An American Blogger

WELCOME TO A FREE-RANGE BLOG written by an old man trying to live a simple and frugal life. Please join the conversation. Your input makes all the difference. There are no wrong answers, and no exams.

I’m an American with too much experience, some of which I can remember. My name is Bernard John Hayden. Most people call me John.  You might find something new here on any given day. It’s unpredictable!

Long time ago, there was a used typewriter . . .

The first major purchase of my life was a used Royal typewriter (standard, not electric).  I bought it at the Wheaton Typewriter Co. for $99 in 1965. Earned the $99 at Hot Shoppes. Bought the typewriter so I could take a typing class in senior year of high school, and maybe be a newspaperman. It seemed like a good idea.

Majored in journalism at the University of Maryland, received a degree. AlwaysUsually worked hard, no exceptional talent to brag about, but pretty good at front-page design, competent at reporting, editing and writing headlines. Five newspapers, all told.  Also 13 years editing at a monthly journal indexing the “Working Papers of Congress.”

Newspapers are the incredible shrinking industry. I took my leave of a top metro daily in 2002, gracefully as possible. 1966-2002 was a good, long run as an editor and sometimes reporter. I’ve still got typewriter ribbon in my blood.

Life after Journalism . . . I thought I’d catch on at something in a year or two. Real estate seemed like a good idea. Sold 5 houses the first year. Expenses eat you alive.

Ran for the General Assembly. Twice . . .  Lost. Twice. But it seemed like a good idea.

Simplicity and frugality.  Working survival jobs after 50 is an adventure in reality. Maybe it builds character. Everything is good experience for a writer. Working retail, driving patients to physical therapy, processing drivers licenses at the MVA. Finally, five good years working in the motel business in Ocean City, MD.

Beginning in 2007 . . .  BLOGGING!  Now comes eBooks . . . Kindles, iPads, Nooks, Smart Phones, Apple watches. The pace of technological change makes my head spin. Fortunately, I have this one skill — I can touch type.  I was born to type!  Typing, writing, editing, blogging . . .  50 years and counting . . .

Losing Speed and Altitude

I have a picture in my head of America as a high-flying jumbo jet with two powerful engines. One engine is democracy, and the other is capitalism.

PsychodelicDemocracy and capitalism have served America well, but both engines are showing their age and seem in danger of burning out.

I could use the same metaphor for my life’s trajectory, and I will. Flying at typical American cruising speed, I enjoyed moderate career success and a modest level of affluence. I lived the middle-class American Dream, credit cards and all. After 50, I began to lose speed and altitude at an alarming rate. By the time I hit 60, I was flaming out!

At 70, I feel tired, old, and fortunate to have survived to tell the story. My brother, a cousin, a high school friend, another cousin, another friend, this one from elementary school and Cub Scouts . . . all have passed away in the last  few years. Ages ranged from 60 to 69. Are people really living much longer in retirement? Or is the truth, now and always, that a few people with good genes and good luck make it to old age?

Many Americans in my cohort (the Baby Boomer generation) are in the same boat . . . make that the same airplane. Sometimes, it feels like we need a handbook, “How To Make A Controlled Crash Landing.”

This blog, “Life After Sixty”  “Dispatches from ConsterNation”  “Work in Progress”  “Living On The Grid, Thinking Outside The Box”   (I keep changing the name)  reports on the faltering American political and economic systems and the predicament of everyday Americans, particularly those who’ve reached a certain age (retirement). I call this a “free-range blog” because I write about whatever and wherever I please.

Mid-flight corrections are needed to save American democracy and capitalism. Many Americans are coping with adjustments in the way we live. It’s called CHANGE. We’ll be talking about it a lot.

Posts to this blog will be frequent, short, and sweet. Or not. Period. Amen.


Searching for Simplicity

Simplicity seems a reasonable goal. Simplicity and a sense of purpose.

And frugality?  I really don’t see an alternative, other than a winning lottery ticket.

So who needs another blog  — specifically the blog you’re reading right now?  I can’t justify it, except to say that it’s a matter of perspective.

Once, I had an office in Bethesda, MD, with a window on the ninth floor. Across the street was a church and a high school. I memorized the air-handling equipment and watched the repairs on the flat roof of the church. I could read the greetings of bygone graduating classes, spray-painted on the pitched roof of the high school. I could even see the athletic field on the other side of the school. I knew summer was nearly done when the football team began morning drills in the August heat.

The rooftops of the church and the school were hidden in plain sight. I could see them clear as day because of my perspective from the ninth floor. Pedestrians on the street had not a clue about the roofs of the buildings, or the practice field beyond.  That information was not visible or knowable from street level.

Long story short, this blog will offer a different perspective.

Welcome. Make yourself at home. Your comments are always welcome.

— (Bernard) John Hayden


21 thoughts on “ABOUT

  1. Hi John,,, Just dropping in for a visit… I dont know what it is about your site here on WP but every time I try to link in via a blog you publish it feezers my Pc .. today I waited patiently though and evenually it loaded. so I dare not move from here lol..

    Just thought I would drop by and add my thoughts for Some Bright Blessings this 11:11;11 day.. and let us all hope the world can Unite in thoughts of more Peace and harmony..

    Wishing you a Relaxing weekend. Sue~ Dreamwalker

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Merry Christmas John! I hope you are having a nice holiday, filled with love and peace.

    Also, I wanted to tell you that I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. I sent a link out to the blogs I nominated, but am unsure if it worked. You can check my home page and will see the post (and of course a few rules).

    I’ve missed reading your blog, but life has been demanding and I haven’t been able to keep up. I look forward to coming back and reading again.

    With many good wishes, Michelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a good thing my father never knew about that first typewriter purchase! Your action would have been considered traitorous in my family where NOTHING but IBM equipment was acceptable!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know, I know! I think that old Royal was made before IBM was born. I wanted to learn on a standard, because, like learning to drive a stick shift, you can always move up to more modern technology, but you can’t go back and learn the old one. When I got my first newspaper job, in 1971, newspapers were still using mostly standard typewriters. And Linotype machines in the composing room. In 1971, the Hagerstown Morning Herald actually bought brand new standard typewriters to replace the old worn-out standards! No wonder the newspaper industry became a dinosaur.

    You know how people resist change. The staff complained about the new standard typewriters, saying the old ones were better. The personnel mgr said it’s like getting a new pair of shoes. They hurt a little at first, but you’ll get used to them. Ancient history!


  5. Too funny! I guess we took our spanking new typewriters for granted. My father used his company discount to purchase them. They became a standard Christmas gift. Like you, though, I learned to type at school on an old standard model. Once that year was over, I swore I would never use one again!!! I did, however, learn to drive a standard shift car. I was always happy I did as I could drive any model car out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I also remember the typewriter and white out which I used frequently. No spell check so you used the dictionary. Just different back then. Now the young people copy and paste and think they are using their minds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, John! Congratulations! You’ve just been nominated for The Shauny Award for Excellence in Blogging! (Yes, there really is such a thing.) Alas, no honor comes without its obligations. See today’s post, December 9, in “The Getting Old Blog” (www.ninamishkin.com) for instructions on what to do next. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry to hear about the difficulties with the American plane engines, but our UK engines have their problems too.
    The parliamentary engine has only three settings; rotate left, rotate right and quiver indecisively. At any of these settings the engine cuts out if the pilot turns the plane towards Europe, while moving from one setting to another causes the plane to reverse direction completely or go round in circles.
    In complete contrast the international capitalism engine is designed to be run largely by computers, which must not be operated by anyone over 25. Anyone supervising the computer operators has to demonstrate decisiveness, leadership, plausibility and an invincible ignorance as to what the computers and their operators are actually doing. All these engines are designed to run at continually faster speeds until one of them reaches what is called the ‘Too Big Not To Fail’ level. At that point all of them, everywhere, seize up simultaneously…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello,John Hayden! Had to ask…what do you mean the expense of real estate ate you alive? Just curious, for I am starting over and 50. Taking a real estate course to get my license….so yes, looking for my niche. Stay at home mom for over 20 years, now divorced….Looking forward to hearing about your experience in Real Estate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Out-of-pocket business expenses, especially gas for the car. You do a lot of driving. You have to spend some money advertising and prospecting for buyers and sellers. And of course you have to continue eating and paying rent while building up a viable real estate practice, which is likely to take at least a year.

      Note that my experience with real estate is now a decade out of date. I think selling real estate has become even more problematic as a way of making a living over the past 10 years because of computerization. Buyers and sellers can now do much of their own research on web sites, can probably even qualify for and apply for a mortgage on line. So they’re not as dependent on Realtors as used to be. As Internet Airline and Hotel reservations decimated travel agents, I suspect the internet will soon have the same impact on Realtors, if it hasn’t already. Good luck.


  10. Thanks for the follow; I will reciprocate. We have a few things in common: I have always LOVED to type, so blogging just seemed a natural thing to do at this stage of my life. That is just about the same era as yours. And I also blog about “whatever”. Nice to meet you, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey John, I am jealous of your bio regardless of the decline in the newspaper business. I have always wanted to write and always held those who made their living with a typewriter in high esteem – despite having met a few during my career in law enforcement who I held in less-then-high esteem. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Looking back, I know that printers, editors, and reporters didn’t always appreciate what we had in the newspaper business. We didn’t get paid much, but we often tried to throw our weight around. We often acted arrogantly. You are right that there was often a bit of natural tension between newspapers and police. You have a great blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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