The Spetuagenarian Speaks – published May 29, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News
Aloha from Maui. Ann and I have the good fortune to own some property on Maui’s Kaanapali Beach, an indirect result of my parents’ wisdom and good investing more than fifty years ago. We are able to get over here two or three times a year, and spend time here. A pretty laid-back existence. More for me than for Ann, as she is on the governing board of our property-owner’s association, and often deals with difficult issues. (No surprise for those of you who know her). But being here is good for her as well.
Our place is right next door to the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch, giving me the opportunity to play tennis two or three mornings a week. Also, Ann and I and friends do a lot of walking along the beach. There is something spiritual about walking along the ocean, looking across at the islands of Lanai and Molokai. During winter months you can see Humpback Whales not far away. Sometimes you can see turtles, dolphins, and even flying fish. I listen to audiobooks while walking, and just finished David Baldacci’s newest novel, “Redemption.” It’s okay, but not his best. When I don’t have an audiobook novel in my iPhone’s que, I listen to music. Mostly Sirius XM “Outlaw Country.” Classical music at the highest level.
Walking along the surf frees up your brain for some creative thinking. I come up with ideas for stories (including this one) while walking along the beach. It’s usually free-association, whatever pops into my head. This morning I was realizing that I have a birthday in a few days, number 77. The number “7” bears some significance. The casinos do a lot of advertising about “lucky seven.” Our local casino has a large billboard advertising a meal for $7.77. That’s probably a good deal.
But those of you that play casino craps know that the number “7” comes with mixed baggage. True, if you have just placed your chips on the “Pass” line or on the “Come” line, you are happy if the shooter of the dice throws a “7.” You win even money. Ah, but there is a catch (isn’t there always?) If you have chips on other areas of the craps layout, which can occur either because you placed bets on big-rewards but bad-percentage wagers (sucker bets), or because you let your bets accumulate and took odds (strategically the best thing to do), when the shooter rolls a “7” those stickmen (stickpersons?) greedily scrape all your chips off the table and into the casino’s coffers. It’s like 9-11, or the “Great Recession,” or maybe worse. Definitely a sinking feeling. Don’t get me wrong. I love casino gambling. Maybe one or two times a year. I’m a $300.00 guy. If I lose $300.00, I’m devastated. If I’m up $300.00, the conventional wisdom is that you are now playing on the house’s money, and you should leverage it. I’ve never been able to do that. I walk away with the $300.00 with only minor regret.
I’ve digressed again, as usual. My topic is “Lucky 7.” Age 77 seems pretty damned old, or at least it did when I was twenty. Today, I’m not so sure. Don’t you love it when you read a newspaper headline that says something like, “Elderly Woman Struck By Ice Cream Truck.” Then you read the actual article and discover the “elderly woman” is fifty-five. I’m optimistic and think I’ll get through it. The odds of craps are a mathematical certainty. But that’s over the long run. Over the short run, anything can happen. Pretty much like life. I hope to write another article when I turn 78. I can call it, “Always split aces and eights.” (Blackjack, not craps).