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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Is it really a good thing to google?

Jan Polek Special to The Spokesman-Review

Perhaps it’s because I was married to an English professor for more than 40 years, that I developed a fascination with our changing language usage, like the practice of turning nouns into verbs. The word ‘task’ is a good example. Once used to name a job or chore, etc., it is now common to hear that you are being “tasked” to do something. More recently the computer company Google has become the verb used to describe a computer search, i.e., “I googled for several hours.” Because of my age, I thought the name had probably come from the old song, “Barney Google with the goo goo googley eyes.” Actually, it turns out that google is a mathematical term. Ah well, sometimes I wonder if the Third Age can ever really merge with the Computer Age.

Beware, the ads are everywhere

The 30-second political ad has turned into a 24-hour marathon and, as we expected, many of the commercials focus on the anxiety seniors feel about their financial future. Some older citizens are especially nervous about their private pension plans. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, “The retirement savings plan of a typical American household has only $55,000.” So we are going to be subjected to a barrage of ads targeting our anxiety. Since no real answers can be found in a 30-second ad, perhaps we need to show up at local candidates’ forums and ask the hard questions. Don’t forget to check the paper for listings of upcoming forums.

Gray divorces

“As their marriages get old, the old seem more likely to imitate their juniors and just get going.” This was a lead sentence in a recent New York Times article about a growing trend in which people 55 and older are getting divorces. Informally called “gray divorces” by some attorneys, such divorces appear to be more acceptable and more common than ever. The rise in longevity, better health, economic independence among women, increased sexual potential for men, cosmetic surgery for women and perhaps, most influential, the trend toward self examination and discovery, have all contributed to this new way of thinking. People are not looking so much at the end of their lives as at the fact that they have 17 or 18 good years left which could be spent more happily. The idea of “staying together for the children” seems to lose validity when the children (or even the grandchildren) are themselves divorced. The percentage of American’s 65 or older who were divorced or separated rose to 10 percent in 2001 up from 7 percent in 1999, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The anecdotal evidence is even stronger and reasons given for divorces are called “soft” by one attorney: people are not happy; not fulfilled; don’t communicate. Another calls it the “37 Year Itch.” But all seem to agree that whatever age is involved, once again, the face of the American family is changing.

Final poetic thought

24th September 1945

(poem to his wife by Nasim Hikmet, translated from the Turkish by Richard McKane)

The best sea: has yet to be crossed.

The best child: has yet to be born.

The best days: have yet to be lived;

and the best word that I wanted to say to you

is the word that I have not yet said.