Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Coterie of Candidates--Countdown to the Presidential Election

Installment #7 

555 Days (as of April 27, 2019) to the Presidential Election
Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I know, everyone has probably overdosed on 2020 political chatter and the election is over a year away. Every other day someone announces their candidacy for President. 

Will we survive without losing our minds? Can we endure months of talking heads blasting away with important stories on climate change and health care and inane ones like kids at an Easter egg hunt? 

Can we remember all the Democratic candidates? Do we care? Probably not, unless we are a registered Democrat and live in Iowa, the site of the first caucus--in case anyone is interested--on February 3, 2020. Only NINE—9—months away.

The American public has choices. Either embrace the madness and go with it, or take the next plane, train, or boat out of the country and stay away until November 4, 2020. Escaping has its merits—it’s tempting to think about spending months in a  budget-priced bungalow on a beach in Thailand or a mountain in Ecuador--but I will stick around.  

Two Republicans are running: the current President and one challenger, William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts. Both men are geezers. Weld is 73 and DT is 72. No fresh faces here.

As of April 26, 20 Democrats have announced their candidacy for the exalted position of President of the United States. They range from young, almost-still-kids to oldsters. Bernie Sanders is the oldest at 77; Pete Buttiglieg, 37, the youngest. Most are in their 50s and 60s. Some are well-known (Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren), others not so much (how many people heard of: Marianne Williamson, Wayne Messam, John Delaney). 

Unannounced Democratic and Independent possibilities include Stacey Abrams, Bill de Blasio, Howard Schultz...and other currently obscure wannabes who may declare their intentions in the next few months.

I surmise many candidates are not so much after the top of the ticket as the second spot, or a cabinet position, or an overseas post in a country on their bucket list, or at least a coveted slot on The View, Stephen Colbert, even Fox News. The goal? To plug their soon-to-be-released memoir. Or land a cushy job (translation: better paying than their current one).

Campaigns cost money. Lots of money. My email box is inundated daily with pleas from candidates, political organizations and lobbying groups seeking donations. I don't want them. Unsubscribing rarely works. Banishing solicitations to junk mail leaves them in limbo until deleted. Other emails detail earth-shattering developments that will change my life forever and for the worse--unless I sign a petition supporting some candidate or lobbying group. Even better, ALSO send a donation.

Hub and I recently bought a new TV and now have access to Netflix and Amazon prime. We plan on spending lots of time in the coming months immersed in movies and binge-watching series, all with one thing in common—they are totally, completely nonpolitical. So, no VICE, about VP Cheney, for instance. Cheaper than escaping to foreign shores, and almost as much fun.

And the absurdity rolls on...and on...and on...

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Boomers on Travel, Food and Finance

I returned from a week in the Boston area, watching my son and his friends participate in the Boston Marathon, celebrating the holiday, and visiting Martha’s Vineyard, a resort just waking up from a long, sleepy winter. The island is famous for many reasons, one of which is the location for the 1975 movie Jaws. Arriving home tired, it was too early to go to bed (still light outside!). Hub and I ended our week’s journey watching that classic movie, scrutinizing scenes for places recently seen. 

Travel is a favorite boomer activity. I have not been the only boomer on the road recently.

Egypt captured Carol Cassara's attention from the moment she landed in Cairo last month. The trip held many revelations, including some of the practical things guide books don't tell you. She reveals some of them in What You Need to Know Before You Go To Egypt.

Rebecca Olkowski with wrote a post for about the benefits of taking walking tours. On her own blog she talks about a healthy snack you can stick in your purse or pocket in case your blood sugar drops. That way if you go too long without eating you can avoid fainting and falling as Rebecca did several years ago. 
There is no better way to learn about a place, a topic—anything—than from those with firsthand knowledge. Tom at Sightings Over Sixty suddenly realized that we have a lot of inside information about retirement from people who have actually lived the experience. So turn a page over to Inside Stories to find some interesting insights and stories from our fellow bloggers. You might just be inspired!

And finally this week our consumer journalist offers tips on managing financial resources.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about how to improve your finances during April’s Financial Literacy Month. Although some of them are familiar – make a budget and plan for savings – you’re likely to learn something new such as check the interest rates on your credit cards and make sure you’re getting the correct advice on how to manage your federal student loan.

Have a great week, take a few minutes to visit the boomers and say hello! We love hearing from our readers.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Visiting a Tourist Mecca Off-Season

There are advantages to visiting popular places off-season--lower hotel prices, special deals, less crowds. But there are also disadvantages to off-season travel when visiting locales where climate dictates the popular tourist season. The main disadvantage is experiencing hotels, restaurants, museums and other tourist attractions closed for the season.

The closed-for-the-season scenario is what hub and I found when visiting the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, mid-April. Restaurants and retail establishments were beginning to open, but museums remained padlocked.

We enjoyed two sunny, fairly warm (high 50s) days, perfect for exploring outdoors, and one cold, gray morning which disintegrated to pouring rain by late afternoon. Martha's Vineyard strives to prevent wide-scale development, such as high-rise developments, and so far has been successful. The off-season ambience and scenic surroundings provided a relaxing respite.

Martha's Vineyard was/is the home of a host of famous people, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other members of the Kennedy clan (Chappaquidick Island is part of Martha's Vineyard), the Clintons and Obamas have vacationed on the island, Carly Simon, David Letterman, Rosie O'Donnell, Neil Patrick Harris, Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen...and the list goes on and on and on. If thinking of investigating the Vineyard as a future first or second home site, be forewarned--home prices are steep and living expenses high.

In the spirit of pictures are worth a thousand words, here are some of my photos of Martha's Vineyard.

We encountered a number of these animals--domesticated feral turkeys, meaning they are descendants of domesticated turkeys that escaped and reproduced. No one is sure when the first  turkeys arrived on Martha's Vineyard, or who introduced them to the island. 
But apparently they came sometime in the 1970s and have proliferated since. 
It is estimated about 1,000 turkeys reside on the island. 

This staircase leads from the first to the second floor of the Edgartown Book Store
on Main Street in the town of Edgartown. 
A great place to wander and explore. 
No trouble finding interesting items to buy but, 
unless you have unlimited resources, 
you will have difficulty deciding what NOT to purchase!

View from Martha's Vineyard looking towards Cape Cod.

The fishing outpost of Menomsha.

The only retail store open in this tiny fishing port off-season.

Could not resist a picture of this street sign in Vineyard Haven.

The only way to get to Martha's Vineyard is via ferry or plane. There are parking lots on the mainland for those going to the island without their usual means of transportation. We parked on Cape Cod and took the ferry, the cost $8.50 per person (one way). A car costs $81 or $91 (not including driver and passenger) depending on the size of the car, one way. 

We purchased a three-day bus pass--$10 per person--and rode clean, comfortable buses all around the island. We used Lyft a couple of times when bad weather gave us an excuse to ride from the center of town (uphill) to our airbnb accommodations. 

We often stay at airbnbs when traveling because we like to eat some meals 'at home'. However the supermarket on the island, Stop & Shop, was closed due to a strike. The closest convenience store was out of eggs and other provisions. We settled for enjoying coffee at 'home' and eating meals out. 

In summary, Martha's Vineyard is a beautiful place to spend a few days, but be sure to take along a hefty wallet.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Skyscraper Catches My Eye

I am not a sharp observer of anything, especially when on the road. I miss a host of interesting sights, signs, and situations when behind the wheel, or when comfortably settled in the passenger seat. The landscape whizzes past and the world is a blur. 

When a passenger my eyes are often closed, not necessarily in sleep mode, simply resting my eyes. The motion of a moving vehicle, the drone of the car and air whizzing past my window ease my body into a lethargic reverie. I may be startled out of my daydreams if someone addresses me in an attempt at conversation, but am into my trance and the voice seems far, far away. I barely hear the sounds and do not respond, which results in a display of annoyance from the driver (usually hub), but that is an issue for another post...

I am not always in daydream mode when a passenger in the car. There are times my eyes open and wander around the landscape surrounding me. A sight, a sign, a building, somebody walking, riding a bike, maybe kayaking in a waterway next to the highway, catch my eye. This usually happens when stuck in traffic and I examine the environs out of sheer boredom. Although I cannot smell the roses, I might spot them thriving alongside the road.

Countrysides are scenic, but cityscapes can be awesome. Driving through Philadelphia recently, an (almost) new skyscraper caught my eye. The building soars skyward, far above neighboring buildings. I stared at it, grabbed my phone and took a couple of pictures. I will not comment on the structure, allowing readers to arrive at their own opinion of the structure. 

 The building does not lean, but that was the angle from the car.
Comcast Technology Center
60 floors
Completed November 2017, occupied July 2018
Tallest building in Philadelphia (and Pennsylvania)

Personally, I think the structure illustrates 
the Comcast customer service motto: 
The company our customers love to hate.

And on a totally different matter:
In case you missed this week's Best of Boomer blog, 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I-Phone I-Repair

The volume on my iPhone voice mechanism grew weaker day after day. The speaker worked fine, but I could not continue long-term use of only the speaker. My conversations do not rate security-level clearance, but I am sure would be annoying to folks within hearing range.

The first effort to fix the problem: On-line Apple tech support. Following my description of the issue the tech support guy told me, “The phone needs to be checked out by our technicians. You need to mail in your device and you will be without your phone for about two weeks, maybe longer.” 

Phone-less in the 21stcentury? I don’t think so.

The second attempt to remedy the problem: The Verizon store. I handed my phone over to the customer service rep. She tweaked some settings. Nothing changed. The volume remained weak. The rep said, “There’s been water damage to the phone. It cannot be repaired. You need a new phone.” Not yearning to spend hundreds of dollars, we parted ways.

The third try at fixing the problem: An appointment at an Apple store. A  long time ago--maybe a year or so--an Apple store thrived a couple of miles from my house. In the company’s infinite wisdom, it closed the store. Now the closest one is an hour away. But I was in the Philadelphia area over the weekend and an Apple store was not far from my destination. The idea of traipsing through one of the largest malls in the country--the King of Prussia mall with over 450 stores--did not appeal, but I had little choice. 

We parked the car--hub accompanied me--entered the mall, scrutinized the digital directory for directions to the Apple store, and headed out. 

In the middle of the aisle in front of us loomed an I-repair kiosk. What could I lose?

“I have a problem,” I said, and quickly summarized my iPhone dilemma. The young man took the phone, turned it over, played with it, and reached for a cloth and small, thin metal tool, which looked like a pin. He proceeded to clean a section of my device, then handed it back to me.

Hub called me, I answered, and the results were miraculous! New, improved, better-than-ever sound.

“How much?” I inquired.

The man shook his head, “No charge.”

Hub handed him a ten-dollar bill and we thanked him. Profusely.

I dodged a major expense--this time.

We walked out of the mall very happy customers.