Capital Region Living: June 2008 Archives
3 parenting mistakes that will zap the joy out of your vacation
By Randy Cale, PH.D
What if you could prevent those summertime arguments, struggles and meltdowns that bring chaos and frustration to your family during those cherished vacation weeks?
Good news: you can! But you have to take action now. The bad news is that it is tough to recover from these critical mistakes if you’re in the middle of a vacation. Rest assured that you can easily make some adjustments before you go on vacation to ensure a joyful and pleasant family experience. Below are three joy-robbing mistakes and tips on how to preserve your peaceful vacation.
Mistake number 1: Working too hard for your children’s happiness
This might sound a bit unusual, but it’s a common mistake. We all want to be supportive of our children’s happiness. However, this mistake occurs whenever you feel yourself working harder than your children are at their happiness. You can determine this very simply by turning to your heart and noticing when you feel yourself doing more and more to try to create happy moments; yet, your children seem to become more and more easily disappointed and upset. In fact, you may notice that they put little effort into their own happiness as you work harder. If this is where you’re at, you’re headed down a path that will ultimately fail them and you, and make both summer and vacation a possible nightmare.
When your children are experiencing moments of boredom or when things don’t work out exactly the way they want, it is a disservice to continually “rescue” them from that moment. Instead, allow them to have a moment of whining or complaining. Let them be unhappy with the fact that their friends can’t come over or that their favorite ride at the park is closed or that you have to leave early because of a sibling’s sunburn.
If you engage the complaints, you validate them. So minimize this, and let your children work their way through any repeated patterns of whining or unhappy moments this summer. You will quickly see them become better at finding their own peace and cope better with disappointments.
Mistake number 2: Believing that less structure and routine during vacation will equal a more pleasant experience.
This simply isn’t true—your kids are used to structure and routine. While they may complain or resist it at times, the research overwhelmingly supports the value of continued structure and routine.
Consider setting basic guidelines for the summer schedule, including times to rise and eat breakfast and approximate times for certain activities. Try to have the activities roughly planned out in advance, while leaving some room for error. The goal is not rigidity; the goal is predictability. When your children know what will be happening next, there is a sense of security and reassurance that calms and organizes their thinking and their behavior.
Overall, stick to your planned schedule. While you can leave some room for flexibility, make sure that it’s not an accommodation in response to a whining or complaining child. You can be open to input, and some flexibility, but make sure it does not flow from your intolerance of a whining or complaining child.
Mistake Number 3: Getting weak on consequences and long on negotiation.
When on vacation or embarking on a family outing, we all want a pleasant and enjoyable experience. As such, we can often get weak on our follow-through. Your kids will learn to honor the limits that you set on their behavior—not by the lectures and discussions that you offer them—but by the consequences that come as a result of their failure to honor that limit.
Let’s imagine that you’re traveling in the car and the boys are bickering in the back seat. You can remind them, threaten them or yell at them. And you just notice that it keeps getting worse and worse as the trip goes on.
What’s needed is a clear consequence, not another lecture or discussion. Let the boys know that whenever they start bickering or yelling, you’ll just pull the car over and sit there until there’s five minutes of silence. If you’re clear about where the limit is at, and what the consequence is for their bad behavior, you’ll find they quickly learn to honor that limit. The same approach can be used wherever you travel.
This amazingly simple strategy works every time!
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.
Summer watering, mole control, weed control and hydrangea
By Larry Sombke
Question: What is the best way to water my garden and use the least amount of water?
Answer: There is a lot more to watering your garden than just spraying water on your plants. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this summer task.
Too many people take a top down approach to watering their garden. Standing over your garden with a hose in your hands is probably the worst thing you can do. Any overhead watering promotes shallow rooted plants that are addicted to frequent watering. Overhead watering can also lose 50 percent of its moisture to evaporation and wind drift. All you are doing is wasting water and ruining your garden. Here’s how, to do it the right way:
Water the soil not the plant. Your plants absorb water through their underground root system. You need to build the kind of soil that will retain water like a reservoir so that your plants can call on that moisture during dry periods.
Whenever you plant, dig in an inch or two of compost or other organic matter. Compost helps break up hard clay soil and tighten up loose sandy soil. Your crumbly organic soil will hold more water than any other kind and it will give the plants’ root system the room to stretch out and dig in.
When you water, you want to deliver the moisture slowly and as close to the root zone as possible to eliminate evaporation and to allow the soil to soak up as much water as possible. The best way to accomplish these twin objectives is by laying a soaker hose in the garden and leaving it there. You can even bury this hose under two to four inches of soil. If you don’t want to bury it, you can cover it up with a layer of shredded organic mulch.
Soaker hoses ooze water out through their pores along their entire length. They will soak an area up to 18 inches on either side of the hose. If you have a mixed perennial border you should loop the hose through the garden in an S pattern. Whenever you water, you just hook up a regular hose to the soaker hose and turn it on. They use up to 70 percent less water than other types of watering systems.
Drip irrigation is a close second to soaker hoses. These are specially designed hoses that have tiny holes punched in them by the manufacturer which slowly drip water out to the garden. Some drip systems have little sprinklers built into them that gently spray water out to irrigate the garden.
Question: How can I control moles and deer using organic methods?
Answer: MoleMax is an effective organic product that I have used to control moles and chipmunks in my garden. It is an easy-to-apply granular product that is derived from castor bean oil. Castor bean oil has long been cited as a deterrent to moles, but this is the first time I have seen an easy-to-use product in my local lawn and garden center. The package says it is effective against moles, gophers, voles, armadillos, skunks, rabbits, ground squirrels and other burrowing animals. For more information visit www.bonideproducts.com/products/molemax.htm..
Deer Stopper is an organic product that I am using to deter deer. It is derived from putrescent whole egg solids mixed with rosemary and mint oil to improve the fragrance. So far it is working for me. For more information visit www.messinawildlife.com.
Question: What is the best way to kill weeds growing in my sidewalk?
Answer: White vinegar straight from the bottle is an effective way to kill weeds. Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar right off the supermarket shelf and spray it on the offending weed. Be sure not to spray plants you want to live because vinegar will kill them, too. This is particularly effective with weeds growing in your brick sidewalk. Most of the prepared organic weed killers have white vinegar in them mixed with a citrus scent. All are effective.
To kill poison ivy, mix a gallon of white vinegar with a pound of table salt and three tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Spray that on the poison ivy. You may have to spray more than once because poison ivy is tough stuff.
Question: My Endless Summer hydrangea is not blooming. What can I do?
Answer: Many gardeners are complaining that their Endless Summer hydrangea shrubs are not blooming. These are the shrubs that bloom more reliably in the north. I emailed Peggy Anne Montgomery, horticulturist for Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, the company that introduced Endless Summer. Here are some of her tips:
• Keep the shrubs watered for the first couple years while they get established.
• Do not add any fertilizer to the new shrubs. Fertilizer will promote leaf formation at the expense of blooms.
• Dump a bushel basket of leaves over the shrubs in October for winter protection for the first couple years.
• Be patient, hydrangea take a couple years to get established.
Also, people want to know if they can change the color of the bloom from blue to pink by adding chemicals. Peggy’s advice is: don’t fight with Mother Nature. It doesn‘t work. But, if you really must, be sure to read the instructions on the packaging carefully. Best advice though is to leave the shrub alone!
For more on these wonderful shrubs check out www.endlesssummerblooms.com/en/home.
Larry Sombke is a guest on WAMC and the editor/host of his blog website www.beautifuleasygardens.blogspot.com. He is a landscape consultant and the author of “Beautiful Easy Flower Gardens.” Send your garden questions to him at email@example.com.
10 tips for a great night’s rest
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 70 million Americans report they have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep every night. Have we become a nation of the eternally drowsy?
With hectic schedules and a variety of life commitments, women are living more versatile lives. But this new dynamic might be one of the reasons that 67 percent of them claim they experience a sleep problem three or more times a week.
“Researchers have determined that insufficient sleep can cause serious medical problems - high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and depression, to begin with,” says Ellen Michaud, author of Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim. “While it is often easier to look to various medications for sleep assistance, it is in the examining and making of changes to your sleep habits where you can really make the difference.”
Michaud’s book is a collection of easy-to-implement, doctor-tested tips, tricks and strategies for women to achieve better sleep throughout their lifetime. Here are some ideas to help you start sleeping better and living healthier:
1. Don’t check your email before bed.
Researchers at Stanford University have found that the light from your monitor right before bed is enough to reset your whole wake/sleep cycle—and postpone the onset of sleepiness by 3 hours.
2. Ditch the lights.
Hall nightlights and clock radios with lighted displays can be misinterpreted by your brain as a signal you should wake up. Darkness inhibits the brain’s biological clock and encourages you to sleep sounder, for longer periods of time.
3. Skip the murder thrillers.
Stephen King novels and other thriller-type books are not good to read before bed. No one sleeps when their mind is wondering at every creak and noise in the house.
4. Forget the late-night news.
Since most 10 and 11pm newscasts tend to feature negative, often shocking content, it will do more to agitate you than help you to relax. After 30 or 60 minutes of watching people get hurt, it’s unlikely you are going to drift into a peaceful sleep
5. Keep a “worry” book close.
“Put a ‘worry book’ beside your bed,” suggests UCLA’s Dr. Yan-Go. When you wake and start worrying, jot down everything you’re thinking and any strategies you’ve thought of that will solve the problems. Then put the book back and rest easy knowing you will deal with those items in the morning.
6. Wear socks to bed.
“There’s no solid explanation for it, but studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep,” comments Michaud. “It may be that warming your feet and legs allows your internal body temperature to drop.”
7. Drink water.
Water is a great thing to drink for overall health. Be sure to avoid coffee, hot chocolate or tea within 6 to 10 hours of bed. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical produced by your brain that makes you sleepy.
8. Take milk and (low-fat) cookies to bed.
The tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy, but you need some carbs to get it where you want it to go in your brain, says Mary Susan Esther, MD, and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
9. Create a sleep schedule.
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule every day of the week helps to train the brain and body to relax during those designated times. Talk with your family or mate about your sleep needs and how you can work as a team to make sure everyone is getting the sleep they need.
10. Use aromatherapy.
“Try taking a warm bath before bed and using aromas that calm the senses, such as lavender and vanilla,” suggests Michaud. “Before you go to bed, a quick spritz of soothing lavender water on your pillows will help calm your exhausted mind.”
Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim has more than 400 sure-fire strategies for banishing insomnia, including specific tips regarding allergies, biological changes, family stressors, depression and more.
Courtesy of ARA Content
By Linda McClain, CTA
Is your idea of an idyllic vacation arriving on a remote tropical island where you are treated more like a celebrity instead of just another guest? Would you love to experience international culture and activities with some of the most welcoming people in the world? If the answer is yes, let me be the first to say Bula, Bula (Welcome, Welcome)!
How do I get there?
From Albany, connecting air service is available via Los Angeles to Nadi International Airport, on the largest island of Fiji, Viti Levu. Qantas Airlines and Air New Zealand are the premier air carriers to the Fiji islands. Flight duration from Los Angeles is approximately 10 hours. Surprisingly, the destination of Fiji is not much further than the Hawaiian Islands, and far less commercialized.
US citizens can travel to Fiji with a valid US passport. A visa is not required, unless you are continuing on to Australia. Departure tax is $30 and payable as you leave the country.
With today’s economy, how can I afford to get there?
Here are a few ways to prepare for a vacation to an international destination:
• Use a travel agent, dedicated to working with your budget and area of interest.
• Pre-plan your trip. Vacation packages traditionally require a small deposit with a final payment at a later date, unless you wait until the last minute.
• Use a credit card that accrues air miles with each purchase you make. American Airlines mileage awards can be redeemed for Qantas air flights. United Airlines has a similar program with Air New Zealand.
• Ask a family member if they have air miles they won’t be using. You can negotiate payback on their terms.
Anticipate ideal tropical South Seas weather. Constant trade winds blow in from the South East, creating a pleasing cool down in the evening.
Summer season - January and February can be hot, humid and wet. Average high- 86 F. Summer water temperature 80-84F.
Winter season - Weather conditions are much dryer from July-September. Average high - 84F. Winter water temperature 75-79.
High season - The driest weather is during April, May, June and October. However, both wet and dry seasons can be excellent times to visit.
Fiji averages about 10-12 cyclones a decade, of which two-three could be serious. The storm season runs November-April.
Culture & history
Fiji is an archipelago of over 300 islands. However, only one in 10 Fijians live outside the two main islands. The nation is an interesting blend of Micronesia, Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese and European influences.
A former British colony, English, Fijian and Hindustani are the main languages of the nation.
The earliest people were thought to have arrived around 1500 BC from Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The original inhabitants are called the Lapita people, named for a specific fine pottery they produced. In the 1200s, this significant pottery style was discovered in Fiji, but ceased in Venuatu. Since a massive volcanic eruption occurred in Venuatu, it is believed they evacuated to Fiji. Most of the South Pacific Islands except Eastern Polynesia have found remnants of pottery from this era.
1643 - Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer advised Europeans to avoid Fiji because it was rumored to be home to cannibals.
1774 – Englishman Captain Cook sailed in the region, but didn’t attempt to go ashore.
1789 – Captain Bligh was the first explorer to chart Fiji, but was chased away by two canoes.
Because of the cannibal superstition, Europeans didn’t start arriving until the 19th century. They found Sandalwood on the islands and shipped it on to China for big profits.
Fiji customs & traditions
Because Fijians are people of great tradition and respect, it is important to be made aware of certain protocol:
Although visitors are always greeted with “Bula, Bula,” they are also often greeted with a meke, a traditional dance performance. In addition, many of Fiji’s resorts will have staff members greet guests upon arrival while also bidding farewell as they leave for home.
If visiting a temple, remove your shoes, cover your shoulders and wear clothing below the knee.
When visiting a Fijian village, it is expected that you give a piece of waka root to the tribal leader, while explaining the reason for your visit. The powder of the waka root will be used to make kava, a ceremonial beverage that communicates friendship, tradition and respect.
Avoid wearing a hat in a worship area or speaking loudly, as these are signs of disrespect.
What can you do here?
The most popular Fiji island destinations for tourism are Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Denarau.
Looking for an idyllic honeymoon destination? No question, accommodation choices are certainly what dreams are made of.
Want to take the family? Fijians are respectful of family tradition and interact well with children.
Photographer? Take a flight-seeing excursion above the islands for a bird’s eye view of mountain ranges, luscious beaches and rainforests. View villages built on hilltops and nestled within the forest ranges.
Avid bird watcher? The archipelago is rich with bird life.
Love to golf? Choose from 10 courses throughout the islands.
Conservationist? Expect to delight in the unspoiled beauty of this tropical gem.
Where to stay
Accommodations are located along the coastline as well as secluded settings. Check out a bure, a traditional thatched roof South Pacific village house or choose from a variety of resorts and price ranges.
Main island - Viti Levu
SUVA - Looking for cultural immersion? Visit Suva, the capital of Fiji. You can peruse the colonial and contemporary architecture, as well as the Fiji museum at Thurston Gardens. It details the developing stages of Fiji’s nation and has actual relics from the HMS Bounty.
Nadi (pronounced Nandi) - Gateway city to the islands. Need retail therapy? Nadi’s colorful market and shopping stalls will capture your attention as well as your curiosity.
Sri Siva Subramaniya is the largest and most significant Hindu temple in Fiji. It is considered a must see.
Nadi Bay—Departure port for Blue Lagoon cruises. Sail through the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, known as a slice of Eden. Here lie a beautiful collection of volcanic islands with an abundance of beautiful beaches and coconut trees.
Mamanucas Islands—Located northwest of Viti Levu, these islands are paradise for snorkelers, surfers and scuba enthusiasts. Many resorts in this area are located on their own exclusive island.
Yasawa Islands—Seasoned scuba diver or snorkeler? Take a trip to the tiny islands of Sawa-i-lau, with its fabulous underwater grotto and Tavewa Island, known for its’ coral caves and pristine reefs.
Coral Coast—Located on the South part of the island, experience a variety of coral lagoons, sugar cane fields, and white sand beaches. Hikers are drawn to this area to explore extensive waterfalls and unspoiled landscape.
Denarau Island—The Westin, Sheratons, Radisson and Sofitel Resorts have outstanding accommodations for your selection.
Vatulele Island—An exclusive hideaway for those searching for a 5-star resort
Vanua Levu—The smaller of the two main islands of Fiji, it compromises of 20 percent of the population of the country. Its principal industry is sugar cane farms. The Jean-Michael Cousteau Fiji Island Resort is located here. Scuba diving is this region is considered outstanding.
Turtle Island in the Yasawa group was the film location for the movie, “The Blue Lagoon”.
Sacred Bouma Falls on the island of Taveuni was the film site of “Return To The Blue Lagoon”. Here you will find a natural waterslide, which was also featured in the movie.
The movie “Castaway”, starring Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt was filmed off the west coast of Viti Levu.
And just in time for the US elections, if you don’t vote in Fiji you can get imprisoned! l
For more information visit www.bulafiji.com.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net.
Your hobby as your career–is it possible?
By Dan Moran
Ever hear the expression “Do what you love, and the money will follow”? It is from a popular career development book of the same name by Marsha Sinetar. We have all heard the stories about the skier who becomes an instructor, the gourmet cook who becomes a caterer or the woodworker who becomes a furniture craftsman.
In many cases, it is possible to take what you really enjoy – the hobby or activity that you have a passion for – and turn it into your career. In other situations, what you are passionate about as a hobby just might not make the cut after you do the research and analysis. If you have been thinking of turning your hobby into a career, follow the tips below that will encourage you to take a reflective look at your plan before you leap into chucking it all and taking your hobby to the next level.
Step One (the most important): Is it economically feasible and is there a market?
The most important step in this process is to determine the economics and market demand or acceptance—or in other words, can you make money at your hobby? The questions to ask (and answer) include:
• Will someone pay me for this product or service – and how much?
• What will be my costs to produce the product or service?
• Will the difference between what someone will pay and my cost yield an acceptable profit – enough to generate the level of income I need?
• If the numbers are close but not quite there, can I produce or deliver at a lower cost?
These may be tough questions, but the answers will help you determine if you will move forward in your new career or not. Too many businesses have been started, or careers redirected, without the required and difficult analysis. I call it being on “hope-ium” – where one hopes it will work for them rather than conducting the analysis before they leap.
Follow these tips:
• Turn to fellow hobbyists that you know or can find through online research and ask for their opinion.
• Conduct market research and find others who may be providing the same or a similar product or service and ask (as long as they would not be a potential competitor).
• If you are in need of help in conducting the analysis, hire a consultant to help you through this critical process.
Step Two: Build a plan
Once you find out there is a market, your next step is to create a business plan. No matter how simple, it is very important and will further define and validate the opportunity to turn your hobby into your career. In this stage, you project what it will take to launch your new endeavor, fund it and determine when you can expect a payback.
Business plans force you to look at your specific actions (production, delivery, sales, marketing/advertising, operations) and will help you identify what you need to put in to survive and make it. You should answer questions including:
• How much money do I need to invest?
• Based on my sales, marketing and advertising plans, when will I generate enough revenue to make a profit?
• How much do I need to pay myself to live through any start-up?
• Where will the business be in one, two and five years?
It is very important that you budget in your start-up costs and enough money to pay yourself until you can generate a profit. Businesses fail not because the idea was not sound, but rather, the business was undercapitalized (or invested in) to meet the income and operating needs.
Step Three: Reflect upon yourself
So far, I have been driving you to understand the numbers and the financial needs of turning a hobby into a career or business. It is also very important that you take a look in the mirror and ask the tough questions:
• Will I still love my hobby if it is my vocation?
• Do I have it in me to run my own business or work my hobby in someone else’s business?
• Will I have the lifestyle I want?
Not long ago, I met a person who loved designing flower arrangements and wanted to be in this business. She told me one thing I will not forget: Some enter the florist business thinking that they are going to design arrangements and listen to Enya everyday - they learn fast that this isn’t the case. This is why taking a reflective look is so very important at the early stages of your exploration.
Step Four: Decide how committed youare—and your tolerance for risk
If you have pass muster of Steps 1, 2 & 3 and it is still looking good, measure your level of commitment and your risk tolerance. Your personal situation will help you define this. If you have support—perhaps a spouse or significant other with income to help through start-up or adjusting to your personal economic situation (if this is the case)—the decision may be easier. Some I know have saved for a period of time knowing what may be needed to invest, and they are okay with doing this, which is an investment in themselves.
As you go through this step, you will know if your hobby will become a full-time or part-time endeavor. It is very common for hobbyists to start part-time, learn along the way, and then jump in full-time later on. Still, others launch their hobby as a business part-time only to find they are flooded with business, which then requires a full-time commitment (not bad when that happens).
Time for the green light to shine …
To this point—tough questions, reflective thought, analysis—probably painful. But hopefully you are here—you have passed your own muster, the hobby can be your career or business and you are ready to jump in. Congratulations—and on to Step Five!
Step Five: Dare to be different
I often write about re-careering or reinventing yourself from a career perspective. I ask you to do the same with your hobby—find a way to be different, pursue another angle and stand out from the crowd. Perhaps you are a gourmet cook wanting to do catering—consider using your talents to teach others to cook as you do rather than joining the ranks of other caterers. Perhaps your hobby is writing. Rather than write and hope you get published, coach others embarking on a career in writing.
The goal is to stand out, be a recognized authority and truly love what you do. Someone once said that if you are passionate for what you do, you will never work another day in your life. Time to follow your dreams and your passion…and the best of luck to you.
Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie. He specializes in helping people make career choices and seek new jobs. He is also a Certified Facilitator for Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now! Programs, which help those in career transition and companies get results. He mentors managers & executives as they navigate their careers and achievements. You can reach him at 641.8968 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.next-act.com.
So, what’s a guy anyway?
By Ed Lange
In April 2007, when I first began writing this column, “Guy Stuff,” for CRL, the criteria for guydom seemed—like the truths in the Declaration of Independence—self-evident. A guy is, well, a guy, right? No, not so fast.
As it turns out, the definition of a guy is not an immutable truth such as “all men are created equal” or “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Nope. The definition of a guy is considerably more amorphous and elusive. It is the intent of this declaration to codify what I mean by a guy, at least for the purposes of this column and its prospective readers. Please understand; we are not dealing with a dictionary definition here. The dictionary definition of a guy is as worthless and meaningless as a pocket in your underwear.
First and most important, a guy is not defined by gender, race, age, religion, sexual preference or nationality. A woman can qualify to be a guy just as surely as a man. And it is no discredit to man or woman. The title is a respected honorific. Today, a woman who qualifies to be a guy can wear the designation with pride. When I was a kid, a common insult was, “Ah, yer mother wears combat boots.” Today, that exact same phrase qualifies as an expression of praise and respect, pride and awe. Times change, and as Bob Dylan says, “they are a’changin’.”
To be a guy is to be self-reliant. A guy is someone you can count on. Someone who puts substance before style. A guy makes choices and decisions based on integrity and inner confidence rather than the capricious whims of current fashion. But sometimes a guy goofs up. A guy doesn’t shrink from challenges or hard work. A guy does what needs doing and perseveres in the face of adversity. A guy has a sense of humor and laughs – a lot – at one’s self as much as anything else. Maybe more. A guy knows no one is perfect. Some guys shave their chins; some guys shave their legs. Some guys don’t shave at all. And some women earn guydom automatically if, like the editor of this magazine, they take boxing lessons! (Advance token to “Go.” Collect $200.)
Generally speaking, guys strive to treat others with dignity and respect, and have very little patience with pretense, pomposity or the phrase, “You should…” Similarly, guys are fairly easy-going, down-to-earth, and even-tempered unless they encounter actions that infuriate them such as arrogance, injustice, cruelty or tyranny.
Here’s a list of stuff that help define what a guy is. A person doesn’t need to have done all these things to qualify as a guy. Even one or two may be enough to earn some semblance of guydom. But if someone has done none of them, chances are pretty good that person isn’t a guy. You earn three points for each of the following that you’ve done. 100 points possible (including one point for the special bonus at the end).
You may qualify to be a guy if…
1. You have at least one cut or skinned knuckle on your hand.
2. You own a hammer.
3. You’ve drunk a beer from a bottle or a can.
4. You carry a pocket knife.
5. You’ve changed a flat tire by yourself.
6. You’ve served in the military (or AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps)
7. You own a piece of clothing made by Carhartt or Dickie.
8. You have a dog that weighs more than five pounds.
9. You’ve put a worm on a fishhook.
10. You’ve played pops and grounders.
11. You take responsibility for your actions and admit when you’re wrong.
12. You’ve pulled a muscle lifting something you shouldn’t have. (Extra points if you cussed and called yourself a dope.)
13. You’ve nearly rear-ended another car while eyeing a pretty girl (or a studly guy) while driving. (Extra points if you actually rear-ended the car. You jerk.)
14. You wear jeans made by Levi, Wrangler or Lee. (Extra points if you’ve worn a hole in the knee. Deduct points if you wear jeans only by Calvin Klein, DKNY or Guess.)
15. When wearing a necktie, you loosen it and open the top button on your shirt at the earliest opportunity. (Extra points if you also roll up your sleeves.)
16. You’ve dug into the dirty laundry for something to wear.
17. You’ve built something out of wood – and it looked or functioned as it was supposed to.
18. You’ve removed and cleaned out a sink trap. (Extra points if you replaced it and it didn’t leak.)
19. You’ve been pulled over by a police officer and didn’t cry.
20. You’ve swapped insults with a friend – and laughed – and stayed friends.
21. You tune-up and service your lawnmower yourself. (Extra points for sharpening the blade.)
22. You’ve ever been on the roof of your house.
23. You’ve helped a stranger out of a jam.
24. You’ve walked in mud without saying either “Ewww” or “Gross.”
25. You can build a fire – outdoors.
26. You’ve planted a tree and/or cut down a dead tree.
27. You’ve done a favor for someone without telling anyone or expecting payback.
28. You cook – not only on the barbecue. (Extra points if the food is edible to anyone besides yourself.)
29. You’ve ever gone camping – in a tent – at night – in the rain and you didn’t cry.
30. You’ve flown a kite that remained aloft for more than 10 minutes. (Extra points if you got it back in good enough condition that it could fly again.)
31. You’ve ever given yourself a manicure with a Swiss Army knife.
32. You have more than one article of clothing with paint on it. (Extra points if you have clothing with driveway sealer on it.)
33. You’ve told a story to a kid. No, not a lie, a story. A ghost story, wolfman story, pirate story, adventure story.
Special bonus. Add one point if you ever said to your spouse or significant other, “You were right.” Deduct the point if you ever said, “I told you so.” Deduct two points if you also said, “See!”
How’d you do?
As I wrap up this silliness, some song titles have occurred to me. “There Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame”, “I Enjoy Being a Girl”, and “I Feel Pretty”. Well, I think it’s high time somebody wrote some “guy” songs: “There Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Guy”, “I Enjoy Being a Guy” and “I Feel Guy-Like.” So, if any guy out there has a knack for clever lyrics give it your best shot and send ‘em in. It’s time for guys (of either gender) of the world to unite and we need an anthem!
A freelance writer, three of Ed Lange’s plays were finalists for national Audie Awards, in 2000, ’05, and ’07, and one of the three won. His articles have appeared multiple times in national magazines: Sail, Soundings, American Theatre, and Dramatics.
Happy summer! This month brings a local author’s newest novel, the newest installment in the Temeraire fantasy series, a humorous business book by a columnist for Fortune magazine and the most recent essay collection by a best-selling humorist.
David Sedaris’s newest book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, debuted at the top of the Indie Bestseller list the week it was released. As in his six previous books, Sedaris mines his past and present life for anecdotes with morals he somehow makes universal. Although some of the essays mention his parents and siblings, most of them are about his adulthood and his life in France with his boyfriend, Hugh. This shift in focus makes this a darker book than his previous works; mortality and decay are evident everywhere, as is Sedaris’s ability to find humor in the bleakest of situations. The cover features a skeleton smoking a cigarette; the longest essay in the book chronicles the author’s efforts to stop smoking, which involved a long stay in Tokyo. If you are a David Sedaris fan, you will love this book. If you haven’t read him yet, I don’t suggest starting with this one; choose one of his earlier, lighter books. But do read him—his combination of humor, poignancy and appreciation for the absurd is a potent mix.
Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik’s newest book, is the fifth in the Temeraire fantasy series and the first to be published in hardcover. (That is a major step for a fantasy writer; it means that your publisher believes your fan base is so solid that they won’t quail at the prospect of paying $25 for their next fix.) Readers of the series thus far know that Temeraire is a dragon in His Majesty’s Aerial Corps during the Napoleonic era. His captain, Will Laurence, is a patriot and a man of honor, sworn to defend England against its enemies. Their relationship is what makes this series so remarkable—Laurence and Temeraire are devoted comrades and loyal brothers-in-arms who work for justice while adhering to a rigid military code. At the beginning of Victory of Eagles, Laurence is in disgrace for committing an act of compassion worthy of Mother Theresa, but viewed as treason by his military superiors. When Napoleon does the unthinkable and actually invades England, it is all hands on deck to drive out the enemy, and Laurence is given a chance to expiate his crime. This is swashbuckling historical fantasy at its finest! If you haven’t started the series, read the first one, His Majesty’s Dragon, and see what you think. This series is also great for older (13 and up) fans of Eragon who are looking for more books about dragons.
Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine and author of many books, including two novels. Executricks: Or How to Retire While Still Working is ostensibly a business book, but it would fit just as well in the humor section. If you are an aging executive who is not willing to retire, but who doesn’t want to work 24/7, this is the book for you! Bing has dozens of tips for those who prefer to work less while still receiving full financial remuneration from their employer. Telecommuting, delegating and the importance of a comfortable, ergonomically correct office chair as an aid to productivity are fully covered, as are the rules for imbibing alcohol correctly while socializing with co-workers. It is clear that Bing has worked as an executive in a corporate venue; it is also clear that he has discovered the unpublicized benefits of being a head honcho. Despite being a business book, this is a fun read that has appeal even if you are an aspiring executive.
Elizabeth Brundage, author of The Doctor’s Wife, has a new novel out this month. Somebody Else’s Daughter is set in western Massachusetts, in a beautiful town that is populated by well-off people who are hiding some unsavory secrets. Willa Golding is the cherished adopted daughter of Joe and Candace. Born to drug addicted parents, she now lives a privileged life, riding horses, attending private school and fulfilling her parents’ expectations. But during her senior year in high school, things begin to go awry. While doing community service, she meets a young prostitute who introduces her to drugs and Willa succumbs to their allure. Meanwhile, her parents have their own secrets and the headmaster of her school is showing more personal interest in Willa than is strictly appropriate. Add to the mix Claire, a sculptor, Teddy, her under-achieving teenage son and Nate Gallagher, an English teacher with a past he wants to keep hidden, and you’re in for an entertaining and suspenseful read.
Susan Taylor has been in the book business, in one aspect or another, since 1982. She currently works at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Stop by the store if you are looking for a good book—she’s read a lot more than she can talk about here!
Sun Sign Forecast
For July 2008
By Arlene DeAngelus
Best Days for July 2008: 11th, 16th and 22nd.
Aries: (March 21 to April 20)Home life and family relationships are your focus for this month. You plan family outings and enjoy happy times with your loved ones. After the 18th, your career area, or the equivalent, becomes important and you devote time to a new project or strategy. You look for ways to move up the career ladder. Progressive ideas can be presented to others in a subtle manner on the 26th.
Taurus: (April 21 to May 20) Communications with others and mental pursuits are your focus this month. This is a time to take up a new study or to change an unwanted habit. After the 18th, your interest turns to intellectual and spiritual studies as you seek to expand your knowledge and wisdom. You discuss an unexpected change in your goals and directions with family members on the 22nd.
Gemini : (May 21 to June 20) Financial investments and other money issues are important to you this month. You review your budgeting and saving practices to see if you can make improvements. After the 18th, you also review your shared resources and/or marital assets. This is a time to resolve any old debts. You may receive unexpected recognition or a pay increase, or equivalent, on the 26th.
Cancer: (June 21 to July 22) Self-expression and renewed self-confidence are your focus for this month. If you need to make a good impression, now is the time. After the 18th, remember to compromise in one-to-one relationships so that you can develop a better understanding of these special people in your life. You gain a new sense of self-confidence through an abstract discussion on the 22nd.
Leo: (July 23 to August 22) Spiritual growth and learning about the inner child are your focus this month. This is a time when you will explore your innermost feelings. After the 18th, you concentrate on your physical condition and begin a new diet or exercise regimen. This can be a time to rethink your work habits. You receive recognition for a job well-done or a service that you provide for another on the 26th.
Virgo: (August 23 to September 22) Direction in life and long-term goals are your focus for this month. You find new friends and join in group affiliations. After the 18th, you enjoy happy times with your loved ones. You feel a creative urge to begin a new project. You discuss goals and ideas with your one-to-one partner who offers an unexpected solution. You can gain a new perception if another’s suggestion is considered on the 22nd.
Libra: (September 23 to October 22) Ambition and your drive for success in a career area, or the equivalent, are your focus for this month. This is also a time when you can influence a supervisor or make a positive impression. After the 18th, you review your personal affairs and resolve family matters. Favorable decisions can be reached in family or marital issues. Compromise if needed in order to avoid a disagreement with another on the 26th
Scorpio: (October 23 to November 21) Intellectual pursuits and spiritual needs are your focus for this month. You want to expand your knowledge of the universe either through study or travel. Foreign cultures, philosophies or religions become of interest. After the 18th, you look to change your environment and the ways in which you communicate with others. Expect co-workers or friends to involve you in unexpected situations on the 22nd.
Sagittarius: (November 22 to December 21) Shared resources and values are your focus for this month. Use care with taxes and in estate matters. After the 18th, review your money accounts and make any necessary changes. Begin a new savings plan. This can be a time when you change jobs or your line of work. Be patient in achieving career goals. Take an extra step to expand your career goals on the 26th.
Capricorn: (December 22 to January 19) One-to-one relationships, both business and personal, are your focus for this month. These special relationships fill your life with happiness. After the 18th, you begin to change your personal habits and appearance as you buy new clothes and change your hairstyle. You are looking for a new self-identity. Your conversations with loved ones have a deeper feeling and sensitivity on the 22nd.
Aquarius: (January 20 to February 18) Work relationships and taking care of your health are your focus for this month. Beginning a new diet or exercise regimen can be at the top of your list. After the 18th, you search for a deeper sense of spiritual fulfillment. This is the time to go on a weekend retreat. Resolve any issues concerning marital assets or shared resources and avoid disagreements over these same matters on the 26th.
Pisces: (February 19 to March 20) Loved ones and self-creativity are your focus for this month. You are sensitive to others’ needs, but at the same time you look for stability in your love relationships. After the 18th, you set you goals and work toward achieving them. Social events take up your time and you work to help others. Humanitarian causes appeal to you. You unexpectedly open your heart to a loved one on the 22nd.
Arlene is an author, astrologer and para-consultant and has studied and worked with astrology for more than 35 years. She has been a professional astrologer since 1980 and has a Certificate of Merit from Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson (CA) and a Certificate of Proficiency from the Mayo School of Astrology (London) In addition, she holds certifications from the National Spiritualist Association of Churches as both a Medium and Healer (NY 1982-2008). She also has a B.A. from The College of Saint Rose and worked for more than 30 years as a Contract Administrator for the State of New York.
A fish tale (or is it tail?)
By John Gray
They say no good deed goes unpunished and at the tender age of 12 I learned this lesson the hard way. You’ve no doubt heard the tales of the “Tortoise and the Hare” or the “Ugly Duckling and the Swan”. Well, let me share with you the true story of the “Snapping Turtle and the Gold Fish”.
I was the youngest of four children in my family and like most kids each of us was different from the other. But no where was this more apparent than with my brother Stephen and me. He rode dirt bikes, played rock and roll in a band and his pet was a mean old snapping turtle. I rode the bus, played chess and my pet was a small aquarium filled with gentle fish.
Since I loved my fish you can only imagine my disgust when my brother would come home from school and yell, “Suppertime” as he fed his turtle an unsuspecting gold fish from a tank he kept next to mine. I’d swear his feeder fish, as they were called, were looking through the glass at my aquarium with its sunken ship thinking, “Boy, did we rent in the wrong neighborhood.”
I hated feeding time because that evil little turtle would corner the fish that was tossed into his den of death and suddenly, SNAP! the fish was gone. The more I protested the more my brother teased me about the whole thing telling me I’d better keep quiet or one of my little friends might “accidentally” end up as supper for Mr. Snappy. I thought about setting all the feeder fish free, but that presented two obvious problems. One, I had no where to put them and two, my brother would pound me into dust. Then an idea came to me. If I couldn’t save all of them I could at least save one. There had to be a dozen fish in the feeding tank and since my brother only got a “C’ in math I was certain he couldn’t count. One less fish would certainly go unnoticed. I waited until everyone went to bed and snuck into the family room where the fish and turtle slept. Like a doctor performing surgery I carefully scooped my net into my brother’s tank and chose the smallest fish he had.
Once he was in my tank I told him he might want to hide behind the treasure chest that released bubbles for a couple of days until the coast was clear. Call me crazy, but I think he winked at me. The next day came and went and no one was the wiser. Two days, three, a week, then two and it was clear that I had pulled it off. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I hit the one month mark since my midnight caper; that’s when I noticed it. The tiny feeder fish I had kidnapped was getting bigger. Fast. He was easily twice the size he was when I stole him and with each day seemed to be growing more. At feeding time I noticed he was scaring off the other fish and eating all the food. I was starting to worry those little orange flakes I dropped in the water wouldn’t be enough and he’d soon have his roommates as an appetizer.
Something was clearly wrong so I called the pet store and asked why a feeder fish would grow so large in such a small tank. They told me those fish are really baby carp and he would grow the size of Texas and eventually eat my entire family. Something had to be done.
I know what you’re thinking, and shame on you! I DID NOT flush him down the toilet. I wouldn’t do such a thing. Besides he wouldn’t fit. Instead, I had a wonderful plan that involved setting him free. I borrowed one of my mom’s good Tupperware dishes, filled it with water and using both hands, grabbed a hold of him. “Carpy”, as I was now calling him, was going on an adventure.
I walked two miles from my home across fields and valleys to a beautiful pond. I opened the lid and told Carpy that today was a special day because he was no longer a prisoner. Today he would swim with the fishes. Since Carpy wasn’t in the mob that was a good thing. I got down on one knee and ever so gently poured him into the shallow waters of the pond. I’d swear he smiled as he flipped his tail and ventured out into the deeper water to test his skills. That’s when it happened. Carpy and I both realized in the same instant that since he had spent his entire life living in a glass tank he had no idea what a current was. I didn’t think a pond could have much of a current but this one did, and soon my little gilled friend was on his side struggling to right himself. “It’s okay,” I yelled. “You can do it. Swim, just swim.” And for a moment he started to regain his composure. In fact, I think he would have made it if not for the waterfall. Yep. About 30 yards to the left of where Carpy set sail there was a waterfall I never noticed before. Pretty good size too, with a 25-foot drop into some jagged rocks. Suddenly dinner with the snapping turtle didn’t seem like a bad option.
I ran along the shore trying in vain to save him. I would have reached out with a stick, but since fish don’t have arms I’m pretty sure he would have had trouble grabbing hold. Then he ran out of real estate and tail over head he was swept over the falls. If this was the Olympics I’m pretty sure the judges would have given him a 2 out of a possible 10 on the dive. The Russian judge a 1, of course. I never saw him come up and to me that’s a good sign. Perhaps old Carpy survived the fall and the rocks and the rapids and despite his complete inability to swim somehow managed to follow the stream to the river and the river to the sea where he was reunited with his son Nemo. Oh wait, wrong story. Thirty years has come and gone since that day at the pond where a little boy tried to do the right thing. I still have the same aquarium with the sunken ship and treasure chest that bubbles sitting in my bedroom. Late at night when sleep won’t come, I lay there watching the little fish dart back and forth, remembering a big goofy guppy who was almost turtle food. A fish who was given a chance at a better life only to be murdered by a 12-year-old moron who thought all fish could swim. I thought the story was over until I attended a charity dinner recently. I had a choice of chicken or fish and I went for the latter. During the main course I started choking on a bone and for a moment there, it was really touch and go. Finally, I coughed it up and looked down at my plate. Carpy? Apparently revenge is a dish best served with rice pilaf.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at email@example.com
June is one of my favorite months. Not only am I proud to celebrate Father’s Day with my two children, but it reminds me of my high school and college graduations, as well as my memorable Italian honeymoon with my wife six years ago. Those are great memories for me, and now, whenever I drive by a graduation or enjoy a fabulous Italian meal or wine, I feel younger and more hopeful for the future.
But this June, there’s a cloud that’s affecting everyone, from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and executives. That, of course, is the economy.
As publisher of a regional publication, I feel it is important to draw attention to all of the mom-and-pop stores in the Capital Region. This is the time to help generate business and continue support. So if you can, please shop close to home and give your business to those who support your neighborhood and give back to the community.
As a regional magazine, we are determined to do our share.
One way we are doing it is by supporting local events and non-profits. This August, you will see us as the main sponsor for the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ 10th Annual Saratoga Fashion Show. The RMHC is truly one of the best supporting programs for children and families in the region. And in October, we will be sponsoring the 4th Annual New Visions Golf Classic at the Schuyler Meadows Club in Loudonville.
We will also be announcing more sponsorships and new publications that target different audiences from CRL Magazine in the coming months.
I hope you’ll join us as we support our community and friends. Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read our magazine.
Oh, by the way, there is an important anniversary in June that I almost forgot to mention. This magazine was launched five years ago—June 2003! So, enjoy our Baby Boomer issue and wish us another great five years in the Capital Region.
Publisher & CEO
Rewind and unplug
A boomer reminds us of the small stuff
By Ed Lange
What this article is not about. This recollective diversion is not about the big stuff from days gone by. You will read no reminiscences here of the Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, racism, anti-Semitism, feminine inequality, Viet Nam, assassinations, the Bay of Pigs, the Korean War, or the nuclear arms race. Those significant passages were the big stuff that we all sweat over. This little mosey through memory recalls the adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” So, fasten your seatbelt—which you wouldn’t have had in the 1950s—and we’ll hit the road together to revisit momentous trivia.
My father, “Pop”, came home from Europe sometime late in 1945 after he and a few million other guys defeated Hitler. I took my first breath late in 1946 when the population of the United States numbered about 141 million—less than half of today. Yes, it was a very different world back then.
Life at school
At school, girls always wore skirts or dresses, and we called all grown-ups sir or ma’am. Boys wore corduroys and dungarees were so strictly prohibited that on the very last day of ninth grade (the last day of “junior high school”) when a bunch of us got together and wore jeans, we were all sent home to change. Polio was the scariest of anything and was made even scarier by photos of kids in “iron lungs”, so we all lined up for polio shots and almost didn’t mind getting them. Good kids were chosen to serve on the “Safety Patrol” and got to wear white Sam Browne belts while they kept order in the school yard. Bad kids got swatted by teachers for misbehavior. Kids of all kinds cut quarter-size holes in the top of cigar boxes, and if you could drop a marble through the hole from a standing position, you won five marbles, but if you missed, cigar-box-kid kept your marble. Fear of the A-Bomb and the H-Bomb inspired such terror that people built bomb shelters in their basements, and at school we had “duck-and-cover” drills during which we curled up in a fetal position under our desks or out in the hallway away from the windows. But, even we kids knew that if an A-Bomb hit we were goners anyway.
Years and years later, when I went off to college, everyone in the freshman class wore beanies which we had to tip to upperclassmen whenever they demanded, “Tip it, Frosh!” A few years after that, I wore a steel helmet as an infantry grunt in Viet Nam. Talk about irony.
Life at home
At home, the milkman delivered milk in glass bottles and in the winter a column of frozen cream popped the paper top out of the bottle. We sprinkled sugar on the frozen cream and ate it as ice cream. The Freihofer man delivered door-to-door in his bread wagon pulled by a horse that we fed sugar cubes and grass. We always hoped Mom would buy doughnuts or cinnamon crunch buns from his big basket of goodies, but she always just bought bread. Mom washed clothes in a washing machine that had a wringer on top and hung the clothes to dry on an outdoor clothesline that always squeaked when the rope went through the pulleys. But the clothes always smelled like sunshine. Every now and then the coal man came by. He swung the chute out from the side of his truck to send a cascade of black coal and dust schussing down into our cellar coal bin to stoke our furnace to heat our house. But even so, Jack Frost visited magically in the night to paint our single-pane windows with leaves and flowers of ice crystal. I miss them. The iceman came by until electric refrigerators replaced ice boxes, and the ragman came by calling out “Rags, rags, any old rags” until rags stopped being recycled. I wonder, did neighborhoods disappear when the delivery men stopped coming by to draw people out of their homes?
As I was the eldest son, my clothes were always new – mostly overly large so I could “grow into them.” But my two younger brothers rarely got to wear anything but hand-me-downs. Funny, I don’t hear much about hand-me-downs anymore. And I don’t know whether fathers still read the Sunday funnies to their kids before going out with the whole family for a Sunday drive in the Studebaker, the DeSoto, the Nash Rambler or the Hudson. But, I do know that doctors don’t make house calls anymore in any kind of a car! I suppose that when the population doubles in less than my lifetime, you can’t realistically expect doctors to come to your bedside with their little black bags anymore.
Only people at least my age will believe this, but when I was a kid we walked to the Madison on Saturday morning to see a couple of cartoons, an episode of a serial and a feature – all for 25 cents. And whatever happened to all those tragic songs that mourned – in stories of deep teen anguish – the death of a true love? “Teen Angel”, “Running Bear and Little White Dove”, “Tell Laura I Love Her”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Ebony Eyes”, “Patches”, etc. Aren’t teenagers today afraid their boyfriend or girlfriend will die?
There isn’t much point in revisiting the staggering history of television, because it’s so well known. But, someone who deserves mention is the television repairman. Yet another guy in a uniform who came to your house with a toolbox full of tools, gizmos and vacuum tubes! In the early years, televisions “went on the fritz” with annoying frequency (no pun intended). As often as not, the problem was the death of one of the many vacuum tubes the “TV set” needed to work. So, the television repairman came to your home, turned around the mahogany console television, and puttered around in the archeological dust of the TV chassis while the whole family prayed that he wouldn’t utter the dreaded words, “I’ll have to take it to the shop.”
Remember when the high beam button was on the floor of the car? The shifter on the steering column? Car tires with inner tubes? Hitchhiking used to be a common mode of travel, and at 16-years-old, I hitched to Cincinnati and back. Route 9W and Route 20 were the main roads to New York City and Syracuse before the Thruway. And there really was a time that gas stations were also garages instead of mini-marts.
Only 50 years ago, Pan Am took delivery of the first American jetliner, a Boeing 707, and last year, there were 30 million commercial flights in the United States. I was 20 when I took my first flight and politely declined the meal because I thought I had to pay for it and didn’t have much money. Today, I would have had to pay after all.
One Halloween my older sister got famous. Back when cigarette commercials still aired on television (in black and white), Old Gold featured great big dancing cigarette boxes. Sis wrote to them and they actually sent her one of the full-size costumes – for nothin’! The Old Gold cigarette box covered her from the top of her head to the top of her legs and off she danced into Halloween glory.
Once upon a time all stores were closed on Sundays and the destination of those family drives was the countryside or to visit friends instead of going to the mall. When the circus came to town, it performed in tents erected by elephants. The “Big, Green Swings” in Washington Park that sat four people at once were loved by everyone who ever rode in them.
Drug stores used to have soda fountains. Oh boy, soda fountains! Those wonderful, once-in-a-while extra-special-treat places, where the soda jerk wore a white jacket and white paper hat and stood behind a white marble counter. Where tall glass jars with metal tops held white paper straws. Where clean white paper cones were inserted into shiny metal bases to hold whatever blissful yumminess you finally decided to order after long, rapturous minutes of “I-want-everything” indecision. Where a single dip cone cost a dime, a double-dip cone cost twenty cents, and where you were given the huge metal canister in which the malted milkshake was made, so that you could parcel out your scrumptious treat little-by-precious-little so that it would last forever while you spun around on the red stool (and probably kicked your brother). But oh my, where have the glorious ice cream sodas gone? Today, thick shakes, blizzards and flurries, seem to have replaced that irreplaceable summertime treat. But I remain on my personal quest to find the best ice cream soda in the land. Sadly, very few young people who staff ice cream stands have any idea how to make them anymore. There are even some who have never heard of them! But still, I search.
Rarely seen anymore are the interior architectural treasures of the Capital Region’s bygone days: the vast maps of the world painted on the ceiling of Albany’s main post office on Broadway (probably by WPA workers), the incredible murals in the State Education Building that we marveled at while our footsteps echoed in its hallowed halls, the cozy comfort and security of the Harmanus Bleeker Library filled with its precious books and history. The soaring magnificence of Union Station in downtown Albany (now Kiernan Plaza), where many of us soldiers who left the Capital Region for Viet Nam boarded a train – just as our fathers had a generation before us. Some things – and people – may be gone, but they’ll never be forgotten.
Ed Lange is the former Artistic Director for NYSTI in Troy. Three of his plays were finalists for national Audie Awards, one in which he won an award. His articles have appeared multiple times in national magazines: Sail, Soundings, American Theatre and Dramatics.
Planning for a
For many baby boomers it seems like just yesterday they were grooving to the new sound of the Beatles, but this year the first wave of boomers turns 62—making retirement just around the corner. Retirement can mean more time to spend with family and pursue a favorite hobby, but it also means an increased focus on health care needs. Advance planning can help baby boomers ensure that they can focus on enjoying retirement instead of worrying about their health care.
A focus on early prevention, including annual tests for certain cancers and heart disease, a healthy diet and exercise are an important start to staying healthy well into the golden years. Ensuring that physicians can continue to care for senior patients under Medicare is also a critical action for aging boomers, as the government health insurance program for Americans 65 and over has long been a source of comfort for seniors who otherwise wouldn't have health coverage. Planned payment cuts to physicians may make it harder for new Medicare patients to get physician care in the coming years.
Baby boomers nearing retirement age should consider steps to take now to help ensure a healthy, happy retirement.
“As the boomers age, they have an increasing role to play in their health care," says Dr. Edward Langston, Board Chair of the American Medical Association. "One rule of thumb is to have regular discussions with your physician to ensure that you understand and agree with your health care goals."
At age 50 it's important to start annual exams for colorectal cancer, and men should have a prostate exam. For those boomers who weigh less than 154 pounds, screenings for osteoporosis should start at age 60. It's also important to start annual exams with a physician before you reach Medicare age to:
• Monitor and discuss blood pressure, cholesterol, needed vaccines and tests to monitor or prevent disease.
• Identify activities and goals to address healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco use cessation, moderating alcohol use and attention to stress and mood.
• Discuss screenings needed to prevent and/or monitor degenerative or chronic disorders in vision, hearing, bone density, cancer and obesity.
Access to health care
Already, about 30 percent of current Medicare patients have trouble finding a new primary care physician, and the government predicts a shortage of 85,000 physicians by 2020. The huge influx of baby boomers into Medicare begins in three years, while the government plans nine years of steep Medicare physician payments cuts that begin this July.
"A full sixty percent of physicians say this year's Medicare cut will force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat," says Dr. Langston. "We're very worried about what this cut will do to seniors' access to care now and to the huge influx of baby boomers who will soon begin relying on Medicare."
Congress has the power to replace the cuts with payment updates that reflect medical practice costs—allowing physicians to continue to care for current and future Medicare patients. A bill that would address this problem was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, and the American Medical Association is urging Congress to act on the Save Medicare Act of 2008 (S. 2785). More information is available at www.patientsactionnetwork.org.
"Planning for a healthy retirement is the best way to make it a reality," says Dr. Langston. "I encourage baby boomers nearing retirement age to take preventive action now to prepare for a long, healthy life and to ensure that their physician will still be there for them when they begin relying
Courtesy of ARA Content
By Judy Torel
From 1946 to 1964, 76 million babies were born to couples reunited after the end of World War II. Known as the Baby Boomer Generation, this group accounts for one-third of the entire population of the United States!
This means that many of us (I am in this group!) are moving into the second half of our lives and we expect to live well into our 80s and beyond. The tail end of our group is now approaching 50 (with many of us already there) and many others have already reached our 60s.
As a group, there is extreme variation in fitness levels. Some of us are accomplished athletes competing in triathlons and marathons and are competitive within our age groups. Others are interested in beginning a fitness regime to remain active in retirement or to participate in an active lifestyle with our children or grandchildren.
No matter what fitness level we have already achieved, there are common themes that all Baby Boomers would do well to apply while working towards achieving or maintaining a high level of fitness, health and well-being.
It’s no longer about looking like a “hottie”
Well, this is a little misleading! We all want to look our best and the baby boomer generation is no exception. As a matter of fact, boomers are all about aesthetic enhancement surgeries and anti-wrinkle creams and the like, because as a group we want to look and feel young.
The average boomer recognizes that the metabolism is not what it used to be when we were 20. Both men and women will do well to focus on feeling sustained with high energy rather than trying to get your body fat down to 15-20 percent! As we age, the healthy level of body fat increases for both men and women. Forty-year-old women’s body fat should be in the 23-27 percent range; and women in their 50’s should be at a healthy level of 25-34 percent. For men, the days of single-digit body fat are gone along with their twenties. Instead, 40-year-old men are looking at a healthy body fat range of 18-24 percent; in their 50’s this increases to 27 percent.
Fitness programs should include cardiovascular exercise as a way to regularly oxygenate the cells of the body so that they remain as youthful as possible and put less emphasis on burning off every last inch of body fat.
Research is now showing that as a species, human beings put body fat around the midsection after 40, even if they never had it there in their younger years. This is true for both men and women, which means it has less to do with menopause and more to do with the normal process of aging.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t work to slow the process of increasing body fat and accumulation around the middle through watching portions of food, engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise and doing strength training several times a week. Keeping our focus on increasing energy for life will keep us motivated and adherent to our fitness programs as we battle the body fat changes associated with aging. Leave being a “hottie” to your children!
Be kind to your joints!
Just because we are older, doesn’t mean that we can’t participate in high impact activities. Watch any marathon around the country and you will see that the number of participants in their 40s, 50s and beyond is staggering. So, while you don’t have to give up running or strength training, you should also incorporate more cross-training into these high-impact workouts.
For instance, if you are a runner, rather than run four to five days a week as is recommended for marathon training, it is a good idea to run three days and use the non-impact elliptical machines on the other two days. Put the ramp down to flat and it simulates the running movement in a way that will still condition your muscles in the muscle pattern utilized in higher impact activity, while saving your joints in the process. Using the treadmill in place of running on the road pavement is another way to save your joints. Also, running on trails or on grassy stretches next to the pavement are ways to get your running in while being friendly to your joints.
If lifting weights is your thing, make sure that you are not skimping on the full range of motion in order to get the heavier lift. You will do better to go to a lighter weight so that you can achieve a full stretch at the end point of the exercise. In this way, you are enhancing flexibility while simultaneously maximizing muscle strength and size. You should also make sure to follow principles of periodization in your lifting regime. This means adapting a lifting schedule of progressively heavier weights for three weeks followed by one week of active recovery using lighter weights. In this way you reap the positive adaptations of increased lean mass and strength, while avoiding chronic injuries associated with constantly using the same weight loads.
Incorporate recovery time
Although there is a natural decrease in the maximum amount of oxygen a human can utilize as we age and there is a natural decrease in lean body weight (muscle) too, this doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to push yourself to your highest potential in sport and exercise.
Many baby boomers are achieving new PR’s (personal records) in 5K races and other events. But, what goes with these performances is the need for more recovery time for the muscles and joints. In our 20s we may have been able to go out all night and party and then get up and run a race on Saturday morning. In our 40s getting adequate sleep (eight hours) becomes critical for the body to repair and rebuild from the trauma of races and workouts. In addition, taking days off from our sport or workouts is also necessary for the recovery process.
If taking a day off from working out makes you feel like you are losing your fitness, then mix lighter intensity workout days with higher intensity workouts so that your body has a chance to absorb the training effects without getting injured.
Strength training is a must!
As a general rule, all Baby Boomers need to engage in strength training. As we age, we lose muscle weight and our bone density decreases. This is partly due to the fact that our culture has moved into the age of service and communication and away from careers involving physical energy expenditure. Our bodies still need to be moved and have resistance forces applied in order to maintain our lean mass and bone density.
Since we aren’t getting resistance forces in our everyday lives then we MUST simulate it through a strength training program. If you have not been doing any exercise for years, then it is extremely important that you start out with light to moderate lifting loads in order for your joints to become stable and strong enough for you to move up to the heavier weights.
The heavier weights (what you can only lift for 4-8 reps) are necessary to build muscle mass, but it is best to give yourself a full six weeks of light to moderate weights done in 12-15 rep sets at first. This way, your joints will be able to handle the heavier loads and you won’t be sidelined from an injury right at the beginning of your strength training program, which is what happens to many when they first start a weight lifting program.
So, as Baby Boomers, we most definitely can (and should) be engaging in fitness activities that will enhance our physiques, but we are better served to focus on improving our quality of life by how we feel in our bodies. l
Judy Torel is a therapist/personal trainer with a Master’s degree in psychology. She is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a fitness trainer and works out of Planet Fitness and Deb's Sweat Shop Extension. She can be reached at JTOREL2263@yahoo.com.
Music for the ages
By Julie Rigg
Retirement years can offer more opportunities to focus on hobbies and interests, and if music is in your future it can only be a positive. A recent medical study suggests that listening to quiet rhythmic music may help to lower blood pressure. It has many benefits for our well–being and it involves most of our senses. Patients in the study coupled the listening with controlled deep-breathing exercises.
As we age, it seems that some of our faculties begin to slip. Music can be a catalyst to keep these slipping faculties in check, and can serve as a creative and/or social outlet. Whether you enjoy a good movie theme song or the tunes played at the grocery store, chances are you enjoy music on some level. Whether by playing an instrument, singing or listening to cardinals crooning away, music surrounds us everyday in a myriad of ways.
Mary Jane Hughes, a music teacher with the Bethlehem Central School District, has been a violinist since the fifth grade. In her experience, she finds that learning music helps both children and adults with time-management skills. Hughes, 51, also teaches adult violin classes through continuing education and finds that, "the students had a better appreciation for the difficulty of learning the violin and worked very hard."
A majority of her adult students chose to take music classes later in life as a way to revisit lessons they took in childhood or to simply try something new.
According to Hughes, learning the violin as an adult may be more complicated than other instruments, not to mention a slower process, especially if one is new to music. A group setting may be better for beginners, "since students can see their peers 'getting it', which offers much more incentive to keep learning, while also offering social and entertainment factors." Private lessons allow for more time and may be appropriate for advanced study.
Genoveffa Vitale, an instrumental music teacher also in BCSD, believes that learning a musical instrument as a child may be easier since brains are blank slates.
"[It] promotes teamwork, improves self esteem, and as kids see improvement they succeed more often," said Vitale. “And with an influential teacher, it's something you'll love the rest of your life.” Not to mention, she added, the fact that it involves both sides of the brain.
These statements can be applied to adult learners. As an adult, picking up any form of music can seem a bit daunting. For example, learning a string instrument might be difficult at first since you may not have the flexibility and dexterity in your hands. But take heart; a little patience and a lot of passion for any skill can go a long way.
Barbara Poole, 52, an elementary school music teacher in the East Greenbush Central School District, says that taking up music as an adult allows you to "find a whole new side to things and yourself...music is something that is intrinsic in all of us.”
She suggests that learning the piano may be good for adult learners because it involves a little bit of everything musically and it may be an easier instrument to learn if you've had little or no previous music lessons. As for the type of music, Poole suggests first learning crowd-pleasing standards, such as Broadway show tunes.
In addition to teaching, Poole also sings at weddings and is a choir member with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Schenectady.
“Music has made my memory sharper and certainly de-stresses my life. But it’s so nice to be able to have something that you can give to others on special occasions. It makes others happy, not just the musician.”
Self-taught chord organist since 1961, 72-year-old Ron Smail of East Greenbush, believes his involvement with music has helped him with everyday life, and the part he enjoys most is the continuous challenges. "I'm in a better mood and happier when I'm playing".
With retirement offering time to pursue new activities, Hughes admits that she's looking forward to those years since she'll have more time to play the violin and guitar and may even take more private lessons.
Even if music isn't your cup of tea, the next time you're enjoying a movie just imagine what the entertainment factor would be like without music in the background. What would "Jaws" be like without that repeating rhythm of doom?
So, let the music carry you through your 50s, 60s and well beyond. Whether you decide to take up an instrument or simply enjoy an outdoor summer concert, music just may lengthen your years, not to mention give your brain a little something to do without you having to think about it.
Julie Rigg is a freelance writer living in Delmar with her husband and son. She also works at Audubon International and is taking guitar lessons
Whether you live near or far, technology has a major impact now on how you connect to those you care about. Keeping in touch with your loved one 24/7 has never been easier. Send an email, make a web video, go online and chat, create your own blog, send a romantic text message—the ideas are as endless as the technology.
However, even for those who are tech savvy, finding love can still be a problem. Technology can play a key role here, too. For those looking to start their love story, online dating or what is now known as Dating 2.0—a combination of web video, text messaging, and social networking—can help you expand your dating horizons.
Your dating pool is now only limited by the amount of effort you put into it, says Dr. Belisa, a renowned clinical psychologist and relationship columnist. With millions of Americans joining the online dating scene, Dr. Belisa offers these five tips to give you a serious leg up on the competition:
1. Write a winning profile.
Have friends of the opposite sex review your profile before posting it. Let them give you feedback on odd words that may turn off another person or help you find other phrases that may help you turn them on.
2. Know your competition.
Check out who you are up against. Browse through the online personals and review who your competition is.
3. Don't be boring. Use your thesaurus.
Why say you're nice 10,000 times? Say you're terrific, fabulous, intriguing, romantic, stimulating, fascinating. Go online and check out your thesaurus or use the old–fashioned book. Keep your profile interesting or your potential mate is going to lose interest and check out someone else who sounds more exciting and interesting than plain old Mr. Nice Guy.
4. Don't wing it.
Take the time. This is love! Don't rush the profile. You may want to come off as being laid back, but even a calm and cool persona takes some effort.
5. Went on a date and it fizzled out? Ask why.
It's okay to ask for feedback. You can always learn from your mistakes.
So, after you connect with someone special, how do you navigate the new social technology to take your relationship to the next level? Dr. Belisa says that even if you are getting help with your writing, one of the most important things is to make sure you sound passionate. Don't forget to combine this new social technology with old school romance and tradition. Send a handwritten note after an all-night emailing session.
Another option, floral experts say, is to go with a time-tested favorite: fresh flowers. You can easily send flowers anywhere using a national service such as 1-800-FLOWERS, and make a very positive impression on your potential mate. Combining the old with the new only makes your point stronger.
Just be careful you don't fall in love too fast. Get to know the person on the other end of the computer well before you decide you are a match made in heaven. Just because you have similar interests, doesn't mean you are soul mates.
Connecting to the ones you love is no longer about signing a card and tossing it into the mail. Technology lets you connect and push the limit on creativity. Whatever is in your head or your heart can be sent in a second. And with all this technology you don't even have to wait for Cupid to aim an arrow, you can do it yourself!
Courtesy of ARA Content
Some grandparents do it to be fair to all the siblings. Some grandparents do it so cousins get to know each other. Some grandparents simply love having all, or at least a group of their grandchildren together while on a vacation. However, unless your grandkids are twins or same-age cousins, you should consider the challenges—and pleasures—that age differences create before planning that big trip with the grandkids.
"When first considering a trip with your grandkids—before you even mention it to them—decide how many children you can handle at one time," says grandparents.com travel writer, Sue Poremba. "Also, decide with which age group of grandchildren you'd be most comfortable."
As a grandmother herself, Poremba loves to take her grandkids to the beach come summertime. But she'll only take those ages 7 to 13. She learned that she can neither physically keep up with younger grandchildren, nor keep late enough hours to properly supervise the older teens.
Other savvy travel with multiple grandkids tips:
Don't plan around only one child's needs
Dining is a good example. Although it might be easier to feed a messy six-year old at a kid-friendly restaurant, if that's all you do, you'll miss out on local cuisine and the chance to give older grandchildren a new experience. Aim to vary your dining experiences each day. Try to let each grandchild choose at least one restaurant during a trip.
Give some freedom
Teenagers need some freedom. On days without scheduled plans, try giving teens the opportunity to sleep late while you enjoy breakfast with the younger kids. Before the trip, consult with the parents on what each child is—and is not—allowed to do.
Don't expect babysitting services
While older grandchildren should be expected to help out with younger grandkids, don't forget that they, too, are on vacation. Try and balance your requests for help with little ones with this knowledge. Asking the older children to help supervise the younger kids at meal time or during fast-moving activities are reasonable requests.
Divide and conquer
Plan some activities suited for one grandparent to attend, so the other grandparent can rest. Or, break into two groups and meet up later. Amusement and theme parks, where each grandparent may accompany a different age group to appropriate rides, is one example. Pick a time and place to regroup over lunch.
Plan down time into each day
Traveling can be exhausting and even older grandkids need an opportunity to unwind. Try to plan some downtime into every vacation day. Encourage grandchildren to pack some items specifically geared toward a quiet break, like books, magazines and portable video games.
For more travel tips and other grandparenting advice, visit www.grandparents.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Seeking a new
job opportunity in your Boomer years?
Updating your skills is essential for success
By Dan Moran
The job landscape is changing for boomers, and having the right skills to grow and survive is essential.
Over 33 percent of today’s work force is classified as “boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964). Unlike years past, there are endless job opportunities for boomers, quite a contrast from just a few years ago when the thought was that once you reached 50, it was over for you.
Employers today are courting boomers in record numbers. Rather than being second class to younger workers, boomers are the strong and powerful part of the workforce and in strong demand. Companies large and small have recognized that boomers represent a workforce that is dependable, responsible and resourceful—and are not “high maintenance” employees.
If you are a boomer and seeking a new opportunity, it is very important that you perform a “check-up” of skills and tools you need to compete in today’s workforce. You may be competing with not just a younger job candidate, but one of your “age peers”.
Please consider the following recommendations:
Time for a skills “check-up” and assessment
It is critical that you keep your skills current. Make a list of the tangible, hands-on talents you can offer, such as customer service, sales, operations, administration, technology, etc. Next, make a list of the skills you feel you need to acquire or those you could brush-up on.
Consider utilizing new technologies in learning, like online programs, to speed the process along. As you complete skills training, congratulate yourself and include them on your resume.
It was quite well known with those that I worked with that my Microsoft Excel skills were in need of tune-up. I completed a course a few years back, but made the mistake of not using what I learned (if you don’t use it, you lose it). I was the guy putting numbers in a spreadsheet with a calculator in one hand, not relying on formulas and driving those I worked with nuts!
Over one holiday break, I committed to “re-learning” Excel and am now very comfortable with the program, which is a must-have for anyone running a business.
Embrace technology – and be “savvy”
Nothing will “date” you more than a lack of technology skills. It isn’t cute anymore to say, “Oh, I don’t touch computers – I will blow them up” or other statements that show you have not progressed with time. You can have the best experience, personality and shine in the interview, but without technology skills, you will find it difficult to beat any other candidate to a new opportunity.
What technology skills are almost absolutely essential?
• Searching the Internet with Internet Explorer
• Sending and receiving email
• Understanding Microsoft Windows operating system (or Vista)
• Using Microsoft (MS) Office products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook (or Outlook Express).
If you find you are in need of training or tuning-up on one or more of these programs you can consider:
• Online tutorials (most programs have a tutorial in the program)
• Specialized online training programs
• Classroom training (one or two days) through local computer training schools.
• One-on-one training through computer mentors and consultants (sometimes the best choice for the boomer who may want individualized attention and direct training).
Things to never say that are dead giveaways that you have yet to embrace technology:
“Can you fax that to me? It’s easier than email.”
“I have an email address – but never check it.”
A few other recommendations:
• Have a profile on the business-to-business social networking site www.linkedin.com (it is free – and essential!).
• Have a “professional” email address. An email address like 2hot2handle@XXXX.com isn’t going to make the best impression.
Look in the mirror
You are judged on your appearance within three seconds, before you even say a word. Now is the time to update your wardrobe and look the part. A quality men’s or women’s clothier can provide ideas, as can a personal wardrobe consultant who specializes in working with you to create the right image within your budget.
Beyond your wardrobe, be mindful of your hair and personal grooming. Think sharp always—and look sharp always.
Make your best impression – on paper
Throughout your years, you have likely amassed a number of experience and skills that are transferable to a new career or job. Many make the mistake of presenting an older format, dated, chronological resume (which many refer to as a tombstone) rather than a document that “sells” your skills, qualifications and experience. Remember, you have 5 to 15 seconds to grab the reader’s attention—do so with your best impression. If you have difficulty writing about yourself or documenting your skills and strengths, seek a professional to help —it makes a world of difference.
Be seen—and network, network, network
Networking continues to be essential and even more important for boomers seeking opportunities. Developing and maintaining a deep network of contacts is an excellent resource at any stage in one’s career; but very important as one enters the boomer years when the prime, just-right opportunities are usually found through networking and not through advertised job sources.
In addition, bringing your talents, skills and passion to community service is another excellent way to “brand” yourself. Being involved on a board or helping to chair a not-for-profit event is excellent exposure, not to mention you are giving back to the community.
Last—understand generational differences and embrace change.
Generation X, Y, the millenniums—each generation is different in some manner. Understanding the generational differences as a boomer, and knowing how to work with those of different generations, is important to your success and is a critical skill to master. Many companies are asking boomer employees to mentor younger staff members, which has been very successful. In other words, try to fit in, adapt to change, listen and learn.
Boomers are a powerful force today in many respects. Take advantage of this position, and go after your dreams. As Winston Churchill once stated, “Never, never, never give up.”
Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie. He specializes in helping people make career choices and seek new jobs. He is also a Certified Facilitator for Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now! Programs, which help those in career transition and companies get results. He mentors managers & executives as they navigate their careers and achievements. You can reach him at 641.8968 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.next-act.com.
Age with grace
By Mary Beth McCue
Now more than ever, people are realizing that their lifestyle ultimately affects their core cellular levels which enhance and preserve four areas of their being: physical, emotional, spiritual and energy.
One very important area you need to understand in the connection between nutrition and aging is that of methylation and the role of food and nutrients in relation to this process. Methylation is a process essential for proper function of almost all of your body’s systems; and it occurs billions of times every second.
It helps repair your DNA, it controls homocysteine (an unhealthy compound that can damage blood vessels) and it supports the detoxification of toxins in the body. Methylation also helps maintain healthy mood and keeps inflammation down in the body.
Without proper methylation, you can be at higher risk for conditions like: osteoporosis, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, general mood and other behavioral disorders, dementia, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
You need optimal levels of the B vitamin family to keep methylation running smoothly. Incidentally, many people do not have healthy B vitamin levels.
You can look at your methylation process to see how it is functioning by:
• A complete blood count analysis.
• Analysis of your homocysteine levels. The normal level is less than 13, but the ideal level is likely between 6 and 8.
• Serum or urinary methylmalonic acid. This is a more specific test for vitamin B12 insufficiency. Your levels may be elevated even if you have a normal serum vitamin B12 or homocysteine level.
• Specific urinary amino acids. These can be used to look for unusual metabolism disorders involving vitamins B6 or B12 or folate, which may not show up just by checking methylmalonic acid or homocysteine.
How to optimize your methylation process
• Eat more dark leafy greens daily. They can be found in: bok choy, escarole, Swiss chard, kale, watercress, spinach, and dandelion, mustard, collard or beet greens.
• Get more Bs in your diet. Please get this checked; if they are low, supplementation is needed. Good food sources include sunflower seeds and wheat germ (vitamin B6); fish and eggs (vitamin B 6 and B12); cheese (B12); beans and walnuts (vitamin B6 and folate); leafy dark green vegetables; asparagus, almonds and whole grains (folate) and liver (all three).
• Minimize animal protein, sugar and saturated fat. Too much animal meat directly increases homocysteine. Sugar and saturated fat deplete your body’s vitamin stores.
• Avoid all processed foods
• Avoid caffeine
• Limit alcohol to three drinks a week
• Don’t smoke
• Avoid medications
• Keep the bacteria in your gut healthy by taking probiotic supplements
• Check your need for enzyme support
• Take supplements that prevent damage from homocysteine (antioxidants) and that help support methylation (like magnesium and zinc). Supplement to help support proper homocysteine metabolism. Talk to your health care practitioner to determine the best doses and forms for you. Some examples are:
• Folate (folic acid): Amounts can vary based on individual needs, from 200 mcg to 1 mg. Some people may also need to take preformed folate (folinic acid or 5 formylTHF) to bypass some of the steps in activating folic acid
• Vitamin B6: Take 2 to 5 mg a day. Some people may need up to 250 mg or even special “active” B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) to be most effective. Doses higher than 500 mg may cause nerve injury
• Vitamin B12: Doses of 500 mcg may be needed to protect against heart disease. Oral vitamin B12 isn’t well absorbed; you may need up to 1 or 2 mg daily. Ask your doctor about B12 shots
• Betaine: This amino acid derivative is needed in doses from 500 to 3,000 mg a day, depending on the person
As you can see, you can make a sustainable difference in how you age and actually how you can reverse aging–every day until the rest of your life.
Mary Beth McCue is an integrative dietitian & certified nutritionist. Since 1985 her focus has been to teach people how to live healthy happy lives by being best informed about their unique state of health and how to improve upon it with proper foods and nutrients. She works at The Roosevelt Baths & Spa in Saratoga. For more information visit www.sipn.info/mccue.htm, email SaratogaNutrition@earthlink.net or call 257.6530.
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Dancing at the Swiss Inn.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? The Andersons (Father Knows Best).
What is your favorite vacation memory? Echo Lake (Long Pond) near Willsboro, NY.
Who was your teenage crush? Pat Riley.
What is your favorite Boomer memory? What is a memory – I am over 50 .. can’t remember crap.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? The Adams family – Mortica was hot!
What is your favorite vacation memory? Thinking Lake George was on the other side of the country – and my parents never told me I was wrong.
Who was your teenage crush? Vikki – who else?!
Dan Moran, Troy
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Playing outside until the street lights came on with all my friends from the block in Burgh. Each family had at least for kids!
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Ward and June Cleaver. I always wanted my mother to wear pearls.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Atlantic City with my cousins. The boardwalk, the ocean, the boys.
Who was your teenage crush? Too many to count, but Bobby Sherman was up there.
Vikki Moran, Troy
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Going to see Joni Mitchell at SPAC and sitting way up front.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? I never thought about it, but the Beaver had such stable and refined parents. That family just seemed to have it all together.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Going to New York City for the first time and seeing a Broadway play, taking the subway, eating Chinese food and shopping. It was amazing.
Who was your teenage crush? Rich Fletcher - cute boy in my class. It was unrequited love!
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Playing tag or waffle ball outside until the street lights came on.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Darrin & Samatha Stevens.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Going camping for three weeks at a time to Heartstone Campground in Lake George with 3-4 other families from South Troy because our fathers were on “shut-down for two weeks from Norton Company”.
Who was your teenage crush? Bobby Sherman.
Mary Alice Russo, East Greenbush
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Christmas morning receiving a shiny new (used) Schwinn bicycle. It got stolen the following summer.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Not a couple, SKY KING and his niece, Penny.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Camping with the family in a tent on Turtle Island in Lake George when we were hit by a hurricane and the boat we had rented to take us to the island broke free and sank!
Who was your teenage crush? Real person: Sandy. Celebrity person: Annette Funicello.
Ed Lange, Delmar
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Going swimming at a local beach where I grew up during the day and having my Dad join us on his way home from work for a cookout. On the way home, he would hang his swimming trunks on the radio antenna and they would blow in the breeze as we drove. It always looked like there was an invisible man riding on the car hood.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? We only got two channels growing up on our black and white TV. We could watch a sportman’s show from Watertown, NY or Hockey Night in Canada in French. So the choice for TV parents would be two large mouth bass or Gordy Howe and the rest of his missing teeth family.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Vacation – what was that? Growing up in a large family of 12, vacation would have been anytime when you got to go to some one’s house who didn’t have smaller brothers and sisters and cable TV.
Who was your teenage crush? In fifth grade, I sat behind the class brain and was hopelessly in love with his thinking ability. We were not allowed to talk or pass notes in class so I decided I would let him know how I felt using my creative talents. I borrowed a tube of my mother’s lipstick, flame red, and leaned over my desk and drew a pair of lips on his white collar. The teacher saw me do that and had me suspended from school for three days. After that, she moved his seat and our love affair ended. He was much more attracted to his math books than some girl who had a crazy creative streak. I never recovered from that crushing blow and became too busy to have any serious teenage love affairs.
Melody D. Burns, Glenmont
What is your favorite Boomer memory? I have many happy memories as a child, but what I remember the most is that we almost always did things as a family, and when I say “family” I mean with grandparents, aunts, uncles, a gazillion cousins, and it also often included friends and neighbors. I think we did a picnic or dinner almost every week at my grandparents’ house on Kinderhook Lake in the summer, and at night all of my cousins and my sisters and I would catch lightening bugs and play hide and seek while our parents sat around and socialized. I often got to spend the night in my Nana’s spare bedroom and I loved listening to the crickets and other night sounds as I went to sleep with the windows open.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Why George and Jane Jetson, of course! Their kids got to fly around in cars all by themselves!
What is your favorite vacation memory? We always went camping because it was all my parents could afford with one salary and three girls to raise (mom was a stay-at-home wife and mother as most moms were back then). We went camping every year though, faithfully, because my parents felt it was important to all of us. I loved making S’mores over the fire every night before curling up in my sleeping bag.
Who was your teenage crush? I was totally “in love” with Donnie Osmond!
Michelle Mattiske, Waterford
What is your favorite Boomer memory? Seeing the Yankee greats like Mantle, Maris, Berra, Ford, Skowron in the 1960 World Series from the 3rd base seats.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Ozzie and Harriet—I really wanted Ricky’s hot rod. Harriet was okay, Ozzie was a goof ball.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Cross country motor trip from Long Island to Laredo, Texas, then to Wyoming and back to Long Island.
Who was your teenage crush? Patricia Kelley.
Dale M. McKim Jr., Wilton
What is your favorite Boomer memory? The drug store soda fountain.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Jim and Margaret Anderson (Father Knows Best)
What is your favorite vacation memory? Waterskiing on nearby lakes.
Who was your teenage crush? FABIAN.
Linda B. Mappes, Troy
What is your favorite Boomer memory? My family's first TV set—a six inch screen housed in a box the size of a stove. We were first in the neighborhood to have color—a plastic film lines with colors of the rainbow that fit over the screen.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, probably because I wanted a horse so badly. I entered every contest and was absolutely certain that I would be the winner of Trigger's offspring.
What is your favorite vacation memory? Family vacations were at a premium because my father owned his own business and could not take time off. One memory that I still have is being sent to a cousin's camp on Cazenovia Lake for two weeks and, in particular, watching with my nose at the grate of an upstairs bedroom heat register as the adults partied downstairs, dancing and singing along to Patsy Cline records.
Who was your teenage crush? Johnny Mathis, what more can I say? There wasn't a teenage girl around who didn't fall in love all over again listening to that romantic tenor voice pull at your heartstrings - "Chances Are" / "The Twelfth of Never" / "Misty" / "Heavenly" / "Moonlight Becomes You", to name but a few. They don't write (or sing) them like that any more.
What is your favorite boomer memory? Mickey Mantle’s 500 home run on Sunday, May 14, 1967. I sat in section 13 with my friend Freddie Foran in the old Yankee Stadium. We took a bus and two trains to get to the stadium. It was a rainy day.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? – The Cleavers.
What is your favorite vacation memory? – Spending Labor days in the country on our Great Aunt’s farm. Being from NYC that was always a favorite of ours.
Who was your teenage crush? - Susan Conlon
Andrew Piegare, Glenmont
What is your favorite boomer memory? The space program and moon landing 1969.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? Ricki and Lucy Ricardo.
What is your favorite boomer vacation memory? Riding cross country with my family, sandwiched between my older siblings, not allowed 'to touch' so often laying across the back dashboard of my dad's Plymouth Fury! No seatbelts!
Who was your teenage crush? Bobby Sherman
Camille Allen, Latham
What is your favorite Boomer memory? The music. The music wasn't just a thing of entertainment, it was who you were even when you were not listening to it. When these artists appeared with lyrics and sounds that you could relate to it was like the struggle to express yourself was finally over! It was so rewarding to be able to identify with others who understood your innermost feelings and were able to put it out there through music for all to hear.
Which TV parents did you want as your own? The parents of Jeff on "Lassie". The way they looked at him and his dog was so endearing. I wanted to be the female version of Jeff and live in the cozy, functional farmhouse, go out on my own with Lassie and rescue the latest poor soul who was clutching a branch after falling into the raging river 10-feet away from the treacherous waterfall!
What is your favorite vacation memory? Summer 1972; 18 years old. I was one of about 10 friends who rented a place in Hampton Bays for the summer. The feeling of freedom and fun started the minute we got into our cars and made the drive out on the Long Island Expressway from Queens in search of beach, beer, band and boys. That was when the beautiful beaches of the Hampton's were affordable and it was truly a place for beach lover's not status lovers and when you actually tanned in the sun.
Who was your teenage crush? Richard Chamberlain as "Dr.Kildare". For 60 minutes once a week I was absorbed in his spell.
Diane Piegare, Glenmont
Serving the underserved
By Amy E. Tucker
Forty-seven million Americans, including more than nine million children, are living without health care coverage.1 These numbers are increasing at an alarming rate as individuals lose jobs, or are forced to opt out of employer-sponsored health coverage plans due to rising gas prices and the economic downturn.
In the Capital District, the uninsured have options, thanks in part to Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Services, which has served the area’s underserved since 1941. A community-based, non-profit corporation providing affordable, accessible medical, dental and addiction services, Whitney Young is the leader in providing community health care to culturally diverse populations in Albany and Rensselaer Counties.
In 2007, the organization served 18,000 patients—more than 80 percent of whom who live at or below the Federal Poverty Level (PFL). About 12 percent of the patients have commercial insurance. The rest are either uninsured or have Medicaid or Medicare.
The original location, under the oversight of Albany Medical College until 1978, was in Albany’s “Northside” area of Arbor Hill. Today, there are eight locations in Albany and Rensselaer Counties offering various services to Capital District residents. Patients come to the center based on proximity, because they’re uninsured or because a certain doctor transferred from another county to join Whitney Young and the patient transferred with them.
“We don’t provide services by zipcode,” said Mary Alice Russo, vice president of marketing and executive director of the Whitney Young Foundation. “Anyone can visit our offices. If someone comes to us with a need, and it’s a service we provide, then we can help them.”
Whitney Young offers a “three-legged-stool” of care featuring primary medical, primary dental and primary addictions, with addiction services offered on an out-patient basis. It contracts out its women’s health with St. Peter’s Health Services.
For the uninsured, charges for Whitney Young’s services are based upon a sliding scale, determined by income and family size.
“For example, we don’t offer radiology or orthopedic care,” Russo explained. “So, if your leg needs to be set by an orthopedic surgeon, you’re not going to come to Whitney Young. Similarly, if you need the emergency room to set a bone, they’ll do it. But, any follow up appointments won’t be covered.”
Another big reason people come to Whitney Young is for its cultural competency. Working with Albany’s immigration center, Whitney Young provides translation services in more than 140 languages and dialects through the “language line.” A part-time Russian translator and a full-time Spanish translator are employed at the center.
In addition to translation services, Whitney Young offers one of the largest travel immunization programs in the area providing physicals and vaccinations for students or vacationers going abroad, individuals pursuing missionary work and those desiring naturalization status.
“Physicians find offering some of these immunizations, such as the yellow fever vaccine, cost-prohibitive because they don’t get a lot of calls for them,” said Russo. “You can’t purchase one vaccine; you have to buy it in lots. It’s expensive inventory to have sitting on your shelves.”
Prevention through information
Whitney Young puts heavy emphasis on its pediatric programs since 42 percent of their patients are children. The pediatric asthma program teaches parents about removing carpets from their homes and covering their children’s pillows. Center staff runs two school-based Health Centers in Albany, with a third opening in the near future, teaching students about preventive health and good oral habits.
“When people don’t have the information they need, that’s when things break down,” said Diana Martinez-Holland, customer service coordinator and Whitney Young employee since 1973.
The center administers a Patients Assistance Program (PAP) for people who are uninsured and need prescriptions. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Bridges for Access Pharmaceuticals, provide free or discounted medicines. Whitney Young staff helps patients fill out the paperwork to apply for necessary prescriptions.
Health insurance enrollers from non-commercial organizations such as Child Health Plus and Healthy NY are on site to help people apply and determine eligibility.
Another growing area of Whitney Young’s practice is stressing the importance of taking care of your teeth and educating patients to the reality that poor oral health and gum disease influence their overall health.
“We need to counteract the belief that at a certain age, you have your teeth removed and get dentures,” said Russo. “Oral surgery isn’t cheap and it’s hard to find a practitioner who will help someone without insurance. They’re not usually willing to put someone on an installment plan.”
In part because of the expense, many businesses don’t offer dental coverage, so finding quality care is difficult. Regina Dew, 61, who has Senior Whole Health Medicare coverage, came to Whitney Young after having trouble getting good dental work elsewhere.
“I get my dental work there with Dr. Kim,” Dew explained. “I had some upper bridge work done there two years ago, and that fixed the problems I was having.”
Dew has routine check-ups and sees a hygienist two-to-three times a year for gum problems. She sees Dr. Kim on an “as needed” basis.
“The emergency room has a long wait for dental care,” Dew said. “At Whitney Young, I call them at 8am and they get me in the next day.”
Much of the funding for Whitney Young services comes in the form of federal, state and private grants. Pfiser Pharmaceuticals awarded the center a $50,000 grant for an HIV Self-Management Program to teach people who are HIV-positive about the progression of the disease and how to manage their disease.
“The importance [of educating patients] is to keep people with HIV from reaching the point where they have to be hospitalized,” said Russo. “At Whitney Young, we’re experts in primary care and prevention with the goal of keeping people out of the emergency rooms. If we can teach someone about healthy eating habits, exercise and warning signs, we can hopefully head off chronic diseases before they become chronic.”
The face of the uninsured
The growing number of uninsured in America wreaks havoc with a health care system like Whitney Young, which caters to that population.
“The face of the uninsured is changing, too” said Russo, noting 34 percent of their patients fall into that category. “Anyone can be uninsured at anytime. It does not discriminate; it could be you or I tomorrow.”
Students join the ranks of the uninsured when they graduate from high school and don’t continue to college or when they graduate from college and can’t immediately find work. Even if they find a job, they may not be covered by insurance right away, or can’t afford it when they’re starting out.
Enter Rachel Raydo, a 22-year-old sharing an apartment with two roommates in Albany. Raydo works part-time at a small Albany boutique with three employees including the owner. Having only opened eight months ago, the owner won’t offer insurance until the business is more established. Her co-worker is 18 and will lose her health insurance on her next birthday.
Raydo doesn’t own a car because her license was revoked and she hasn’t driven in five years. She relies on parents and friends a lot to get around.
“My hours fluctuate between 28 to 36 hours per week, so I can’t afford private insurance,” she said. “I live nearby and walk to work. I could take the bus, but it’s quicker and more efficient to walk.”
She visited Whitney Young because a cold she contracted progressed into bronchitis.
“Without their assistance, I would have had to put off treating my bronchitis until it got worse,” said Raydo. “It’s cheaper to go to there and pay the sliding scale. I get better service than if I went to the On-Call Centers that charge $50!”
She added that service is quick and pleasant and the facility is “really clean.” Additionally, the onsite pharmacy is convenient for her since she has no transportation.
Raydo also recently started getting dental work done at Whitney Young. She received a cleaning and 16 X-rays for $26. Without health insurance, a cleaning and one X-ray would have cost her $180 out of pocket. The only drawback, according to Raydo, was the length of time it took between scheduling routine check-ups and appointments.
Like most practices, Whitney Young reserves a few time slots and uses “no show” appointments for emergencies.
Some providers also use a system called “open access” whereby instead of scheduling a lot of advance appointments, they keep their schedules “open” to accommodate emergencies and sudden illnesses.
Funding the uninsured remains a constant problem for Whitney Young because many “wrap-around” services aren’t paid for by the state and government. In addition, the agencies they partner with for grants are non-profit and facing their own budget challenges.
Still, Russo feels the biggest problem facing health care systems across the nation is that the government doesn’t put enough money into primary and preventative services, but adds a caveat:
“You can’t blame [the crisis] entirely on the uninsured, or lay it at the door of the funding sources. Patients need to become involved, and own their health care. People don’t go for an annual physical even when it’s covered by their insurance.”
They’re playing Russian roulette with their health,” she continued, “hoping they don’t get sick or injured. Whitney Young can only do so much. And, let’s face it, COBRA2 isn’t cheap!”
Russo and center staff wants clients to view Whitney Young as their “Regular Health-Care Home (RHCH)” and to not wait until their body tells them that there’s a problem to seek help. They should develop a relationship with their primary care provider, not wait until they think they have asthma, they’re developing diabetes or feel something is wrong with their kidneys or liver.
“People don’t go to the doctor unless they feel they need one; in some instances, that’s too late,” said Russo. “We want them to come see us on a regular basis and show up for their appointments. Then, we’ll know what’s going on with them so that we can provide the best care and resources and they can make smart decisions about caring for themselves.”
She noted that many women don’t go for regular mammograms, men don’t get colonoscopy screenings and prostate exams and young, sexually-active women refuse to get annual gynecological exams and pap smears.
Having an RHCH is as important for families with young children as it is for seniors. Children need regular immunizations, in addition to school and sports physicals. Doctors need to get to know the patient and their family history in order to determine the appointment frequency or to inform you that you’ve reached a health-care milestone and need a particular procedure.
“Some people take better care of their cars than they do themselves,” Russo explained. “They get an oil change every 3,000 miles, rotate their tires and get regular tune-ups.”
A neighborhood center
Nearly 70 percent of Whitney Young’s patients reside in Albany County. Happily divorced, Dew lives among them in her north Albany townhouse with her two cats. She’s an active senior who performs Reiki on persons living with HIV at the Damien Center and does Latin dancing shows at senior-citizen homes though the “Dancing with Our Elders” program.
She also serves on the Senior Advisory Board at Whitney Young and helps arrange programs for the elderly.
“The government is cutting program funding for the people who can least afford them,” said Dew. “The director knocks himself out to provide the best care with what they’re operating with. They’ve been serving the community for 37 years and they’re certainly not getting rich off of it.
Martinez-Holland has seen Whitney Young grow over the last 35 years. Children who were patients, brought their children, who are now bringing their grandchildren. Her own two daughters and four grandchildren are patients at the center.
“We broaden the community, and service people beyond Arbor Hill,” she said. People are losing their jobs or their health insurance; they may be diabetic or have a chronic illness and need care. We have a wide variety of clients that benefit from our services.”
Martinez–Holland believes that it’s the ‘personal’ touch that sets Whitney Young apart from other health care providers. Things like providing a taxi ride to a hospital or when a client from Africa recognized her in a grocery store and thanked her for arranging a translator when his mother emigrated years before.
“We’re very neighborhood friendly, and we’ve grown with the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s a generational thing; we’re there to take care of each other.”
1 Cover the Uninsured, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Health Care Resources
For additional information and application procedures regarding federal and New York State health care options contact the following resources or visit.
COBRA Continuation Coverage – for coverage cancellation due to loss of employment, change in family status (i.e., a student graduating, etc.) or call toll-free (866) 275.7922
NYS Insurance Department – for NYS coverage continuation rights or (800) 342-3736
Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) – for early retirement or loss of employment due to trade
policy) or toll-free (866) 628.HCTC (4282)
Children’s Health Care Coverage
Kids Now – or (877) KIDS-NOW (5437.669)
If you can’t afford insurance:
New York Medicaid - 800) 541.2831 or (800) 662.1220 TTY
Family Health Plus - (877) 934.7587
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid or Family Health Plus:
Healthy NY or toll-free (866) 432.5849
Serious medical conditions or disabilities:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - (800) 772.1213 or (800) 325.0778 TTY
Medicare - or (800) MEDICARE (633.4227)
Low-Cost Primary Health Care:
Community Health Care Association of NYS, Inc. – (212) 279.9686
State Pharmacy Assistance Programs:
Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program (age 65) – or (800) 332.3742.
Free or Discounted Prescription Drug Programs:
Pfi zer Helpful Answers - or (866) 706.2400
Merck Patient Assistance and Prescription Discount Programs –
VA Health Benefits Service Center or toll-free (877) 222.VETS (8387)
The practice of mindfulness being present for your life
By Diane E. Lykes, LCSW
“Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle”. Thich Nhat Hanh
Years ago at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, led a group of 100 people on what appeared to be a simple walk through a garden. Omega co-founder Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen observed Hanh: “the way that he was walking made it seem that with each step he was kissing the earth. He was totally present, obviously immersed only in the act of walking. I could almost feel him savoring each moment, feel the sensation of grass on sole, feel the way his body seemed at one with each moment. He was present in that walk. At that moment, nothing else mattered; he was living only in the now.”
A derivative of Buddhist teachings originating more than 2,500 years ago, “mindfulness” refers to being aware of and paying attention to the moment in which we find ourselves. Our past is gone, our future is not yet here, and what exists between them is the present moment.
Why is this practice so important? Living in such a fast paced, multi-tasking, 24/7 world has led many people to feel they are not fully experiencing their life. It may feel easier to “go through the motions” of our day, but this is not where our deepest fulfillment can be found. In order to feel fully alive, and experience all that life has to offer, we need to return to the present moment as often as we can. Here are some suggestions to do just that.
Mindfulness meditation. The practice of meditation is based on using the breath, an object, a sound or a visualization to increase awareness in the present moment. The benefits include reducing stress, promoting relaxation and enhancing personal and spiritual growth.
It is commonly thought that meditation means stopping all thoughts and resting your mind in a thoughtless place. Having many thoughts during meditation is generally expected. The goal of meditation is to gently bring your thoughts back to your breathing when you notice you are distracted.
There are many different types of meditation, but we will focus on the practice of “mindfulness meditation”, which comes out of traditional Buddhists practices. In this type of meditation, the meditator sits with eyes closed and focuses their attention on the sensations and movement of the breath for approximately 45-60 minutes at a time, once a day.
It may be overwhelming to think about sitting for this length of time so start small. Just allowing yourself 15 minutes each day will significantly affect how you feel.
Begin your meditation practice by sitting on a chair, a cushion or on the floor. Sitting upright is best in order to stay alert and resist the urge to fall asleep.
Simply watch the breath and silently repeat the word “rising” with the in-breath, and the word “falling” with the out-breath. Your mind will likely resist and your thoughts may begin to race. You may feel bored and have the strong urge to get up and get moving again. Don’t give up! Meditation takes practice and each session will produce a different experience.
In his classes, Dr. Rechtschaffen tells his students: “Sit quietly. Breath deeply. Watch your breath. Count your breath. Experience it. Come home to it. Sit and breathe and let time flow, with no engagement of your mind, no thoughts – just awareness. Take your time. Don’t run. Impatience signifies denial, boredom signals fear.”
Make time to be alone each day. Every human being on this earth needs time to themselves every single day. Parents often find this very difficult given all the demands on their time, but they also recognize that this is one of the things they long for most. Time to just “be”.
At preferably the same time each day (perhaps before your family wakes up in the morning or for 15 minutes in the evening) take time to do something for yourself or to just do nothing. Contemplate, write in a journal, read, sit in nature, enjoy a cup of tea—whatever makes you feel most in tuned to yourself and the most relaxed. All of these practices are restorative and provide more opportunities to be present in your life.
Experience the mundane. Zen philosophers often remark that we miss much of our life when we only focus on the “highlights” of our day rather than all the things that happen in between. It may be difficult to get excited about doing dishes, paying bills or driving to work, but these tasks are a part of our life.
If we can learn to be present for even the mundane, we can certainly learn to be present for the more enjoyable aspects of life. For example, the next time you eat an orange try enjoying the entire experience, from peeling the fruit to smelling the orange scent to fully tasting the citrus flavor in your mouth. Be present for the entire experience and it may be the best orange you ever had!
But don’t forget to be spontaneous: Appreciating the mundane parts of our day doesn’t mean we forget to break up our routine once in a while. A single act of spontaneity will bring us quickly into the present moment and create more joy in our life.
If you are finding your life full of only routines and scheduled appointments, considering shaking it up a bit and adding an unexpected day trip or a “scheduled” appointment in your work planner to take the afternoon off with no actual plan in place.
Get in your car or on your bike and ride away to wherever your spirit takes you.
On your path toward mindfulness you will find not only a greater appreciation for the world around you, but a greater connection to your true self. Deeper fulfillment and joy await you as you bring yourself into the present moment.
“We can just sit on the grass and open our eyes. The beautiful sunrise, the full moon, the orange, all these things reveal themselves to us when we are truly present. The blue sky is for us. The white clouds are for us, as are the trees, the children, the grass, and the loving faces of our dear ones.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Diane Lykes is a Principal of Synergy Counseling Associates in Albany where she specializes in individual and couples counseling, educational training and clinical consultation. Synergy is a unique counseling practice providing compassionate, solution-oriented treatment for adults, children, adolescents and families. She can be reached at 466.3100 or email@example.com
Changing lives, one meal at a time
By Ciara McCann
Most kids look forward to the last day of school and their homework-free months of summer fun. Most kids, that is, except the economically disadvantaged. When you don’t have enough money for food, the end of school can also mean hunger for many. In fact, most people don’t know that 30 percent of inner-city children go to bed hungry.
One man, Pastor Charles Muller, has tried to fix that. After reading an article 13 years ago that some kids dread summer because it means they will go without the subsidized lunches provided by schools, he packed 25 lunches and brought them to Livingston Park in Albany to see what would happen.
“They were all gone in about five minutes,” said Muller, a former volunteer at a detention home for boys in the Berkshires. He explored other parks in the city of Albany and spoke to workers who said kids rummage through the garbage looking for food.
After a few months of delivering lunches, Muller got to know the kids. Unfortunately, though, some of them would end up in trouble with drugs and gangs; a few were even killed.
That prompted him to take his original lunch idea a step further. “I decided we needed to go to the city so we could stay consistent in the kids’ lives. This is where the violence is, this is where we needed to be. We want to get children off the streets and give them a good meal.”
With the help of fundraisers and government programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program, Muller started the J.C. Club Children’s Feeding Center in 1995, located in Arbor Hill, a notoriously dangerous section of Albany.
The Center is open seven days a week and averages between 80 and 100 kids a day. “It was bigger than we were,” said Muller. Once the school year started back up and the kids began receiving subsidized lunches again, meals were limited to weekends and days off from school. Children between the ages of six and 14 are served, but on holidays and special occasions, those up to age 19 are also served. The meals consist of 100 percent juice, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and a snack.
“There is a standard of excellence we uphold [with the meal],” Muller said. “They are very nutritional so the kids get energy and can really be sustained for the whole day.”
Kids can choose to get off the street and enjoy a meal in the center, or they can receive meals in local parks. Muller and his staff of volunteers (which includes recipients of the meals, community members and Boy Scouts) deliver to 10 parks throughout the city (Ridgefield Park, Livingston, Upper and Lower Lincoln Parks, Swinburne and Morris Street Park, to name a few), where approximately 100 kids are fed. Meals are delivered in a custom ambulance, complete with air conditioning and coolers to keep the lunches fresh.
Around the same time that he started the Center, Muller also started the Victory Christian Church located right next to the feeding center. He also hosts his own radio show and runs programs at the Center such as “What’s my Identity?”, which teaches kids how to make a difference in their life and the lives of those around them.
Muller’s goal is to help kids learn how to gravitate towards the good kids and stay away from those who can get them in trouble. “They can have whatever identity they can create for themselves,” he said.
The job is a family affair for Muller, whose wife and two teenage daughters also help out. It’s fulfilling work, but can be hard on his family life, because of the many early morning and late night hours it requires.
“My wife and daughters have given up every summer. We don’t go anywhere or have vacations; we wake up on a mission. To me, it’s just my life.”
All of his efforts have not gone unrecognized. Muller recently received a $10,000 award from the CVS “For All the Ways You Care” contest for the work he’s done in Albany. He’s also won a Fleet Bank Award and a Jefferson Award honoring his community service.
“I don’t look for what I can get out of it,” he said. “If I can steer one of these kids in another direction, away from gangs and violence, and put something into them other than food, it’s worth it.”
Whether he intended to or not, Muller has become a public figure in the area.
“I can walk anywhere in the city and people know me,” he said. “The kids come up and give me a hug and say ‘Thank You’.”
With the success of the first center, Muller decided to open a second, larger center at 25 Warren Street in downtown Albany. The project, in the works for the past six years, is set to open by July 1st.
Aside from providing meals, it will hold 300 people – opposed to 120 at the old building – provide clothing, a resource center and new programs.
“We’re trying to take the next step in helping the kids,” said Pastor Charles Muller. This includes having dental and medical services available, offering baking and dance classes, and eventually a “Hip Hop Church” to better relate to the youth. They will also accept donations of new and used clothing,
Community response to the center has been welcoming and appreciative.
Teen whisperer for hire
By Alison Molea-LaVigne
You have probably seen the dog whisperer, Caesar Millon, on TV. He is the guy who teaches dog owners the “calm-assertive” leadership, which in turn resolves behavioral problems such as whining, barking and biting without emotional arguments or negotiations.
The term ‘horse whisperer’ derives from the Irish horseman Daniel Sullivan, who rehabilitated violent and unmanageable horses affected by abuse and trauma. Though he kept his methods secret, the gist is to secure a horse's cooperation through gentleness, perceptiveness and quiet strength.
Similar to owners and their animals, many parent-teen relationships are one-way, with parents forever giving orders and teens rebelling. Suddenly, topics which used to be benign now become common clashes: what clothes they wear, how they style their hair, where they go, how they get there, the people they hang with, what they eat, when they sleep, etc. As far as the teenager is concerned, everything their parents had total control over when they were little becomes negotiable.
A major task of adolescence involves identity development. Teens create their own opinions, thoughts and values about life and parents may have a difficult time adjusting. In many families, this is what causes a great deal of fighting. A teen wants to paint her walls four different colors; her parent doesn't understand why she doesn’t like the Hello Kitty wallpaper anymore. A teen thinks it’s okay to be on the computer every day after school; his parent would rather he play a sport.
Anger arises when teens feel their parents don't respect them and give them space, and parents get angry as well, disagreeing with their teens’ decisions and not being in control.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Dog whisperers and horse whisperers dramatically change the way that humans interact with animals, so maybe parents need to learn how to become teen whisperers. (To my knowledge, no such professional exists. If it did, can you imagine the waiting list?).
Becoming a teen whisperer
What animal whisperers do is acknowledge the differences between themselves and their subjects. By doing this, they cannot help but to deeply connect with their subject as they come to understand their wants and needs. They are communicating instead of merely issuing and enforcing orders. Whispering is more about being in tune to where the animal is at, not having an agenda for its behavior.
It takes the same qualities and awareness for parents to have successful and rewarding relationships with their teenager. More importantly, it takes the commitment of a parent to choose to realign with their teen, have a "relationship do-over" so to speak.
While you can’t expect to become a teen whisperer overnight, here are some helpful hints (adapted in part from Pennsylvania State University’s Solution Source at www.solutionspsu.edu ) that may help you re-establish a constructive relationship with your teenager.
1. Don't yell. Try it for a day, a morning or an afternoon.
2. Ask yourself: "Do I talk TO my teenager?" or "Do I talk WITH my teenager?" Do you remind, threaten, blame, question, order or judge, trying to coerce your teen into doing what you want them to do? Instead, parents should listen, trying to understand and accept the differing point of view. At this point, it is fine for a parent to express their feelings, concerns and point of view.
3. Listening means concentrating on what the other person is saying rather than what you plan to say as soon as you get the chance. Try very hard to keep angry, fearful and hurtful emotions in check while you listen. The focus needs to be on what your teen is trying to tell you, instead of what you are thinking about. Don't interrupt while they are talking and do not judge what they are saying. Just listen. Make an effort to consider the issue from your teen’s point of view.
4. Use "I - messages" to get your point across without offending the other person. Start with the word "I", then add your thoughts, feelings, needs or wants. For example, "I scream when you don't come home on time when you have the car because I worry you may have gotten into an accident." Also, keep in mind that your tone of voice tells a lot about what you're thinking, especially if you're being sarcastic.
5. Pay attention! Look at the person who is talking to you. Make eye contact and don't interrupt. If it's a bad time to talk, tell the person you are interested in listening and set up a better time to talk, as soon as possible. Keep your word.
6. Listen for what is not said. What a person hesitates to say is often the heart of the message. People also convey information with their tone of voice or body language. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Encourage the other person to keep talking.
7. Before you respond, be sure you understand the other's message. Start out with the phrase…"So, what you’re saying is…" and then repeat what you've heard. It's an excellent technique and it works.
8. Hug your teen and tell them you love them just as they are, and mean it. Now is a great time to start, even if you whisper it.
Alison Molea-LaVigne is a clinical social worker in private practice. She works with individuals, families, couples, teens and children on a wide range of issues. She is also an Independent Consultant for Synergy Counseling Associates in Albany and can be contacted at 222.7613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The regular guy and the cruise ship
Once upon a time there was a guy. Not a handsome prince, as a matter of actual fact, not any kind of a prince at all. A guy who preferred cold cereal to quails eggs and who would always forego pheasant in favor of a cheeseburger. This guy, in the parlance of his modern times, was called a Regular Guy. Having no princely servants at his beck and call, he was accustomed to doing things for himself. Even more, he was accustomed to doing rather than biding. Among his family and friends, he was widely regarded as one unskilled at leisure.
The guy’s holidays were more likely than not self-reliant journeys on sailboats that he would skipper with his family or friends as crew. Voyages to isolated islands reached by dint of their own navigation, sail handling, anchoring, provisioning, cooking and exploration. Voyages, in short, of self-determined freedom.
But then one day as it happened, the guy’s wife implored him to depart from their usual custom and join his mother-in-law aboard a luxurious cruise ship for a passage to Central America and through the Panama Canal. The regular guy was loathe to assent to this entreaty. In his heart of hearts, he feared the tales of the unknowns that awaited foolhardy souls who ventured forth on the high seas aboard sparkling white seagoing hotels. He had heard the unnerving sagas of sun-drenched lounge chairs, blood-curdling tales of sumptuous feasts served round-the-clock, and the most horrific terror of all, the terror that tests even the most fearless old salts—even those intrepid enough to dare the regions on the charts that read, “Here there be dragons”—the terror of having every whim catered to hand and foot, mind, body and spirit—by other people: stewards, waiters, chefs, seamen, maitre d’, entertainers, bartenders, custodians, concierges, musicians, bus boys, pool boys, and a maintenance crew who put any problem to right before one hangs up the telephone. All these others catering to a Regular Guy?
“What will I have to do,” he wondered.
Despite the terrors, and because of his love for her who is his wife, he agreed. Regular Guy boarded the ship with wife and mother-in-law in sun-soaked Acapulco, leaving behind its streets teeming with VW Beetles and its hundreds of hormone-saturated spring breakers wildly celebrating the most primal of urges. As they entered the carpeted, mahogany lobby of the ship, they were greeted by a liveried waitress with a gracious “Welcome Aboard!” and handed a flute of champagne with a whole strawberry resting on the flute’s sea bottom. Ushered to their stateroom where their luggage— not their sea bags—already awaited them, they entered the spotless, air-conditioned room with its king-size bed, closets, wooden desk, flat screen television, fruit basket, plush robes, and wonder of wonders, a real bathroom, not a sailboat’s tiny head. Regular Guy opened the drapes, drew open the sliding glass door and stepped out onto their terrace with its outdoor table and chairs.
He looked down along the hull of the ship to the water. In his sailing experience, the water coursed by three or four feet below his deck. But here, it lay some 70 feet away. Oh, brave new world, he thought. As he watched deckhands and dockhands cast off the mighty hawsers without his lifting a finger, an air horn blew and the 30,000 ton, 700-foot long ship slipped away from the pier and pointed its bow toward the open sea. Unlike their previous voyages, he wasn’t at the helm, and his wife wasn’t casting off docklines. They were, well, just watching and the vessel managed perfectly fine without them. Regular Guy wasn’t monitoring engine gauges, hadn’t turned on navigation instruments, he hadn’t hoisted any sails, and yet off they went. Surreal.
When dinnertime arrived, Linda didn’t go below to their tiny galley to cook. She simply changed into a pretty outfit and together she and Regular Guy walked to a spacious restaurant with impeccable table linens graced with flowers, fully appointed place settings, and not one, but two joyful, charming waiters: Augusto from Columbia and Parianta from Indonesia. The menu offered a variety of soups, salads, appetizers, entrees, beverages and desserts with enough breadth to satisfy the most discriminating palate and as delicious as served in any fine restaurant. True, Regular Guy and his wife weren’t relaxing at anchor in their sailboat’s cockpit, dining in blissful solitude under the stars, but there was much to be said for this fantasy-land alternative. And neither of them had to do the washing up.
The population aboard ship is what intrigued Regular Guy most of all. While the majority of the passengers carried US passports, German travelers made up the second largest group, followed by British, Dutch, Swiss, Australians and a smattering of South Americans. The crew, captained by a Greek skipper, hailed from 80 different countries of the world. Every age group also flew their flags, from children under 10 to voyagers over 80 and everyone in between. The multi-national, multi-generational assemblage inspired wonderfully fascinating conversations everywhere aboard, from poolside to dinner table, from bars to buffets, from the library to the lounges. The diversity spanned so wide a range that Regular Guy could imagine being on board a starship from Earth setting forth across the galaxy to colonize a new world with carefully selected people from all cultures and life experiences.
A relaxing, two-week vacation aboard a sailboat may cover about 400 miles of the New England coast with stops at islands, seaside towns and anchorages. The cruise ship traversed more than 3,000 miles with stops in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, an idyllic Columbian island, Miami, a passage through the majestic Panama Canal, and journeyed from the leaping-dolphin-decorated Pacific to the crystalline turquoise Caribbean. The voyage afforded side-trips to ancient Mayan sites, white-water rafting, snorkeling on coral reefs, visits to banana and coffee plantations, performances of folklorico-style music and dance, jaunts to mountain villages, conversations with native Central Americans, shopping and more shopping. Shopping for beautiful locally hand-made jewelry, handsome crafts of exotic wood, leather, fabric, silver and jade, indigenous artwork and occasional feints to dodge vulgar t-shirts, cheesy souvenirs and an infinite array of valueless imported junk.
Aboard a sailboat, Regular Guy and his wife often read or listened to music or audiobooks for entertainment. Aboard the cruise ship they could choose from a live band, a small orchestra, solo singers and musicians, small-cast cabaret shows, a singing harpist in a cocktail lounge, dance nights, trivia contests and movies on the television in their stateroom. On one evening of dance, Regular Guy and his wife—not unlike Cinderella and the Prince—won the Twist contest, even though neither of them had ever Twisted on their sailboat.
But Regular Guy was a little sad. He missed the transcendent beauty of his white sails against a blue sky carrying a boat gracefully across the waves. He missed reading the sky, the wind on the water, his nautical charts and instruments for navigation. He missed the freedom of staying at or leaving a place on his own time and preference. Regular Guy missed the tranquility of snuggling with his wife alone at anchor as the reddening sun disappeared into the sea to allow a blanket of stars take their turn in the heavens. For, if a Magical Kingdom exists anywhere on Earth, it must surely be on the sea. But all in all, Regular Guy discovered that a bit of luxury and a bit of leisure ain’t so bad, and maybe —just maybe—life opens many possible paths to living happily ever after.
A freelance writer, three of Ed Lange’s plays were finalists for national Audie Awards, in 2000, ’05, and ’07, and one of the three won. His articles have appeared multiple times in national magazines: Sail, Soundings, American Theatre, and Dramatics.
Better than moving
Get more space with a basement remodel
The day you've dreaded has finally arrived: your household is bursting at the seams. You need more space, but you're not keen on the idea of entering the real estate market right now. And eco-conscious consumer that you are, you don't relish the idea of increasing your home's environmental impact with a costly addition.
You're not alone. The bigger is better mentality that defined the "moving up" trend of the past 20 years seems to be the latest casualty of the real estate downturn. As a result, many homeowners are opting to stay put and increase their living space by remodeling the homes they have. Many are doing so without the cost and eco-impact of building an addition. Instead, they're creating more living space by turning areas like basements, garages and even outdoor patios into usable square footage.
Finishing a basement is one of the most cost-effective remodeling projects, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2007 Cost vs. Value report, with homeowners seeing an average 75 percent return on investment when they sell the home in the first year. The cellar-to-living-space trend can be especially helpful for owners of older homes, many of which have large unfinished basements.
Finishing a basement is a complicated job and generally beyond the scope of most do-it-yourself homeowners. One of the quickest and easiest ways to finish your basement is with a finishing system like the Owens Corning Basement Finishing System™. Wall panels with built-in thermal and acoustic insulation are professionally installed around the room. Mold and mildew resistant, the durable, dent- and stain-resistant panels easily turn a concrete basement into usable living space without the months-long disruption and mess of a traditional drywall remodel. The Basement Finishing System™ allows you to convert your basement in about two weeks. Visit www.basementfinishing system.com to learn more about this basement remodeling option.
Still unsure if a basement renovation will be worth your investment? Consider these additional facts:
• If you've been in your home for a while and you have equity built up, it will likely be easier to finance a remodel with a home equity line of credit than to secure a mortgage to buy a new home.
• Remodeling Magazine's 2007 Cost vs. Value report shows that for mid-range projects, additions cost an average of $200 per square foot, depending on where you live in the country and the scope of your project. By contrast, a basement remodel will cost much less than that.
• Finishing a basement can allow you to reclaim main-floor areas whose intended use went by the wayside as your living situation became more crowded. For example, you can move the treadmill out of the bedroom and into your new basement gym.
• Finally, you'll be turning under-used space into an asset that will not only enhance your enjoyment of your home, but will add dollars to the selling price when you finally do sell someday down the road - after the real estate market's inevitable recovery.
"Expanding your living space without increasing your home's overall footprint pays off in terms of homeowner satisfaction, too," Todd Hall, product manager at Owens Corning, says. "You're getting much-needed extra space, at a lower cost and less environmental impact than if you were to build a new addition. Because finishing a basement is less expensive than building an addition, there's more flexibility to customize as well."
Courtesy of ARA Content
It's annual fence fix-up time
If you've watched home improvement shows that focus on "curb appeal," you know that a coat of paint or stain on a fence can make a huge difference in the attractiveness of your home. But visual appeal isn't the only reason to renovate your fence —a worn out enclosure can also put the safety of your home and family at risk.
It's important to inspect fences, gates and gate hardware around your property to ensure all are in good working condition. Secure fences, with no gaps underneath or between sections, gate hardware that functions properly and with gates that self-close every time, can ensure the safety of the occupants and property in your home, and keep toddlers and pets from getting out into dangerous traffic. They can also reduce your liability from claims resulting from a defective gate.
Weather, from extremes in temperature to ordinary rainfall, can affect gate operation either through the creation of rust, or through freezing and thawing that affects gate alignment. Rusty metal hinges and latches or gate misalignment can lead to gates that no longer close securely, creating conditions that can be dangerous or even deadly if ignored. When was the last time you checked each gate around your property?
Selecting the right gate hardware can easily solve most of these problems. Choose gate hinges and latches, like those made by D&D Technologies, that are made of super strong engineering polymers that will not rust, and are adjustable and self-lubricating, requiring little or no maintenance.
Updating your gates so they are self-closing and self-latching, improving the security and overall look of the fence, can be done in just a few minutes with these products. D&D latches feature built-in key locks, which eliminate the hassles and extra cost of a separate padlock or pull-string. The hinges have a built-in self-closing spring that is tension adjustable for different gate weights with a twist of a screwdriver and eliminates dangerous and unsightly external springs.
"In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly was their number one concern," says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies. "Common gravity latches are inexpensive and function fine when new. However, as soon as rust sets in, these latches no longer close without manual assistance."
For the fencing itself, rust can present greater challenges. Steel fences and gates, if not protected with an effective sealant such as powder coating, must be periodically repainted with rust-resistant paint to prevent weather-related damage. Existing rust should be removed before painting, and a rust-preventive primer should be used as the first coat.
Wood fencing can be repaired by prying the damaged section out with a pry bar or cutting it out with a handsaw. Try to use the same type of wood as the original, and don't re-use the original nails. For wood fences, use paint specifically designed for fencing.
On wrought iron or other steel fences, if rust has worn through metal pickets at the ground level creating a large gap that children or pets can get through, sections of the fence will need to be replaced.
"Aluminum or vinyl fencing can protect against rust on the fence itself," Paterson says, "but the hardware must still be rust-free and adjustable to ensure the gate will be in working order. A quick inspection, and if needed, the minutes spent installing new gate hardware, can help protect your family and property, increasing security and decreasing liability.
"All gates should close and have the ability to be locked, but gates leading to pools or spas have an additional requirement," Paterson says. "They need to have a child-resistant latch so that young children cannot open the gate without an adult's assistance."
D&D's Magna-Latch is specifically designed for these situations. Magna-Latch is the number one selling child safety gate latch in the world. It meets pool barrier codes and is endorsed by many safety experts. For product information, see www.ddtechglobal.com, email email@example.com or call (800) 716-0888, ext. 292.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Boost home value with landscaping
Angie’s List data shows landscaping a top project in 2008
Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to start thinking about your yard and garden. With the stalled housing market, landscaping could make the difference between breaking even and making money on the sale of your home. In fact, a well-designed landscape can add 7 percent to 14 percent to a home’s value.
Angie’s List, (www.angieslist.com), the nation’s leading consumer ratings service, found landscaping to be the second most common project members will tackle this year. In 2007, members nationwide reported spending on average nearly $7,500 per job on landscaping.
“There are many more benefits to landscaping than just having a pretty yard,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Done correctly, landscaping can enhance your property value and make a home more energy efficient.”
Landscaping can help decrease heat buildup in the home by blocking and absorbing the sun's energy in the summer. In the winter, trees, fences; or other landscaping features can be used as windbreaks to shield a house from wind.
Angie’s List offers 7 tips to a perfect landscape:
List your priorities: Decide what’s important for you. Is it entertaining, playing in the yard with the kids; or growing flowers and vegetables? Once you have an idea, map out your property, indicating what you want.
Assess your skill level: Just because you like working in the yard on an occasional Saturday doesn’t mean you’ll want to put an entire flower bed into place. Hire a professional if you don't think you'll stick with the project through the season, or if it's a complicated project that will require tools and equipment you don't have.
Be realistic about your budget: You may not be able to afford it all this month or even this season.
Keep it simple with some pretty plants.
Factor in maintenance: Putting in that water element might look great on paper, but keep in mind it will have maintenance attached to it as well.
Plant a tree: Trees are a great investment. On average, they’ll add 3 percent to 7 percent on the value of your home. Plus, planting trees on the east and west sides of your home can reduce air conditioning costs as much as 25 percent.
Pick the perfect plants: Select greenery that is hardy, adaptable to your area and will thrive in your soil conditions. If you’re planning on selling your home, pick plants that will be attractive in more than one season – especially in seasons when the surrounding landscape is drab and colorless.
How’s the hardscape holding up? Are there areas in your landscaping made from brick or concrete that need repair? Clean and fix any broken steps or walkways.
From cabinets to countertops
Creating a kitchen on a budget
It is the busiest room in the house and often needs the most improvement: the kitchen. A remodeled kitchen increases the value of the home and makes it more enjoyable to cook, live and dine in. However, many homeowners are left wondering how to create the culinary oasis of their dreams on a budget.
"Just about everyone has cost concerns when it comes to remodeling. Very few people have unlimited budgets, so doing research on various options will go a long way to stretching your dollars," says Connie Edwards, certified kitchen and bathroom designer and director of design for Shenandoah Cabinetry. Edwards offers some valuable tips for controlling costs when remodeling the kitchen.
• Do as much of the work yourself as you can. Wallpaper removal, light demolition and cleaning up after subcontractors require hard work as opposed to skill; there is no point in paying skilled contractors to clean up.
• Buy stock cabinets. Instead of having cabinets custom-made, find a line of stock cabinets that you like. Shenandoah Cabinetry, sold exclusively at Lowe's, is a stock cabinet manufacturer that offers a wide range of premium construction features and accessories at a value price.
• Use alternative materials instead of costly marble or stone. Laminate countertops and vinyl flooring create rich-looking surfaces on a modest budget. When choosing faucets, brushed and polished chrome is vastly less expensive than more exotic finishes, and basic white fixtures are budget friendly and won't look dated in a decade.
• "Wow" the island. The island is the first thing that people notice when they walk into the kitchen, so keep the main cabinets simple and put the emphasis on the island. Make the island pop by increasing the thickness of the countertop, using a premium finish or glaze on just the island cabinetry, or illuminating the island with inexpensive but attractive pendant lights.
• Work within your existing space. Annexing space from an adjacent room or removing a wall can be costly, so add storage and organization features to new cabinets to utilize space you already have. Many of these accessories are now factory installed, such as those offered in Shenandoah's OrganizationOptions program, making things simpler for the consumer and easier on their wallet.
• Use moderately priced items in an interesting way. Small splurges in small spaces like a glass tile backsplash behind the oven range will spruce up the kitchen and is the best use of your dollars.
• Consult a design professional. A design professional can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure the job is done efficiently.
Visit your local Lowe's and talk to a kitchen design specialist about the options that are available to fit your lifestyle and your budget. For more information and to view an assortment of kitchen design ideas, visit www.ShenandoahCabinetry.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Easy, eco-friendly ways to control insect pests
You and your family aren't the only ones getting ready to enjoy your outdoor environment as the weather warms. Termites and carpenter ants will relish your wooden deck as much as you do. Mosquitoes would love to set up house in that new koi pond you just installed. And wasps and hornets will be unwelcome guests at your first barbecue of the season.
Some insect pests just bug you. Yet being an environmentally conscious American, you don't care for many of the pesticide sprays or baits that are commonly used to deal with insects either. How can you protect the environment and your enjoyment of the great outdoors this summer? Here are some unique ways to curb common insect pests:
Termites and ants
Why they're a problem: Termites damage wood - including your deck and house. Ants can also damage wood, encroach on landscaping and even cause allergic reactions in some people. Plus, no one wants ants attending their cookout, or worse, entering their home.
Where they hang out: Both termites and ants initiate nests in the ground, often in landscaping beds near a wooden structure - such as your house.
Solution: To discourage termites and ants from nesting in your landscaping, replace the decaying weed control fabric under the mulch in your landscape beds with Weed-X AT with Ant and Termite Guard - it actually deters the formation of ant and termite colonies by preventing them from burrowing through the material into the soil below where colonies form. Use it around the perimeter of your home in any type of landscaping or flower bed. As an added bonus, it will control weeds, retain moisture, and promote healthier plants. Weed-X AT is available at select Wal-Mart and Do-it-Best Hardware stores across the country. Visit www.weedxworks.com or call (800) 747-3256 to learn more.
Why they're a problem: Mosquitoes are well-known carriers of viruses harmful to humans, including the West Nile in North America and Malaria abroad. At best, they are a nuisance, making it difficult to enjoy the outdoors when predatory mosquitoes are looking for blood.
Where they hang out: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water such as ponds or rain barrels.
Solutions: Avoid having standing water on your property. Be aware that any item on the ground that might catch water will be a venue for egg-laying mosquitoes. To keep them out of your rain barrel, add a drop of olive oil to the water. The oil creates a thin film that mosquitoes can't pierce to lay their eggs. Don't, however, add oil of any kind to a fish pond. Instead, introduce fish that will eat the mosquito larvae. To keep mosquitoes off skin naturally, try garlic spray as a repellent (mix 1 part garlic juice to 5 parts water and shake well). Marigolds planted in your flowerbeds will also repel mosquitoes and other flying insects.
Wasps, hornets and yellow jackets
Why they're a problem: Far more volatile than their bee cousins, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are more likely to sting humans. Their stings deliver pain and swelling, and can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
Where they hang out: Certain species of wasps will nest under the eaves of your home, or in the overhang above your front door. Others prefer trees, shrubs or even ground spots. They are also drawn to human food and can be very aggressive scavengers.
Solutions: Always tackle hives and nests at night, when insects are less active. Wear protective clothing, covering your face and hands. Slip a large plastic bag over the nest and knock it into the bag. Quickly seal the bag and leave it in the sun for at least a day; the bright sun will kill the insects. For ground nests, pour boiling water into the nest opening.
By using eco-friendly control measures, you can ward off insect pests, enhance the enjoyment of your outdoor spaces and protect the environment at the same time.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Ride the heat wave for beautiful summer gardens
The heat and humidity of a typical summer leave little ambition to do much more outdoors than sit on the porch with a cold lemonade in one hand and fan in the other, much less worry about the condition of the garden. But, every proud homeowner wants to have a landscape that is not only presentable but attractive, despite the heat.
Due to the work of today's plant breeders and growers, who are producing ground-breaking new plants, homeowners with and without gardening know-how can enjoy the best of both worlds—stunning, colorful landscapes and lazy, hazy summer days.
"Summertime gardening can be challenging, but with the right plants and a few small chores, warmer months can become favorite times to create colorful and lush beds, borders and containers," says Jessie Atchison with Ball Horticultural Company, one of the world's leading breeders and producers of plants.
Perhaps the most important element in landscaping during periods of heat is to choose the proper plants. It is essential to pick varieties with reliable performance, brawny root systems, and strong resilience so they can stand up against high atmospheric heat and humidity. Durable selections that can withstand these types of extreme conditions will not only outlast others but will remain with vibrant color and robust hardiness.
"Try creating a long-blooming and low-maintenance border with heat-bearing annuals. This arrangement is ideal for most any hot spot in the lawn," says Atchison. "Wave Petunias can be used because they’re hardy, low-growing, and extra-spreading habit provides an almost never-ending variety of color and form in the landscape."
Atchison also suggests creating a unique-shaped bed that meanders around the house or connects two spaces. "These make for suitable areas in which to rotate annual color plantings from summer into fall," she says. "Alternating heat-loving petunias of contrasting colors, such as those from the Shock Wave or Tidal Wave series, highlights the space and creates added design interest." Wave Petunias are available in five series with hot-climate staying power.
The Original Wave series grows lowest to the ground and spreads across the landscape, making it ideal for slopes and banks. For added color and interest, plant the new Shock Wave series as the perfect accessory in baskets, containers and small in-ground beds. For otherwise drab, heat-fizzled borders, the Easy Wave 'Mystic Pink' variety holds its own as a psychedelic pink and white flower, while the Shock Wave 'Electric Mixture' looks like a high-voltage blend of vivid purple with pink veining.
Location, location, location
Sheer heat commonly harms plants far less than heat mixed with humidity. "Since the rate at which temperatures change causes stress to plants more than temperature alone," says Atchison, "homeowners should tailor plant selections to growing conditions." Using an online USDA Zone Hardiness Map is a means to determine which plants are intended for each region. "The country is divided into 11 growing zones, one being the coldest and 11 the hottest," she says. Plant tags usually indicate the zones in which the plants will thrive.
Yet, factors close to home play roles in the success of new plantings for summer. These include the site's soil type, sun, wind, aridity, humidity and location of the planting area. Wilt- and wither-proof plant choices for gardens that face south or west are essential since these areas tend to receive direct sunlight and remain hotter. Allure, Designer, and Fantasia Series geraniums are classics from Ball Horticultural Company with unique colors and flower patterns that do not fade in settings with unwavering sun. "With variety names like 'Hot Coral', 'Peppermint Twist' and 'Strawberry Sizzle', they hold their bright hues all season," says Atchison.
Key elements for success
Plants—even robust selections—are healthier when planted in good soil. Accurately prepared soil allows for retention and absorption of water, not to mention equates to aeration. Before planting, soil can be amended with organic matter like compost or manure and bagged fertilizers that consist of natural potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. "During warmer months, mulching is important to cover the soil, keeping it cooler and minimizing evaporation," says Atchison.
Water is an obvious component of balmy season gardening. Watering during the early morning or evening—when temperatures are somewhat lower—leads to a reduced amount of strain on plants and decreases loss of moisture during the heat of the day. "Though, avoid watering at too shallow a depth or more often than necessary as waterlogged soil can cause root-rot," cautions Atchison.
Some plants are known for their moderate water need and subsequent ability to thrive in sun and warmth such as Serena Angelonia, a striking plant for containers and landscapes, and Aztec Verbena 'Dark Red' best used in baskets and mixed containers. Solcito Zinnia is a versatile annual with tiny golden-yellow blooms that aptly takes the heat.
What counts in the end
When committing to a summer season garden, the objective should be a harmonized and convenient space filled with color and design reflective of personal style. The most important aspect is low-maintenance, yet eye-catching plant material with the capability to engage and delight gardener and guest alike.
To learn more about plants and planning for summertime gardens, log onto www.ballhort.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
An escape from reality
By Linda McClain, CTA
Wish to indulge in a destination that exudes European charm and luxury? Want to test-drive the lifestyles of the rich and the famous? Then Monaco, the second smallest country in the world, is the destination for you.
Perched between the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by the French Riviera, the principality of Monaco has an allure of opulence and charisma that attracts those who appreciate the finer things in life. Just three miles long and a half-mile wide, it is bordered on three sides by France and the Mediterranean Sea. Perfectly positioned between Provence and Cannes, France, it is close to the Italian Alps.
Monaco is divided into four quarters;
• Monaco-Ville - Home of the Grimaldi Dynasty and the Prince’s Palace.
• La Condamine - Busy cruise and ship port area.
• Monte Carlo - Main center for business and entertainment.
• Fontvielle - Area for recreation, such as the Grand Prix and Tennis World Championships.
How do I get there?
Connecting flights from Albany and non-stop service from JFK to Nice are available with Delta and Air France.
Due to escalating fuel costs, airline fares are higher than ever. You can ensure the best rate by ticketing your air reservation promptly.
The Cote d’Azur International Airport in Nice, France, is 15 miles from Monaco. Transportation options from Nice include the French National Railroad, scheduled bus service, taxi or rental car. You could also opt for a breath-taking seven-minute helicopter flight.
Weather: With a minimum of 300 sunny days a year, you can anticipate nice weather. Even winter temperatures average 48-58F. However, rainfall is more likely during cooler weather. Spring time temperatures average 50s-60s while summer temperatures average 68–mid 80s. Conditions are influenced by the surrounding sea breezes. Fall temperatures are ideal with an average of 60s-70s; still suitable for sun-bathing.
Language: French and Monegasque dialect are the main languages, but English and Italian are also spoken.
Population: 32,000; 7,000 are Monegasque.
Phoenicians settled in Monaco in 700 BC. During the Greek and Roman period, Monaco was an important trading center that provided shelter to sailing vessels.
On June 12, 1215, the Genoan family of the Gibelins laid the first stone of Monaco Castle, which became the Prince’s Palace. To attract population to the area, people were offered tax exemption.
The Grimaldi dynasty has been included in Monaco’s history for over 700 years. In 1297, Francois Grimaldi, the founder of their dynasty, led a group of soldiers disguising themselves as Franciscan monks, to the Monaco castle. Once greeted, he and his cousin, Rainier I overpowered the inhabitants for possession.
The family coat of arms symbolizes the event and depicts two swords and two monks in a Monegasque shield with the phrase, “Deo Juvante”, Latin for “With God’s help”.
Francois was succeeded in death by his cousin, Rainier I, who was cousin to the Grimaldis.
Between the 1400s and 1600s, Monaco was wedged in a power struggle between Spain and France for control of their country.
In 1641, France claimed Monaco as its own.
The Principality became independent from France in 1861. Under the terms of a treaty signed with France in 1918, if Monaco’s royal family has no male heirs, it will once again go back to French rule.
Prince Rainier III rose to the throne in 1949. He proclaimed a new constitution in 1962, allowing women to vote. Ranier also cleared the way for new beaches and elegant hotels to be built, which transformed the principality into a seaside gem. He was a motivating force for cultural development through music.
Prince Ranier III was known as the wealthiest bachelor in the world when he met Grace Kelly, age 26. Born in Philadelphia, Kelly had always wanted to be an actress. Her movie career included 11 films and nominations from the American Academy Awards and Golden Globe.
In 1955 she attended the Cannes Film Festival and agreed to have pictures taken with the Prince for a French magazine. It is said that the prince had just broken off a relationship with a woman because she was infertile. The attraction between the Royal Prince and America’s leading lady led to a celebrity marriage that captured the world’s attention in 1956.
Because of her new royalty status, she was unable to continue her acting career.
They had three children; Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie.
The prestigious life of Princess Grace of Monaco ended with her untimely death in 1982. She was driving her car along a windy stretch of road when it tumbled over 100 feet below. Her 10-year-old daughter, Princess Stephanie escaped with minor injuries. Kelly survived long enough to be reunited by her family members before she passed away.
Scandals have grown with each of their children. Princess Caroline has been married three times and Princess Stephanie, twice. Prince Albert has been accused of fathering children out of wedlock.
Since Prince Ranier III’s death in 2005, their adult children have actively taken on the role of leadership.
What can I do there?
In honor of the 25th anniversary of Grace Kelly’s death, a special exhibition is taking place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, this summer.
Prince’s Palace - Home to the ruling family of the Principality, the palace is open daily for tours from June to October. Don’t miss the Changing of the Guards!
Monte-Carlo Casino and Opera House - Noted as one of the most famous cultural landmarks in the world, it was designed after the gilded Belle Epoque age in Europe. It is the site of 45 world premieres and home to many opera performances.
The principality has no income tax for its citizens. There is also no luxury tax imposed. However, Monaco’s citizens are not allowed to gamble in the casino.
Monaco Cathedral -Where Prince Ranier III was married to Grace Kelly. Also resting place to both of them.
Oceanographic Museum - Built in 1910, the museum is considered one of the finest in the world. Its collection includes over 4,500 fish in 90 tanks that represent species from every ocean on earth. Jacques Cousteau was director of the museum for 30 years.
Museum of Antique Automobiles - The private collection of late Prince Rainer’s 85 restored vintage automobiles from all over the world. They represent almost every decade since the invention of the automobile.
• Each May since 1929, the famous Monaco Grand Prix Formula car race takes place through the narrow, winding roads of Fontvielle.
• Monaco has many spectacular gardens, more than 50 art galleries and dozens of other museums.
• Monegasque shopping specialties include perfume, ceramics and fashion. Handcrafted items are sold at Boutique du Rocher, a charity of the late Princess Grace. Monegasque stamps are highly sought after by collectors.
• Grace Kelly was the first actress to appear on an American postage stamp.
• Grace’s Cartier engagement ring was a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond and two baguette diamonds mounted in platinum.
• Prince Ranier commissioned a perfume, Fleurissimo, especially for Grace as a wedding present. The perfume was also worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Madonna.
• The national orchestra of Monaco has more individuals than its army.
• A variety of James Bond films have been made in Monaco; most recently, “Golden Eye”.
• Nicole Kidman stars in the new movie, “Monaco”.
• Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were recently seen vacationing in Monaco.
• Are you ready to jet set? Here’s a toast to your vacation with a glass of champagne, the beverage of Monaco.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.com.
This June brings another installment of local author
Tom Schreck’s Duff Dombrowski mystery series.
TKO: Round Two is the sparkling sequel to last year’s On the Ropes: Round One. Once again, Duffy Dombrowski, social worker extraordinaire, is doing his best to help the weak and downtrodden while avoiding as much paperwork as possible. In his newest caper, Duff is assigned the case of Howard Reinhart, a man recently released from prison; he was convicted of murdering four of his high school classmates who had taunted him once too often. When Howard misses an appointment and a high school cheerleader is murdered, he is the obvious suspect to everyone but Duff, who is determined to see that Howard is treated fairly. In addition to trying to find Howard, Duff has also managed to saddle himself with the responsibility of a teen boy who has named Duff his sensei, a teen boy whose tormented high school career is eerily similar to Howard’s. Allah-King, Duff’s Muslim basset hound, once again provides canine comic relief, and Duff’s fellow regulars at AJ’s, the bar he frequents, continue their endless, inane barfly conversations, which add a certain color to the story. Duff is a man of honor, kind of like Robert Parker’s detective character, Spencer, and this sequel is worthy of Schreck’s first book. If you are looking for a fun, fast summer read, look no further.
Apparently, June is mystery month, because I have another new one to review. Fans of Julia Spencer-Fleming will be thrilled to hear that the long-awaited newest book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series is out. I Shall Not Want is the sixth and last book in the series, and it concludes on a high note. The series is set in a small town in the Adirondacks. Clare Fergusson is an Episcopal priest who attracts trouble like magnets attract iron; Russ Van Alstyne is the chief of police in Millers Kill—native son, Vietnam vet and very married. The first book in the series, In the Bleak Midwinter, introduces the pair as Clare starts her new job at St. Alban’s parish and immediately finds a baby on the rectory doorstep and Russ is called in to deal with the case. Thus begins one of the best mystery series I’ve ever read. The setting makes it interesting to Capital Region residents, the plots keep mystery fans coming back, but the relationship between the two main characters gives the series heart and soul. The latest mystery involves illegal migrant workers, drug dealing and the possibility of a serial killer. Two other characters share center stage with Clare and Russ—Officer Flynn, a rookie introduced in previous books, and Hadley Knox, a new recruit to the Millers Kill Police Department. Keep your fingers crossed that Spencer-Fleming will continue her Millers Kill saga featuring these two in the future.
Chuck Palahniuk has a new book out. Palahniuk, author of Fight Club (made into a movie starring Brad Pitt), plus seven other novels and two non-fiction works, is a cult favorite whom I’ve never read before. But, when I saw the galley of Snuff, his newest novel, I figured I should give him a try.
The premise of the book is certainly provocative. Famous porn star Cassie Wright is making the movie of her career—she intends to break a world–record and have sex with 600 men in succession on camera. There are four narrators: Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, and Sheila, a woman on the set crew. Through their distinct voices, we find out how a porn movie is made, what started Cassie on her storied rise to fame and how one of the current participants intends to turn the movie into a snuff film so that his name will live in infamy. Snuff is fascinating in a gritty way, but readers with tender sensibilities and/or intolerance for vulgar language should not pick up this book. Sex is portrayed as a mechanical act, divorced from emotion, imagination and even pleasure; perhaps this depiction is appealing to Palahniuk’s fans, but it struck me as depressing, not titillating. Perhaps I am too old to appreciate the author’s cutting edge sensibility and hipster ethos, but this book wasn’t my cup of tea. Reader, you have been warned!
Susan Taylor has been in the book business, in one aspect or another, since 1982. SShe currently works at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Stop by the store if you are looking for a good book—she’s read a lot more than she can talk about here!
Sun Sign Forecast
For June 2008
By Arlene DeAngelus
Best Days for June 2008: 5th, 13th, 22nd and 28th. To lose those extra pounds, begin a diet on the 18th.
Aries: (March 21 to April 20)(March 21 to April 20) Communications of all forms are high-lighted and run smoothly this month. You enjoy happy times with neighbors and your siblings. After the 13th, you become interested in mental pursuits and expand your perspective of life. Toward the end of the month it is easier to resolve any problems on matters that you have not dealt with.
Taurus: (April 21 to May 20) Finances and business dealings are high-lighted and favored this month. You look for ways to increase your financial stability. After the 13th, review any shared resources and assets and organize paperwork, if needed. Toward the end of the month, you work toward achieving your goals. New friends expand your interests and involve you in humanitarian projects.
Gemini : (May 21 to June 20) Self-expression and making a good impression are highlighted this month. This is the time to pitch your ideas. After the 13th, you gain self-knowledge through your relationships with others. There can be a fateful encounter at this time. Toward the end of the month, you evaluate your career direction, or the equivalent, and look for new opportunities.
Cancer: (June 21 to July 22) Spiritual enlightenment and self-knowledge are highlighted this month. A retreat or quiet get-away is inviting. After the 13th, you strive to get a job done, but be careful that you do not go to extremes. This is a time to break any unwanted habits. Toward the end of the month, keep an open mind as you become attracted to new ideas and intellectual growth.
Leo: (July 23 to August 22) Long-term goals and life’s directions are highlighted this month. You enjoy group meetings and parties with friends. After the 13th, you look for creative projects to become involved in. You share happy times with children and loved ones. Toward the end of the month, relationships can become somewhat unstable and begin to change as your personal needs change.
Virgo: (August 23 to September 22) Status and career, or the equivalent, are highlighted this month. You receive recognition for a job well-done. After the 13th, you revisit memories from you childhood and re-evaluate your relationship with your parents. This is the time to resolve any problems from the past. Toward the end of the month, you grow through your relationships with others.
Libra: (September 23 to October 22) Intellectual and spiritual studies are highlighted for this month. You seek wisdom and mental expansion as you explore such subjects as the law, philosophy and religion. After the 13th, you begin to question things that you have always taken for granted. Toward the end of the month, you make changes in a current job or you may even change jobs.
Scorpio: (October 23 to November 21) Shared resources and values are highlighted this month. You can now settle any unresolved issues concerning these matters. After the 13th, you seek to increase your finances and gain material security. Toward the end of the month, you cannot take children or loved ones for granted. You will have to be more adaptable and change some of your routine.
Sagittarius: (November 22 to December 21) One-to-one partnerships, both business and personal, are highlighted this month. These special relationships bring happiness. After the 13th, you discuss with others aspects of yourself that you usually keep hidden. Toward the end of the month, you become more flexible and begin to make changes in your personal world. You enjoy time with your family.
Capricorn: (December 22 to January 19) Work and co-workers are highlighted this month. Improve your efficiency in work areas and present new ideas. Your physical efficiency is ruled as well. After the 13th, you question spirituality and your place in the universe. Toward the end of the month, you become interested in new studies and intellectual pursuits. A computer course is also possible.
Aquarius: (January 20 to February 18) Children and loved ones are highlighted this month and you enjoy happy times with these special people. After the 13th, you join groups on social change and seek out people who are more intense. Your friends and social circle may also change. Toward the end of the month, allow yourself to be open to new job opportunities that are presented.
Pisces: (February 19 to March 20) Domestic and personal matters are highlighted this month and there are happy family gatherings. After the 13th, you work to achieve your long-term goals and success in your career area, or the equivalent. Your hopes and wishes can be realized. Toward the end of the month, you remove old self-limitations and replace them with positive attitudes and ideas.
Baby go boom
By John Gray
A man stands up from the back row of a crowded room, raises his hand and utters the following 10 words: “Hello, my name is John and I’m a baby boomer.”
There I said it, are you happy? Although, if we want to be honest more than technical, I’m not really a boomer. Wikipedia defines a Baby Boomer as someone born between 1946 and 1964. I was born in late December of 1962, so as far as I’m concerned that’s a little like saying you showed up to hear the last song at Woodstock, didn’t even get muddy and now years later you run around telling everyone what it was like to see Jimmy play “Star Spangled Banner” on his guitar. I don’t think so.
But let’s say, for the sake of argument, I am a boomer. I guess that makes me older than dirt and qualified to write about life when dinosaurs roamed the earth and kids took the big yellow chariot to school. Hey, laugh all you want, but those things got great gas mileage.
I can argue all day that being 45 is not that old, but the truth is, I don’t bounce like I used to. I mean that literally. When you’re 20 you can play tackle football with your friends with no padding on, woof down 20 wings and six beers and the next day just hop out of bed looking like Brad Pitt in the movie “Troy”. If I did that now, I’d wake up in agony, unable to tie my shoes and it would appear every calorie from the beer party went directly to my gut. If you’re a 45-year-old woman feel free to substitute the word “butt” for “gut”.
One of the most overused phrases in the English language is the ‘good old days’, but if you take a moment to look at what life was like, say 50 years ago, it’s kind of true. Since baby boomers are anywhere from 62 to 44 years young right now, I was curious what life was like for them when they were young and didn’t know anything about divorce, downsizing, Viagra, reality TV, Blackberry’s, the Black Crowes or crows feet around the eyes that will go away if you just buy this miracle product on QVC for six easy payments of $19.95 a month…. well, you get the point. Life was simpler.
To prove this I Googled the year 1958 to see what was shaking for the average American family 50 years ago. Talk about things that make you say “mmm.” In 1958, gas cost $24 cents a gallon. Oh, and you didn’t have to get out of the car to pump it; a nice man in a uniform did it for you. He also cleaned the windshield and checked the oil. People were honest back then too, so if the man said you were “down a quart” you knew he was telling the truth. A little different from today when you drop the car off at the repair shop because the windshield wipers stick and they call you an hour later to tell you it’s being caused by a faulty muffler system which needs to be replaced NOW for $700.
There was no email, but you didn’t mind because stamps were just $4 cents each. A brand new car in 1958 went for $2,000 and you’d park it in the garage of the new house you just had built for $12,000. Can you imagine that? Today people drop $12,000 on the counter tops in a new kitchen and 50 years ago that got you the whole house. College was dirt cheap. How do I know? Because tuition at Harvard was $1,250. Today it’s $32,500 (with fees, room and board it’s over $47,000). The only downside I suppose was that the average American made roughly $4,600 a year in salary. Still, families managed to survive and thrive on that one income allowing Mom to stay home if she liked.
Penny candy was really a penny, Bobby Fischer was kicking butt and taking pawns in the chess world, and on July 26th of that year Queen Elizabeth looked down at her son Charles and said, “My God you have big ears.” To make him stop crying she then added, “Okay, okay, will you stop wailing if I make you the Prince of Wales?” He did, so she did. Two guys named Elvis and Sinatra were burning on the record charts and today, even though they're six feet under, they are still number one in many hearts.
Kids today can download music anywhere, anytime and the sound is more pristine than a snowfall in December, but boomers had vinyl and there was magic hidden in those cracks and pops. We clipped baseball cards to the spokes of our bike, played outside without fear someone would hurt us and you always knew that when the streetlights came on it was time to go home. Oh, and in 1958 a doll named Barbie came on the scene forever holding woman to an impossible physical standard. Ken would come years later, the world’s first metrosexual.
Even TV was innocent back then with the very first reality show “Candid Camera”, a program whose goal was to entertain, not humiliate. I guess what I’m saying is that the good old days were pretty good in a lot of ways. I watch us march around like good little soldiers with our cell phones and laptops and various devices that promise to bring us a world of information, but in many ways make us slaves to a boss who knows he can send an email from Tahiti at 2am and you darn well better answer it. It makes a boomer pine for the days when Sunday truly was a day of rest and your friends stopped by to see you in person rather than send a text saying, “Yo. Wuz out late & dont feel gr8. plz 4give. cant come 2day. lol. c ya L8r.”
At cemeteries everywhere English teachers are spinning in their graves. I doubt anyone under the age of 30 is still reading this column (I’m sure I lost them at Woodstock), but if they are let me say this: (in the words of Kansas, a band from my youth) Carry on my wayward son and be happy you were born at a time of flat screen TVs and mocha latte non-fat caramel cappuccinos. Us baby boomers will drink our Fresca and hang onto memories of a simpler time when the number nine didn't remind us of a governor and a call girl, but the strange ending to a song from the White Album. Number nine, number nine, number nine. Who sang that? Oh, some band called The Beatles. Your parents probably heard of them.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org