Friday, June 28, 2019

Democrats debate, discuss and dream: Countdown to the Presidential Election

Installment #8

494 Days (as of June 28, 2019) to the Presidential Election
Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A useless guide to the first Democratic debates.

Two nights. Ten candidates a night, 20 different politicians and wanna-be politicians. 
Each candidate, handsomely attired, stands behind a podium. The backdrop red, white and blue patriotic images. Moderators eager to engage lead the charge...The men and women, some youngish – Mayor Pete, 37, the youngest, as well as the more mature – the oldest Bernie Sanders, 77, stand before a live audience. Millions of additional viewers ensconced in homes and bars throughout the nation await the show. 

The goal: to persuade voters they look, act and speak Presidential. 

Who are these brave men and women eager to unseat a sitting President? Some are well-known, others unknown to most viewers. The run-down:

Representatives in Congress:
Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Tim Ryan of Ohio, Eric Swalwell of California, former Maryland Rep John Delaney, former Texas Rep Beto O’Rourke.

Michael Bennett, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. 

Bill De Blasio of NYC and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. 

Jay Inslee of Washington state and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.

And others:
former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Human Development Julian Castro, 
former Vice President Joe Biden, 
ex-tech executive Andrew Yang, 
author Marianne Williamson.

The candidates sparred on a variety of topics over the two nights: healthcare, education, immigration, Medicare, Roe v Wade, gun control, the Supreme Court, climate change, Iran, China, Mitch McConnell, and of course Donald Trump...but lots of interesting questions were not broached by the moderators, including:

Can a woman win the 2020 election?
Will people NOT vote because the candidate is a woman? Will some vote BECAUSE the candidate is a woman? Will these votes cancel each other out? Is it too soon for another woman after Hillary’s defeat? Did Hillary open the door to the possibility of a successful woman contender? Must the candidate wear designer clothes or definitely NOT wear designer clothes? Can she wear sleeveless tops? Does she color, highlight, tint or paint her hair (only her hairdresser knows for sure)? 

Is bald the replacement for carrot-top in this election cycle? 
Corey Booker would be the ideal candidate if baldness reigns.

Can a minority candidate win?
There is Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker. I bet one of these (or another one of the women) will be the VP candidate, if not at the top of the ticket.

Another New Yorker?
No. NYC Mayor De Blasio is the tallest, and that’s a plus, great for photo ops and standing next to DJT in future debates. But another major East coast city candidate? How is the one now in the White House working out? 

Is steady and a tad boring the way to go? Are people tired of a barrage of constant breaking news from the White House?
How about a low-key, quiet guy or gal interested in doing the job and not hogging the headlines. No surprises, scandals, secrets exposed, hearings and reports would be a relief after four years of hyper-political activity. Less-than-dynamic possibilities include Bennett, Delaney, Inslee, Ryan. 

The young versus the old...
Mayor Pete, 37, and Salwell, 38, are the youngest candidates. Biden, 76, and Sanders, 77, are the oldest. Warren is 70. Still in their 60s: Inslee, Hickenlooper, Williamson. Candidates in their 40 and 50s: Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar (just makes the cut at 59), O’Rourke, Ryan, Yang.

What about a Presidential candidate with some eye candy and intelligence, a contrast to DJT?
A number of candidates qualify. Who is your favorite?

Favorites? I want to see a young, articulate, moderate candidate, a sharp contrast to the barely intelligible senior citizen currently residing in the White House. I like Beto O’Rourke (low-key, thoughtful), Julian Castro (good ideas), Mayor Pete (down-to-earth, honest, realistic), Kamala Harris (well-spoken and knowledgeable), although this is NOT an exclusive list.

By the 9:35 commercial break during the second debate (aired from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern time), I was tired. I fought the urge to doze off. Candidates’ voices and views merged in my mind. Next time I should probably take an afternoon nap to remain awake and alert late into the night.

And in case anyone is sitting on the edge of their chairs eagerly awaiting the next round of Democratic debates, the dates are July 30 and 31. Mark your calendars!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pay Today and Hear Tomorrow

I succumbed to a malady common to old folks – hearing loss – and purchased an expensive, overly-priced pair of hearing aids (HAs). I didn’t want to do it (sorry Patsy Cline)...The alternative scenario of missing some of what goes on around me, now, hopefully, in the past. Another reason to buy HAs: recent studies indicate hearing loss may cause (or be a cause of) dementia.

So I wrote a check. My hand shook. I frowned, handed over the check, caressed my new accessories and went home.

Intuition tells me the high cost of hearing aids is a scam. Small, computerized electronic gadgets tuned to each individual’s hearing issues, HAs are supposed to be expensive. Or so professional pundits tell me. And Medicare (or my insurance) does not chip in anything – not one penny - for the devices.

I always suspected that, with competition and the right incentives, HAs could be a lot cheaper. 

And soon events will prove me right.

The Food and Drug Administration classify HAs as medical devices. Therefore HAs must be distributed by a licensed hearing professional. There are devices called personal sound amplification products that cannot be marketed for hearing loss, but are advertised as ‘hearing enhancement’ tools, available in stores and online without a prescription or hearing evaluation. 

Additional types of hearing-improvement items will soon be sold, thanks to a recent law, at your local CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Costco...or wherever.  

A 2017 law requires that by 2020 over-the-counter hearing aids (OTC HAs) for people with mild to moderate hearing loss be available at retail stores - no prescription necessary, no licensed professional need be consulted. The devices will be cheaper than current HAs, although the cost has not yet been publicized.

Not everyone can wear drug store glasses, and not everyone will be able to wear drug store hearing aids. Nowadays many people with hearing loss delay or never buy aids because of the exorbitant cost. A lot of people will benefit from the new legislation.

The average life of hearing aids is three to seven years. The reasons? 
·     A person’s hearing often changes and a new aid may be necessary. 
·     People lose the tiny items. 
·     Moisture damages HAs. 
·     Technology improves.

Maybe somedayI will purchase hearing aids at my local CVS, tweak them so they work well, and not notice a huge hole in my finances. But today a financial investment that might fund trips (definitely more than one), college for a grandchild (almost), an entire wardrobe for both hub and me plus furniture for all the clothes and sunk in tiny medical devices. 

Meanwhile I am adjusting to my new ear accessories.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Electronically connected and not necessarily happy about it

I am now a member of the cool crowd. After 60+ years of never being in the in-crowd, I have entered that august realm. 

I am one of a select group who walk around talking to themselves, although that is not what folks are doing (most of them, anyway). I used to ask myself when observing these individuals: who are these important-looking people who cannot wait to sit down somewhere – in a car, at home, in their office, anywhere – and talk. We give these folks a second glance – at least I do, but maybe that is because of my age, the generation born before electronic devices shared our cribs. These self-talkers seem to be in their own world, absorbed in a significant discussion that observers are not privy to.

A closer look indicates most of these people – a few actually talk to themselves – are deep into a conversation with someone somewhere. Further scrutiny discovers earpieces and wires unobtrusively protruding from their ears, or at least one ear. 

Well folks, I am now one of those walking, talking, electronically-connected folks. Not because I graduated to a new level of electronic smartness, or a desire to be electronically-hip.

No, I am connected by the latest intrusion on my life indicating I am slowly, relentlessly entering seniorhood.

I am now the not-so-proud owner and wearer of an obscenely expensive pair of hearing aids. 

ear trumpet

I guess I should be glad I live today and not prior to the 19thcentury. Or, if living back then, did not hang around long enough to experience one aging feature – hearing loss. Back in those pre-electric and pre-electronic years hollowed out animal horns were used to amplify sound. Pre-modern aids were invented in the 19thcentury and have evolved since, although still need a long way to go to be user and budget friendly.

I am a 21stcentury hearing aid user. One more reason not to cut my hair - my mane covers ears and aids. A small rubber tip plugs into each ear and a narrow wire, tip on one end and hearing component on the other, hooks over the ear. 

Insert aids and the world is a louder place. Assuming the aids are charged. Mine are rechargeable, but must be inserted properly in the charging station or won’t work the next day. Or so I was told...

My hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled, and an app (what doesn’t have an app today?) on my phone buzzes the aid when my phone rings. I answer by pressing a control switch on the aid and begin talking to whoever is on the other end of the call. 

So here I am, a walking, talking figure of an almost-old-lady. Folks observing me probably think—is she talking to herself? Is she crazy? Old folks do talk to themselves...many are crazy...better steer clear...if someone says something to me, or about me to someone else while passing by I may hear them, now that my hearing is amplified...on the other hand sometimes ignorance - and an unheard voice - is bliss. 

I should be thrilled modern technology makes conversations, movies and other forms of sound louder, clearer and more intelligible. Modern magic!

But there are times quiet is cool too.

Listen to the sound of silence.
-       Paul Simon

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Angelique, Me, 21 other folks…

And a crew of six young, enthusiastic, highly trained, athletically-inclined 
men and women and one 50-year-old Captain—
not so young but also enthusiastic, highly trained and athletically-inclined.
Advertising material emphasized the Angelique sails in calm waters. No need for motion sickness meds, but if you would feel better, take along Dramamine. The night before hub and I boarded the Angelique we detoured to a Rite Aid for a couple of items that never made it into our bags, including a pack of Dramamine. Hub would not need it, but my stomach is not so strong. One afternoon a pill performed magic on my queasy body.

The windjammer Angelique sailing out of
Camden, Maine
The majestic windjammer Angelique, a 95’ long ketch (two-mast sailboat) loaded with life’s necessities for the six-day cruise, sails through the state of Maine’s Penobscot Bay, the Atlantic Ocean on the east and thousands of islands large, small and mini scattered throughout the bay. 

The wind carries cold air off the Atlantic directly onto my outer layers of clothing. I am unsure whether my light-headedness is due to motion sickness, too much sun, too much wine (one of life’s necessities)—or a combination. We dress in layers--long sleeve shirt, sweater or sweatshirt, jacket, socks. Preferably warm ones. Smart folks packed winter hats and gloves; we did not. We don sun hats. It is June.

Twenty-two hearty folks, hub and I among them - although we are definitely not so hearty - signed up for this Road Scholar sailing cruise. We can help hoist the sails—or not. Row the rowboat to shore—or not. Help with the dishes—or not. Attend lectures - or not…
Hearty Road Scholar participants rowing to shore (or back to the ship).
No one misses a meal. The food is too good, and not just because someone other than me cooks.  We awake in the morning to the smell of hot coffee. On deck a pre-breakfast buffet of coffee, tea, a selection of muffins or pastry awaits. Then breakfast. Blueberry pancakes one day, eggs and potatoes the next, then French toast and bacon...Salads and homemade soup for lunch. Hors d’oeuvres before dinner—baked Brie, clam dip, caprese salad, cheese and crackers. Followed by dinner. Lasagne and salad the first night, halibut with quinoa and asparagus the next. Not just thrown on the stove or grill—the quinoa was the best ever tasted, the baby asparagus garnished with a light hollandaise sauce, the halibut fished from local waters. Homemade rolls and desserts.…the menu surprises and pleases, each meal a culinary adventure in (mostly) locally produced ingredients prepared with panache.

Me dressed for the wind and cold
encountered on Cadillac Mountain
in Acadia National Park.
Days pass on the water. Well, not the entire day. A bus tour of Acadia National Park one day, a walk into town another. Always picturesque—the state seems like a New England postcard-perfect landscape minimally touched by 20 and 21st century architectural tackiness.

My shipmates hail from around the country—Texas, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Some have sailing experience; most have not.

A key to enjoyable travel is, I believe, flexibility. In the case of our sailing adventure, this refers to the accommodations. When I describe the rooms as small, I am generous. Our room measures 4.5 by 8 feet. A bed and sink (cold water only) fill most of the space. No other furniture, only a few hooks for hats and coats. We live out of soft-sided duffle bags recently purchased at a Bass outlet. Good move. Hard-back suitcases cannot be squashed and shoved into small nooks. Shared bathrooms—toilet and shower. 

The (usually) gentle rocking of the boat mesmerizes. Waters reach to the horizon, sunny skies warm, somewhat—it could be a couple (or more) degrees warmer…for six days we experience a unique lifestyle sailing Down East along the coast of Maine.
Lobster buoys. Every lobster fisherman (or woman)
has a distinctive colored buoy marking
their 'territory' on the water.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Boomers Dive Into June and Summer Activities

Summer officially begins Friday, June 21, but the unofficial start of the season is Memorial
Day weekend. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate, but when it does we enjoy timeless summer traditions—barbecues and picnics, family and friend get-togethers, outdoor activities at home and further afield. Lucky to experience sunny, warm weather this year, my town awakened from a long winter slumber (and less-than-perfect spring weather) and welcomed visitors. Crowds packed the beach, lines spilled around the corner from the ice cream shop, and cyclists and skateboarders ruled the roads. 

Our boomers have been busy and start the season with ideas readers will find interesting.

At times it is challenging to prioritize our life, and one of the most difficult tasks to learn is how to say NO. Just in time for June, Jennifer of Unfold and Begin created the latest self-care calendar to go along with her year of Extreme Self-Care.  This month it's mostly about NO!  But it's also about YES!  Read more in How to Create an Absolute NO List and prepare for creating time in your life for what's important.

Friendship and spring have been on Carol Cassara's mind and she shares some helpful ideas for healthy friendships at A Healing Spirit in "How to cultivate your friendship garden."

All about entertainment...
Summer activities...
Rebecca Olkowski with has been spending the last two month attending Emmy events for shows in consideration for the Emmy Awards 2019. It’s been one big party! She writes about some of her favorite television shows and events and more are still coming for at least a week or two.

And questions on our mind...
On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison writes about the top 100 most frequently asked questions. When she was in Madrid recently, her granddaughter called her mom and asked if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty. That got Robison to thinking about other questions that we ask all the time. Check out her list of 99 more questions to see if she forgot any.
Welcome June!
A number of significant events occur in June. June 6this D-Day, Father’s Day June 16, and the summer solstice June 21. June is also National Bathroom Reading Month

Everyone have a wonderful start to the summer season and take a few minutes to visit the boomers.