Age perception is like price perception: erratic


How odd. When I was 75, that felt fine.

  • 75% = a pass
  • Reaching a deadline
  • Achieving 3/4 of a century
  • Roughly 70 years old
  • A bargain
  • Nearer to 50 than to 100. (Come again?)

Now that I’m 76, that has changed. I am learning that, in my unconscious, 76 also has some more sinister characteristics.

  • 76 = old
  • closer to 80 than 70
  • closer to 100 than to 50
  • to be more specific, almost 80
  • over-priced!

The science of pricing goods for sale (as opposed to no sale) depends on certain irrational perceptions of humans when considering numbers.

  • figures on the left of a page seem low, figures on the right seem high (because we tend to think of numbers going in sequence from left to right, as written in ABC-languages)
  • figures at the bottom seem lower than figures at the top
  • $19.99 seems a better bargain than $20 (a thesis with many variations that reveal just how athletic our perception of numbers is)
  • figures in a small font size are perceived as low, in a large font size as high

I reckon that is why my perception of my own age has been suddenly warped since my birthday last week. And I’m guessing that whatever mysterious bout of mental gymnastics was triggered by the number 76, you have your own version.

But hey, 76 has other qualities and is rather beautiful

“76 is an even composite number composed of two prime numbers multiplied together” — how cool is that!

To haul myself out of price-perception folly, I shall attempt to associate myself this year with the element Osmium, 76Os… (Thanks to Pinky Agnew for this excellent idea.)



Of 10-dollar notes and 20-dollar notes and giant gerbera

Gifts for 76th birthday: flowers and shredded dollar s

On 24 February I received  one of the most mysterious, comical and metaphorical birthday gifts ever.

OK, you recognise flowers, don’t you? They’re just background in this case, but apt for my current state of mind. So big, bright and bold they seem artificial — but they’re real. You know how smiling or standing up straight  can generate happiness or confidence respectively, in a bio-feedbacky sort of way? Well, I need to be big and strong right now, and so these are the right flowers for the day.

But hey, what’s in that package?

I found a package of bitsy stuff on the kitchen bench when I returned from a birthday dinner. So, late at night. So, maybe I wasn’t looking very carefully.

Borage tea? I turned on the kettle. Fortunately, I didn’t feel like tea.

Pot pourri? If so, that could wait.

Something to smoke? Improbable: that would breach an unwritten rule of AirBnB etiquette.

Right on the money

Turns out the package is $500 in dollar notes, shredded, from the New Zealand Reserve Bank Museum. Money money money… Just when I’ve started to learn the skills of money management (about 65 years late).

Maybe this gift is a shriek from my conscience. Yes, I virtually shredded my own money for decades by purchasing unnecessary things that took my fancy at the time. By not paying attention to my earning and spending patterns. By trusting in the good old New Zealand motto, “She’ll be right!”

On the other hand, let’s keep a sense of proportion. Money squandered or lost in transit is not the whole picture. See how sweetly the shredded dollars settle in amongst the flowers? You could almost call it origami.

Say I employ 5 collage artists for 5 hours at $50 an hour, do you think they could reassemble the confetti into the original notes? Unlikely: arithmetic, darling.

Note to self: money

Squandering has had its hour.
Let your bad investments die
and wave your foolish buys goodbye.

Hope so far has mostly flowered
in the foreground of your life.
Sit with that and don’t ask why.
The New Zealand Reserve Bank Museum.

Scarlet Heels: 30 polite stories about you-know-what

I don’t think I told you about these stories, did I? That’s odd, because publishing them as a Kindle ebook was a big event for me last week.

I could let the Amazon cover speak for itself. Real women. Not young. Not supermodels. No liposuction, no body reconstruction. Not much similarity between the two. No swimming togs either. Real, highly individual women striding into the sea, just as they are.

That’s the spirit of the stories: 26 women (and one man) talking about their experience of sex, and how it has changed their perceptions or their lives.


You can buy Scarlet Heels from Amazon (Kindle edition)

800 copies of an earlier edition sold out in weeks, and these diverse stories about “real” sex met with much enthusiasm. It’s only now that I’ve figured out (I hope) how to present them to the public.



Slow thinking on the ageing identity: good things take time.


bootcamp2015-small 2

In which I believe it necessary to impart a trivial detail about blogging momentum, heaven knows why.

Only four more days until my 76th birthday — which means only four more days to wrap up my boot camp for old age.

When hurriedly writing today’s post, I compressed several weeks of heavy cognitive lifting into 516 words. To my surprise I found that 11 months of procrastination has paid off: I’ve spent the last 11 months growing up. A bit.

Now I’ll take an antidote: I’ll go to the New Zealand Ballet’s fabulous show (appropriately named Speed of Light) and write another entry tomorrow. Otherwise my beautiful schedule is well and truly in the poo.

But this is just me: how is it with you?