My Life in 15 Year “Chunks” of Time

(Now there’s a title search engines will hate, so you can be confident you’ll be amongst a very elite (small) group of readers of this blog post.)

Have you seen the movie “About a Boy”? I really like it. In it the character played by Hugh Grant doesn’t have to work (so why do I like this movie again?) because his dad wrote a catchy Christmas tune years earlier that allows him to just live off the royalties. He describes his life as consisting of ‘units of time,’ ‘each unit consisting of no more than 30 minutes.” Get a haircut – 1 unit. Have dinner – 2 units, and so on.

I’m reading a book right now called “Command and Control” by Eric Schlosser, who also wrote “Fast Food Nation.” “Command and Control” is about nuclear weapons, their history, their hazards, and some mishaps that have brought us very close to nuclear winter or “Megadeath.” (I added “megadeath” to try and attract people searching on-line for the death-metal band. I feel this market segment could hugely improve our readership.)

I’m still reading the early part of the book, the period after 1945 when America has dropped the first atomic bombs. It seems like a pretty confusing, hazardous time as people debated the concept of nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction which hopefully would keep any government from sending off the first strike. While the debate went on there was a lot of confusion, and pretty lax standards around making and storing the weapons.

By 1960 I think they had developed some slightly better protocols to make sure no one set off a nuke accidentally. When I think of the 15-year period from 1945 to 1960, I think of the movie “American Graffiti” in which teenagers just drove around in cars and hung out at drive-in burger joints. Or those cheesy black and white video clips from that era that discussed how housewives were being freed from the drudgery of housework with modern appliances while the sweater-wearing, pipe smoking husband went off to work, at a ‘job for life’ type of company.

I was born at the tail end of 1959, after this 15-year chunk of being close to nuclear war.

This concept of 15-year units of time started to have some relevance to me when we celebrated our 15th year here at Sunflower Farm. It’s unbelievable how quickly that time passed. So when I think about that post-World War II period of adjustment to nuclear war as being a long time, it was actually just a blink in time.

Michelle and I spent the first 15 years of our marriage in suburbia. Our daughters were born there. In some respects that 15 year chunk seems long. Sometimes it seems like a really long time ago. Then we’ll fire up the DVD player to watch videos of the girls when they were very young and we say, “Wow, it seems like just yesterday.”

Remember when you were a kid and your parents were in their ‘40’s’ and you’d think, holy crap that is SOOOO old! Then you hit 40 yourself and you thought, “How did that happen?” Some days it feels like I just left high school. “You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife, You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?” (from the Talking Heads song called “Once In a Lifetime”)

Now I look ahead to the next 15-year unit of time. I’m still holding together pretty well. My back hurts after a day of weeding, but hey, I’m 54, what do I expect? Right now I’m cutting firewood like crazy for next winter. I spend an hour or more with the chainsaw and then an hour or two dragging the wood back from the bush to the house. I use our big plastic sleds since we have so much snow on the ground to help. I know I have a little less stamina than when we moved here and I wasn’t quite 40, but touch wood, everything’s still working.

Oh sure, I’ve got tennis elbow and if I followed the advice from the commercials that run during the evening news I’d be taking a variety of OTC (over the counter) pain meds every 4 hours, but I’d rather just grin and bear it.

My hands are kind of arthritic in the morning, especially after I’ve spent a lot of time on the chainsaw. They’re fine after a few minutes of motion though.

I actually succeeded in getting Michelle to laugh out loud one morning when I talked about the zombie apocalypse. I suggested that even if I had a handgun beside the bed it wouldn’t do much good when the zombies broke into the bedroom because I wouldn’t be able to curl my trigger finger enough to squeeze off any rounds. I suggested I would have to ask the zombies, or home invaders, to wait for a few minutes while I stretched my fingers to get them going. “Hey Zombie, wait there while I stretch out my fingers for a few minutes, just hold your horses.” Seems like a reasonable request to me. I’m fairly confident a zombie would comply. They’re rational people right? Are zombies people?

What gives me confidence for the next 15-year segment of my life is remembering my neighbor Dave Ackerman. When we first moved here I needed firewood so I bought a load from him. He was about 70 at the time, which is where I’ll be when my next 15-year segment of time is up. Dave had a good pile of firewood to sell. He’d cut it all in the bush and brought it out. And he’d split it by hand, because I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a log splitter. So that’s comforting. At least I know that by the end of the next unit of time I’ll still good. Well I’ll be warm anyway.

Fifteen-year chunks of time. Zero to 15 and you’re a teenager wanting to leave home. 16-30 and you’re getting those first jobs, maybe finding a mate, maybe buying a house. 30-45 is prime income-earning years, maybe raise some kids, get some grey hair, and develop an addiction to sugary sodas. 45-60… get lots of grey hair, start thinking about parts that need replacing and I don’t mean on your car… 60-75… well, it’s gravy at this point. If you’d lived 100 years ago you’d be dead my now, so you’d better be enjoying yourself.

I don’t need astrophysicist Carl Sagan to remind me that a human life is less than a blink on the time-space continuum of the universe. Which reminds me – those peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies that Michelle made last night need to be eatin’ quickly. I’m outta here!

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As we have mentioned in previous blogs, one way to support this blog is to make sure that you access amazon using our links. That way, we will receive a very small commission for anything you purchase there! Thank you to those of you who use our link. Here are two items that Cam mentioned in the blog today;

5 Responses to “My Life in 15 Year “Chunks” of Time”

  • Hey, Cam. Try “purple pectin” for that tennis elbow! When the doctor told me I was developing arthritis in my right shoulder I researched and found this remedy. No more pain. And when my husband developed gout in his toe, he began using it. Again, no more pain! I’ve put the link to the article I wrote for my website in the ‘website’ box. Enjoy!

  • bunkie:

    Hey Cam, try rubbing some vinegar on your hands when they hurt. Does wonders!

  • Cam,
    I just finished Command and Control a few weeks ago (I cheated , I listened to it as an Audio book (no time to read but I do a lot of driving)).
    I found it to be a really well researched and informative book.
    It is amazing how many accidents actually occurred and something more serious did not happen. Perhaps when divided by the actual number of sorties flown the rate is not that bad but still makes you think.
    I would be curious to know the Soviet safety record.
    I also found the parts about how faulty software and bad sensors almost started a Nuclear War a couple of times very interesting as well.
    As to your theme it is amazing how time flies, one day you wake up and you are older than your parents were when you were growing up.
    Where did all to good times go?

  • Barry:

    I’m sure if I had any hair, it would be grey.

  • Tricia:

    It’s “Megadeth” Cam… but still impressive for an old geezer!

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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