Expectable Declines

What I found out, getting older

I thought I'd keep some notes as I age, to help others guess what might happen to them. Here you go:

Sports lost:

Eventual loss of the joy of nearly all sports seems inevitable, but some things can last long like pingpong. Dad recommended tennis, since his Dad played tennis into his 80's.


(61) I'm still here, but the library of memory is less available and populated.

Short term working memory is much reduced; I have to externalize some of the cognitive supports, like bits of code or parts of an inventive combination, and then work with them more manually rather than moving them around in my mind. That's true at all ages, but more so with age.

I notice that concentrated effort is required to do what used to be simple things. This is a good practical reason for practicing effortful concentration and making it a habit in youth, because you will need it later.

Low testosterone. Don't get it high, but don't let it be low. Both extremes increase mortality, but low also seems to be implicated in insomnia, dementia, etc. Finally testing for it at 61, I find it explains a lot.

I am happy to discover my youthful preplanning for future aged declines is coming in well: I do have these meaningful pathways set out for myself: initiated projects ready for further work; I don't have to have the burdens and genius of startup but just enough to keep them moving forward. The feeling is increasingly that of serotonin now not dopamine, or at least both.

Pointless thoughts

The pointlessness of thinking (obsessive, repetitive, old, non-constructive thoughts) is made much of in meditation-oriented religions, where the still mind is considered the happy one. My mind, on the other hand, has generally always been constructive and engaged productively, before now at least. But now almost 62, I've noticed I may have thoughts that are not well considered, or are not actually constructive advances, but rather destructive or, how shall I say, tamasika. Suddenly at this point, I am editing my thinking with a little more delay. Think it, pause, reconsider if maybe that's not a very good, true, or useful thought, and maybe disengage from it. It's okay to have thoughts that I rapidly no longer believe.

Time continuity

This is interesting.

I've noticed my experience of watching the second hand on an analog clock has changed a lot since youth. I recall the experience that the movement was continuous, that is, experienced as continuous. Then I started noticing intermittent discontinuities. I used to say, my mind went from continuous time to discrete time, but it's more complicated. Now I feel there is a hierarchy of sub-perceivers where, perhaps, some are keeping up to date in the continuity of change but lacking memory of the sweep, and other(s) are watching at a longer time scale but lose the sense of continuity, and my attention such as it is can sometimes pay more attention to one, sometimes more to the other. At 60, discrete time has become intermittent time.

Now, clicking the TV remote is experienced as: (1) intend to click it, (2) hear and see the channel change, (3) experience clicking it. My volition and experience of agency comes after the task is already completed.


I'm not really sure why I haven't heard what old people went through as they got older. But only a few things came through, spoken or noticed.

Uncle Onol said he had to suddenly stretch his face in order to shave it, and that was a little weird to him.

Dad, when standing at the Alki beach step to the sand, just jumped down, about 3 feet. Okay he was a little demented maybe, but he carried the expectation in himself that of course he could jump down and still handle the balance and trajectories. Why not?! Well he fell over and I had to pick him up, but god bless him he was game!


Continuing this essay in the evocative year 2020, eyesight is a big change for me. I have worn prescription glasses from age 10 because of the short-distance reading I did so much, but my eyesight has been really excellent once corrected. I remember getting new glasses every couple years and looking at the trees in the distance and seeing snap into stereoscopic clarity every detail, leaf, and branch a hundred yards away. Recently I got new glasses at CostCo and a quite buxom optician put them over my ears whereupon I discovered myself staring no longer blindly at, truly, a vision of cleavage, face turning quite red I looked away to pretend to focus in the distance. Well, yes.

As my eyes get gradually worse, they become more farsighted, through my 50's the point of transition from glasses to no-glasses has moved a bit away, from here to bicep to elbow to wrist. Now I am part-time typing on the laptop without glasses, because it's clearer.

The point is that I grew up and long lived with a certain sense of reality based on a reliable and trustworthy visual capture of the space around me and everything in it. Like, I'm part of this world, and I know it, because I see it. Well, that's a very uncertain sense at this point. I'm adjusting here, raising my head there, to bring the bifocals into focus, deciding that's not very good, half the time nothing is very good, and the two eyes are not the same at all, though at different distances one will be better than the other. It's weird to be forced into a subjectivist, you might say, weak, experience of reality, after being so confident of my connection with it for about 45 or 50 years.


Diet changed as I age.

Phase I. I was a freakishly gross, rotten vegetable and fruit fed baby. Mom, bless her, had no sense of smell, and felt moral success by using free or recycled fruits and vegetables. Thank god I don't remember, I can only imagine. Anyhow my sister and I both have weird paranoid disgust reactions to any kind of translucent vegetables. Imagine a half-rotten peach: half translucent. Not for me. So no, I still have never eaten a kiwi; find all melons disgusting; took until my middle 20's to tolerate tomatoes outside of ketchup.

Phase II. Thai rice and nam-pla (fish sauce) gobbling toddler and preschooler. In Bangkok, raised to be a Thai gentleman by Som Rue and Su Ni and Boom until age 4. I'd say, I want rice! in my high chair, and they brought me rice right away. Mmm. Life has been all downhill from there.

Phase III. American military brat food. Ketchup, white bread, peanut butter with sugar. The trustworthiness of Pop-Tarts. Meat, white foods, yes; no vegetables. Ugh.

Phase IV, In college, stretching to eat barely eat some Tomatoes. I became a vegeterian, a really bad one. You can eat vegetarian at McDonalds with Milk Shakes and French Fries. 10 years through grad school, postdoc, until I got a job in sales and couldn't be Veg eating out with others in 1990's Silicon Valley.

Phase V. Corporate chicken diet. No beef, no mammals. Maybe starting to touch broccoli. Around this time I decided I could cut fat or sugar but not both, so I'd cut fat. No more cheese. Lots of carbs. Carbs heaven. The pinnacle of this? A liter of pepsi for lunch. Cheapest alternative!! I'm not sure if it was more sad or more stupid.

Phase VI. I heard that the Harvard recommendation was corrupt, saying sugar good, fat bad; it was paid for by the sugar industry. So I went the other way, no-carb or low-carb, but unrestricted fat and protein. Bacon and cheese but no half and half because that has lactose. After a year, Total Cholesterol 289.

Phase VII. Keto Vegan. One month later, Total Cholesterol 153, with 5mg/day of Lipitor/Atorvastatin. I hate Lipitor. Doctor said 5mg lipitor is equivalent to zero. Three months later on 0mg/day Lipitor: 225. Then 9 months of 5mg/day Lipitor and Keto Vegan, my total cholesterol was still 155-ish when they put me on the treadmill, watched my face turn gray, pulled me off to ultrasound me and send me over to the Cath Lab for a stent. See the photo, 95% occluded. Well that was genetic not dietary, Dad had the same, Andrea has the same, it's where the artery goes through one of the membranes around the heart, which in our case is a thicker stronger tougher membrane while the artery gets to be a softer weaker older artery, and gets the squeeze. Very different from cholesterol plaques plugging it all up everywhere. So I understand.

Phase VIII. Vegan + Anchovies - SimpleCarbs. They forced a statin full dose on me because of the stent, despite my just having proven it's not needed, but I made them switch from Lipitor/Atorvastatin which I hate (makes my brain feel like it's strings) to Rosuvastatin which I tolerate, even hardly notice. It's okay to hate Lipitor. Anchovies because the nutritionist said low-end fish for the fish oils, and No Simple Carbs because of the nightmares and nighttime headaches, which are tightly correlated with even small amounts of sugars.

Hi Steven,
My health/diet trajectory turned left at different times of life.
Your thoughts?
(will not be shared or abused)
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Modified: February 9, 2022