets hard to defend modern art. Does that mean the mess in my garage is art? Or the overstuffed closet, the sink full of dirty dishes? Using my rule — does it make you feel good when you look at it — I'd have to say no.

But then you look at something else and you have to think twice. Again at MASSMoCA, there was a display on the wall of just the bottoms of the typical brown bag you’d pack your lunch in. Doesn't sound like much but the way they were arranged was quite attractive, so there you go. I never would have thought to do that but it really did work.

One artist you probably have heard of is the late Thomas Kinkaid. Not long ago, he took the art world by storm with his quaint, homey pictures of little log cabins or rustic houses nestled by babbling brooks or at the base of snowy mountains. He even had a chain of stores — there was one in Albany — where artists trained by him would put the finishing touches on his original canvases that you could buy.

I remember reading interviews with people who bought his work, and it all came down to the fact that, when you looked at one of his paintings, you knew exactly what you were looking at. It didn't have to be explained to you before you could appreciate it. No one wants to feel stupid, especially when simply looking at a picture. Which brings up my all-time favorite art story.

I had roped my friend who is not a fan of modern art into a visit to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in Manhattan. We were having a good time looking at everything until we came upon a very large, white, square painting.

For all intents and purposes, it was just a large canvas painted white. In effect, it looked like the starting point for a picture; certainly not like an actual finished work. The straw that broke the camel’s back was in the write-up on the little card that described the painting.

“Without doubt,” the card said, “this is by far the greatest work of this artist's career.

Upon reading that my buddy had enough and we had to leave. How can you defend something like that?

In the book “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. one of the characters finds himself in a similar situation, having to defend a painting that consists of nothing more than a white rectangle with an orange stripe running down the middle. In the book, the patrons of the art gallery are getting ready to riot, as they feel they've been ripped off by the artist.

Then it’s explained to them that the white part represents mankind, and the stripe represents all the conflict in the world (I'm simplifying greatly but this is the gist of it). When it’s explained to them this way, they all sigh, “Oh, now we get it,” and everyone is happy again.

Vonnegut, the true genius that he was, nailed it perfectly, though I wonder if even he could have explained the symbolism of the garbage on the floor that is supposedly art.

Recently, I finally had the chance to research that plain white picture at MoMA where my friend, upon seeing it, made us walk out of the museum. Turns out it’s by a very famous artist called Barnett Newman.

The painting in question is part of his “The Stations of the Cross” series, and is truly considered his masterpiece. He subtitled this series “Why have you forsaken me?” — a reference, of course, to Jesus Christ’s last words.

Now, just like in the Vonnegut book, after hearing it explained that way, don't you feel a little different about that plain white square? Maybe the plain whiteness of it symbolizes there is nothing left but for Jesus to return to God the Father for all of humankind's salvation.

When you look at it like that — or when someone tells you to look at it like that — even a plain old white square can be hauntingly, almost painfully, moving. It sure makes it much more interesting, at the very least.

So that’s the never-ending conundrum with modern art. One day, I was walking in a glass-enclosed hallway, having just gotten a cup of coffee. Outside the wind was blowing fiercely, such that some random garbage, like straws, newspaper pages, and coffee-cup lids, was blowing in a swirling, circular pattern, around and around and around.

It reminded me of seeing smiling kids’ faces on a merry-go-round as they happily go around and around. Yes, it was just random items blowing in the wind but it was truly one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. If it makes you feel good, it is good.

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When my oldest daughter lived with us, it was not uncommon to see her doing homework on the computer while listening to music and having about 10 instant-messaging windows open at the same time. This is known as “multi-tasking,” and, while this amount of sensory input would make my head explode, it must have worked for her as she went on to get a Ph.D. in applied mathematics

Still, I have my own multi-tasking that I’d like to tell you about. It allows me to get my physical and spiritual development done at the same time. Now that I can handle.

It starts on Sunday morning when I leave my house and start out walking. The good thing about walking then is there are not many cars out. This is great because where I'm walking in Guilderland there are no sidewalks, so you're either in the street or on someone’s lawn, which is still kind of weird to me.

I mean, I grew up in Brooklyn and I always assumed sidewalks were part of the program but I guess I was wrong. Actually, on some parts of my walk there is an angled asphalt buffer; it's about a foot wide and slanted at about 25 degrees. Walking on that slope is something because you want to stay vertical but now your ankles are all keeled over, resulting in an odd kind of a limp. It still beats being in the street or on the front lawn.

You see all kinds of things when you walk in suburbia — golf balls, beer cans, doggie doodoo, and fast-food waste of all kinds. Littering always makes me sad and I don't know why there is just so much of it.

At least every now and then, I find a good washer or bolt or something else I can use back in the workshop. The other day, I found two small pumpkins that now grace my front step. Where these pumpkins came from in January is a mystery but who cares. Their vibrant orange color makes me think of spring.

So a brisk walk on a Sunday morning is how I take care of my physical development. The spiritual part comes when I get to my destination, which is Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church on Western Avenue in Guilderland.

You know you're there because Pastor Stewart Pattison is always out in the parking lot, directing traffic and greeting people with a firm handshake or a big hug, with his wavy hair blowing wildly in the wind. I've been to a lot of churches over the years but Pastor Stewart is the only minister I've ever known to call the parking lot his own. Since his parking lot is kind of small, his masterful traffic directing really helps. Now that's going above and beyond for sure.

Before I tell you why I like Pastor Stewart so much, let me tell you about a couple of incidents that happened to me not too long ago. There are many ways to get the word out about Jesus, some worse than others. This particular one happened at another church on a beautiful spring Sunday morning.

Imagine perfect weather, with lots of lush, green grass and colorful flowers blooming. There are well-dressed men and nicely coiffed women. The children have their Sunday-best outfits on, the birds are singing, and the sun is shining so brightly that the door at the back of the church is open so that the wonder of God's creation can come in.

Just then, when you couldn't feel any more spirit of rebirth and hope, the reader says, and I quote: "Before we begin, let's just get one thing straight — if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, you are going straight to hell." With that, all the air went out of the room and the moment was ruined. Ouch.

At another church, I remarked to the pastor how wonderful the music was. He literally yelled at me: "You don't go to church for the music!"

I just read the other day the Capital District has one of the lowest church attendance rates of anywhere in the state. You'd think that pastor would have been happy I was there for whatever reason, wouldn't you? No one likes getting yelled at, in church especially.

This is why I like Pastor Stewart so much. He never "glooms and dooms" you; conversely, he's not a Joel Osteen type where you just want to wipe that annoying perpetual smile off his face. Rather, with Pastor Stewart, you get the feeling that he's on a long journey, and he's just allowing us to come along for the ride with him.

We all have ups and downs, "warts and all" as they say, and, as you listen to him week after week, you get the feeling that he has concerns and problems that trouble him, just like the rest of us. His basic message is to try to genuinely be a good person, a person of God and love, while letting the love of Christ be in your heart at all times. Nothing wrong with that.

He really tries hard to share his joy and optimism with everyone. In this shallow, short-attention-span age we live in, I think he does a great job about sharing the message in as nonjudgmental a way as possible. Now if we can only get him a comb!

After the service a lot of the church folks try to get me to spoil my lunch with all kinds of sweets and all that stuff. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I let my beautiful wife Charlotte — she's the organist — drive me home.

But on a good day, I turn down the snacks and the ride and walk back home, getting some more much needed low-impact exercise to finish out my productive morning of physical and spiritual development. Nothing has more bang for the buck physically than the simple act of walking. Combine that with one of Pastor Stewart's well crafted and uplifting sermons and I'm good to go every time.

I'm not normally a fan of multi-tasking. I can barely do one thing at a time well so why try for anything more? Still, walking to church has been very good for me. I just hope my one leg doesn't wind up shorter than the other one from all that walking on the slanted asphalt shoulder.

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If you watch or play sports, you know that injuries are inevitable. When you hear that an athlete is having surgery and will be out for a while, you just accept it and move on because it happens so often.

I never thought much about this until I had surgery recently. Let me tell you, when it’s you that is under the knife, you realize that there is nothing at all routine about surgery.

In my case, I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. for an early morning surgical procedure. Thankfully, I had my lovely wife to escort me.

I can’t imagine doing something like this on my own, though I know some are forced to and that’s too bad. After some shaving on my body and then some artistry with a magic marker, I was hooked up to an IV and rolled into the operating room.

The last thing I remember is noticing how really big the light was over the operating table. I was imagining how having a light that big over my garage workbench would make it so much easier to rebuild carburetors when the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. It was like time travel, for real.

After I was awake for a while, the surgeon came in and told me everything had been a success. This was a routine outpatient procedure and it had gone as smoothly as she had promised. Then she asked me how I felt.

“Well,” I said, giving it some careful thought, “I feel like I’m here and my head is on the other side of the room.”

With that, I was admitted for an overnight stay after all. The thing is, this was the first time I have ever been sedated completely, and I just don’t do well on drugs.

I know some people take drugs to escape reality, but I have enough trouble with reality as it is and drugs only make it worse. When I say that, I’m not even kidding. It really felt like my head was no longer attached to my body, if you can believe that.

I looked forward very much to that overnight stay in the hospital. The food was bland but I was just happy to have anything.

The real problem came with trying to sleep. At first I couldn’t doze off, so I just did lap after lap around the recovery ward, trailing my IV like a pet on a leash.

When I finally did manage to go to sleep, a nurse would come in and tell me she needed to take my “vitals” — pulse, temperature, etc. Then I’d go back to sleep and two hours later the same thing. I was awakened at least three times during the night by nurses making these checks over and over.

How are you supposed to get any rest like this? I guess it’s their subtle way of making sure you don’t get too comfortable so you won’t want to extend your stay.

When I was finally ready to check out the next day, I was pushed in a wheelchair to the curb where my wife was waiting with the car. What’s funny about that is: Why bother with the wheelchair, since once you get out you're on your own, you know? I'd rather have practiced the long walk to the car just to get ready for the recovery, so to speak, but everyone gets the ceremonial wheelchair exit ride, it seems.

With my surgery, I was told to do absolutely nothing, nada, zip, for one whole week. You’d think that would be easy, but I'm not the kind of guy that likes to be waited on or to sit still for too long. I hated to have my family do some of the things I normally do around the house, but there was no way around it.

If you've had surgery, you know what I mean. You feel like a real bump on a log just sitting there all day. It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what pro athletes do when they’re laid up for months at a time.

My surgeon told me I’d have some pain in the first week after the surgery. OK, I guess that’s to be expected. Day one after the surgery was fine. I must have had some pain meds left in me.

Day two and day three were so bad I actually called her up to ask if she had left her scalpel inside of me. Yes, it was that bad. On the one-to-10 scale, where one is getting tickled with a feather and 10 is death, this was a solid seven, close to an eight. I mean I was almost in tears.

Apparently this is par for the course when recovering from surgery. Who knew? So, whenever someone is recovering from an operation, be sure to give them some slack. I would never, never have believed how painful the recovery was if I didn’t experience it firsthand.

In fact, my wife has unfortunately had to have several surgeries. Each time, when the procedure was completed, the doctor would come and find me in the waiting room, slap me on the back, and tell me how great she did. Had I known those times how painful the recovery would be, I would have taken much more time off from work to tend to her. Oh well, you live and you learn (if you're lucky).

With a whole week of nothing to do, you’d think that would be a great time to catch up on movies, TV, reading, and music. The thing is, when you don’t feel good, none of that is really appealing in the way it normally is. You try to get into something but you just can’t do it.

I remember, in the last years of my dear departed mother’s life, asking her to do all sorts of things. I’d get so frustrated when she’d more often than not say no. But she hadn’t felt good for a long time, and now I can fully understand her reluctance to do anything. When you don’t feel good, it's hard if not impossible to get excited about anything. Totally understandable.

After the week was over, I could start walking and lifting things again, but only very light things. I'm not a huge muscled guy, but so many of the things I normally do — rotating car tires, shoveling snow, general work around the house — actually require lifting quite a bit of weight. You don’t realize it until you can’t do it for a while. Heck, even a gallon of milk weighs seven pounds and that was too much. I felt totally useless during that week. Not good.

It’s been six weeks since my surgery and only now am I allowed to start exercising again. Even so, I was told to start slowly and work back into it gradually.

It’s really hard to do that of course, but when you get that wince of pain it kind of forces you to slow down whether you want to or not. I can’t wait until I’m totally pain free and get back to my prior lifestyle.

Like Joni Mitchell sings, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Amen sister.

One time a friend told about getting injured playing volleyball. “I tore my rotator cuff. I have to keep my arm in a sling. I'm going to need surgery and miss the rest of the tournament. It’s terrible.”

My other friend then said, “It could have been worse.”

The first friend says, “How could it possibly be worse?”

The second one replies, “It could have happened to me.”

Surgery is no picnic. The next time your favorite ball player, friend, or relative goes under the knife, be aware that it’s just the beginning of a potentially long and painful recovery process.

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One of the most common icebreakers at a party is to ask a person what he does for a living. As I inch closer and closer to retirement, I find myself reflecting on work more and more. Our occupations and career choices so define us.

I mean, I could retire right now, but I'm just not ready to answer the “What do you do for a living?” question with the words, “I'm retired.” At least not just yet.

I started working at age 14, delivering the Long Island Press in my Brooklyn neighborhood on my bicycle after school. The thought that someone would pay me to do anything was mind blowing at the time.

It really did make quite an impression, as I've been working non-stop ever since then except for a two-week vacation once a year and a day or two off now and then. That's 43 years working and still going strong.

My next job was working in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant that was located next to a big hospital. I was to keep hospital visitors from parking in the restaurant's parking lot. Let me tell you, I took my life into my own hands with that job. Fortunately, the restaurant changed owners and I got to work inside after that. That's probably why I'm still alive today.

The restaurant was Nathans, of Coney Island hotdog-eating-contest fame, and every now and then I’d put on a giant hotdog shaped “Mr. Frankie Man” costume and stand outside waving at passing cars and people.

The costume was huge, heavy, and hot as hell inside. The eye holes were in the middle of the hot dog, which had to rise at least four feet over my head. It was very disorienting in there, to say the least. When I wore it, I'd get cursed at, spit on, and even little kids would try to knock me over just for the fun of it. Still, it was part of the job and I was just glad to be getting paid to do anything.

I would advise any teenager to take a minimum wage job for a year or two. The lessons you will learn about hard work, showing up on time, and dealing with the public are priceless.

I know there's a movement now to make fast-food jobs have a living wage. No matter, I would advise working there and moving onward and upward if possible, but since fast food is so prevalent in our society maybe it could be considered a career for some (especially if you move up into management). All I know is I was glad to get out of that business so I could stop coming home smelling like grease.

Then I got a job with a big savings bank, first as a teller, then as a traveling branch auditor, and finally moving into EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Auditing. I had computer training in high school that was somewhat rare at the time, which is how I was able to get promoted. I still use those skills every day. Auditing bank processing on a mainframe IBM computer would prove to be great work experience.

The bank liked me so much it decided to pay for my continuing education, so I would work all day in midtown and then go downtown to Pace University two or three nights a week until I got my bachelor’s degree. Surprisingly, once I got my degree, the bank refused to give me an actual IT (Information Technology) job.

The bank argued that, if it hired me in IT, I'd get a year of experience and then leave. So I had no choice but to leave right then. Very strange — the bank got virtually no return on its substantial education investment in me — but it is what it is.

Around this time, I was also working part-time with a guy doing hardwood floor sanding and cleaning. He liked me for two reasons: 1) I showed up and 2) I worked. He claimed that, believe it or not, finding someone who could do these two things consistently was extremely difficult.

I left that job because I was already working full-time and going to school, but I often wonder what would have happened if he and I had continued to build that business up. Who knows, maybe I would have been retired and moved on to something else a long time ago.

From the savings bank, I wound up working for a very large commercial bank in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. By that time, I had passed the test for entry-level computer programmer with New York State. I could have taken the job in the World Trade Center or in Albany.

Since the pay was nowhere near enough to get an apartment in the city, I decided to move to Albany, get a year’s experience, and then go back to the city for the big bucks.

When I told one of my female co-workers at the commercial bank that I was leaving for a job in Albany, she said, “It's so boring up there, you'll be back here in six months, guaranteed.”

What actually happened was I rented an apartment in Rotterdam, got engaged to the landlady not long after, and I've been here ever since. How about that? And no, I don't have to pay rent anymore.

I often think about what would have happened if I'd taken the job in the World Trade Center and just lived at home until I got enough raises to move out on my own. Many of my co-workers died there on that awful day, Sept. 11, 2001. Very sobering to think of that.

What a stupid and senseless way for so many totally innocent people to die. I could have easily been one of them.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about work from working first for myself, then in the private sector, and now in the public sector:

— If you are supposed to show up on time, then show up on time. I'm so big on this that I show up extra early just to make sure I'm there on time;

— If you are going to do something, then do it as best you can, not just because you are getting paid but because it reflects on you;

— Be especially thankful that someone finds you desirable enough that he or she willing to pay you good money for your services. Never take this for granted. There are plenty of folks with fancy framed degrees from very good schools who can’t find work;

— Don't be bummed out when Monday morning comes around and you have to get up and go to work. Be thankful that you have a job to go to;

— Realize that organizations are made of people, and people have all different personalities, likes and dislikes, good days and bad days, etc. There is always stress when people are involved (that’s why I love working with computers so much). You can only control what you can control. Don’t let it get to you; and

— No matter what job you have, the only constant is change, so make sure to keep learning as much as you can. It's the only way to stay relevant.

During the election, you heard the word “jobs” so often you probably got as sick of it as I did. I mean, just look around you. Jobs are all over. There are endless driveways to seal, decks to be built, houses to be painted, cars to be washed, lawns to be mowed, etc.

If you want to work, you can find work. It may not be the work you really want, but we don’t all get to be supermodels or 787 pilots or CEOs, but you have to start somewhere.

You are so lucky that you live in a country where you really can start from nothing and rise as far as your perseverance can take you. Work hard, work often, and things will look up eventually. That’s why, no matter what anyone says, there is no need to make America great again. It always has been great and will continue to be great as long as we keep working hard and innovating.

Remember the landlady that I wound up marrying? When I first met her, she was a single mother with not one but five, count ‘em, five, jobs. Everyone thinks I married her because she’s beautiful, intelligent, and the most caring person in the world, but her work ethic impressed me to no end 30 years ago and she's still going strong (although she’s now down to “just” three jobs).

When they coined the phrase “Protestant work ethic,” I’m pretty sure they had her in mind. I love to read and I always feel guilty sitting in my comfy chair enjoying a book at the end of a long day while she’s still flitting around the house doing a dozen things (but I do it anyway).

We naturally think of getting paid to work but don’t underestimate the power and satisfaction of volunteer work. Go into any church or club and look at what the volunteers are doing; it'll blow you away.

I've edited several club newsletters over the years, and I always got a rush when my copy came in the mail. Even though I put it together on the computer, seeing the physical copy it in my mailbox always gave me a thrill.

There's nothing like volunteering, if you haven't done it, you should try it. Really. I'm certain you'll get much more out of it than you put into it like I always do. I only wish I had time to volunteer more. Maybe when I finally do retire.

Work defines us in so many ways. When to end a working career and move on to the next phase is an important decision we all must make at some point. If I look tired when you see me next it’s because I've been up late thinking about it.

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For the past several years, I’ve read one book about every two weeks on average. It got to the point that I was reading so many books I'd be at a tag sale or benefit sale and buy books I'd already read. So I decided to keep track of all the books I was reading just to keep that from happening. I hate more record-keeping but I couldn't think of any other way to do it.

Then I figured, as long as I'm keeping track of the books I read, I might as well rate them. I decided to use a movie-like star rating system — five stars is a totally wonderful read, and one star is suitable for birdcage lining. I haven’t had a one-star book yet.

With all that being said, here are the books I gave five stars to. Any of these I guarantee would make a great read or a great gift for someone who likes to read:

— “The Sheltering Sky,” Paul Bowles, 1949: A sprawling novel about a couple with marital problems traveling with a friend through the North African desert. Expansive and thought-provoking on many levels;

— “The Big Sleep,” Raymond Chandler, 1939: A true crime novel with detective Philip Marlowe. This is the seed of Garrison Keillor's famous “Guy Noir, Private Eye.” Think trench coats and dames;

— “The Stories of John Cheever,” John Cheever, 1977: I’d never read Cheever and this just blew me away. Masterful in every sense. If you ever fantasized about what goes on in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan, look here;

— “Deliverance,” James Dickey, 1970: You know the movie; it’s even more intense in print. When you read something like this, you just wonder where it came from. This chilling story still resonates today and I’m sure will for a very long time;

— “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg, 2012: Very insightful. Master this and you can do anything. Makes you wonder if you really have as much control of yourself that you think you have;

— “The Narrow Road to the North,” Richard Flanagan, 2013: Epic prisoner-of-war tale. Superb, and based on true events. There is nothing pretty about war;

— “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, 2012: A modern true-life thriller. Like something right out of the news. It may be a little cliched, but, then again, if you watch any TV, you see that every day. If you like plot twists, here you go;

— “Fortunate Son,” John Fogerty, 2015: Autobiography from the Creedence Clearwater Revival legend. Wonderful. What this American songwriting genius had to go through to survive the slimy recording industry is truly eye-opening. Money just has a way of ruining everything;

— “The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway, 1952: I read this in high school and it’s even better with age. You cannot not love it. The old man is the kind of guy we should all have in our lives (and the boy is too);

— “Fortune Smiles,” Adam Johnson, 2015: Just brilliant personal fiction. This is the kind of writing that I myself aspire to. Nothing is more fascinating to me than the way people deal with and react to the world around them;

— “The Basic Kafka,” Franz Kafka, 1946: If you have never read “Metamorphoses,” where the narrator wakes up as a giant insect, you'll find it here. Incredible. This brilliant writer was ignored in his lifetime, but his words will live forever;

— “The Trial,” Franz Kafka, 1925: The classic treatise against bureaucracy. I think of this when I'm waiting on hold, or filling out a tax form, or trying to find the customer-service phone number. There is nothing funny about it, which really makes it hit home;

— “Jailbird,” Kurt Vonnegut, 1979: Nobody satirizes our imperfect society better. I've read all of his books and I only wish there were more. Another great one is “Breakfast of Champions.” If you’ve not yet discovered Vonnegut, a Schenectady native for cryin’ out loud, what are you waiting for?;

— “The Railway Man,” Eric Lomax, 1995: A true-life prisoner-of-war story. Very moving. I don't know if I could have lasted with all he went through, described in excruciating detail. An amazing story of survival and redemption;

— “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” Carson McCullers, 1940: Truly moving and brilliant. A very special work. It will stay with you for a long time. This is a real gem;

— “Chesapeake,” James A. Michener, 1978: A monumental study of the southeastern seaboard area. How he can write these kinds of huge, all-encompassing books is a miracle for sure. A masterpiece;

— “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage,” Haruki Murakami, 2015: A wonderful introduction to the haunting and introspective world of the great Haruki Murakami. When I read him, it’s like he knows my thoughts. I don’t know anybody better who is currently writing;

— “The Kind Worth Killing,” Peter Swanson, 2015: A modern-day “Strangers on a Train,” Hitchcock-type thriller, and a great page turner. You will want more;

— “Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit,” Andy Rooney, 2009: Don’t you miss the old master? His writing is just like his talking. I just love finding the magic in the ordinary. He’s gone but his words are still with us, thank goodness;

— “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” William Styron, 1966: A controversial but nonetheless amazing work about slavery. The new movie is controversial as well. It’s just the nature of the subject. Still, the writing is powerful and direct. You will never again think about slavery the same way after reading this; and

— “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde, 1895: So funny and timeless from the master of wit and satire. He was truly brilliant. One can only imagine what he’d think of Facebook, the Karsdashians, or our president-elect. The male master of the one-liner (the great Dorothy Parker is, of course, the female one-liner master).

  So there you have it. If you read one of these and enjoy it, please let your friends know. We could all use a little good news these days, and these books are all that good. Enjoy!

When you attend a wedding, there are invariably many couples out on the dance floor just holding each other close and spinning in slow, never-ending circles as some slow tune plays. As pathetic as that may be, it still beats the folks who choose to just sit and stare at the dancers. There has to be a better way.

Many years ago, my lovely wife and I tried taking dance lessons. She was doing well but I was only giving it a halfhearted attempt so we never got much out of it.

In my defense, I just couldn't get into the way it was taught. Many people are visual learners and that's great. I wish I were, too.

Instead, I'm the kind of guy who needs to read something that's explained clearly in a step-by-step manner. (I guess that's why I enjoy computer programming so much.) Dancing as you might expect is just not taught that way. Bummer for me.

One time, there was a full-page ad in the paper announcing various classes at a local mall. One of them was dance, and get this — it was to be taught by a former “Rockettes” dancer. You know, one of those famous and beautiful long-legged, high-kicking gals that does the Christmas show each year at Radio City Music Hall. There can't be a better teacher than that, so we signed up.

The day of the class, the whole group was waiting in a big room at the mall for the teacher to arrive. Finally the door opens and in walks this older woman, limping, using a crutch! She actually had been a Rockette, but a very, very long time ago.

The best was when she explained why she loved teaching dance. In what can only be described as a Northern version of a slow Southern drawl, she said she did it because that's how she got her “soooocial interaaaaaction.”

Between the drawl and the crutch I didn't expect much, but she was actually quite a good teacher. We learned a little, which was great, but we didn't stick with it so it just basically went in one ear and out the other. How sad is that.?

If there's one lesson I can give, one that I wish I'd always followed myself, it’s that, if you're going to do something, then, by gosh, do it with all the strength and conviction you have. That’s not always easy because of factors both in and not in your control I know, but still.

You can't learn anything or get anything done right unless you put your whole heart and soul into it. Heck, if I'd kept at it, I'd probably be enjoying swimming, dancing, guitar-playing, and so many other things. So, if you're going to do something, then do it, and try your hardest. Wimping out is all too easy.

Birthday surprise

Getting back to dance — recently it was time for yet another round of Trying to Find a Good Birthday Present, a game that I'm not really good at, unfortunately. So I thought another round of dance lessons might be something fun to try.

I went back to the original dance school where we'd first gone so many years ago and got us signed up for some beginner lessons. When my wife received the gift card, she was really shocked that I would go there again. I guess she thought that dancing had come and gone for us. But, trouper that she is, she agreed to give it a try.

At the first lesson, we didn't know what to expect after so many years, but the teacher turned out to be a really nice and above all very patient guy; we just clicked immediately with him. Before you knew it, I was guiding my wife around the dance floor, holding her in the proper position, doing a simple fox-trot type of dance.

As simple as this beginning dance is — two steps forward and a little shuffle from side to side — it is so much more fun and satisfying than just going around in circles in the same spot over and over. How I wish we'd not taken this long to learn it. What a revelation, to actually be able to properly move around a dance floor as a couple. If you can do it, you know what I mean, and if you can't, look up a dance school right now. You'll be very glad you did.

I love music but I have no musical training. My wife, on the other hand, has been a professional musician virtually her entire life. While dancing, it's often hard for me to get the proper rhythm — you know, to keep to the beat.

I know I have to work on this but it seems to frustrate my wife very much because she's all about proper musical timing and all that. I'm hoping my good looks and youthful enthusiasm will offset my poor performance in this area to some extent at least — hahaha.

I know there's a TV show called “Dancing with the Stars” but I avoid it because I boycott all so-called “reality TV”shows as a matter of principal. However, I have watched the ballroom dancing competitions, and, let me tell you, there are some fantastic dancers out there.

Why ballroom dancing is not an Olympic sport is a mystery to me. If you see the skill and dexterity of these couples as they glide around the dance floor as if on air, you can't help but be amazed.

Show stopper

In a similar vein, a very wonderful couple from church gave us tickets to see “An American in Paris” at Proctors. Now I'm not normally a Broadway show kind of guy. Being full-blooded Italian, I much prefer an opera by Puccini or Verdi, but let me tell you this show was phenomenal

A big part of it was the dancing. We all know humans can't fly, but, if you saw this show, you indeed saw humans flying around that stage. These dancers’ moves are so smooth, it's like their bodies have rubber bones. I don't know if I've ever seen more beautiful dancing in my life.

Let me just try to describe one small move from the show for you. At one point, the leading lady is standing with her arms outstretched. Then the leading man places his head above her hand and slow rolls up her arm, around her back, and out the other arm, such that, if you didn't know it was a real woman, you would have sworn it was some kind of a prop

I mean, it was truly amazing. At the end, when he's leading her through the air, her pink dress billowing around her, she really was flying for all practical purposes. What absolutely amazing performers.

We'll never dance like that of course – I'd be in traction if I even attempted it. But let's forget about learning and practicing dance moves and steps for a moment.

Biggest benefit

When you boil dancing down to its core, at some point you realize it's basically all about holding a beautiful woman up close. Who wouldn't want to do that? Why didn't I realize until now that that's one of dancing’s biggest benefits right there?

Sometimes I'm truly shocked by how long it takes me to “get it,” but it is what it is. Maybe slowly going around in circles isn't so pathetic after all.

I don't know what we'll do when our dance lessons run out. We don't have any weddings coming up that I know of. Maybe we can find a club where they play old-time fox-trot music. Until then, don't be surprised if you see us dancing in the backyard or on the deck. May I have this dance, madam?

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Imagine a perfect late summer, early fall day in upstate New York. Birds are singing, the sky is blue, there's no humidity; nature’s wondrous bounty is on full display. Some possible activities for such a glorious day include but are not limited to walking, gardening, hiking, bicycle riding, and just about anything that you can do outdoors.

I used to tell my kids, when a day like this comes along, make sure you go outside (that is, get off the computer, phone, and video games). After all, we live in upstate New York; these days are few and far between, and you better take advantage of them when you can.

So imagine my cognitive dissonance when recently, on such a picture perfect day, I found myself in, of all places, a casino for the first time. No I'm not making this up and, yes, it was as strange as it sounds.

Here's what happened: There was a car show in the parking lot of a local casino, and just for attending the car show you got a free $10 casino voucher. So, just to use the free cash, I found myself inside a casino in the middle of a bright sunny day. Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

In my wild, misspent youth I'd occasionally wind up in a kind of bar after closing time, a place known colloquially as an “after-hours club.” What's amazing about this is when you finally leave at, say, 9 a.m. after an entire night of partying, you join fresh-faced people on the street who just woke up and are going to church.

This is kind of what it was like in the casino, a cavernous and dark space lit by the glowing neon of row after row of garish, blinking slot machines. In a place like this, you quickly lose all sense of time, which is probably what the owners want in the hopes of keeping you there as long as possible — which may not be that long if your money runs out.

The car show had been well attended but the casino was absolutely mobbed. We had to wait in line almost a half-hour to exchange our vouchers for machine-readable slips that we could gamble with.

I had no idea so many people, on a positively gorgeous Saturday, would be crowding into a dark casino like this in the early afternoon. By far, the crowd seemed to be retirees, and in fact there were all kinds of buses in the parking lot. So now we know what many of our older relatives and neighbors do for fun, apparently.

Once we got our slips, the next task was to find the “right” slot machine. If I tell you there were hundreds to choose from I'm probably being conservative. Picture aisle after aisle of blinking, noisy mechanical marvels all trying to catch your attention with crazy graphics, strobe-type lights, etc. The term “sensory overload” comes to mind.

The machines seemed to be organized by the bets they take, like penny, nickel, and dollar. The machines we wanted to play, the nickel machines, turned out to be the hardest to find. Once we did find one, if it didn't look right — and don't ask me what the criteria is for knowing if a slot machine is right or not — we had to keep searching.

When we finally found the right slot machine, it was time to play. This machine had a minimum bet of a nickel, but it was explained to me that, unless you select “max bet,” which in this case was $2.25, the payoffs when you win are too small.

So we put in two free $10 slips, started hitting “max bet,” and watched the rows and rows of digital limes, lemons, and stars not line up. I kid you not, in about two minutes we lost everything save for 10 cents.

We hit print and gave the 10-cent voucher to the security guard on the way out. My lovely wife thought the whole thing was ridiculous, and I have to say she’s not so far off as usual, but my father liked the place just fine (he would have liked it a lot more if we had won).

Now don't think I'm an absolute rube when it comes to gambling. Back in the day, I was really into horse racing. I'd buy the Racing Form, study all the trainers, research all the tracks, the whole bit. I never won a lot but I won on occasion.

At least with horse racing, because of all the data that was available, you felt that you could apply some intellectual skill to it. In fact, I knew a guy who, using computers, lots of strategy, and betting very diligently, made his living just playing horses.

But with these slot machines the only strategy I could discern was changing the size of the bet. Other than that, it's just hit the button and watch the light show. Not very satisfying if you ask me.

The entire time I was in the casino, where they make it seem like it's night in the middle of the day, I was thinking I should be out on a picnic or on a hike or on a boat or anywhere but there. I guess you could say it's good that so many retirees are getting out of the house but, if it were me, I'd save my money and do something else.

Even if you should win, there are other ways to enrich yourself besides with money. There's the library, there's church, there's volunteering, and so much more. I guess, for some, that's not as exciting as the potential of winning a jackpot while trying not to lose all your Social Security. To each his own, as they say.

They have all kinds of ways to draw you into the casino. There's the free vouchers like we got, the very cheap lunch and dinner buffets, the pretty girls with the free drinks, and other special days and special deals.

The good things about casinos are they provide a lot of jobs, add to the tax base, and get people out, but the bad thing is it's gambling after all and it's just so easy to lose a lot of money (like $20 in two minutes). I'm glad I can finally say I went at least once, but if I never go again that's just fine.

Did you ever notice how gamblers justify their hobby by telling you about their big scores? No doubt they really did hit it big on occasion, but they always fail to tell you about the countless bets they lost, and surely over time they are in the red.

I used to buy the $100 per year Lotto play because that got you some free tickets, but after a while I realized that I'd be much better off just putting that money in the bank. Hey, believe it or not, banks used to pay interest so it made a lot of sense (cents?).

I know, I know: “You gotta be in it to win it,” and I still buy a ticket now and then, especially at work. Nobody wants to be the last guy left in the office when everyone else hits it big.

The next time I go to a car show and they hand me a free $10 casino voucher, I'm pretty sure I'll just give it away (or ask if they'll let me use it for the lunch buffet).

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When you're young, there are many fun and special days to look forward to throughout the year, like birthdays (parties and gifts!), vacations (travel or just veg out), and holidays (so what if no one knows when Christ was born, why let one little detail spoil all the fun).

These are the days when memories that will last a lifetime are made. When you're older, like me, you still look forward to these days, but there is one day, at least for me, that stands head and shoulders above all. That glorious day is Hazardous Waste Day. When you get to middle age like me Hazardous Waste Day is it.

Think about it: No expensive gifts to buy, no stressful dinners to prepare or attend, no travel arrangements to fuss over. Just the wonderful thought of getting rid of some nasty chemicals in a (mostly) environmentally safe way (I mean, they still wind up in the environment, just not ours). Hazardous Waste Day is truly a great day.

For me, it starts off with a visit to the Guilderland Town Hall. I don't know what it is about the town hall, but for some reason the lovely ladies that work there always seem happy to see me. No matter if I'm there for a permit, a sticker, or, in this case, the Hazardous Waste Day form, I'm always greeted with a cheerful smile and competent and efficient service. Way to go, Guilderland Town Hall.

Then it's time for assembling the actual Hazardous Waste. I don't know about you but, if you work on cars, motorcycles, and do lots of household chores like I do, it’s so easy to wind up with all kinds of leftover nasty stuff.

Quite frankly I find it shocking to think that as a homeowner I have to deal with so much of it: leftover paint, driveway sealer, kerosene, solvents of all kinds, used antifreeze and brake fluid, and more. I try to use gloves and all when I use this stuff but still just being around it as much as I am can't be that good for me. What can you do when you need to get the job done?

On Hazardous Waste Day, I load up my truck with all this toxic junk and head over to the town highway department. This is where the town workers and the hazardous waste day crew are waiting to help you.

They must be doing something right, because this year the line of backed-up cars and pickups waiting to get in stretched all the way out to Route 146. It’s a good feeling to know that my neighbors are so environmentally conscious.

What always amazes me is there are so many young people helping out. They make sure everything gets unloaded correctly and put in the right bins or whatever. How great is that, giving up a Saturday morning to help the community like this. I think that's just super. I don’t know if they’re volunteers or what but it’s civic duty like this that makes a community a community. We need more of it. I can think of many other kinds of community days that could really make a difference — mow some senior’s lawn, clean up a park, etc. — and I’m sure you can too.

When I leave the landfill, I'm always really happy, as I've taken care of a big mess that would otherwise be cluttering up my garage or basement. Since I would never throw this stuff in the trash, Hazardous Waste Day is good in that it forces me to get rid of some really nasty junk. Gotta love that.

The only thing I worry about is where it all eventually winds up. I hope at least some of it gets recycled but you have to wonder.

There was a segment on “60 Minutes” showing a beach somewhere in Asia with mountains of used computer parts. Little kids would scrounge around picking off parts that had any value at all. Of course the runoff made the water toxic, which is why I never buy fresh fish from any Asian country.

So you really have to wonder what happens to all our toxic waste in general. It's good that we take care of it, but if other people are having their environment and themselves poisoned that's not good.

I'm a big fan of recycling in principle; I'm the guy in my house who always makes sure the bin goes out in time. In fact, I've been known to pore through our garbage pails, pulling out stuff (straws, drink lids, shampoo bottles, etc.) that really should go in the recycling.

I love buying things made from recycled parts as well. I'm still waiting for sandals made from recycled steel-belted radial tires. These seem like a no-brainier to me. Anything we can do to keep junk out of the landfill is good.

I read somewhere that by 2050 the weight of plastic in the world’s oceans will be more than the weight of fish, so this is a really serious topic that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

The other attraction of Hazardous Waste day is, let's face it, it just sounds cool. When you work at a desk in a cubicle all day like I do, the only hazardous thing you face is deciding what to eat for lunch (and some of the fast-food choices available are truly scary if not outright hazardous).

So for one or two days a year, to become Hazardous Waste Guy is quite fun. Just imagine me in a bright red spandex suit with a yellow cape and big white circle with a red skull and crossbones on the chest as I deliver my toxic load to the landfill. Very exciting, for a boring old guy like me.

Hazardous Waste Day is a great way to clean up some very dangerous household clutter and admire some very helpful town employees and assistants. I commend all the towns that do it. Thanks for doing something that is really helpful for all of us and for the environment (at least for our environment) as well.

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One of the earliest memories I have from watching TV as a child was a show called “Divorce Court.” I didn't know much about divorce at the time, but I remember thinking there was something really wrong with seeing this program.

The other shows I watched — cartoons and comedies mostly — were funny and made you laugh. “Divorce Court” on the other hand was sad and featured people who were either very angry or ready to cry. I don't know if “Divorce Court” is on anymore; certainly there are enough other tawdry so-called “reality” shows to take it's place.

No matter if it is or isn't, divorce is a very sad thing. I never liked it as a child and I still don't today.

For as along as I can remember, I've been told the divorce rate in this country is around 50 percent. That is a staggering number, when you consider how big the wedding industry is.

Think about it like this: Fully one-half of all weddings and receptions you go to will wind up with that couple splitting up at some point. So all that money for clothes, flowers, caterers, bands, and of course the bridal showers and honeymoons was really for nothing. That's just amazing.

Then again, maybe if the half that get divorced get married again they can spend more money on the same stuff and keep the economy going. I suppose that's the one good thing about divorce.

It's one thing when you divorce where it's only the two of you, but when there are kids involved it's really tough. Kids might think it's their fault you are getting divorced. How sad is that? No one wants a kid to feel that way.

Of course you could argue that staying in a bad marriage for the kids’ sake is not good either. That's where you have to balance out the pluses and minuses of staying together, I suppose. I don't know about other guys, but if a woman took the trouble to have my kids, then unless she becomes one of the “three Cs” — a cheater, a crook, or a crack addict — I'd stick with her, and that's that. “Man up,” as they say in the 'hood.

When a divorce happens right away — after a few months or a few years — you could argue that the couple were just a bad fit. Maybe they got married in some kind of an infatuation haze or something. You can mostly forgive them for that. Stuff happens and we don't always make the best decisions all the time.

What kills me is when you see a couple divorcing after being married for decades. I mean, you lasted that long, and now you want to just become another divorce statistic? I don't know but it seems to me if you had decades together there should be enough there to keep it going.

What happens when people change, you say? Well, if they change for the better, then that’s a good thing. I've been married for a long time and I'm always learning new things about my wife.

What a boring time it would be if we always stayed the same. Face it, the world is ever changing, and we are ever changing. In fact, the only constant is change. At least that's how I look at it.

The thing is: Marriage takes work. But when you say it that way it doesn't sound good I know. Work is something you do that is so unpleasant that someone pays you good money to do it (not really unpleasant maybe but unlikeable enough so that you wouldn't do it if you weren’t getting paid).

If work is something you need to get paid to do, then how can a marriage that you have to work at be any good? What it comes down to, I think, is that over time you wind up taking the other person for granted, and that's where the problems start. I consciously try to avoid doing this, I really do, and yet it still happens from time to time. What a bummer.

Let's take just two examples. You come home from work and sit down to eat the dinner that your wife prepared for you. You didn't even notice that the floor was spotlessly clean, did you? Well, how do you think it got that way? It sure didn't mop itself!

Now let's go the other direction. You get in your car to drive to your hairdresser. You just turn the key, it starts right up, and you're off. That car, with the fully-charged battery, the fresh oil and filter, and the tires that have been properly inflated and rotated, is ready for you to drive because your husband (at least that's how it is in my family) made sure it was ready and safe for you. Cars need constant attention (just like marriages, how ironic).

I work hard to support my family, I don't drink to excess, I don't gamble, I keep myself clean, and I try to learn something new every day. I thought I was an OK guy, and yet a very good male friend of mine once said: “I don't know how anybody could ever be married to you.”

He was kind of kidding when he said it, at least I think he was, but there is always some truth in humor so let's think about it for a minute.

I can be loud at times (the word obnoxious comes to mind); my brain sometimes works so fast I can cut you off when you're trying to talk (not easy to stop though I try hard to, believe it or not); I tend to control the TV at home and the radio in the car; I have a very sarcastic, biting sense of humor at times (hey, I'm from Brooklyn, hahaha); and I'm sure my lovely wife can tell you many more annoying things about me.

Like everyone else, I am not perfect, but I do try to do the right thing most of the time, I really do. Still, my apologizing skills get a lot of practice, unfortunately.

Consider this: When my wife and I go to a restaurant, even if it's one we've never been to before, I can look at the menu and in one minute know what I want. She, however, takes a long time to peruse it quite thoroughly in the hopes of making the best choice.

Then, when the food comes, I wolf it down so fast I'm basically done before she's even had a few bites. This is just one of my many traits where my apologizing skills get put to good use on an unfortunately all-too-regular basis. Oh well, I always tip really well so the waitresses tend to like me a whole lot. At least there's that.

Just so you know, I’m not the only one who does annoying things. My better half has this thing where she is constantly adjusting our home windows and shades based on time, temperature, and humidity to maximize comfort while minimizing utility expense. It’s a noble task for sure, but sometimes it’s like opening and closing windows all day becomes an aerobic exercise (if it became an Olympic event, she’d medal for sure). It drives me nuts but it’s for a good cause so what can you do?

I watch a lot of stand-up comedy routines, and I think just about every comedian has a bunch of marriage jokes in his act. Marriage is such an easy target to make fun of. Even the most ideally matched couples can drive each other crazy at times, so there's just so much material there. The good thing is when you can laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously (at least for the 50 percent of us who choose not to add to the divorce statistics).

Comedians sure make marriage out to be some kind of loopy proposition, but marriage can literally be a lifesaver. I was always aware that I snored, but, because my wife insisted I get checked out, I found out I have sleep apnea. This is where you stop breathing during sleep and then snort and wake up over and over all night long. This, of course, makes you tired the next day, but it's the lack of oxygen to your brain that can really mess you up in the long run (potentially causing high blood pressure and worse).

I wound up getting a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to sleep with, and, while I hate using it, there is no denying I'm better off because of it (and my wife can sleep better as well without having to listen to my snoring all night). This is just one example of how being married to someone who really cares about you can be a lifesaver.

My lovely wife, Charlotte, and I will soon be married 30 years. It hasn't always been easy — heck, as my friend joked, you have to wonder how she could stick with me for so long being the way I am and all — but it has always been amazing to be married to a really intelligent and caring person with such a dynamic personality (and I sure hope she says the same about me!).

I'm already looking forward to the next 30 years. Knowing that we have each other’s backs all the time is a real good feeling.

One time I went to a genealogy meeting. Genealogy is where you look up your ancestors and hope to find somebody rich, hahaha. At the meeting, I met a guy who had been married for something like 60 years. I asked him what was the secret to being married that long.

“Well,” he said, in a wistful voice, “after a while, I realized it was just as well to do whatever she says. She's right most of the time anyway, and it just makes it so much easier.”

So there you go, right from the horse’s mouth, as they say.

I didn't like the show “Divorce Court” as a kid, I don't like divorce as an adult, and I'm doing my best to make sure the “50 percent of all marriages wind up in divorce” statistic doesn't get any worse. It's not always easy but I try. Remember, guys — happy wife, happy life!

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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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