Sunday, October 30, 2016

Boomers On Halloween Diversions and Disheartening Experiences

The season of silliness is in full swing, and nowadays all ages join in. The election has everyone nervous, even neurotic, and hoping the craziness ends soon. So this year we need to let our hair down (metaphorically speaking) a little, laugh a lot, relax and enjoy some Halloween foolishness.

Carol Cassara of Heart Mind Soul has two posts that will definitely make you smile. She says her dog is not interested in dressing up for Halloween. But the dogs in Yappy Halloween? They've got a different idea. Take a look at some cute and silly Halloween dog costumes.

Dogs are not the only victims of ridiculous fashion. Carol goes back in her archives to find some of the silliest human fashions you'll ever see in Fashion: Love or Hate?   

It’s been a busy week for Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, over at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide. Robison noticed Halloween is coming up soon. Her readers like articles on the holidays, so she wrote about facts and figures for Halloween and the most popular Halloween costumes this year.

Rita also wrote this week about the Volkswagen settlement related to the company’s use of software that switches to cleaner emissions when the vehicles are hooked up to official emissions testing equipment. Next, she wrote about new guidelines from pediatricians on screen time for kids and a tool parents and grandparents can use to determine a media plan for each child.

Most of us can commiserate this week with two of our boomers, Laura Lee and Tom Sightings, both of whom experienced disheartening events.

Laura Lee of Adventures of the New Old Farts is reporting a good news, bad news story this week. On Tuesday, Laura Lee was so excited to have someone to put in her new patio, by Wednesday she could see how badly the job had been done...

Tom Sightings at Sightings Over 60 is on the road to places warm and sunny. But traveling is not always fun and games, as he relates in his post Close Call on I78.

I am looking forward to spending Monday evening greeting kids and their parents and handing out candy that hub and I cannot should not eat. The kids bound up the sidewalk, (parents dragging behind) excitedly running around in the dark, greeting friends, and collecting candy. I remember walking home from school trick or treating, the activity not confined to a two-hour time slot dictated by local municipalities. Oh, the good ole days…

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Florida Fascinates…sort of

Florida is in the news, thanks to its size, diverse population, and importance in Presidential elections. We must wait and see whether 2016 repeats the state’s election fiasco of 2000, but Florida is on our minds.

A native Floridian
My first pilgrimage to the Sunshine State occurred years ago, when eight years old. My grandparents rented an apartment for the winter in Miami Beach. Dad, Mom, my sister and I flew down to bask in the sun over Christmas break. I remember touring Monkey Jungle…I do not believe Florida confines all the monkeys to one place anymore.

A Northerner (a.k.a. hub) temporarily
enjoying Florida scenery
The years flew by and the older generation migrated south, spending their last years in the sun enjoying Southern Comfort. Apparently somewhere in the Bible it commands Northerners to sojourn in the Sunshine State before departing for heaven.

Personally I am not fond of Florida’s flat, barren landscape, but my lack of enthusiasm has not stopped thousands of retirees from moving to the state. Retirees need medical and cleaning services, stores and banks and restaurants, so other people – younger ones seeking job opportunities – follow the old folks south.

Folks journeying south include my son and his family. They relocated from the pristine climate and mountains of Colorado to the hot, sandy soil of southern Florida.

I am supposed to venture south before the kids. All the brochures and real estate seminars say so. Friends and family assume we will migrate south, but hub and I have no resettlement plans. I worry about hurricanes and floods, common Florida events. A lot of people blame climate change, but I know better.

The reason for the increase in watery saturation is the surge of people inundating the land, taking along their cars - huge weighty vehicles purchased for the trip south – their furniture and other belongings.

The state is slowly sinking under the weight of all the people, cars, golf carts, miscellaneous stuff, and dwellings.

Gated communities with European-sounding, sophisticated names spring up to house the invaders. Initially billboards announce the new community. Then heavy equipment begins moving dirt. A wall rises surrounding the development, infrastructure is buried, roads excavated and paved, and finally homes pop up amidst the dusty turmoil.

Not just any homes. Villas. Townhomes. Chalets. Estate compounds. Retirement cottages. Luxury condominium apartments. Nobody lives in a plain house anymore, at least not in Florida.

People live in places like Boynton Beach, a town without a beach, Yeehaw Junction, an exit off the highway with rest rooms, and Orlando, a city known as the theme park capital of the world. Water parks and Cinderella’s castle create a recreational landscape the world worships – non-denominational, of course – with air conditioning the preferred life force.

I feel the pull. The kids call. The grandkids beckon. The sun shines. The humidity suffocates. The heat saps all energy. Restaurants offer early bird specials. State politics and colorful politicians make front-page news entertaining outsiders.

Someday I may join the circus.

But not today. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ten Post-Election Pursuits for Donald Trump

Warning: This is a political post, sort of. I will not feel bad if you decide not to read further. I feel your agony, your anguish, your annoyance at the insanely drawn out contest culminating in a Presidential election. Americans also have the opportunity to vote for candidates vying for numerous down ballot offices: every member of the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the Senators, and various state and local positions. Finally, when the entire event is over, what we are all praying for will hopefully occur – a (temporary) reprieve from 24/7 political tirades. Most likely wishful thinking, but I am an optimist. I predict journalists, pundits and talking heads of all stripes, from the alt-right to the far left and everyone in between, will take time off for a few days, giving the rest of America a much-needed media vacation.

What I wish to discuss is not the pre-election hype, but life post-election.

The Big Question: What will The Donald do?

Speculation has begun, and I am jumping in with my:

Ten Possible Post-Election Pursuits for Donald Trump
 In no particular order:

* Fed up with campaigning and the public, Trump becomes a hermit, following the example of a past wealthy offbeat recluse, Howard Hughes. Trump never appears on a news program, talk show, radio broadcast, TV show, or any public media platform again. No longer subject to his rants and tweets, a collective sigh of relief is heard throughout the land.  

The Current Miss'd America
Drag Queen Mimi Imhurst
a.k.a. Braden Chapman
* Forming a band with sidekicks Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Roger Ailes providing backup, The Donald and Defenders are a conservative sensation. Their first major gig is the NRA national convention, April 2017, in Atlanta, GA. The group is also angling for a prime-time TV spot on the Miss America pageant in September 2017, followed by a performance at the Miss’d America contest sponsored by the Greater Atlantic City LGBT Alliance.

* Trump, unable to exit the limelight, fashions a media empire (a plan previously mentioned by astute observers).

* Trump begins divorce proceedings against wife #3, Melania. At the same time Melania files for divorce, then writes a tell-all book. To help jump-start her story, here is a list of ghostwriters. Or Melania can ask Michelle Obama who will be ghostwriting her FLOTUS book. Meanwhile Trump’s time is consumed seeking wife #4, his sexual exploits splashed all over the tabloids.

* Trump spends the first months of his newfound freedom dictating his account of the 2016 Presidential campaign, and then outsources (to India) production of the book, TV show, and movie versions.

* Enjoying campaigning so much, Trump again pursues political office, challenging Bill de Blasio for the job of mayor of New York City in 2017.

* The first six months post-election Trump remains in seclusion, no one sure where he is or what he is doing, eventually emerging unrecognizable from a luxury spa, flanked by a bevy of beautiful broads. He considers competing in one of the physically challenging reality TV shows such as Survivor or The Amazing Race, but decides against it. Instead he buys the shows.

* Trump moves to Russia. Putin allows Trump and his entourage to live in one of the old palatial residences attached to the Kremlin.

* Trump resurrects his brand, licensing his name to hotels, restaurants, furniture, clothing, and accessories, becoming the best radio and TV huckster ever, hawking goods in a never-ending series of commercials and infomercials on FOX networks to die-hard supporters.

* Trump buys H&R Block and becomes their #1 tax consultant.

What do YOU think Trump’s next move will be?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Autumn Respite

Fall is a time of transformation. Leaves change color and for a short time enchant, then abruptly drop and cover the ground. Temperatures vary widely, one day warm and sunny followed by cold, wet, gray days. Daylight diminishes. I awake in darkness and dusk swoops in earlier every evening.

Our bikes patiently waited for us over the long spring, summer and fall, standing in a corner of the garage, dusty, confused and anxious for action. Where were riders? We have been negligent this summer and fall, ignoring perfect weather as life interrupts.

A couple of unusually warm - 80 degrees - days beckoned hub and I outdoors and away from everyday distractions. We walked along the boardwalk one day and cycled farther afield the second day. Here are some pictures of our autumn respite.

The fishing pier - and the Atlantic Ocean. 
Our town beach.
(Dogs are not allowed on the beach during the summer, and officially
any time. But off-season dogs rule!)
The Boardwalk, perfect for walking, cycling,
or simply sitting and enjoying the beautiful day.
And of course the best part of a day outdoors - ice cream!
Non-fat - both the ice cream and the hot fudge.
 I don't want to know what is in the concoction. It tastes wonderful!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Woman in the Polka Dot Dress

My mother-in-law, Irene Baer, passed on Monday, October 10. She was 90 years old and one helluva feisty lady. This is one of my favorite stories about her, edited from a 2011 blog post.

On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd demonstrating against the Vietnam War at Kent State University, four people killed and nine wounded. Controversy surrounds the exact sequence of events. What is not questioned is the impact that episode had on our country.

The college I attended hugged the Hudson River in upstate New York, and the town rose steeply up a hill where a university sprawled across the top.  My girlfriends and I sometimes dated the university students, attended concerts and sports games, and visited a particular dorm where my girlfriend’s brother and his friends resided.

One warm spring afternoon a few days after Kent State, ROTC took over the university's football field for year-end events. ROTC – Reserve Officer Training Corps – had become a controversial group as anti-war sentiment spilled over onto college campuses.

My girlfriends and I were invited to watch the ROTC ceremony; a friend was leading the parade. We decided to watch the events from a knoll overlooking the football stadium. Three of us settled down on a grassy area.

Soon anti-war demonstrators surrounded us.

ROTC activities began on the field below, the band playing, people marching, speeches given. The protesters ramped up their demonstration, chanting anti-war slogans and waving placards. It was all very civilized, non-threatening yet dramatic.

Suddenly a slim woman, about five feet two or three inches tall, dressed in a sleeveless white dress punctuated with large colored polka-dots, appeared. Grabbing a placard from one of the demonstrators, she began beating him on the head with it, shouting, “if you don’t like things move to Canada” – or something like that. 

The demonstrators, most days conservative, clean-shaven, short-haired, neatly dressed kids, well-behaved and non-threatening (future engineers), suddenly froze, silent, staring at the spectacle. 

The woman stopped after a few minutes and stalked off. Who was that crazy lady? 

The events on the hill went unnoticed by the folks on the field. The ceremonies continued, events concluded, and we walked over to the dorm to meet our friends, immediately launching into a detailed account about the peculiar woman who disrupted the anti-war demonstration. 

In the middle of our narrative several people entered the room. My friends and I stared, open-mouthed and unbelieving.

Standing in front of us was the Woman in the Polka Dot Dress, the crazy lady of head-bashing fame. 

A couple of years later, in a ceremony presided over by a rabbi and witnessed by 120 people, the Woman in the Polka Dot Dress became my mother-in-law.
Irene Baer
January 6, 1926-October 10, 2016
(she loved hats)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Toilet Talk

What would every homeowner or renter, house dweller, cleaner, maid, housekeeper, and servant desire to make cleaning tasks easier?

An article tucked into a corner of this week’s Sunday paper introduced me to a household necessity with a twist most of us would love in our homes.

A self-cleaning toilet.

The price: $695. Not a fortune, but not exactly an impulse buy.

Not a self-cleaning model.
I have not purchased a toilet in a few years and had no plans to buy one in the near future, but the article caught my attention. I decided to compare prices of the self-cleaning toilet with a non-self-cleaning one; the kind of commode found in most bathrooms.

I am becoming my mother when it comes to buying stuff. When contemplating the purchase of an item nowadays the cost seems outrageously expensive. I know about inflation and new models and state-of-the-art technology and materials, but…

Surfing the net I discovered new toilets (would not consider a used one, although available online) range from just over $100 for a basic working model (I assume all new toilets function properly, flushing easily every time) to toilets in the five figures.

One design – advertised as a throne (what else would you call a toilet selling for an outrageous sum of money?) - priced at $15,817.50.

That is NOT a misprint. I immediately scrolled past the throne.

Less pricey models displayed on the screen. A toilet and washlet unit with metallic stick remote cost $5,746.40.

My eye stalled on the ‘remote’ part. A toilet with a remote control? My first thought was: what happens when on the throne, business finished, it is time to flush and the remote is nowhere within reach?

I don’t know about your house, but in mine remotes end up all over the place. And I have a small house.

Viewing the item on YouTube, I stared at the remote. It looked like a computer, with lots of flashing lights and a number of keys. How many choices are needed to flush a toilet? There were more than two flush options, plus additional keys.

The remote appeared larger than TV remotes, but small enough to be carried by anyone. That poses a problem, especially if kids of any age, or all ages, live in or visit the house. I foresee a lost remote resulting in an unusable toilet, at least until a replacement remote is purchased. Maybe the owner should always have an extra in case of emergency…

I know what a toilet is, and what a remote is, but admit my ignorance of the term washlet before researching this article. I learned a washlet is a toilet seat with a bidet. Push one of the keys on the remote and streams of water hit the user's backside. I used a bidet once, years ago when traveling overseas. Now the two - toilet and bidet - are available in one unit. The wonders of modern technology!

The manufacturer of this unique item (in case you are interested)? Toto, a Japanese company and the largest toilet manufacturer in the world . All models do not cost upwards of $5,000. Some advertised for as little as $2,000.

Therefore my shock at a $600 toilet proved premature.

The idea of a self-cleaning toilet intrigued me. I went online to check reviews. Unfortunately we do not have a Consumer Reports subscription, so could not read the magazine’s reviews. I found product reviews on other websites, but nothing about the self-cleaning model.

Suddenly my bladder urgently requested a potty visit. I decided enough is enough. It was time to move on and forego the purchase of an elegant, expensive, self-cleaning throne. My current one works fine. I guess I will continue cleaning it myself.  

No more toilet talk today.