Missing the 60 Blog

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Susan Sontag:  I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

I recently read an article from the Virginian-Pilot (PilotOnline.com) about Chesapeake’s long time Clerk of the Circuit Court, Faye Mitchell.  Mitchell was 65 and set to retire on June 1 after having served as clerk for 13 years.

Mitchell died last week after an illness, one day before a retirement ceremony was to be held in her honor.  In her retirement letter, she wrote “I have enjoyed a long tenure as a dedicated public servant, a title that I cherish.”  Others considered her a trailblazer, mentor and visionary, and stated “she paved the way for women to lead without limitation.”

I’m sad after reading this article.  She didn’t get to enjoy her retirement years.  She worked hard at getting elected twice to the position, and being a public servant can often be a thankless job.

What will your colleagues and coworkers say about you at your retirement ceremony?  If you had asked me that question last June, I would have had a different answer than today.  But now, being in a new job, and having a new frame of mind about work and colleagues, it’s all good.  I’ll work a few years and then sail off into the sunset.  Check off a few bucket list items.  Perhaps I’ll start with a two-week cruise to Hawaii.  Then plan a few road trips.  Then maybe move somewhere.  Who knows?  That’s the beauty of retirement.  Having the time (and hopefully the money) to do what you want to do.

I’m sad that Beverly Mitchell didn’t get to check off items on her bucket list.



Dancing the 60 Blog

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I was going to work out, but Dirty Dancing was on TV and I have only seen it 384,783,292 times.

Did you watch the live remake of Dirty Dancing the other night? Leslie and I love that movie, and we can’t believe it’s thirty years old.

Who didn’t swoon over Patrick Swayze back in the day?  I remember thinking it was so cool that he was gorgeous, a good actor and dancer, and then he proved to be a decent singer too, with She’s Like the Wind on the movie soundtrack.  We played that CD (maybe we first had it in cassette!) over and over, and could sing along with every song.

The movie reminded us a bit of our summers growing up in New York.  During the summer, our family would stay in a bungalow similar to where Dirty Dancing takes place.  A bungalow colony with mothers and their children, and the dads would drive up from the City (any of the five boroughs of New York City) for the weekend.

In truth, the bungalow was really a little wooden shack.  Looking back, I can’t believe that the structure ever withstood a rain storm.  If I remember correctly, the shacks were tiny.  Leslie and I might have slept in bunk beds, and my parents probably slept in a full-size bed.  We spent many years there, and we had dishes and linens stored there for every summer.

When mom went back to work and I graduated college, we would go up there on weekends with dad.  Which meant that Leslie was there alone.  This was the 70s and my parents trusted a 16-year old girl and her 16-year old hormonal friends to stay in the bungalows by themselves.  I’m sure Leslie would say “if those walls could talk!”

Our summer lives were a bit like the goings-on in the movie. Parents sat around in lawn chairs and drank during the day. Men played cards and smoked cigars at night.  Kids were either day campers or counselors, and the summer usually ended with a big party.  I don’t recall if anyone ever practiced that big dance lift from the movie, though.

As I mentioned, the original Dirty Dancing holds a special place for us.  We recorded Thursday night’s remake and planned on watching it during this long holiday weekend.  However, on Thursday evening, we read several comments on Facebook from friends who were watching it on the east coast.  “Can I have those three hours back?”  “What a trainwreck!”  “How dare they taint the memory of Patrick Swayze?”  “I need to rewatch the original to get this version out of my head!”

So, Leslie and I will delete the remake and free up three hours on the DVR.  Good for us!  Now we just need to find time to watch ten episodes of Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and eight episodes of Late Late Show with James Corden.  And the new season of House of Cards starts Tuesday!




Phoning the 60 Blog

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Steven Wright:  Babies don’t need a vacation, but I still see them on the beach…it pisses me off!  I’ll go over to a little baby and say “What are you doing here?  You haven’t worked a day in your life!”

Groupon recently did a survey and found that families will spend an average of six hours a day staring at smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs and other devices.  That’s a third of your day!

Other things the survey showed us:

  • More than three quarters of parents feel their child’s screen exposure influences their mood and 62 percent of parents say they face regular battles to get their children to put down their devices
  • Parents identified hitting the beach, attending a BBQ, going on a road trip, visiting a zoo, and going to a water park as the top five essential ways to get the most out of their family’s summer

With warmer weather finally arriving in most parts of the country and the school year winding down to a close, Groupon asked 1,000 U.S. parents how much time their families plan to spend on their electronic devices this summer–and the results were staggering. The average American family will spend an average of 35 days of their summer, which is the equivalent of more than one-third, using their electronic devices. The survey, which was conducted for Groupon’s Funtacular Fun Fest found that the average child will watch an estimated 60 movies and play 150 hours of video games over the summer months.

Greg Rudin, the head of Fun Things to Do at Groupon, states “We love technology, but we also think it should be in the service of something we love even more, which is spending time with our families and experiencing the compelling local activities offered during the summer months and throughout the year.” Parents are often just as guilty as the kids when it comes to staring at the phone screen.  Therefore, it’s important for the entire family to put down their devices every once in awhile and make some memories together.

When asked how too much screen time affected their children, 77 percent of parents said screen exposure influenced their child’s mood, 62 percent said they face regular battles to get their children to put down their device, and almost 50% and almost half said too much screen time impacts their sleep. And their children weren’t the only ones impacted by too much screen time, parents said they feel like they personally waste one of out every four weekends per month and throw away nine non-working days over the summer due to their own inactivity.

But according to parents, ditching the technology and spending more time with the kids over the summer months won’t come cheap. The survey asked parents to imagine their perfect family weekend and found moms and dads estimating it would cost $2,328. Parents said they would spend $1,465 on travel, lodging, taxis and fuel–with an additional $510 spent on admissions and tickets to attractions and evening entertainment. Parents also estimate that they’ll spend $353 on meals during the perfect family weekend.

So what’s your preference for a family vacation?  Staying local and enjoying a staycation?  Spending money on a nice trip somewhere? Will you and your family to “waste” six hours a day on your phones?


Whitening the 60 Blog

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Judith Martin:  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you may wear white shoes.  Not before and not after.  As a command, the White Shoe Edict should be clear and simple enough.  Do not violate it.  In a society in which everything else has become relative, a matter of how it makes you feel, a question between you and your conscience, and an opportunity for you to be really you, this is an absolute.

Today is my Friday.  I’m taking tomorrow off to “enjoy” an extended doctor’s appointment and a trip to Costco before the long holiday weekend.

This weekend signals the start of the season when we can wear white.  Do you pay attention to that nonsense?  Every year around Easter the fashion magazines start the age-old debate. How did this “No white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day” fashion rule start?

According to the Emily Post Institute:  Back in Emily’s day—the nineteen 00s, 10s and 20s—the summer season was bracketed by Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Society flocked en masse from town house to seaside “cottage” or mountain “cabin” to escape the heat.  City clothes were left behind in exchange for lighter, whiter, summer outfits.  Come fall and the return to the city, summer clothes were put away and more formal city clothes donned once more.  It was an age when there was a dress code for practically every occasion, and the signal to mark the change between summer resort clothes and clothing worn for the rest of the year was encapsulated in the dictum “No white after Labor Day.” And it stuck.

Now, of course, you can wear white after Labor Day, and it makes perfect sense to do so in climates where September’s temperatures are hardly fall-like.  It’s more about fabric choice today than color.  Even in the dead of winter in northern New England, the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, jeans, and down-filled parkas.  The true interpretation is “wear what’s appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion.”

Does this ring true to you?  The prior two paragraphs sound like they’re part of a novel written about New York City society in the late 19th century, perhaps Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen.  When we were kids, yes, we had a summer wardrobe that consisted of shorts and tank tops.  As adults, the winter coats were put away and the windbreakers were put in the front of the closet.  And I still wear white shoes in the winter.  Of course, I live in Southern California, so my white shoes don’t get mixed in with the snow.

Declining the 60 Blog

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Learn the art of saying no.  Don’t lie.  Don’t make excuses.  Don’t over-explain yourself.  Just simply decline.

I’ve been invited to attend an event that I don’t want to attend. How does one say “no” without complicating matters?  Without sounding ungrateful?  And without having to give a reason why?

We are allowed to turn down invitations, of course.  We don’t need to suffer from a fear of missing out (FOMO).  I know the event will be spectacular, but I just can’t sit through it.

How have you said no?  Did the inviter understand?  Or ask for a reason why you said no?  If I’m the inviter and my invitation is turned down, I’d hope that my guest would at least be gracious in saying no.  And I’d likely be disappointed and then move on.

Etiquette teaches us several things.  For instance, don’t tell them that you’ll get back to them just to put off saying “no.”  If you’re considering saying “yes” but you need to check on something first, tell them that and let them know when they can expect your answer. Replying with a firm answer is optimal.

Be true to yourself, your convictions, and your priorities.  We may feel guilty saying “no” when we don’t have a firm grasp on our priorities and convictions.  If you have a commitment on Thursday evenings, and you’re being asked to do something Tuesday evenings, you need to say “no” if your commitment is to spend weeknights at home with your family.

Do you write down the three things you need to do today so that, at the end of the day, you can look back and know “I accomplished what I needed to do”?  Be sure to stick to your list.  Keeping promises to yourself is something you need to do. It’s usually as important as keeping the ones we make to others.

As someone once said, “If you’re on good terms with yourself, you’re on good terms with others.” That’s one reason it’s important to stay true to our convictions.  There is a fine line between following our convictions and using them as an excuse to be self-focused to the point of being no earthly good. Don’t turn down every request or opportunity.

A lot is gained by saying “yes.” You meet new people, you expand your skills, you stretch yourself, and you give your “nice” muscles a good workout. Also, if someone needs help, true help, you’ll want to be the type of person others can count on. 

Keep your answers short and sweet. Saying “no” makes a lot of us nervous, and when we’re nervous, we keep talking, and talking, and talking–which only makes it worse.  If you can give the real reason you’re unable to help (and if it won’t hurt their feelings), it’s kind to let them know.

I found a simple five-part formula to help you say “no.”

  • Start with a compliment, if one fits the situation.
  • Give your answer.
  • Say thank you.
  • Encourage the person.
  • Change the subject or excuse yourself.

All the way through these steps above, keep your demeanor light, and, of course, smile. A smile says “No hard feelings.”

The Manners Mentor blog gives several examples of situations that might require a “no” answer (for example, someone asking for free advice, a friend showing up at your doorstep expecting to be invited in, a request to buy a school fundraising item, and others). None of the examples given by this writer included an apology. Because there’s no reason to apologize.  You didn’t do anything wrong.

What if the person won’t take no for an answer?  Let’s be nice and just call them bullies.  Anyone who doesn’t respect your “yes” or your “no” to the point where they threaten, cajole, twist your arm, or make you feel guilty is a bully.  We’re not doormats.  We don’t tolerate bullies.  They’re rude.



Informing the 60 Blog

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Stuart H. Britt:  Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.

How do you get your news?  I watch a bit of the TODAY show in the morning, as I’m getting ready for work.  It’s how I keep track of my time.  If we’re at the local news at 7:25 a.m., and I’m still putting on my makeup, I better hurry up!  I need to leave just about the time Jeff Rossen comes on with his beware/scam stories.  At night, if I’m still awake for the last half of the 11:00 news, I’m going to have trouble getting up in the morning.  It’s all a vicious cycle of hurry up and get to sleep/hurry up and get up!

A couple of times during the day, I will check my Twitter feed.  I follow certain news outlets (like CNN, Washington Post) and writers, and I get news updates in advance of watching the 6:30 news when I get home.  (Also, if I get up in the middle of the night, there is always something new on Twitter when my friends aren’t yet awake and playing Words with Friends.)

What irritates me is the advertising placed on my Twitter feed.  I’m learning about algorithms and targeted marketing, but some of these ads come out of left field.  For instance, if my browsing history includes shopping for knives on Amazon, I might expect an ad for a new knife set, perhaps.

Today, I had the following:

  • You might like the Olympics, so download the Sociabble app
  • Because you’re a veteran, buy this key ring necklace
  • Let us tell you about a new nursing school
  • You’re in the market for a new grill; try Kenyon Grills
  • You might like technology, so click on VOIP Supply
  • You might like elections, so download Irantag and learn more about Iranian media

How could “they” assume I like the Olympics?  Because I follow NBC news and that’s the network the Olympics will be shown on?  Why would “they” think I’m a veteran?  I have a friend who volunteers at the VA hospital; does that count as targeted marketing?

I have easily blocked the advertisers I don’t want to see, and I haven’t seen any of them return to my news feed.  But it’s irritating.  Why can’t I see any targeted ads like:

  • Since you like playing the lottery, here are the winning numbers
  • You’re going on a cruise next year, so here’s a Carnival gift card for a free facial

Sad to say, I haven’t seen any targeted ads like that.




Abashing the 60 Blog

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Jackson Brown, Jr.: The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

Yesterday, we attended a lovely brunch for our friend Jeanette. She officially retired on Friday and the movers are coming this morning to deliver her belongings to her new Washington home. Her entire family is already up there, waiting for her.  On Wednesday, Jeanette will be getting in the car, audio book in the CD deck, and making her way up the coast in three days.

Now let’s get personal.  During brunch, I visited the rest room.  I know, shocker, right?! It’s a lovely, big bathroom, and the stall doors are floor-to-ceiling height.  Needless to say, I closed the door behind me and pushed in the little (and flimsy) lock on the door.  Just as I sat down, the door opened!  The woman was mortified and, of course, apologized as she was backing out.  “No worries,” I muttered, wondering what I looked like from her point of view.

Standing near the sinks as she was waiting for a stall to become free, she said “I hope I didn’t ruin your day!”  How clever!  She took the embarrassment and made it her own, and wanted me to not dwell on this uncomfortable situation for longer than I had to.

I suppose I could have made a big deal about it when I left the bathroom, but first, the lady made a negative into a positive.  And, more importantly, the lunch wasn’t about me.  I wasn’t about to go back to the table and complain about the rude woman in the bathroom.  We were just being served our entrees!  Besides, she might have been sitting at the next table.

My point of the story is this:  if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, make it about yourself and not the other person.  They’re likely dealing with their own embarrassment, so why make it worse?  Maybe the correct response to most confusing, difficult situations is to just say “I hope I didn’t ruin your day!”


Humanizing (Again) the 60 Blog

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Michio Kaku:  The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.

Here are more factoids that you’ve been dying to know:


  • According to German researchers, the risk of having heart attack is higher on Monday than on any other day of the week.


  • During their lifetime, a person will on average accidentally swallow eight small spiders.
  • Humans shed 40 pounds of skin in their lifetime, completely replacing their outer skin every month.
  • We have the same amount of hairs on our body as a chimpanzee.  Most are useless and so fine that they are invisible.
  • Your belly button contains thousands of bacteria that form an ecosystem the size of an entire rain forest.
  • A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day is doing the equivalent of drinking half a cup of tar a year.
  • The total weight of the bacteria in the human body is 2 kg.
  • There are more than 100 different viruses which cause a cold.
  • Human skin is completely replaced about 1,000 times during a person’s lifetime.


  • Right-handed people chew most of their food on the right side of their mouth, whereas left-handed people do so on the left.
  • Eating too much meat can accelerate your body’s biological age
  • You can burn 20% more fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • The fragrance of apples and bananas can help a person to lose weight.
  • Borborygmus is the scientific name for when your stomach growls.


  • Your brain keeps developing until your late 40s.
  • By the age of 60 most people lose half of their taste buds.


  • If allowed to grow for their whole lifetime, the length of someone’s hair would be about 725 kilometres (almost 451 miles).
  • Having excessive body hair is linked to a higher intellect.
  • Your hair contains traces of gold.
  • The facial hair of a blonde-haired man grows faster than that of a man with dark hair.
  • The rate at which a person’s hair grow doubles during an airplane flight.

Child’s Play

  • Children grow faster in the spring.
  • A human baby has over 60 more bones than an adult.
  • The average four-year old child asks 450 questions a day.
  • At birth, a child’s body is made up of around 300 bones. But an adult has just 206 bones.

Nailing It

  • Fingernails grow about four times faster than your toenails.
  • A nanometre is about as much as your nails grows every second.


Humanizing the 60 Blog

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Albert Einstein:  Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Weird but true:  you’ve never seen your real face, only pictures and reflections.  Going deep here, I know.  But this is something I’ve never thought about.  I found many unusual and strange human factoids for you to enjoy:

Body Parts

  • A person uses 17 muscles when they smile, and 43 when they frown.
  • In 30 minutes, the human body gives off enough heat to bring a gallon of water to a boil.
  • Without your pinky finger, you would lose about 50% of your hand strength.
  • The big toe carries the most weight of all the toes, bearing about 40% of the load.
  • To enlist in the army, you need to have all ten of your toes intact.
  • Your nose can remember 50,000 different scents.
  • Your taste buds are replaced every 10 days.
  • The average age of a human fat cell is 10 years.
  • Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.
  • Bones are about 5 times stronger than steel.
  • Ingrown toenails are hereditary.
  • The strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue.
  • The human heart is approximately equal in size to that of a person’s fist. An adult’s heart weighs 220-260 grams.
  • Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour.
  • An adult human being is made up of around seven octillion (7 + 8 sets of zeros!) atoms.  For perspective, there’s a ‘measly’ 300 billion (3 + 3 sets of zeros) stars in our galaxy.
  • There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult human body.
  • Human fingers are so sensitive that, if your fingers were the size of Earth, you could feel the difference between a house and a car.
  • With the 60,000 miles of blood inside the average human body, you could circumnavigate the Earth two and a half times.
  • Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour, faster than a Formula 1 race car.
  • At birth, there are 14 billion cells in the human brain. This number does not increase throughout a person’s lifetime. After 25 years, the number of cells falls by 100,000 every day. About 70 cells die in the minute it takes you to read a page in a book. After 40 years, the decline of the brain accelerates sharply, and after 50 years neurons (that is, nerve cells) shrink and the brain gets smaller.
  • During a person’s lifetime, the small intestine is about 2.5 meters. After they die, the muscles in the walls of their intestine relax, and it’s length increases to 6 meters.
  • An adult person performs around 23,000 inhalations and exhalations a day.
  • The smallest cells in a man’s body are sperm cells.
  • There are about 40,000 bacteria in the human mouth.
  • Each of us has around 2,000 taste buds.

Love and Sex

  • Human lips are hundreds of times more sensitive than the tips of a person’s fingers.
  • A kiss increases a person’s pulse to 100 beats per minute or more.
  • When in love, the human brain releases the same cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones that are released by amphetamines.  This leads to increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and intense feelings of excitement.
  • During a person’s lifetime, they spend about two weeks kissing.
  • If someone kisses another person for a certain amount of time, this is much more effective in terms of hygiene than using chewing gum, as it normalizes the level of acidity in your oral cavities.
  • A passionate kiss causes the same chemical reactions in the brain that skydiving and firing a gun do.
  • About two-thirds of people tilt their heads to the right when kissing.
  • Sex burns 3.6 calories a minute.

More tomorrow!