Tag Archive: Running Out the Clock

Life in Your Years?

“The Elephant in the Room.”


Time Magazine editors must think they are oh-so-very clever with their double … maybe even triple … entendre silhouette cover. Some readers were offended. Some were not. Nonetheless, people are talking about it, which deep down inside you know was the ultimate goal.

Re-elected in a landslide last week in a dependable blue state, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has a bright political future…but one must ask: How much life is there in his remaining years?

His doctor cannot be happy with his weight, which drew the questionable Time cover. The question is how many other Americans are battling the bulge, and thus limiting not only their years on this planet, but the life in their years?

America’s two most recent presidents, regardless whether you agree or disagree with their politics and policies (e.g., Obamacare, Iraq War), have been models for the nation when it comes to physical fitness. Even in the face of the incredible stress that comes with the presidency, Barack Obama can be repeatedly seen shooting a basketball or playing golf. He is a classic ectomorph.


His predecessor, George W. Bush, worked out every morning before heading to the Oval Office for the daily 7 am national security briefing. Bush and his Trek bicycle were a constant during his summer vacations at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.


Come to think of it, our presidents have for the most part been relatively fit (okay Bill Clinton had an affinity for Big Macs). This point is particularly true with the advent of the television age and the impact of the tube on politics. The last truly Christie-like, portly president was Howard Taft in the early years of the 20th Century.

If elected, Christie would obviously break this trend. Even though he has been trying to lose weight and reportedly had undergone lap-band surgery, does having a rotund chief executive send the wrong health message to a nation in which two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese?

Former Navy doc Frederic Morgan was my primary physician, when I lived in Pleasanton, CA. He is huge believer in the Body-Mass Index (BMI) to determine the optimum weight for his patients. He repeatedly made the point to me (and presumably others) that lean humans are the ones that are most likely to live long-and-healthy lives. They are the ones who more times than not will have life in their years.

That is a contrast to the notion of years in your life. Think of it this way: What is the point of having years of your life, when you are essentially incapacitated? And yet millions are experiencing or looking at just this prospect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 35.7 percent of Americans are obese including 78 million adults and 12.5 million children. For men in particular, this trend is heading in the wrong direction with 27.5 percent registering as obese in 2000, escalating to 35.5 percent 10 years later. The number of obese women also increased from 33.4 percent in 2000 to 35.8 percent in 2010.


One of the inevitable causes of this alarming number of obese people is a sedentary lifestyle. Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Physics: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

How many people, particularly Baby Boomers, are becoming invalids before our very eyes? How many simply will not climb that flight of stairs? How many will not walk up that hill? How many cannot push themselves away from the television or worse yet, the dinner table?

How many are wasting away the remaining years of their life, drinking themselves into a comfortable stupor in some dive, as described in Almost DailyBrett’s “Running out the Clock.”

Is Almost DailyBrett arguing for or against a Chris Christie presidency? Neither.

If the heavily covered (no pun intended) governor could engage in an active, as opposed to energetic, lifestyle…one that is characterized by cross-training, sensible diet, calories-in, calories-out…and drop 100 pounds or more, he would be a model for the nation.


As noted by pundits, obese people are often the subject of snide, snarky remarks made with impunity. The Time Magazine cover was predictable. More will be coming. The late-night comedians are licking their respective chops.

But what happens if a relatively svelte Chris Christie is elected to White House?

Guess they will be referring to the Republican Elephant in the Room.










Running Out the Clock

Oregon’s offense is known for its dizzying combo of tempo and speed.


The ball is snapped on the average every 13 seconds.

Sometimes the same “read-option” play is run three times in a row.

The offensive brain-trust doesn’t care. The objective is to spread the defense across the field, exhaust them, and eventually overwhelm them with score after score. Damn impressive.

When it becomes clear that victory is near, the same juggernaut offense starts taking the maximum amount of time, nearly 35 seconds in-between plays. The plan is to achieve first downs and keep the clock running.

Finally, it will be time to line up in “Victory Formation” for a series of administrative kneel-downs followed by informal chats with Oregon’s vanquished opponents, a scenario that has played out 46 times in the last four years.

It’s nice to run out the clock when that is your intent.

The scene shifts to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

A 69-year-old man-jitterbug with more than a few miles on his personal odometer is prancing around the stage to the chords of Freddie King’s “Going Down.” Guitarists John Mayer, 35, and Gary Clark, Jr., 29, are backing the singer…who is twice their age. Hopefully they have the tempo and the speed to keep up.

Watching Mick Jagger on last December’s globally televised special, one has to wonder if it is possible to have this much energy, this much stamina, this much moxie and mojo at the completion of a seventh decade.

Jagger is slim and trim, reportedly a 30-inch waist. The man, everyone thought would be dead years and years ago, is backing him on rhythm guitar, Keith Richards. Charlie Watts is keeping time at 71, while the “youngster,” Ronnie Wood, is playing lead guitar at the cradle-robbing age of 65.

And yet there are those who question, why do these old guys keep doing it? Why do they keep writing new music (e.g., Doom and Gloom)? They have more money, fame and prestige than any band has ever accumulated. Their place in history is assured.

They are certainly not content to run out the clock.

It is a typical Friday night at the Jiffy Market in South Eugene.


The “Jif” is a living contradiction. On the outside, it appears to be your standard stop-and-rob small liquor store/market. Inside are six Formica tables set on a well-aged linoleum floor.

What makes the market different is the fruit of the vine, a surprisingly impressive collection of Oregon, California and foreign wines. The deli serves a halibut and chips plate that would make any mackerel snapper happy, even back in the days Rome would send you to hell for eating meat on Friday.

And every Friday night, sits a man running out the clock…the clock of life.

You can find him nursing three 16-ounce cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon or “PBR” for those who think that dreadful lager is cool. He has that same unappreciative look on his pouchy face with the well-nurtured convulations over his belt.

There is little doubt he will be there next Friday night and maybe every other night as well.

My question is what went wrong?

Something went awry. Did he drop out of high school as so many have before, and continue even to this day? We know that education is expensive, until you consider the cost of ignorance. Did he just say that he would go to work, and worry about school later? Later never came…Or was it “self-destructive” addictions that are crippling so many, retarding potential and inhibiting achievement?

My point here is not to condemn someone who I do not know, and chances are, never will. What I am concerned about is the waste of human talent at a time that our society is struggling to emerge from the longest, protracted economic draught in modern times.

How many millions of people are sitting around running down the clock on their unproductive, boring and stultifying lives? What is worse: being alone or being bored?

What are the strategies that we should be taking in our 20s, 30s and 40s to make sure that we don’t have desultory lives in our Golden Years? How can you achieve your bucket list when your foot is stuck in the bucket?


Shouldn’t we be nurturing our vessels, our bodies…both physically and mentally…so we can make the journey of life? What can we do to the equivalent of a Mick Jagger, amping up the crowd, rather than be prematurely incapacitated as a result of a sedentary lifestyle?

The alternative is not pretty. Running out the clock is basically counting down the remaining days of life. The end may be hours of suffering followed by a funeral that no one attends and internment in a cemetery no one visits.

The clock reaches zero.







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