Thursday, February 29, 2024

Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday to all of you who have a birthday on leap day! You are the lucky ones who have 25% of the birthdays that the rest of us do. Here's to you 20 year old leap year babies who are actually 80 today! 

The fact that leap year babies can count their birthdays at a much slower rate than the rest of us makes me think of my many birthdays. I have numerous birthdays throughout the year and thus I may be approaching 100 birthdays or more here in my normally 58th year. 

Let me explain. I have downloaded many apps on my phone to get reward points from various establishments. I am a reward member at Chickfila, Red Lobster, Dunkin, Crumbl, Dominos, Regal, Qdoba, Freddy's, Cracker Barrel and McDonalds.  Most, if not all, of the apps ask for your birthday month and day so you can get a special reward for your birthday. I don't like giving out my actual birthday. So, I usually have a birthday in the month after I download the app so I can enjoy my birthday gift soon! 

This strategy gives me a variety of birthday presents throughout the year. I am a genius. I have managed to find a way to celebrate my birthday year round. But, if I have 10 extra birthdays a year, I am aging rather quickly. Now that I think about 10 extra a year, I'm probably closer to 200 at this point in my life.

My latest app addition was McDonalds last week. I am out of pocket on vacation most of March so I chose April 2 as my birthday. I can't wait to see what I get for my birthday!

Do any of you have leap year birthdays? If so, do you have one big blowout party every four years or do you celebrate every year even if it is on Feb 28th? Do any of you spread you app birthdays around and enjoy year round celebration like I do?

I still have a birthday reward from Red Lobster available until March 3rd. Chocolate cake with ice cream! Yum! And, Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Root Beer

I'm writing about a very important retirement topic this week. That topic is Root Beer! I've tried numerous different Root Beers over the years but recently have gotten on a kick to try even more root beer brands. I searched the internet today and found that the Root Beer Institute (who knew there was an Institute?) reports there are about 150 different brands of Root Beer. I think a new goal for me is to try and see how many of those 150 I can try over the next year or two.

Root Beer was originally made from the root bark of the sassafras tree as the primary flavor. In 1960 the FDA banned safrole, a key component of sassafras, because it was found to cause liver cancer in mice. Today's Root Beer is made with artificial flavors instead of sassafras. Root Beer was first sold in confectionary stores in the 1840's. Pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires developed the first commercially made "root tea" in 1875 and changed the name of the "non-alcoholic" tea to root beer to market it to coal miners. Barq's Root Beer began in 1898. A&W Root Beer began in California in 1919. 

We have a neat little store here in Oklahoma City that has a cooler with a wide variety of Root Beers and Sarsaparillas. I have been there twice and bought a 6 pack of different Root Beers. The photo above is of a few of the ones I have in my refrigerator. I tried the Dublin Texas last night and it was very good. I have seen and tried several Root Beers when we travel to different areas of the country, but I have not kept track of them and not sure what I have tried or not tried.

This week, I began keeping the bottle caps and will begin a list of those I have tried to see how many I can sample in the near future. I would not be sampling 150 Root Beers if it was still made from real sassafras (pre 1960) as my liver could not handle that much poison. Not that the pure cain sugar will be particularly beneficial to my health either!

Here is a list of the top 19 Root Beers according to An asterisk indicates that I have tried it.

  1. Sprecher
  2. Bulldog
  3. Hank's
  4. Saranac
  5. Boylan *
  6. Virgil's *
  7. Maine Root
  8. Hosmer
  9. Fitz's
  10. Dublin Texas *
  11. Sparky's
  12. Dang! That's Good
  13. Henry Weinhard's
  14. IBC *
  15. Sioux City *
  16. A&W *
  17. Dog n Suds
  18. Mug *
  19. Olde Rhode Island Molasses
So, I'm off to a slow start and have only covered 7 from this list. I'm sure very few of us have not at least had Mug, A&W and IBC as those can be found in most any grocery store. 

Is anyone else out there on a Root Beer kick? Have you tried a unique Root Beer that you just love? How many have you tried of the list above? Are there any Sarsaparilla drinkers out there? Any other similar goals you may have of sampling a wide variety of a certain product?

And remember to check the expiration date and don't try anything with a date older than 1960!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Weird Hobbies

I posted back in 2022 about retirement hobbies and discussed several common hobbies and talked about my own hobby of metal detecting. Last night I ran across a guy that has the weirdest hobby I have ever heard about. I'll tell you about that encounter further down in the post.

This incident led me to search weird hobbies on the internet today. There are some very strange hobbies that people are pursuing and I guess the sky is the limit on how weird you can get with a hobby. Here are a few of those strange hobbies that popped up.

Toy voyaging. This unusual hobby includes sending your teddy bear or other toy to other places where a fellow hobbyist will host them and update you on your toy's adventure. This reminds me of the days when my two kids were in school and they sent a Flat Stanley to a distant relative. That relative would take Flat Stanley around their town and take photos and write about the places he visited. That was great fun for kids. But for grown adults? That sounds a little strange to me. 

News bombing. Apparently there are people who make a hobby of seeking out news reporters and try to photo bomb the on camera interview. The example that came up in my search showed the photo below of a guy in a costume doing his news bombing. Interesting! I've also heard that people do something similar with Google cars on the street doing the street view filming. People live for that moment where they can jump out on their yard or driveway when the Google cars comes by and then pose for a prank of some kind.

Collecting in-flight sick bags. This is one I don't understand at all. But, apparently there are people who collect these bags as a hobby. The bags I have seen are just plain and white. Maybe there are logos on some airline bags. That is just sick!

Collecting cups. This hobby involves collecting paper, plastic or styrofoam cups with logos from fast food places and other places. I would think this would take up a lot of room in your house. I guess it would be a fairly cheap hobby, especially if you just hung out by the trashcan or dumpster. Strange!

Sand and dirt collection. There are some who collect a small bottle of sand or dirt from places they have visited. I guess they want to permanently have a piece of their vacation. I understand this hobby a little more than others, but still a little different. This hobby leads me to the weirdest hobby I have ever heard of. Read on if you dare!

At a meeting last night for my own hobby of metal detecting I sat with a group of three other detecting enthusiasts. One of them, I'll call him John Smith, took out a small decorated notebook and began showing it to our table. He opened it up and another guy commented about how detailed his writing appeared. Some of us in this hobby, me included, keep a log of when and where we detected and what was found. I assumed John's logbook was just that. He proceeded to tell us it was information on each grave he had visited. Oh, okay I thought. Now I assumed he had visited graves of relatives and ancestors. My wife and I visited a few old grave yards a few years ago to see where some of our ancestors were buried. So, I thought nothing of John's activities.

Then John said he had Bonnie & Clyde, David Koresh and a few other famous people. I thought what do you mean you "have"? At the same time he said he had 242 vials of dirt that he collected and sifted from these grave sites. What!??? Then he showed me a photo of a box he made to hold the vials. The box was a wooden casket he had built with holes inside to house the vials. Each one was labeled with date and name of the grave occupant. I have never heard of anything like this in my life. 

When I searched the internet this morning, the only reference I could find of collecting grave dirt involved collecting it for witchcraft spells. There was no mention of this as being a hobby anywhere. This guy may be the only one in the world that does this. At least I hope it is or eventually these guys will collect so much dirt that these pour souls will have their bones exposed!

Have any of you heard of collecting grave dirt as a hobby? Have you heard of the other strange hobbies I listed above? Do you have a strange hobby or have you heard of other strange hobbies? I'm very interested in hearing what weird things people may do as a hobby.

Retirement is a perfect time to start new hobbies or pursue old hobbies. I encourage you all to participate in a hobby or invent your own weird hobby. Whatever you do, enjoy it to the max and don't worry about what other people, like myself, say about how weird your hobby is!

Now I'm wondering if John is a witch and cast spells with grave dirt. I think I'll find another table at next month's meeting!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Life Expectancy

I don't know if it's just me, but as I get older I think more about how much life I have left in me. I contemplate what I want to get done in the time that is left. Things to do. Things to see. People to enjoy being around. I find myself checking the life expectancy charts. Today I found that the U.S. life expectancy for a male (2023)  is 73.2 on one news site. I'm not sure I'm too happy about that. I'm currently 58 and 73.2 doesn't sound that far away.  

A check of the Social Security actuarial life table made me feel much better. That table shows that a 58 year old can expect to live, on average, another 21.95 years putting me at about 80. So, I'm going with those figures and just gained about 7 more years of life. 

I'm just playing around with all these figures. I know that anything can happen to us at any time. A speeding bus can hit me. A new disease can hit me. A heart attack can happen at any moment. But, it definitely gives me some hope by viewing the SSA tables at this point in my life. 

There are many more life expectancy calculators on the internet from different financial and insurance companies. Some ask a few questions about your life. Some ask for many more details. Some will ask for your age and gender while others ask that plus height, weight, blood pressure, drinking, smoking, etc. All estimates must be taken with a grain of salt since it all involves averages. If you average two men who died at 60 and 90 you get a life expectancy of 75. Which is a 15 year difference plus or minus and shows the vast difference in the actual life lived. I realize that the actuarial table are probably built on average of millions and millions and are pretty accurate for an average life span. But that is all it is, an average. And few of us are average. 

I guess we all should look at this in a different way. Rather than look at how long I'm expected to live, I should be looking at what kind of life I expect to live during the time I'm here. A whole different "life expectancy". 

As you get older do you ponder the life you have left very often? Have you ever searched the life expectancy tables? I don't mean for this post to be overly morbid. I just want to make sure we all fill our remaining years with the good stuff. Being around those we love and enjoy. Seeing and doing things we want to experience in this life. Finding our purpose. Leaving our legacy and great memories. 

I've got to work on my plan for those next 21.95 years I have left and hope to exceed those silly life expectancy tables and live to 150! May you all excel in life expectancy!