31 Years Ago

The year is ….

1988

  • Ronald Reagan is President of the United States.
  • It cost 24 cents to mail a letter.
  • A gallon of gas was 91 cents.
  • The Washington Redskins beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII
  • The Winter Olympics were held in Calgary.
  • The average yearly salary was $24,500.
  • The LA Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

1988 movies included Rain Man, Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Big, A Fish Called Wanda, and ….

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1988 music included:

1988 hits

…and Sweet Child O’ Mine from Guns ‘N Roses, too!

It was also a very special year for me …

Always an Abe!

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I was reminded by Facebook’s “Memories” feed that it was 31 years ago this week that I graduated from Lincoln High School. (25 years later – to the day – I would graduate from college.) It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. Some days I can’t remember where I put my car keys, but I can remember graduation day like it was yesterday!

The ceremony always happened outside, unless it rained. If it rained, less people from your family could attend, because it was moved indoors to the auditorium. Luckily, the weather cooperated June 9, 1988, and we walked the stage outside in the stadium. The band performed some songs prior to things getting started. As a senior, we played through most of them. I remember conducting a number – it was called Tin Pan Alley. That is a memory I will never forget.

At the required time, the seniors left the band to go line up to walk in (to Pomp and Circumstance). I will always remember in the days leading up to graduation, sitting in band class and the seniors having to “sit out” during a number because we weren’t going to be there when they played it. Sitting in class listening to Pomp and Circumstance while the underclassmen played it was weird. It was then that I knew exactly how the seniors the year before felt when they had to listen while we played it.

I remember someone telling me that your senior year will go fast – they were right. There were times I wish there was a pause button. It was my favorite year of high school hands down. Our football team was undefeated. I had a solo in the marching band show. I went to all the dances and the prom. I got my first new car and spent many hours with my friends driving around listening to mix tapes I had made.

Things I Miss Most

It’s 31 years later and there are times I wish I could go back. There are so many things I miss about high school:

Friday Night Football Games. Yes, I miss playing in the Halftime Show, but I also miss watching our boys win! My classmates were always out their playing hard, and as I said, were undefeated my senior year. Coach Jim Benefield was the BEST! Hands down.

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Movies in Class. Whenever you walked into a class and saw the TV and VCR, you were instantly excited. Even if it was some dumb educational film, it was a welcome event!

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School Holidays. Winter Break! Christmas Break! Extra days surrounding other holidays! We had a lot of extra time off! And who can forget Summer Vacation?! In some countries, extra days off and built in vacation time is looked at as a must. Productivity in those countries are high and workers are happy. Sadly, once you graduate, you seem to work to death and often have to fight to get time off! I miss those holidays!!

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Yearbooks. There was a time where you didn’t know what your picture looked like until the teacher passed them out. 9 times out of 10, mine came out looking terrible. Even Picture Retake Day didn’t help! There are plenty of bad yearbook pictures of me! There are also plenty of other kids with bad yearbook pictures. Today, I love sitting back and reading the things people wrote in my yearbook.

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Less Responsibilities. This holds true for most adults. We tend to look back at the days of ‘freedom”. Who wouldn’t want to be in a position to not worry about whether or not you have enough money to pay bills?!

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Working While Going to School. My first job was at a boat marina. They worked around my crazy band and school schedule. I don’t remember the hourly rate, but I do remember getting a check for $150-$250 every two weeks. It was like “mad money”. I used it to buy albums, tapes, books, and gadgets. I really had no bills, and a teenager rarely saves money.

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Passing Notes. Long before texting, we used to write notes and pass them back and forth in classes and in the hallways. Sometimes, I’d get caught passing one in class. I did most note passing in the hallway. Many times it was just stupid gossip, a drawing, or the “Do you want to go to the dance – check yes or no” type note. Some folks even got real creative about the way the notes were folded, too!

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Lockers. I am sure my locker partner, Joe (who was always good at numbers), can remember our locker combination! I remember it was outside the library, under the clock, on the second floor. I rarely used it after freshman year. I kept most of my books in the band room or in a backpack. A lot of girls decorated the inside of their lockers, and on game days, they often decorated the lockers of the football players. I think my locker was basically a storage place for whatever I didn’t want to take home.

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Less Technology. I’ll be the first to admit that I am connected to my phone today. But, back in school, we weren’t connected to it. We talked to people. We had to use the card catalog to find books and encyclopedias to write reports. We used maps. We watched film strips! We had to thread the film projector. We rewound tapes to listen to a song again. Yeah, technology is great, but there were advantages to not having it too.

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Field Trips. You had to have your permission slips! I never did the Washington DC trip. I did do a Florida Trip to Disney. I also loved those little trips to places like the Detroit Science Center or Cranbrook. I remember having my mom chaperone a couple times. Field trips were probably more frequent in elementary and middle school, but the ones in high school were always great fun!

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Young Love. As you flip through a yearbook, you can often see those high school romances (the ones that lasted, and the ones that didn’t). I know a few people who married their high school sweetheart and they are still together!! That’s amazing! With young love comes hurt in many cases. I witnessed that at a prom I DJ’d recently. I remember seeing this guy sitting on the floor with his face in his hands and I thought, “I know how you feel, pal.”

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Dances/Prom. It wasn’t until high school that I even attended a dance. It always seemed like it was just me and a few friends going to get out of the house. We never danced with anyone, we sat and talked and listened to the music. We walked around and drank that really crappy punch that always seemed to be the drink provided. I remember going to Homecoming with a gal who asked me. I had no idea even how to dance! After that night, though, I realized dancing with girls was a whole lot more fun than sitting eating those stale mints and drinking that punch! I remember using some of the money I was making at that boat job to rent a tux and go in on a limo for the fancier dances.

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Teachers. No surprise here. Go back and read some of the many blogs I have written about the teachers I had in high school. They were the best! Mr. Shaner, Mr. Benefield, Mr. Balos, Mr. Yanoulaki, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Beltz, Mr. Harvey, the list goes on and on. I am friends with many of them on Facebook. I am also friends with other teachers who I never had in class, but always respected and made an impact on me. I was lucky to know them in high school – and after!

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Friends. My core group of friends and I have pretty much stayed in touch since high school. With My Space and Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with those I lost touch with. That’s one thing about technology that I am ok with. A downside to this is that since we all are connected on Facebook, our chances of a real reunion probably won’t happen (Not that we ever really had one – we didn’t. We tagged along with the Class of ’89 once, but nothing official for my class.) What was great about high school is that you always saw your friends every day. It was always extra cool when they were in the same class as you. The ones that weren’t, you couldn’t wait to meet them in the hall to tell them about something silly that happened or to plan something for after school. I miss that, but at the same time, when I am finally able to hook up with a friend on the phone or on social media, I enjoy picking up where we left off.

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The Future. In high school, the future seemed so unclear. There were infinite possibilities. Your career path had not been chosen yet. There was a blank canvas for you to paint on. You had so many choices. You were in control over what you did next. The future was bright and it was something to look forward to. I’m not saying that 31 years later, I have no future, I do. It’s just different to look at it and know that the future is a bit more narrow since there is a lot less time ahead of me. I can still look ahead and know that there are a lot of good things awaiting me. I still look forward to the future, but I am looking at it through eyes that have seen more than an 18 year old. I have experienced more hurt. I have seen more cruelty and negativity. I have seen more dishonesty and hatred. I have lived through much difficulty. I look at the future a bit more cautiously now than I did at 18. I am smarter now, I hope.

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Final Thoughts

Would I love to go back to the days of my youth? Would I love to have less responsibility, no bills, and have more time to just have fun? Yes. Without a doubt! However, if I were to go back to those days, I would live through some hurtful times, through depression, and shame. I would likely make some of the same bad decisions. I would make the same mistakes, maybe more.

Truth is, if I had the opportunity to go back and change things, I probably wouldn’t. Anyone who has watched Back to the Future or any time travel movie knows that all it takes is one small change to change everything else in the future. Would I like to go back and erase embarrassing moments? Would I like to go back and take back words I said in anger? Would I like to correct a mistake? Sure. But if I did that, it changes where I am today.

Yeah, I went through some real crappy times, but they all brought me to where I am today. Today, I am a happily married man. I have an amazing wife. I have two wonderful sons. I have some of the most amazing friends. I have a loving family. Life is good. Why would I want to change it?

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Why no, I haven’t seen that …

As a morning DJ on the radio, I was expected to watch all the “hot” shows.  I was on air when the first season of American Idol was on, when Desperate Housewives debuted, and when Grey’s Anatomy premiered.  I watched most of those shows.  What made it very difficult was that most of these shows came on after 9pm and I was up at 3:30am to be on the air at 6am.  That’s where the show prep services came in handy.  Many of them had “recaps” of all the things that happened in those hit shows and we could easily sound like we were “in the loop” with them.

Now that I only do radio part time and have a full time non-radio job, I rarely watch any of the “hype” shows.  My wife, who started watching Grey’s Anatomy when it started, continues to never miss an episode (even when she has to watch it a day later online).  There are very few shows that I have any desire to watch.  If I have time to watch TV, it is usually something old that I have on DVD or watch on YouTube.

Every day when I scroll Facebook, I can see the things that are trending and can honestly say, “I’ve never seen that.”  The past couple weeks there have been plenty of memes saying “I have never seen an episode of ….” or “When you talk about _____, I honestly just nod because I don’t know what the hell you are talking about”.  Yeah, that’s me.

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That’s right.  I have never seen a full episode of Game of Thrones.  I have seen bits and pieces because someone may have been watching it at work or in a room I walk through.  I know, it’s a big deal – to some people – not to me.

Another show I have never seen an episode of is The Walking Dead, or the various spin offs.  I know that some big characters were killed off on the show and caused a ruckus on social media, but I couldn’t tell you who, how, or why.  The whole “zombie” thing is something I just don’t find interesting.

Then there is Stranger Things.  I saw an episode or two of this.  I might watch it, if I had the time, because I think the nostalgia part of it is neat, but in all honesty, I’d rather watch one of the many old shows I have at home on DVD.

Now before you get angry, let me preface this next section by saying I have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and The Avengers Age of Ultron.  I think I saw them because my boys wanted to see them.  It’s not that I am not into the whole Marvel thing, I enjoyed some of the Spiderman films.  It’s not that I don’t like super heroes, I enjoyed a few of the early Batman films.  It just seems to me that there is an over abundance of these movies out today.

These super heroes were all over my TV growing up.  They were in comic books.  They were in cartoons on Saturday morning.  I love super heroes, but to me these stories are more and more special effects than a good story.  Yes, the effects are important, but so is the story.  Some of these stories are just rehashing of the same premise.  They did Spiderman with Tobey Maguire … did we need a new series of them?  They did Superman with Christopher Reeve … did we need a newer version with what ever the actor’s name is?  I thought Michael Keaton was good as Batman … now there is a slew of Dark Knight films.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all a buzz about this Avengers movie coming out.  I have a co-worker who literally threatened us to not tell her what happens in the movie, because she isn’t going on the day it opens.  I don’t see what the big deal is.  It’s just another super hero movie.  It will be filled with good versus evil, loud explosions, maybe someone will die, and millions of dollars in special effects.  I won’t be seeing this in the theater.  I probably won’t even rent it on DVD or watch it on Netflix.

Maybe I should be ashamed of that.  Maybe I am a little bit.

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Maybe, I am not.  I heard someone say once “an old movie you have never seen, is a new movie”.  The same holds true for episodes of TV shows you have never seen and books you have never read.  My book shelves are stacked with books that I have yet to read.  I have complete series of TV shows that I have yet to watch.  I’d much rather be watching those.

Just my opinion.

I’m making a list ….

The iPod Classic debuted in 2001.  At this particular time in my life, most of my music was on “mix tapes” or on CD’s.  It was about 2006 when I finally caved and bought my iPod.  I bought the 80 gig version.  The iPod has out lasted the computer that I originally used for iTunes!  Eventually, after loading it with over 5000 songs, I reached the point where I reached the maximum amount of computers that I could use for that iPod (I don’t know, maybe that’s changed now).  It has been some time since I added any music to it, but I am constantly listening to it!

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As a music guy, I HAVE to have music!  I have Pandora on my tablet, but I find that their play lists are often narrow, and even shuffling between my “favorite stations” doesn’t help.  My son had Spotify on his phone, and I really don’t know much about that.  I don’t use my phone for anything really but making calls, taking pictures, and surfing Facebook.  I don’t want to be using an App and find out it is using all my data (when I am not connected to Wi-Fi – which happens WAY too much!). When I want music – my music – I can grab my iPod and enjoy!  I can replay songs over and over if I want and I can skip songs I am not in the mood to hear.

I listen to my iPod a lot, especially at work.  There are times when I need to zone out and score studies that are running and I just need to tune out what else is going on in the tech room.  Other times, I find myself annoyed by the chatter of co-workers, so I “headphone”.  I can still watch patients and enjoy my music, while tuning out BS.  I have a pair of headphones that I use at work that are “noise cancelling”.  They are amazing – and sometimes allow me to escape into my own little musical world.

“Are these things broke?”

As one of my coworkers went off on a rant about something that just annoyed me last week, I reached for my trusty headphones and iPod.  When I put them on and pressed play, and only heard music from the left ear.  My first thought was that the headphones had a short in the cord – a very common occurrence. Yes, I paid extra for the “noise cancelling” feature, but they were not too expensive.  The headphones I wore when I work on the radio are about $100 for a pair, however, I probably only paid about $30 or $40 for these.

I began to push and pull and wiggle the cord of the headphones where it connected up by the ear.  Nothing.  I began to wiggle the cord down by where it plugged in to the iPod.  Nothing.  When I pushed down on it, the other ear came through.  Urgh!  It’s not the headphones, it’s the headphone jack of the iPod.  13 years of headphones in and out have finally taken its toll.

A buddy told me, “It’s no big deal.  You can still listen to it in one ear”.  This guy clearly has no idea about stereo and mono!  I have some Beatles stuff that is in stereo on my iPod.  If you are only listening in one ear, you are either hearing guitars with no vocals or vocals with no guitars!  It also ruins any type of classical music. You just miss the whole experience if you are listening to a classical piece in only one ear. I am sorry, but it IS a big deal!

The good news is that I can still connect it to the car and listen with no worries at all.  I just can’t listen at work anymore – which is a MAJOR problem for me.  I may actually have to look into a new or refurbished iPod.  The problem is how do I get the stuff from the old one to the new one?  Another problem is that much of the stuff I have on my iPod is stuff that I used to have on CD, but do not anymore.  I also don’t have a list of the songs that I have on the current iPod, because the computer(s) used for iTunes are long gone.

I guess I could just go buy a cheap MP3 player, but I know those don’t last.  This iPod is 13+ years old and outside of the headphone jack, still going strong!  Maybe a new iPod is something I really need to do.  There are plenty of albums and songs that have come out since the last time I added music to it that deserve a spot on my playlist.  Many of those songs I have on my external hard drive, which I use to DJ, and I will occasionally play that while working on the laptop.  It’s not my iPod, though….

So now it begins.  I am going to hit the “shuffle songs” feature and start at song #1.   I am going to start a list of every song on this iPod and that way when I am able, I can begin adding them to a new one.  I probably need to do a little digging as well, because I couldn’t remember my Apple ID from 2006 if my life depended on it.

Song #1 …. After Midnight – Eric Clapton.  Song #2 …. Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles.