[Personal notes. Feel free to skip.]
My mother turns 79 years young tomorrow, her first birthday without her husband nearby in 55+years.
When I get down to it, I have hundreds of social network connections, mainly revitalised via the Internet, but no one (no human) other than my wife with whom I communicate daily.
I verbally communicate with my mother on a weekly basis just as I had communicated verbally with my father and mother weekly when Dad was alive, although he and I communicated more frequently through email, trading “did you know…?” facts and jokes back and forth (with me having to remind him not to send NSFW jokes to my work email account or check Snopes before forwarding inaccurate “this is the truth because a friend of a friend told me so” emails).
My sister, her kids and my extended family communicate by randomly posting comments/photos on social networking software but I wouldn’t always call that a conversational form of communicating, somewhere between email and voice calls.
I have always enjoyed writing and was often accused by my employees of bombarding their inboxes with more email than they could read so they’d set up a special folder called “Rick/Boss” that they knew were emails from me they could read at their leisure.
I guess I was a professional email composer if not a professional writer/author.
After retiring from an office job as an engineering manager, I sat down and completed a few books that had grown or festered in my thoughts during business trips around the world.
I finished writing the books I wanted to publish before I died, one of them reaching the “Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award” semifinal level along with a review by Publishers Weekly, achieving my goal of a professional book review, no matter how good/bad (or somewhere in-between), and ended up here as a journalist/diarist in the form of a daily blogger.
Now, I have reached a point, well into the second half of my life, where exploring writing styles is of less interest.
I am comfortable writing at a level understood by those proficient in reading a variant of the English language.
Could I sit here the next 50 years of my life and do this day after day? Yes, I could. Possibly. But do I want to?
Well, that’s why I’m here today.
I have played with computer technology for most of my life. My formative years, not so much, unless you count battery-powered electromechanical toys as rudimentary computing devices because computers were mainframe monstrosities that my father used at work and I saw on television so it influenced my thoughts but was not part of my everyday life like kids today with computers in every room of their house as smartphones, smart TVs, smart appliances, smart homes, smart cars, smart toys, and PCs/tablets.
I tinkered with open source software, programming computers like a handbuilt Intel 8085 system in the 1970s, the Timex-Sinclair 1000 in the 1980s and so forth up to the Arduino in the 2010s.
I’ve played with a variety of operating systems in the process.
I post blog entries from iOS, Windows, Linux, and Android, for instance, but not in that order of frequent use.
I am used to a QWERTY keyboard but have tried a one-handed Matias keyboard and the DVORAK keyboard layout.
I am not used to thumb typing on a smartphone but have grown accustomed to swiping and pinching on a smartphone/tablet screen.
I observed the set of shorthand acronyms that first grew popular in BBS chatrooms and moved on to SMS but I never used them extensively myself.
I’ve watched minitrends of communication styles come and go in social media on the Internet over the last two decades, just like they bloomed and died in newspapers, pamphlets and magazines for hundreds of years, and wall art/graffiti for millennia.
With less than 50 years of my life left, statistically at this point in the affordable body rejuvenation market, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?
Do I have any skills the world wants and/or I want to share with the world?
Are there any new skills I want to develop?
Can I conservatively live on my accumulated wealth within the socioeconomic web I have financially supported and expect to be rewarded in kind as I grow older?
My days of listening to and buying [into] every pop culture product out there are behind me or fading away.
Or so I think because I look around me and see that the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the bed I sleep in, the computers I use, the cars I drive and the TVs I watch are covered with labels of commercially popular brands.
In other words, either I am comfortable with the brands I use or the brands are neutral/unimportant for the types of products I buy at a reasonable cost for my lifestyle/standard of living.
I am frugal to some extent but not extremely so.
I am content eating a banana and a handful of potato chips for lunch but I will just as easily go out and spend $100 on a meal if I’m in the mood.
My wife and I average a new car every 10 years for her daily driver. My primary vehicle is a 1995 model, a BMW, not a Kia.
The fact that we own and drive cars says a lot about our standard of living and expectations, along with a digital cable TV subscription, Internet data subscription, landline phone subscription, wireless smartphone subscription, and monthly bills for food, entertainment, electricity, water and garbage pickup.
We don’t pay country club or homeowner association fees. We don’t belong to a wellness or exercise center of any sort. We don’t rent furniture or appliances on a weekly basis, either.
We are two people, two cogs, in the wheel of life we call civilisation.
Soon, we shall have no more responsibilities for my wife’s ancestral connections, leaving my mother as the sole responsibility for a child to his/her parents, although my sister shares the responsibility.
If I throw everything away in this room — from the computers (TI-99/4A, Timex-Sinclair 1000, Macintosh II, Mac Plus, Macintosh 6100/66, iMac, Kaypro 2000, etc.) to the toys (model rockets, balsa wood airplanes, plastic model car kits, Hot Wheels cars, Pinewood Derby cars, stuffed animals) to the books (college textbooks, novels, comic books, business books, instruction manuals, how-to guides, coffee table books, ruled notebooks (both empty and used)), posters, photo albums, framed pictures, furniture, boxes of miscellaneous junk, etc. — will my wife and I be free to lengthen our list of choices?
When there is a world of choices, what in the world do I do next?