Saturday, February 17, 2018

More Grief, Another Shameful Spectacle and Still No Action

What is wrong with our country?

March, 1996, 16 children and one teacher die in an assault on a school in Scotland. As a result, Britain passes a Firearms Act restricting gun ownership.

A slaughter in April,1996, in Australia results in 35 fatalities. The country implements strict gun control laws.

Following shootings in Germany in 2002 (16 people killed) and 2009 (15 people killed), Germany enacts gun control laws.

Only one recent mass shooting – the 2011 attack in Norway (no mass shootings in Norway since) – was deadlier than the Las Vegas massacre. No mass shootings in Norway since 2011. The U.S. cannot say the same after Columbine…Virginia Tech…Sandy Hook…Orlando…Texas…Parkland…

Politicians utter messages of vapid prayers and empty words blaming mental illness, the community, immigrants.

Prayers from those who have the power to change things but do nothing are meaningless, the author a coward.

President Trump did not mention the word ‘gun’ ONCE in his message to the nation concerning the tragic deaths in Parkland, Florida. He and his accomplices turn their back on one of the greatest scourges confronting the country. Trump mentioned mental illness initiatives in his speech. Yet one year ago the Republican Congress passed and Trump signed legislation repealing an Obama-instituted law that prevented individuals receiving government-funded treatment for mental illness from purchasing firearms.

Hands outstretched, politicians kowtow before the NRA. The organization showers millions on men and women working to prevent any form of gun control. Grateful recipients of NRA largesse include:

John McCain – Republican Senator from Arizona - $7,740,521. Most funds received during his 2008 Presidential campaign.
The two Republican Senators from North Carolina Richard Burr - $6,986,620, and Thom Tillis - $4,418,012.
Roy Blunt - Republican Senator from Missouri - $4,551,146
Cory Gardner – Republican Senator from Colorado - $3,879,064
Marco Rubio – Republican Senator from Florida. He tweeted
, "Just spoke to Broward School Superintendent. Today is that terrible day you pray never comes."  NRA Contributions: $3,303,355
Joni Ernst – Republican Senator from Iowa - $3,124,273
Rob Portman – Republican Senator from Ohio - $3,061,941
Todd Young – Republican Senator from Indiana - $2,896,732
Bill Cassidy – Republican Senator from Louisiana - $2,861,047

Congressmen receiving substantial funds from the NRA can be found here.

Democrats collect NRA contributions, but not much. In 2016 Democrats received a total of $3,845,342 while Republicans got $19,074,616.

We must step up and do something besides feel angry, frustrated and powerless. The groundswell of support for sensible gun control must come from the bottom up, because elected officials do nothing substantive to stop the shootings.

Donate to organizations working for gun control such as the Brady campaign and Giffords Courage to Fight GunViolence

Contact your representatives and express support for gun control. You can fill out a form on the Everytown for Gun Safety website. 

Support officials advocating sensible gun control measures and vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Elect Congressmen and women who will fight for effective gun control.

Additional ways to support gun control laws can be found here.

It is up to us to do more than pray.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Love, Loss and Life’s Disruptions

What’s worse than to wake with the alarm before dawn for an exercise class, dress, throw on a coat, venture out into the cold and dark, clear off an ice-coated car window, rev up the car, drive to the rec center, park the car, trot in the arctic air to the front door of the building, walk up the steps not-quite-eager but proud you roused yourself on this dreary morning?

Reading a sign posted on the entrance:

YOGA CLASS CANCELLED
SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE

REALLY? Inconvenient? I had such good intentions…

Such is life sometimes. Good intentions shot down by life’s disruptions.
My yoga moment - I concentrate on the 'I'm hungry' meditation.
After my early morning awakening and preparations for exercise class only to find the class cancelled, I was unwilling to return home disappointed. A 45-minute zumba class warmed my muscles, got my blood moving and provided the impetus to move through the rest of the day.

I read a wonderful little book about life’s disruptions by Ilene Beckerman, Love, Loss and What I Wore, a couple of years ago. The author recounts her story in brief prose snippets with an accompanying drawing of the getup worn at momentous moments, and not so significant but remembered, life events.

Nora Ephron and her sister Delia also loved the book. They wrote a play based on the story, which debuted off-Broadway in 2009. A local theater group presented the play in my area this past weekend, and hub and I went to see it.

Before purchasing tickets, I warned hub he may not like/appreciate/enjoy the play, since it is so woman-centric, but he willingly joined me.

From earliest childhood to mature adult, the play’s monologues talk about the difficult, funny, heartbreaking disruptions and unusual events women face every day. Marriage, divorce, mother-daughter relationships, the “I have nothing to wear” syndrome, illness and lots more. Hub related to a lengthy monologue on women’s pocketbooks. He was always amazed and annoyed at his Mom’s oversized bag containing mainly junk, and regularly comments about my inability to locate anything quickly in my small but disorganized purse.

And while on the subject of love…Valentine’s Day is Wednesday. Hub and I may go out to dinner, or maybe not – depending on the weather, how tired we are, how crowded restaurants are. Maybe we will order in. Or, if feeling ambitious, I can cook!

This week’s Best of Boomers discusses Valentine’s Day from a variety of perspectives, and includes a Valentine’s Day story I posted way back in 2012. Check out this week’s Boomer blogs!



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Football, The Olympics, and Political Games

Mid-winter and life can be dull. Luckily this year events locally and far afield prevent the onset of dark-day depression.

I mentioned previously I am not a football fan, but living in the Philadelphia sphere of influence, home of the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, ignites the spirit and makes the hoopla impossible to ignore. The playoff games, the pre-Bowl hoopla, the big game frenzy and after-game goings-on fuel the euphoria.

Next up: The Winter Olympics. Not quite as exciting as the Eagles Super Bowl game and victory, but the spectacle begins (on NBC networks in the U.S.) with the opening ceremony on Thursday, February 8th, 8:00 p.m. EST and continues until the closing ceremony Sunday, February 25th. The Olympics offer interesting - and some not so interesting - viewing. I don’t care. It is winter, it is cold, it is dark too many hours (although additional minutes of light slink in every day), and I am eating too much comfort food.


The munching will not change as I station myself on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket or even better my hoodie footie, stationary and almost comatose as I nibble the afternoon and evening away watching young, strong, beautiful men and women from around the world do amazing things.

These two athletic events prompted an idea unique, untried and untested, thought-provoking and attention-grabbing, yet unfortunately will never be adopted. Anywhere. It should, however, find a home in the United States.

Everyone agrees the election buildup is too long, too divisive, too expensive, and just plain annoying. We heave a gigantic sigh of relief when the polls close, whoever wins.

My idea enlivens the process, increases electorate participation, and reduces the long, drawn out process.

Let’s introduce a series of athletic events in place of the current electoral process. Bowing to the age and physical condition of those involved, events too dangerous or physically taxing will be eliminated. Activities will be age-appropriate. Instead of boring speeches, candidates face opponents in a series of tests of skill and endurance. The candidate with the overall top score gets the job.

Here is a sampling of contest ideas:


  • Read as many words as possible of the Declaration of Independence without taking a breath.
  • Participate in a Trivia contest with categories such as: Weird and Funny District (or state or national) street names, local fave foods, high school mascots, location of the largest potholes, worst traffic jams, etc.
  • Yell loud and long the words: Yea and Nay.
  • Maneuver an obstacle course from a Congressional office to the doors of the Congressional chamber.

  • Which candidate devours the most rubber chicken in a specific amount of time? or
  • Pats the head of the most babies in a set time period? or
  • Maintains a smile for the longest time? or
  • Lifts the most (printed) legislative documents?

  • Contenders must repeat a tongue twister five times – examples below, but longer ones can be used – the candidate with the loudest voice, greatest emotion and fewest errors wins this challenge.

I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes,
 I won't wish the wish you wish to wish.

Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We'll weather the weather
whether we like it or not.

I thought a thought.
But the thought I thought
Wasn't the thought I thought I thought.
If the thought I thought I thought,
Had been the thought I thought,
I wouldn't have thought I thought.

How about some children’s party games - a balloon blowing contest (the politician producing the most hot air wins)? Pin the tail on the donkey (or elephant)? A piƱata contest where, when broken, votes pour out and contenders get the number of votes collected? Or tug of war? Musical chairs? A treasure hunt?

The possibilities are endless. I am sure constituents can create lots more intriguing, innovative ordeals.

Meanwhile my couch (and hoodie footie) beckons… 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Football’s Over, Boomers Sail On and Offer Tips for a Long, Healthy Life

Super Bowl LII is history. I am not sure when my part of the world reluctantly returns to normal as the Eagles (unbelievable!) Super Bowl win sparks a days-long celebration. Living in a land enamored of the Philadelphia Eagles, a sea of green swept over everything and everyone for weeks. Personally not a football fanatic but rooting for the home team, it was refreshing to push politics to the background for a while.

The boomer bloggers are a diverse group and includes Eagles fans, Patriot enthusiasts, and those who don’t care at all about football. Yet we all get along!

What the world needs now are more people listening to each other in the world and in everyday life. Rebecca Olkowski of Baby Boomster.com offers tips on Why it’s Important to Perfect the Art of Listening.

Over on Unfold and Begin, Jennifer (a Patriots fan) uses a quote from Jimmy Dean (yes, the sausage king!) to remind us that it's OK to adjust our sails when the wind blows in a different direction. We all need to be flexible and adapt when change happens.  Find out more in her Wednesday Whoa post, But I Can Adjust My Sails.

If we thought we would have less stress as we aged, we might have been wrong. Carol Cassara gives us an easy way to use an abundant natural resource, oxygen, to manage stress and anxiety in these times over at A Healing Spirit.

This year’s flu season seriously impacted boomers, and the past few weeks Laura Lee Carter of Adventures of the New Old Farts nursed her illness, and then faced the medical costs. As a result Laura Lee has been learning some hard truths about health care costs and survival this past week or so. As usual, insurance covers everything except what you need right now!  Insights into Boomer Health Care Costs.

Speaking about health, Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond offers tips on maintaining good health, and our consumer journalist recommends a post about our financial health and welfare.

February has arrived and probably any New Year Resolutions have departed.  Don’t worry, that is quite usual and a reason Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond doesn’t make New Year Resolutions any more. She still sets goals though, and in this week’s post discusses the benefits of checking progress. In her article ‘Why Checking on your Health & Fitness Goals is Essential’, she outlines what she considers to be the 3 top benefits when you check in regularly and track your progress.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes that Equifax’s free Lock & Alert, offered because personal information was stolen from 143 million of its customers, is lacking. It is supposed to allow consumers to lock and unlock their Equifax credit reports indefinitely for free. However, putting on freezes at all three credit bureaus may be a better option. News reports filed after the Lock & Alert was launched last week reported that it did not work.

While some us prepared for the big game or nursed illnesses this past week, Tom Sightings went on vacation.

Tom Sightings is on vacation in the Sunbelt this week. But even way down south the temperatures are running ten degrees or more below normal, so he thought it might be time to revisit an old but now-more-relevant-than-ever post. So ski, skate or sled over to Does Cold Weather Help You Live Longer? and find out the cold truth about the cold weather.

 I hope everyone has a good week, and take a few minutes to visit the boomers and leave a comment. We love to hear from you! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Come From Away Mesmerizes

…and restores my faith in the goodness of humanity.

“On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.”

The one-line sound bite from the play’s website sums up Broadway’s Come From Away. The United States closed its airspace immediately following the 9/11 attack. Planes heading towards the U.S. and aircraft in the country’s skies were ordered to touch down at the closest airport. Thirty-eight passenger jets landed in a small town, population less than 10,000, on the eastern edge of Canada – Gander, Newfoundland, nicknamed by locals “the rock.”

The musical Come From Away tells the story of how Gander, along with nearby fishing
villages, mobilized to house, feed, comfort, and entertain the sudden arrival of 6,759 reluctant passengers and airline crew members, plus 9 cats, 11 dogs, and a pair of endangered apes.

Performers, each portraying more than one character, relate the true stories of a handful of the stranded as well as the locals who hosted them. Funny, poignant, emotional, and at the same time heartbreaking and uplifting, the 100-minute production, presented with no intermission, finds the audience whooping and hollering, cheering and clapping, crying and laughing at the end.

The narrative of kindness, concern and helpfulness offers a beacon of hope in difficult times as our country faces assault from mean-spirited leaders. The story evokes our sense of the inherent goodness of most folks and the ability of people who may not agree on many things to come together, quite different from too many of our current political leaders who embrace a divide-and-conquer philosophy.

The passengers did not forget the thoughtfulness and care received in Gander once home again. Gander townsfolk refused any compensation. So, in a monumental pay-it-forward effort, passengers established a scholarship fund for Gander’s students. Beginning with initial donations of $15,000, the fund totals over $1.5 million. The first scholarships were awarded in 2002 and have been awarded every year since.

Hopefully I remember the feel-good story of Come From Away when listening to the news and talking heads and reading divisive, nasty criticism as the political situation unfolds in this election year and thereafter. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Escape to the Big Apple

Hub and I walked out of the Port Authority bus terminal onto the streets of Manhattan, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, 22.8 square miles crammed with museums, restaurants, theaters, tacky souvenir and gift shops, cafes, take-out food shops, a Starbucks on every other corner, inexpensive as well as exclusive shopping, skyscrapers, pubs, stop-and-barely-moving traffic, belching cars and trucks, bistros, and people. Lots and lots of people. Tourists, boomers and seniors, working people, people in Sesame Street, Star War and super hero costumes.

We hailed a cab. The mile-and-a-half ride ended over a half hour later at our hotel. Walking would have brought us to our destination sooner, but dragging a suitcase that distance through crowded streets and cold weather offered no appeal.

And while on the subject of crowds, they were everywhere. A few minutes after 5:00 p.m. the worst invasion occurred. Hordes of humans descended on the sidewalk, emerging from every building, everyone moving quickly as they headed home from work, making it difficult to maneuver between, around, and through the multitudes.

The impetus for our trip was a Travelzoo deal, a $99 a night (plus tax) offer too good to pass up. Our hotel room turned out to be impressively expansive for a Manhattan space. Except for the bathroom. A disclaimer should be posted: Individuals over a certain size cannot be accommodated.



We tried taking Lyft to the Lower East Side, but the mix of packed sidewalks, wide streets and traffic prevented car and customers from finding each other. We learned to order Lyft pickup on a side street.  

Our first stop - Russ & Daughters deli/restaurant. Over one hundred years ago newly arrived immigrant Joel Russ earned a few dollars hauling sacks of mushrooms on his back. He graduated to a pushcart, then opened a hole-in-the-wall retail store in 1914 selling appetizer-type foods (e.g.-smoked fish, herring, cheeses, salads). With no sons to take over the business, his three daughters stepped up. The store survives today. In 2014 the company (still family owned) opened the restaurant, stylish in a New York trendy way. Big bill, small plates.
My Russ & Daughters lunch. The green stuff between
the sprouts and the whitefish is wasabi-infused fish roe.
I did not like the fish roe.
Next stop the Tenement Museum. The 5-story building, built 1863, has been partially reconstructed, but part of the dwelling remains as it was when the apartments were abandoned in 1935. A tour (no wandering around on your own) offers a credible peek into the lives of generations of immigrants.

Before leaving the Lower East Side neighborhood we walked over to 192 Stanton Street, my mother-in-law’s home for the first ten years of her life. The picture of her building illustrates the redevelopment of old tenement buildings, today inhabited by the well-heeled.
192 Stanton Street, redeveloped and
gentrified.
We ventured further uptown and strolled through Eataly, a food hall chock full of Italian groceries, prepared foods and eateries. Pasta specials at $1 a box compete with specialty pastas selling for as much as $28 a box (not a mistype). We ate dinner at one restaurant. We shared a salad, hub ordered a glass of wine while I sipped tap water, and we each ordered a personal size pizza. The bill - $86. Yummy, but not that scrumptious…

The next morning we hiked two miles in cold, windy conditions, the objective the Times Square TKTS booth. We purchased tickets for a matinee performance of The Band’s Visit, about an Egyptian band arriving in a remote Israeli desert village by mistake.

The evening remained free. Friends gave high marks to the Broadway show Come from Away. We walked a couple of blocks to the theater box office to try our luck.

Hub and I entertain different ideas of what constitutes a reasonable price. He was willing to spend $79 a ticket. Plus tax. I was willing to pay more.

I started conversing with the man in front of me in the box office line. He clued me in to rush tickets, $38 tickets offered before show time. Unfortunately, no rush tickets were available for the evening performance. Or $79 tickets. Or $89, $99, or $100 tickets. At that moment hub prepared to depart ticket-less. I, however, did not want to leave. I handed over my credit card, received two tickets and walked out. Hub trailed behind, moping. How could I spend so much money? I calmly stated I wanted to see the show and since we were here, in the Big Apple, the heart and soul of theater, we might as well go. But it didn’t take hub long to cool down – it was quite cold outside.

Come from Away, a powerful viewing experience, deserves its own blog post. More...next post. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

COUNTDOWN TO THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND FOOTBALL FEVER

INSTALLMENT #4
1,017 Days (as of 1/21/18) to November 3, 2020

One year into the current Administration is an opportune time to look ahead to the next Presidential election less than three years hence. However, before November, 2020, we must endure midterm elections. Nine months from now every seat in the House of Representatives (435) and 34 Senate seats will be on ballots around the country.

Our legislators currently tackle a government shutdown the electorate does not want and (most of us) do not understand. Tackle is a fitting metaphor to describe the struggle Washington faces as decisions are made concerning constituents’ hard-earned tax dollars. This weekend two crucial football showdowns determined the last two teams standing this season. The two teams will face each other on February 4th in one of the all-time biggest TV events the universe will ever witness – Super Bowl LII (52). (Disclosure: I am not a football fan. But if I must choose between watching football or listening to endless news about the government shutdown, football wins hands down).

Why do I obsess over football? Because I live within the Philadelphia football field of influence. The
Eagles Underdog dominate discussions day and night. It beats the obsession over our current POTUS.

A lot of Philadelphia football fans, mostly women but some men, marched on Saturday, January 20 against many, many, many policies advocated by POTUS. Which brings us back to elections.

The current POTUS will run for re-election, barring unforeseen circumstances. For instance, outstanding health specimen that he is, unfortunate health issues may arise. Should such a situation occur, V-P Pence eagerly awaits a call to duty.

As for the opposition, anything can happen and anyone could run. Contenders that come to mind include Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (almost too old, too female and too liberal for too many), New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, California Senator Kamala Harris, Oprah Winfrey (catch her speech at the Golden Globes?) – enough with the women, let’s move on - Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, old standbys Joseph Biden and Bernie Sanders, and speaking of old, California Governor Jerry Brown may be interested – he is almost 80.

And then the long shots – Caroline Kennedy, John Kerry, Julian Castro…celebrities, businessmen and women, maybe a scientist or how about an astronaut?

Or a football player.

2018 will be a fascinating election year. But before the ads and speeches and name-calling begins (or continues), the American people need a hiatus from politics and politicians. That’s where football comes in. It doesn’t matter if you like or understand the sport.  Immerse yourself in football for a couple of weeks. And eat comfort food.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Weekend Writing Getaway

I spent the Martin Luther King holiday weekend at the Poetry and Prose Getaway, my third endeavor into the realm of intensive workshops sponsored by Murphy Writing of Stockton University, a provocative, thought-provoking, exhausting, educational experience worth the investment in time and money.

The Seaview Hotel and Golf Club (no one played golf in freezing temperatures. In January. Golf not included in getaway package. But the golf shop was open.) is half an hour from home. Hub dropped me off at the entrance to the resort and drove off. I eagerly hauled my suitcase up the steps and checked in. You may wonder – why didn’t I commute? Three reasons, weak as they may be: January weather conditions can be brutal. I had a roommate to share room expenses. And I wanted the full immersion experience.

Participants sign up for a three-day workshop. Three hours in the morning, a lunch break, another three-hour afternoon session, one three-hour session day three. But I don’t want to give the impression it was all work. A Friday evening reception (the variety of foods satisfying most dietary preferences), happy hours, an early morning yoga class, surprisingly good cuisine. And an indoor pool, although I don't know if anyone took the plunge.

Photographers recorded the weekend – not every event, but a sampling – including the Sunday evening dinner, the banquet hall resplendent in dark blue sateen-like tablecloths, a cash bar (what’s a lovely dinner without wine?), a birthday cake celebrating the 25th year of the Getaway, and a drone. A picture-taking drone.

Here is a video thanks to my iPhone. Not a professional film, but you get the idea. The drone circled the hall snapping pictures.

The getaway ended on a somber note, a tribute to Martin Luther King. We listened to the speech Dr. King gave the night before he died. And the speech Robert Kennedy gave the following evening in Indianapolis disclosing Dr. King’s death. I end this post with excerpts from Kennedy’s speech. It is a sad commentary on our times that 49 years after the death of Martin Luther King, Charlottesville starkly demonstrated that violence and division continue to poison our country.

What we need in the United States is not division;
what we need in the United States is not hatred;
what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness,
but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another,
and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country,
whether they be white or whether they be black…
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago:
to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that,
and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
            -Robert Kennedy

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Color Purple Rocks

In past years, I have come across announcements of the Color of the Year. Again this year I spotted a bulletin broadcasting the 2018 color selected by Pantone, manufacturer of color dyes used on everything – clothing, furniture, home and fashion accessories and more.

I am not planning to buy anything in this year’s Color in an attempt to be an up-to-date cool cat. The only reason I can think of for a Color of the Year is as a marketing device, an excuse to get people to spend money. And there are lots of folks who eagerly purchase the latest electronic gadgets or clothes fashions and announce to the world they are ‘in’ dudes.

I am happy to be out of the loop and don’t mind NOT being stylish, sophisticated, trendy. Ask anyone, my grandkids for example, and they will tell you I am as uncool as they come.

This year’s Color of the Year is Purple. A color with an interesting history. Reaching back thousands of years, purple represented wealth, power and royalty. The color was originally derived from a snail, an intensive, long and difficult process, therefore expensive and reserved for the rich and powerful.
Purple is popular for
costumes and uniforms-such as
this cheerleading uniform
modeled by my granddaughter.

Alexander the Great wore purple. Roman generals and magistrates donned purple. The royal families of the Byzantine, Holy Roman, and Japanese Empires embraced purple. Roman Catholic bishops chose purple for their vestments. Queen Elizabeth I allowed only members of the royal family to wear purple.

By the 20th century purple took on different meanings. In the early 20th century purple, green and white became the colors of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and the 70’s feminist movement adopted purple. The color symbolized the rock and drug culture of the 1960s and 70s - remember Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze and Prince’s Purple Rain? More recently the color became associated with the LGBTQ movement.

Purple is the honored color in a favorite book of mine and children of all ages – Harold and The Purple Crayon.

The color purple rocks. 

But I am still not going to buy purple stuff. Right now the economy is doing just fine without my money.