Friday, February 28, 2014

Thigh Gaps, Bikini Bridges and the Body Beautiful

It is a full-time job keeping up with the news today. 24/7 outlets maintain a constant chatter. What is going on around my neighborhood, my state, the nation, and around the world makes for a never-ending text, video and audio stream.

Since it is impossible to keep up, I do not try. I scan headlines and get a vague idea of what is happening in my world.

Sometimes I overlook important developments.

A recent trend I initially missed impacts most young women, some middle-aged women, and doubtless only amuses older women.

I missed the latest craze in framing a slim silhouette, a significant body element to check off one’s body image worksheet.

I wrote previously about the thigh gap here, the body image trend of the year for 2013. For those unaware of this figure feature desired by young females, it is an open space between the thighs formed when standing with feet together.

The latest litmus test of the thinspiration body is a term I recently heard for the first time – bikini bridge. It just may be the 2014 body trend of the year.

And remember – you probably heard it here first!

The Urban Dictionary defines the term as follows:

When a girl in a bikini lies down and her hip bones protrude well past their flat stomach causing their bikini bottom to stretch across and gap is formed for a beautiful view of their vaginal front also referred to as hood.

The expression is new, according to my limited research, and actually began as an Internet hoax. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but it seems plausible that this kind of nonsense spreads like wildfire nowadays and people believe without question.

I raised boys, so did not deal with little girls and issues of their changing bodies, skinniness, constant dieting, and body image. But I had plenty of problems dealing with these issues personally since puberty and continuing until the present day. I bet most women deal with these issues sometime during their lives.

The ultra-thin model Twiggy displayed the body du jour during my formative teen years. An assortment of tall, thin, mostly blonde models followed. The feminist movement raged about the negative messages models and skinny celebrities presented to young girls, but over the years and decades not much changed.

The chances of attaining such perfection are slim (pun intended) to none for the overwhelming majority of women.

Standards may not be more difficult to achieve today, but I think the language of perfection is more detailed – thigh gap and bikini bridge being two examples of body image terms unheard of years ago.

The ideal woman’s figure, according to mass media commentary constantly pounded into our brains, embraces skeletal shoulders, small but defined, high busts, a tiny waist, no stomach, narrow hips, no butt, and slim thighs.

Past and present I carry a more zaftig, hourglass figure. No amount of zumba, Pilates, yoga or any combination of diet and exercise will transform me into a slim Jane. At one time we – women of a certain age - wanted to be Jane Fonda-wannabes – tight body, slim, tiny waist, poufy hair, not an ounce of fat hanging anywhere.

Then we grew wise and realized no amount of Jane’s exercise tapes, diets, or anything else was going to transform us into something we were not.

A few teenagers and twenty-somethings are genetically blessed with a thinsational shape. Models and celebrities constantly work at maintaining their body beautiful, as do a few fitness freaks.

The rest of us muddle through life with the body we were born with.

Maybe one day things will change. It would be nice if, in a few years when my granddaughters are teenagers, they are not obsessed with thigh gaps and bikini bridges. Perhaps today’s kids will take a closer look at the young, fresh-faced, smiling, buff Olympians. I doubt any of them sport a thigh gap. Or bikini bridge. And I doubt they care.

The fact that I missed the initial introduction of the bikini bridge concept means I must increase my efforts to keep up with the latest body image trends.

I do not want to miss whatever the next fad may be.

Maybe a lengthy, narrow neck? Sleek cheeks?

Or a wasted waist? Concave stomach? How about curvaceous calves?

I can’t wait…

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

East Side, West Side, My Feet Are Killing Me


The new World Trade Center
We live a 2-½ hour Greyhound bus ride from Manhattan. It beats driving. No traffic, no tolls, no ridiculously high parking rates. Sit on a comfortable WiFi-equipped bus and enjoy the ride. Round trip per person $36.

Hub and I spent three days in the Big Apple this past weekend. We snagged a great hotel rate on Hotwire - $106 (plus taxes) a night – at a beautiful old establishment, the Hotel Roosevelt at 45th and Madison, next to Grand Central Station.

For those envious of the mid-Manhattan rate – our room was clean with a big bathroom – January and February usually offer the best (translate: cheapest) hotel rates. Cold, wintry weather limits tourist interest in the big city. The sun rarely penetrates to the sidewalk and the wind whips between buildings and right through you. Manhattan can be a freezing, dreary place in winter.

We booked our hotel a few weeks ago and discussed buying theater tickets in advance, but bagged the idea for two reasons. One, tickets are obscenely expensive. And second, we did not want to get stuck with tickets if ugly weather prevented us from getting to the city.

We were lucky. The weather was gorgeous; except for the hour spent in line at the Times Square discount theater TKTS booth. As soon as we got on line, the sky darkened. It started sprinkling, and then raining. When tickets were in hand, the rain stopped.

Saturday and Sunday sunny, 50-degree temperatures lured city dwellers and tourists outdoors. Everyone earlier huddled inside for months joyfully took advantage of the balmy weather.

People from around the world – I should have counted the variety of languages heard - promenaded on wide, jam-packed sidewalks, deeply breathed in polluted air, and adeptly dodged melting snow and ice puddles crossing streets, savoring all the city has to offer.
 
Window shopping on Fifth Avenue.
Great place for a delicious chocolate treat.

We made an interesting discovery concerning discount theater tickets. Once you braved the elements and stood on long lines to obtain tickets – not your first choice, because that particular show sold out right before you reached the window – ticketholders are entitled to a special benefit.

If in the city for more than a day, walk up to one of the line attendants (actually, they are probably security guards masquerading as too-happy folk eager to answer your questions), flash a show ticket from the past seven days, and you get to cut the line. Everyone points at you, ranting and talking loudly - as only New Yorkers can - speculating on who those people are and why they get to go directly to the ticket window.

We saw three shows, tickets purchased at a 50% discount. We ate delicious but calorie-laden meals, and walked endlessly. We met friends for brunch Sunday morning in Tribeca, on the southern end of Manhattan, then walked around the neighborhood, Ground Zero, and the Battery Park vicinity.

Strolling along the water, the spectacular view included the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and New Jersey. Kids and adults ice-skated on a fast-melting rink. The river was alive with kayaks – probably for the first time in months - and ferries transported people across the river.

My feet ached each evening.

My body retaliated.

New York, New York, what a wonderful place. To visit.

This morning I skipped zumba. Sleep beckoned, my feet as well as the rest of my body begged for rest, and I did not resist. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Navigating the Drug Nation


Refilling drug prescriptions is supposed to be easy. It used to be.

Hub turned the magical age of 65 in December and became a card carrying Medicare recipient. He crashed this artificial age barrier and now concedes the crossing over makes him feel old.

Once upon a time an e-mail reminder prodded automatic prescription renewals. A yearly doctor’s check-up sometimes initiated prescription changes, but adjustments occurred seamlessly.

That was pre-Medicare life. We now find ourselves in new territory.

The New Year dawned and it was time for hub’s yearly check-up as well as time to renew prescriptions.

The saga began with blood work needed before seeing the doctor. Very early one bitter cold January morning we bundled up and walked the couple of blocks to the clinic. The lab does not schedule appointments, and early arrivals usually do not wait long.

The clerical assistant checked him in and took his new insurance card to scan and process. A few minutes later – as he waited to be ushered into a room for the blood work – the assistant informed us the lab was not in hub’s insurance company network and would not pay for the test.

I grabbed my cell phone and found the number for another clinic nearby. They were open and accepted hub’s insurance. We walked the couple of blocks to the clinic and completed hub’s blood work.

A few days later hub drove to the doctor’s office. Everything went well and there were no medication changes. He handed his new drug prescription card and insurance card to the girl behind the desk. She scanned them to his file and he was on his way. The office would fax his prescription to the mail order company handling his account.

Unfortunately nothing is easy when dealing with bureaucracies.

Hub went online a couple of days later to check the status of his prescription. He could not find his account.

The old account – pre-Medicare – was gone. It took us a few minutes to locate and log into his new account. Same prescription drug mail order service, different account, and the two – pre- and post-Medicare - do not communicate.

It took four days, somewhat longer than the 24-36 hours the customer service rep assured us it would take, for the prescription to appear online.

This gets confusing. But what doesn’t with government bureaucracies?

Over the weekend hub received a canned voice message from the mail order company informing him his credit card was rejected.

We quickly fixed that glitch. In December we received updated credit cards, but the latest information had not made it into hub’s file. In addition hub’s Medicare is through his ex-employer. I do not understand how it works or why health care administrators are confused. All I know is that the system is complicated and involves endless paperwork.

Initially rejected by the insurance company’s clerical office, a couple of frustrating phone calls solved the payment problem.

Then another voice message from the mail order pharmaceutical company – obviously not too many real people work at this particular company – tells him he will receive a letter explaining that he needed a doctor’s evaluation before the prescriptions could be filled.

More phone calls followed, the goal being to reach a live person to question.

He just went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago.

That doesn’t count. Since he is on a new insurance plan, prescriptions are not automatically renewed, even though the request was sent directly from the doctor’s office. The insurance company/Medicare provider requires the use of certain drugs before others can be prescribed.

In other words, try the cheapest drugs – usually generics – first. If they do not work, then other - more expensive  - drugs can be prescribed. Hub went through the drug testing on his body a couple of years ago. He is on his current meds because cheaper, generic ones did not work.

Why must he go through the process again?

Meanwhile hub had only a couple of days of pills left.

The doctor, hub, and the insurance company eventually came to a meeting of the minds. The doctor sent a prescription to the local pharmacy to be filled immediately. The mail order pills would not be shipped for another couple of weeks.

So hub bundled up once again and trudged to the drug store, only to be informed by the pharmacist that  the prescription could not be filled because the request was denied by the insurance company.

After another series of phone calls, the pharmacy was permitted to fill 10 days worth of pills. Hub paid for them. He was charged $30, although the retail cost was much, much, higher.

Meanwhile the mail order service decided to overnight the drugs. That was on Monday. The package arrived Wednesday. Two overnights, but let’s not nit-pick the small stuff.

The system may improve when hub’s newbie status is no longer new. Meanwhile, refilling prescriptions previously accomplished automatically turned into a time-consuming and expensive scenario involving doctor’s appointments, phone calls, pharmacy visits, and overall frustration.

I wonder how people who are sick handle the bureaucratic rigmarole. I imagine it makes them weaker.

I suspect some people give up, unable or unwilling to maneuver through the red tape.

I now fear entering Medicare-induced madness in a couple of years.

I pray for good health.

Or maybe I will let my kids handle everything. Payback time…

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chasing Away the Winter Blues

I do not want to belabor the point that this has been a yucky winter. We have endured day after day of cold, windy weather. Around here – South Jersey – there are winters a warm coat is unnecessary. Not this year. We don coats, hats, gloves, boots, sweaters, and still shiver when stepping outside, greeted by polar vortex cold.

Rain, sleet, ice and snow are common occurrences. Dire predictions of storm-ravaging events have been even more pervasive. My car knows the way to the nearest convenience store for the obligatory bread and milk purchases, although in my house it has morphed into a chocolate cake and ice cream run.

And I wonder why my clothes are beginning to feel tight.

Yesterday – Sunday - was the first time in days, probably weeks, the sun shone. The sky was blue. The gray dreariness of past weeks – gray sky, gray buildings, gray grass, and gray air – dissolved and the world suddenly beamed.

It was time to awaken from our winter lethargy, get out of the house and do something.

Scanning the paper I discovered just the remedy for the winter blues.

New Jersey is home to several wineries – I know, sounds crazy, but do not laugh. (Everyone laughs at New Jersey. Governor Christie has not helped the situation.)

Actually, it is not so far-fetched that wineries found their way to the Garden State. Large tracts of land remain agricultural in south Jersey. Farmers and entrepreneurs seek the best way to maximize their acreage. Varieties of grapes thrive in the climate, with the end product proving profitable.

Most of the wineries are new businesses, launched in the 21st century, and just beginning to publicize their existence and invite the public for wine tastings, tours, and special events.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the past two weekends were Wine and Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend on NewJersey’s Wine Trails.

The event offered an excuse to get outside, sort of, go for a ride, and look for signs of spring. (Regrettably we did not find any.) It was too cold – at least for us – to spend a lot of time outdoors. Walking from the car to the wine tasting building provided our source of Vitamin D for the week - actually for the past month.

There are rules for pairing particular types of wines with specific chocolates, but the idea of spending an afternoon consuming chocolate and wine was enough for me. Neither a wine connoisseur nor a chocolate snob, I was eager to sip and munch in an appealing atmosphere.

Wine and chocolate – delightful decadence!

We spent the day sipping wine and nibbling chocolate at three wineries. The idea of pairing wine and chocolates has become so popular that a brand of chocolate – Brix – is specially made to pair with wines.

And, lest you think all this imbibing bad for your health, red wine and dark chocolate may be good for you. Both contain a molecule called resveratrol. Unfortunately because there is only a trace amount in each, a lot would have to be consumed for the individual to reap the benefits of the molecule. But if you are so inclined, go for it…

Personally I prefer white wine.

Each winery charged a fee for the tasting, and we bought a bottle or two or three at each winery. But our wine rack was almost bare and – thinking positive, believing winter will eventually be over and warm weather, friends and family arrive soon – this was an opportunity to stock up for the busy summer season.

The last winery visited offered not only wine and chocolate – eight wines and four chocolates - we tasted wines scheduled to make their official debut in November directly from the barrel. Musical entertainment was provided under a heated tent, and wine by the class and bottle were for sale, as well as appetizers and lunch items.

We arrived home happy, sated and tired. Wine and chocolate will do that to you.

We slumped on the couch and spent the evening watching the Olympics and Downton Abbey. Love the show, the costumes, the character development and historical references. (I correctly guessed the corruption problem Cora’s brother Harold was involved with in America was the Teapot Dome. My history classes pay off!).

Now that we have roused ourselves from winter hibernation, it is time to pray for spring!

For those within driving distance of the Jersey shore, we visited Natali Vineyards The Jessie Creek Winery, and Hawk Haven Vineyard and WineryWe never made it to the fourth winery in Cape May County, Cape May Winery and Vineyard. But we will!


Friday, February 14, 2014

VALENTINE’S DAY THE OLD FOLKS WAY


Growing old together is an incredibly romantic notion. We smile when hearing about a couple celebrating their 40th, 50th or 60th wedding anniversary. A picture in the local newspaper presents a young, slim couple in outdated wedding attire. A second photo of a much older couple, usually shorter and plumper than the young twosome, appears next to the first snapshot.

Divorce is common, yet lots of couples manage to stay together, and happily so, for decades. Two young, attractive people meet, discover they are each other’s soul mates, fall in love and get married. Over the succeeding years, maneuvering through life’s ups and downs, celebrating each other’s successes, comforting each other when life does not go well, they build a life together.

Stealing a look into their lives, we find them preparing for an evening out one Valentine’s Day.

She sits in front of a mirror and fusses, preparing her hair and applying make-up. She used to stand, but her weak knees buckle and anyway, she now prefers to take a seat in front of a magnifying mirror to see what she is doing.

She stares into the mirror and moans, “S**t, I am getting old.”

She looks lovingly over at her life’s mate, staring at him as if she has not seen him in a long time, thinking, “Damn, he is getting old too. What the hell is happening to us?”

He sees her gazing at him and looks back at her endearingly. He says something and she answers, “WHAT?”

He repeats the sentence, speaking a little louder, “Almost ready?”

They are both losing their hearing. They adjust, unwittingly sometimes, to each other’s aging idiosyncrasies.

He pauses, then continues, “Going out to dinner sounded like a good idea sitting in the warm house, but going out in the dark and cold suddenly does not seem like fun. We better leave soon or I’m going to change my mind. Wrapped in a hoodie-footie in front of the TV sounds awfully good right now. We should have gone out to lunch.”

“I’m getting old,” she laments out loud, once again scrutinizing the face in the mirror.

“No you’re not. You look great. I hope the restaurant isn’t too crowded. We have reservations. Almost ready? By the way, have you seen my glasses?”

Ah, yes. Life is sweet.

“Look on your dresser. They’re there somewhere.”

Her looks fade. His eyesight deteriorates. He looks at her with blurred, slightly out-of-focus eyes.

Right now she would not have it any other way.

On the other hand he is not the 20-something she married. His hair is gray, with a receding hairline and growing bald spot on the top of his head. His middle is too expansive, but hers is too. Her gray hair hides behind hair dye. And she wears glasses, too. Signs of aging sneak up and pounce. The pair look like the grandparents they are.

Their energy and activity levels complement each other. She exercises sporadically, and he exercises even less.

They sing oldies songs together and have no idea who the new twenty-something celebrities are. They may have heard of them or read about the new fresh-faced superstars, but forget names quickly.

But between the two of them there is an excellent chance one remembers – eventually - whatever information they are trying to retrieve from overstuffed memory files.

Staring at the image in the mirror, she is undecided whether to give up, no longer concerned about what others think about her appearance, or continue smearing stuff on her face. There ought to be some benefits to getting old, she reasons, and firmly believes the right to say and do whatever one wants is one of them.

She runs her hand over the circles under her eyes, shakes her head, finally looks away from the mirror and declares, “OK. I’m starved. Ready?”

“I’m ready, waiting for you as always. I’m hungry too. Let’s go.”

They grab their coats and walk to the front door.

He stops, looks at her and says, “Wait, where are my keys…”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Food, Glorious Food

A casado plate - typical Costa Rican lunch.
During my recent trip to Costa Rica I followed an almost-totally-vegan diet. My girlfriend Jane is a vegan. Vegans do not eat any animal products beef, pork, fish, poultry, dairy products, road kill, chocolate covered ants, other insects, etc.

I am not a vegan. I am a foodie. I like most foods, but not all foods. I only like green beans (do not eat black, white, red beans - especially mushy ones). I do not like little round green peas frozen or in a can, mussels (one of hubs favorites), cotton candy (not real food anyway), raw fish, shoo fly pie, pigs stomach (I think I lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country too long), and a few other foodstuffs I cannot remember at the moment.
Fresh sliced fruit, a snack provided on our  kayak
and horseback riding tours.

We ate the same breakfast every day - a hearty blend of grains cereal.

Dinner consisted of a salad with the most wonderfully tasting veggies bought fresh at market, and a fresh fruit salad made with fruits purchased at the local farmers market for dessert. Delicious, nutritious, healthy, very diet-conscious.

No bread. Not a vegan thing, a diet thing.

We ate lunch out because we were doing tourist stuff all day.

We enjoyed leisurely lunches at local cafes. This is where I teetered off the vegan wagon. A casado typical Costa Rican lunch - includes a plate with rice, a green salad, plantains (something like bananas, sliced and fried or baked), beans, and a choice of beef, chicken, or fish.

I presented my beans to Jane.

I dont think I could be a true tico native Costa Rican. They love their beans. Rice and beans is a staple. Eaten everyday, sometimes with every meal.

I ordered fish with my casado. The fish was outstanding local, sliced thin, not too fishy-tasting, and not fried.

A couple of times we ordered veggie sandwiches the only bread consumed all week.

So why did I not continue eating the same healthy way when returning home?

Because I am weak. No will-power. Physically weak too, but that has nothing to do with this discussion

My trained-from-birth body cells craved favorite foods. Faves like chicken wings, a juicy hamburger, and eggs, foods I can prepare at home. And of course ice cream and chocolate.

My girlfriend claims it is all a matter of mind over matter. Anyone can totally change their diet if they want. She and her hub became vegan two years ago and have not looked back.

I am not looking back, but upon returning home eagerly looked forward to tasting beloved foods again.

I could prepare vegan meals at home. But do you realize the number of fixings in vegan recipes? Over the years anytime ingredients in a recipe totaled in the double digits, I moved on. Vegan recipes have lots of ingredients. I enjoy cooking, but am not a gourmet cook. I am a KISS cook Keep it simple, stupid.

I think climate also has something to do with my inability to toe the almost-vegan, diet-conscious, nutritious line now. I left a warm, temperate almost equatorial climate and came home to the polar vortex. Cold veggie and fruit salads, wonderful as they are in warm weather, pale when the body yearns for a comforting bowl of hot soup or a plate of anything heated enough to warm the hands and bathe the face in warm vapors.

And I like variety.

Although not with everything in life.

Next week hub and I celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary.

Do you think we will go out to dinner? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Microwave Resurrected


Our microwave convection oven died over a month ago. I wrote about its demise here.

But I was too hasty declaring the appliance’s passing, for it has been resurrected and is once more happily humming. What a nice sound!

The saga of our microwave began the week between Christmas and New Year’s. While cooking dinner one evening the machine sparked and went dark. Hub checked the fuse box and wires. Everything was in order.

The next step was to call Repair Guy. Try getting a repairperson over the holidays – they disappear. If it was an emergency – like the heater died and my kids were growing ice mustaches – maybe we could have gotten assistance. But not with our microwave. No emergency.

The earliest a visit could be scheduled was the week after New Year’s. But we were going out of town. We postponed the appointment until our return.

Last Monday two repair guys arrived to inspect the damage. When not home I did not miss the machine, but home again I wanted the clock, the light over the oven, the quick cooking, the defrosting capability.

We purchased our first microwave convection oven soon after moving into our home almost four years ago. The machine lasted 18 months and died, apparently a victim of a power surge. We bought a new one.

Fast-forward another 18 months and our second microwave dies. No power surge this time. It simply stopped functioning.

The repairmen spent only a few minutes diagnosing the problem. The microwave could be fixed, but needed a new control panel and three thermostats.

How much?

The office would call us in the morning with the bad news. I mean, the cost.

Meanwhile repair guy gave us some valuable advice. He said the machine should not have crashed. Call the manufacturer and demand action. They should replace the parts, which were not cheap.

Hub insisted I call. He was too angry.

The manufacturer must receive a lot of calls about microwave problems because their customer service department was way too nice.  Repair guy said when told the company could do nothing to ask for the supervisor and work my way up the chain of command until I got satisfaction.

None of that was necessary.

The customer service representative said new parts would be sent overnight. No charge.

We would still have to pay for the labor to fix the machine.

The parts arrived and two repairmen returned to our home one week after the diagnostic visit.

And they fixed our microwave.

It looks like new. And best of all – it works!

Now I glance at the black and stainless steel machine and the digital clock tells the time. I can set the timer. I turn on the light and see my stovetop. I grab something out of the freezer, defrost and heat it, and eat within a short time.

Life in the electronic age is good again!

I hope the machine lasts a lot longer than 18 months. Repairs cost over $200. Hopefully we made the right decision to fix the device rather than buy a new one. If we paid for parts and labor the total cost would have been over $500. We would have purchased a new one.

One thing has changed. We will no longer buy any appliances from the manufacturer of our microwave. This particular company’s repair parts are expensive – apparently, according to repair guy, about the most expensive in the industry.

The saga of our microwave ends with a resurrected machine, a thinner pocketbook, contented repair guys (we tip well), and no more electronic or appliance repair hassles.


Until next time…

Monday, February 3, 2014

Passwords for Seniors


As a senior I think I am qualified to discuss a serious problem many seniors struggle with everyday.

We cannot remember all our passwords.

And we cannot remember answers to security questions.

We try.

I try to choose security questions for which I know the answers. For instance, the street I lived on when I was eight years old. I lived on the same street from age two until I went to college. My parents lived on the street over 50 years. Easy to remember.

Or the name of my eldest grandchild. Better not forget that. But that does not help the numerous seniors without grandkids.

Sometimes the choice of security questions presents a dilemma with no easily remembered answer. My favorite color changes. I never had a favorite pet - we had a series of cats. I do not remember my favorite childhood story character, probably because I never had one.

Recently I had a Comcast problem and was shut out of my account. The security question dates back over ten years, when the account was initially set up. What is my favorite beverage?  I tried quite a few coffee, water, beer (even though I do not drink any), wine, hot chocolate, soda, diet sodaNever did get the right one. I contacted tech support and they got me into my account. I also changed my security question.

Favorite car? Not a car fan. As long as a car runs I am happy.

Weight on my drivers license. Are they kidding? New Jersey licenses do not have a weight category. I want to know which states do, because I definitely will not move and get a license in that state.

Unfortunately the same password cannot be used for every site. Some require a combination of numbers and letters, some a character such as ? or $. Others require at least one upper case letter. A few websites require changing a password every few months, and the same one cannot be used for a period of time, usually at least a year.

As we age the amount of data stored in our brains increases. At some point brain files bulge and stuff stored gets shoved aside, lands on the file floor, is misfiled, or forgotten.

A new airport rule does not require those over 75 to remove their shoes and other accessories. I propose a similar age exemption for passwords, but I would lower the age. People over 60 should be allowed to use the same password everywhere if they want.

To verify qualifications for the exemption, seniors could list medical problems and request a dispensation from remembering all those passwords. Acceptable reasons might include:

A food-related exemption:
 I can't remember what I had for breakfast, how do you expect me to remember all those passwords?

An age-related exemption:
I can't remember how old I am, how do you expect me to remember a six or eight digit random number?

Lots of seniors will qualify for a sight exemption:
I have enough trouble seeing the keyboard, how do you expect me to hit the correct keys all the time?

And then there is the: I may not be sick but my computer is exemption:
My computer crashed and I lost all my passwords. I do not remember them...

Please, computer geeks of the world, heed our plea and come up with an easy, senior-friendly means of accessing websites.

We will eagerly and gratefully thank you, young computer geeks. And may your golden years be filled with electronics easy to see, easy to access, easy to use, with large numbers and controls, and gadgets rarely changed, upgraded, or obsoleted.

And while you are working on the password problem, how about also doing seniors a favor and place a loud buzzer on remote control devices. The buzzer would ring when accessing a "find remote" button or key or icon on our cell phone.

That will work - as long as we do not misplace both the remote and cell phone at the same time.