Friday, June 28, 2019

Fifty

Fifty years old. That's almost half my life gone. Half? Our first 15 years are spent learning how to be a human, then how to be an adult. I've spent thirty-five adult years so far, and I can likely expect to have another thirty to forty. That's enough time for at least another whole new career, by the way.

The second half of our lives is not the same as the first, though. Our joints wear out. Our immune systems get weaker. Old sins catch up with us. Heart disease, cancers, neurological issues, autoimmune diseases — the list of things that can get you will get longer every year.

When I started running a year ago, it wasn't just an idle whim. I'm already feeling the effects of ageing, and I can see the writing on the wall as well as anybody. I need to take my health seriously right now if I want to stay healthy and active the next few decades.

The secret of long, healthy lives isn't secret at all, of course. We know how to live long and stay healthy. Exercise, eat mostly plants, eat and drink in moderation, don't be sedentary, have an active social and intellectual life, get regular check-ups and never ever smoke.

In addition to running I've stopped drinking heavily. I had a lot of fun partying in my 20s, and I bounced back quickly from a night out. But I'm not really enjoying it any longer, and I certainly don't "bounce back". If I drink one evening the whole next day is wasted. I still enjoy a beer or two on a weekend — but I no longer drink more than that.

And yes, regular check-ups have become part of my normal life. Blood tests, dental care, EKGs and ultrasounds. I had a gastroscopy last month and it's time for my every-few-years colonoscopy next week — not exactly the anticipated event of the year, but it's a low-risk, low discomfort insurance against some very nasty high-risk conditions.

(I can get some) Satisfaction


On the other hand, it's often claimed that life satisfaction gradually drops from a high in your 20's to its lowest in your 40's. But as you continue to get older it rapidly rises again, and by the time of retirement satisfaction will surpass your 20s to reach the highest level it will ever be. I can easily believe it.

I'm certainly in a good place right now. I have an interesting, varied job that I look forward to every morning; I and Ritsuko have a close relationship and fun daily life together; and I'm free from the stresses and doubts of my younger self. Yes, I'm happier and more content than I have been in many years, and perhaps ever.

We have both marked some noteworthy milestones this year. Rather than giving each other individual gifts we decided to splurge, and got ourselves a new car as a joint birthday gift.


2019 Prius. It's blue. It's also very comfortable. And blue.

It's a 2019 model Prius, with more functions, more extras, more automation — and more computers — than you can shake a sizeable stick at. Many things, such as automatic windshield wipers and the connected Android app, are surprisingly practical. Some things — self-parking — aren't really. Some, such as the ability for the car to post updates on Line, we haven't even enabled yet.

From one perspective it's fair to say a modern car really is a complex computer system that just happens to be mobile. You have half a dozen serious computers and perhaps hundreds of microcontrollers, all connected through a hardened internal network that handles real-time data traffic in harsh environmental conditions. The wheels and engine are almost incidental.

With all that said. my favourite function — by far — is the seat ventilation. A couple of fans connected to the AC blow air through holes in the leather seat and back. This keeps your back cool and dry no matter how hot it gets. For the first time ever I can get to work in summer without my t-shirt sweaty and damp after an hour in the car. A small thing, but so very much worth it.

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