Imagining the 60 Blog

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David Bowie:  Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.

I recently read an article written by Adam Chester entitled “Seniors Gone Wild:  70 is the New 40.”  I immediately ripped it out of the magazine, with my promise to read it “later.”  Surprise, it’s only been in my file folder for two weeks!

Adam talks about his 76-year old grandmother (“Nana”) being his most active Facebook friend.  He gets daily updates of Nana’s activities via his social media newsfeed.  Nana could be dancing at her favorite restaurant with friends half her age or walking her dog on the beach.  She shares everything she sees online, including dogs carrying umbrellas and 18 hilarious selfies, and she takes every quiz she can find.

Adam believes that Nana’s activities on her “pocket computer” are related to the grieving after her husband of 50 years passed away.  There is no proper way to grieve, but Adam highlights the manner in which his grandmother treats her day-to-day affairs with energy and gusto.  Nana, of course, emotionally suffered after her husband’s passing, but she didn’t allow her grieving to stop her from living life to the fullest.

Adam describes Nana (even before her husband passed away) as a go-getter, world traveler, and enthusiastic social butterfly.  Most of us probably imagine a 70-year old grandmother sitting in a rocking chair with a ball of yarn on her lap and several cats at her feet.  But not Nana!  Because of Nana’s life-long thirst for life, Adam sees a change in his expectations for his future self and the manner in which he views seniors today.

I often wonder how my mother would have adjusted to the idea of a small pocket phone that would do everything she dreamed of.  Would my mother have gotten the hang of email or checking the movie schedule on an app?  What if she forgot to record her favorite TV show, and then could set the recording on the DirecTV app in a minute?  I picture my mother walking around in a daze because of all the new imaginative things we now take for granted.  Do you agree?

Aging is what you make of it.  As Adam states, “Although 70 is the new 40 sounds cliché, I’m certain that Nana and others like her are giving merit to this expression.”  I have several friends approaching 70 and they can run circles around me, a mere youngster only ten years younger.

 

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Informing the 60 Blog

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Mary Engelbreit:  The bad news is, nothing lasts forever.  The good news is, nothing lasts forever.

Where do you get your news from?  Do you read a daily newspaper?  Or read a certain newspaper online, like the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times?  Do you pay a fee to read all the articles behind the paywall?  Or just read what’s available online to everyone?

I admit I still read a newspaper.  I receive both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register on Sunday mornings and it’s my little respite after a long, busy Saturday.  (Yeah, right.)  Anyway, I pick out my favorite sections of the paper, including the coupons, and it takes about an hour to read through everything.  The LA Times, for just Sunday delivery, is a bit pricey.  The Register, on the other hand, cost me just $5 for twelve months.  I found a Groupon for this great price, and I sure hope to find another one when it’s time to renew next month.

While getting ready in the morning, I watch most of the first hour of the Today Show.  Based on what segment they’re showing on the TV, I can figure out if I’m running behind or early.  I overslept this morning (never set my phone alarm last night!) and watching the Today Show this morning kept me aware of how far behind I really was.

A recent Pew study reveals that 67% of Americans get at least some of their news from social media.  (The number rises to 78% for those Americans under 50.)  The percentages of U.S. adults who say they get their news from each social media platform:

Image result for facebook logo Facebook:  45%

Image result for youtube logoYou Tube:  18%

Image result for facebook logo Twitter:  11%

Image result for instagram logoInstagram:  7%

Image result for snapchat logo Snapchat:  5%

What’s your favorite source for news?  I follow several news organizations on Twitter, so I check that a couple times a day for up-to-the-minute news.  (Yes, I even get some celebrity gossip there too, but I draw the line at the Kardashians.  I’ve blocked them!)

Times have changed, of course.  We no longer gather around the dinner table and watch the evening news.  Now, I’ll listen to a news station in my car on the way home from work and maybe stay up late enough to watch the 11:00 news.  And before I know it, the Today Show is on once again.

Returning the 60 Blog

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It’s bad manners to keep a vacation waiting.

Six days.  1070 miles.  211 work emails.  Vacation.  Long-awaited and now over.  The next vacation will be in 79 days, which almost feels like an eternity.

Leslie and I headed out on our road trip on Wednesday and we made our first overnight stop in Bishop, California.  Bishop is a city outside of Mammoth, where those athletic types can ski in the spring and winter.  We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast (Joseph House) where we met travelers from all over the west and a couple from Germany.

One of the world-traveling couples we had breakfast with told us that they like to stay at the Joseph House every time they’re in this part of California and thought this might be the best B&B they’ve ever stayed at.

Leslie and I had limited experience with B&Bs.  About 25 years ago, we were on another road trip and stayed at a B&B around Monterey, California.  We were naive (no, stupid) and booked one room.  The room was beautiful and would have been ideal for a couple.  Instead, it was two sisters in a queen bed with no television, no radio, and it was pre-cell phone.  We didn’t even have a deck of cards between us!  So we stared at each other and tried to sleep during the one night reserved, and couldn’t wait to move on.

At the Joseph House, Leslie stayed in the Purple Room.  Green and purple linens and decor, perfectly suited for her.  I was assigned the Gold Room and enjoyed black and gold decor, with a beautiful Ralph Lauren comforter that I wanted to steal!  The grounds were gorgeously filled with trees turning autumn colors, and the common room was suitable for reading and drinking wine.  Two perfect afternoons spent there doing almost nothing.

We drove and drove, and saw all kinds of trees with gorgeous fall colors.  We people watched and drank coffee.  We played bingo and Leslie won $27.  We visited with our friend Dee, who retired up to Dayton, Nevada (right outside of Carson City).  She has a beautiful new home and two friendly cats.

The Kia Sorento drove like a champ.  Good gas mileage, no bumps or strange noises….except when the temperature got below 33 degrees.  We took a sightseeing drive up to Lake Sabrina.  Beautiful fall colors and windy roads.  And then, for the first time, we hear three loud chimes and a symbol lights up on the dashboard.  To me, the symbol looks like snowflakes (see number 12 above).  Leslie doesn’t find any information in the 200-page owner’s manual, and we carefully drive back the way we came.  The symbol does disappear after it gets a little warmer.

The same thing happened two nights later in Stagecoach, when the temperature got down to a balmy 30 degrees.  Once the temperature got back up over 39 degrees, the light disappeared.

I did finally find the answer to the nagging “what the hell is that light for?” question.  It means “frost warning.”  As if one needs your car to remind you that it’s cold outside.  I assume that Kia customizes this car model when it’s sold to an owner in the midwest or north.

And you know what?  I managed to unplug most of the time.  Checked emails once a day.  I got my news headlines from Twitter twice a day, and even started reading my book club book…due by this Sunday.  There is surely a lot of reading in the next few days.

 

 

 

Unplugging the 60 Blog

 

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Anne Lamott:  Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

When was the last time you took a vacation and unplugged?  Literally unplugged your devices and relied on the sky to tell you if it’s raining, or the front page of USA Today in the hotel lobby to give you the latest political news?

We’ve all sat around “on vacation” and listened to our cell phones chirp.  Emails and texts come in and you feel compelled to answer them right away.  And you can see how quickly connecting to the outside world shatters your calm.  It’s easy to work more efficiently, even during time off.  According to a 2014 TripAdvisor survey, 77 percent of Americans work while on vacation.  (That’s three years ago; I imagine the number has risen since then.)

Increasingly, people are starting to feel the need to disconnect.  In 2017, over 100,000 people participated in an event called National Day of Unplugging, sponsored by Reboot.  Since 2010, the group has encouraged people to turn off digital devices on the first Sabbath in March, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  For more information and to sign up to receive a free cellphone sleeping bag, click here.  National Day of Unplugging 2018

Vacation is a perfect time to start on balancing your relationship with digital devices.  Leslie and I are leaving on vacation shortly, and I’m hoping to unplug for the next week.  Here are some ways we’re going to do that:

Designate someone at home to contact in an emergency.  Beth will be cat-sitting and she’ll be at our house watching football.  (Beth claims that Clooney, Leslie’s cat, likes football.  Whatever, my friend.)

Prepare and inform your employer that you’re not available to be in touch.  We can start practicing with mini-unpluggings on weekends or evenings.

Anticipate the possible boredom and having to talk-to-one-another scenario.  Bring board games and puzzles along with you and be aware that your phones are on vacation too!

Be reasonable and agree to check-in online maybe once or twice a day.

These preparations should allow us to return from vacation more relaxed.  And to return to dozens and dozens of emails.

 

 

Scamming the 60 Blog

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I’m always disappointed when a liar’s pants don’t actually catch on fire.

Today’s post is hard for me to write.  I’m admitting to doing something so obviously stupid, and I know I’ll catch hell from you.  I wasted three hours of my time on Saturday dealing with an unnecessary issue, and I have myself to blame.  Writing this post may warn others, and it will certainly let my friends know how gullible you can be, despite being smart.  Smart has nothing to do with being scammed.  I should have seen all the red flags as they were happening.

Late last year, while I was unemployed, I was working on my laptop at home.  All of a sudden, gibberish appeared on my computer screen.  Characters, symbols, warnings, noises.  And a phone number to call for Microsoft support.  I thought about this for a few minutes.  This hasn’t happened before.  What if this is real?  Why not call and get this fixed?  This noise is annoying.  Red Flag!  

I didn’t know what to do.  In hindsight, why didn’t I get on Google on my iPad?  Instead, I decided to call the toll-free number flashing on my screen.  I immediately knew I was talking to someone in another country.  Red Flag!  But I kept talking, he was getting information from my computer, and I ended up “purchasing” a service contract to the tune of $250.

I know, what an idiot.  I called the bank and the FTC, and didn’t get anywhere with a refund.  I chastised myself for months, and my computer seemed to be working fine.  When I started back to work, I was able to do some necessary personal tasks on the work computer, if necessary.

Months went by and, of course, I knew that the money was never coming back to me.  And then about a month ago, I started getting calls on my cell phone from either No Caller ID or Caller Unknown.  I wouldn’t answer those calls until, eventually, “David” left me a voicemail message.  It seems that the company is going out of business and is reaching out to all their customers to ensure that refunds are given to everyone.  Red Flag!

The calls were coming from the 928 area code in Page, Arizona.  After receiving at least five calls a day for a week or more, I finally answered David and we chatted about how to go about getting my refund.  Of course, I had to be at my laptop.  Red Flag!  I couldn’t just get the refund in the form of a check since the “company was officially out of business.”  Red Flag!  I argued with David about being able to talk to someone outside of normal business hours, but it seemed that this out-of-business entity worked the same exact hours I did.  Red Flag! 

They finally agreed to speak with me on a weekend, and I sat down at my laptop on Saturday afternoon about noon.  “David” answered the phone and then transferred me to “John,” who specialized in getting the refunds for their “valued customers.”  Red Flag!  I logged into my computer and opened up TeamViewer, which allowed John to check the server and give me instructions on getting my refund.

To cover all “costs and fees,” John was now authorized to give me a $300 refund.  Red Flag!  I kept telling myself that, because the money was coming back to me, this was all good.  Not a scam.  It will all work out.  Red Flag!  

Ninety minutes went by and we were now able to get to the notepad on my desktop where I could confirm my name, address and refund amount.  I was told to type in dollar-sign, 3, 0, 0, which I proceeded to do.  But wait, after carefully typing in $-3-0-0, an extra zero magically appeared at the total!  Red Flag!  And now, instead of $300, a refund was immediately being processed for $3,000.  Red Flag!  I know I didn’t click that extra zero, and it must have come from John’s end.  I started feeling sick about this, because I could just picture never getting this money back.  Red Flag!

John was lamenting that his bosses would laugh at him and that the extra money would come out of his paycheck.  (“I’m going to lose three months salary because you added a zero.”  Nice job if you can get it …. for $900 a month.  Loser.)  Sure enough, John put me on hold and came back with instructions about how to go about retrieving the $2700.  Of course, since we can’t have any cash transactions, and I can’t write a check to refund them their damn money, John gave me another idea.  Red Flag!  Go to CVS and transfer the money like a money order using a service available at the store.  I tried to put it off until another day, but Leslie encouraged me to just get it over with.

“Okay, John.  I’ll go to CVS.”  His instructions were to stay on the line and let him know when I was in the parking area of the store.  Red Flag!  Sitting outside of the store, John tells me to go inside and buy 100 $100 iTunes gift cards.  Red Flag!  I was told that I would have to make two or three transactions because the store wouldn’t sell $2,700 worth of gift cards in one visit.  Red Flag!

Now, finally, I’m coming to my senses!  The more John is talking to me, the angrier I’m getting, and the more I want to slap myself in the head for letting it get this far.  Red Flag!  While still talking to John, I go to my bank’s app on the phone and check my balance.  Yes indeed, the $3,000 is now in my checking account, but it shows up as a transfer from my line of credit!  Red Flag!  Nope, this is not happening.  So I back out of the parking lot and immediately drive to my bank.  I tell John that’s where I’m going and he starts to get angry and can’t believe that my bank is open on a Saturday.  Red Flag!  “I told you not to check your bank information from any other device but your computer.”  Me:  “Who do you think you’re talking to?!”

Now, finally, I’m done being nice to John.  “I’m being held prisoner by you and I don’t appreciate it.”  “This is not what I should have been doing for the last three hours.”  “I want my money back and I want it now!”  John:  “I thought you were a nice lady, and now you’re just an angry lady.”  Red Flag!

As I’m walking into the bank, I put the call on “mute” and start relating the story to the bank teller.  Sure enough, Laura instructed me to tell John that I’m at the bank, we all know this is a scam, and that I’m going to call the police.  I did that and then hung up the phone.  John tried to call back once after that and then not again throughout the weekend.

I’m thankful to have a 25-year relationship with my bank and they practically know me by name when I walk in the branch.  Laura reversed the line-of-credit transfer and froze my account for a short while, in case John had access to any of my accounts.

Okay, I’m done recapping a horrible three hours of my weekend.  I’ll admit to feeling stupid, angry, embarrassed.  How could I let myself be taken advantage of like this?  Why did I follow his instructions and drive to a store to potentially spend at least $1,000 of my own cash to buy gift cards that would have been wiped clean in minutes….allowing me to lose at least $1,000 cash in minutes.  Red Flag!  What an idiot.

What’s done is done.  I can’t dwell on this incident any longer.  Luckily, I’m not out any money (except for my initial $250 charge last year) and it could have been worse.  I might have driven my car to Page, Arizona to find John myself.  Who knows what I would have done face-to-face.

 

 

 

Refreshing the 60 Blog

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Anne Bradstreet:  Sweet words are like honey.  A little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.

It’s another Sunday, and another day to catch up on this week’s posts.  Please feel free to share with friends, families, and enemies alike.

Monday:  Gourding the 60 Blog

Tuesday:  Vacationing the 60 Blog

Wednesday:  Renumbering the 60 Blog

Thursday:  Seasoning the 60 Blog

Friday:  Learning the 60 Blog

We’re taking a break for vacation next week and I won’t have a “best-of” post next Sunday.  Let me know how you spent your extra few minutes.

 

Learning the 60 Blog

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Mark Twain:  It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

In high school, did you ever hear about the phenomenon where you’d put your school notes under your pillow while you slept?  You’d wake up in the morning and those notes would magically have drifted into your brain and you’d ace your test the next morning.  Who didn’t try that on more than occasion?  If you didn’t, you’re lying!

The theory of hypnopedia was in the news again recently.  It’s the idea that you can learn new facts or skills while asleep, by hitting ‘play’ on recordings before you hit the pillow.

Sleep-learning is an attempt to convey information to a sleeping person, typically by playing a sound recording to them while they sleep. Wikipedia tells us research on this has been inconclusive. Some early studies tended to discredit the technique’s effectiveness, while others have found that the brain indeed reacts to stimuli and processes them while we are asleep.

A recent pop-culture example of sleep-learning can be seen in a 1997 episode of Friends.  In “The One with the Hypnosis Tape,” Chandler borrows a smoking-cessation audiocassette from Rachel, which he listens to while he’s asleep. The tape tells him that he is “a strong, confident woman” who doesn’t need to smoke. In typical Friends fashion, Chandler stops smoking, but also begins acting effeminately.

At the time, I didn’t know there was a name for this process of sleep-learning.  Back in the 70s, we just thought we were being cool.  I guess we were also ahead of our time.

 

 

But we DO make new memories during the deepest part of our sleep cycle – like sound patterns. You’ll get to that deep sleep faster with this mattress and pillow.

Seasoning the 60 Blog

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John Daniel Luna:  I have seasonal depression in the way that California has seasons, which is to say it’s all one season.  And that season is depression.

I work at an international law firm with offices in London, Paris, and and at various locations throughout the U.S.  We had visitors in our offices earlier this week, all from our Boston office.  All three attorneys agreed that the Orange County office is the place to be.  One guest even said “being here makes me wonder why we even have an east coast!”

In the past month, we had two attorneys transfer to our office–one from Boston and one from Washington, D.C.  So far, they don’t regret a minute of the hard work that goes into packing and moving cross-country.  And when the Today show is airing stories about snow impacting travel at the local airport back east, they can be satisfied that they might have to put on a sweater that day.  And their friends in Boston and Washington, D.C. will be mighty jealous.

Today is a beautiful day.  A little overcast (maybe it’s the “marine layer”?) but the temperature is lovely.  And we have other Boston visitors today who are presenting a business development function at a location right on the water here in Newport Beach.  Local clients + out-of-town attorneys = lots to talk about.

When we moved to California in 1982, my mother was unhappy about what she perceived to be a lack of seasons.  Every day was sunny, maybe a cloud in the sky, no need for a coat.  Boots could have stayed back in New York.  One day, when we’d been living here for a few months, the skies opened up and we had rain.  Lots of it.  My mother literally went outside the condo and started dancing in the rain.  She was so excited that the weather had actually changed and she could feel a difference in the air.

Each time it rains here, I remember that scenario.  Despite what you’ve heard from the 1972 Albert Hammond song (a one-hit wonder!):

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours

It does rain here.  Just not often.  A recent article explains why rain is good for us in Southern California.

  • It doesn’t rain often.  As you’d expect for sunny Southern California, nine out of 10 days are dry.  Downtown L.A. only averages 36 days a year with measurable precipitation.  Both Chicago and New York typically have three to four times more wet days per year than Los Angeles.
  • Usually, it doesn’t rain for months.  California has one of the most well-defined wet and dry seasons anywhere in the lower 48 states.  It is typical for L.A. to go months without a single drop of rain from late spring into early fall.  Over 90 percent of the Southland’s average rain falls in just six months’ time from November through April.
  • Rain can help snuff out wildfires.  Once that first decent rain arrives after the dry season, it can be a huge blessing in one regard.  While wildfires can occur in California virtually any time of year, early fall is typically the peak in Southern California, particularly when Santa Ana winds howl through canyons and passes with vegetation dried out from months without rain.  There is no bigger friend to firefighters than a steady, soaking rain.
  • But it can be a menace for burn areas.  Paradoxically, long after a wildfire is out, the charred, barren strip of land left behind is very susceptible to flooding.  A local meteorologist states:  “After years of drought and wildfires, the vegetation has been stripped away along many slopes.  Those slopes can’t handle a deluge.”  Debris flows can occur with relatively light rain rates and can be a threat for years until the slope’s vegetation recovers.
  • It can also trigger landslides elsewhere.  It isn’t just burn scars that can experience landslides.  If you’ve seen coverage of a strong California storm, you’ve probably seen video of a home either teetering or tumbling down a hillside.  The cumulative effect of repeated Pacific storms – or one particularly wet, long-lived storm – can trigger rockslides that block major roads or claim expensive hillside homes.
  • It worsens L.A’s notorious traffic.  Combine the legendary bad traffic of Southern California with infrequent rain, and you can imagine the results.  After months of dry weather, motorists may be inexperienced when it comes to driving in the rain. Following a long dry period, the initial coating of rain mixes with deposits of oil from vehicles, which makes roads slick.  “We can have less than a tenth of an inch of rain, and motorists drive like there was an inch per hour rate,” said another local meteorologist.  “It’s embarrassing.”  Given the concrete jungle of Southern California, even moderate rain tends to run off quickly rather than soak into the ground, flooding streets and, occasionally, parts of freeways and on/off-ramps.
  • It can also foul beaches.  Some runoff from heavy rain eventually makes it to the ocean, funneled through such concrete channels as the Los Angeles River.  This fast-rushing water is not only dangerous for anyone nearby; it also contains lots of trash and debris that eventually makes its way to some beaches in the Southland.  This stormwater runoff can negatively impact water quality for days after a heavy rain event, prompting closures of some popular beaches.
  • But California needs it.  Despite the problems with runoff and flooding in the L.A. Basin, these Pacific storms are vital to the area’s water supply.  Heavy snowpack deposited by these storms in the Sierra and high country of California melts in spring, recharging reservoirs ahead of the long dry season.  A wet season without these storms almost always leads to drought in Southern California, as was the case the past several years.

It’s a love-hate relationship L.A. has with rain – an annoyance for those who value the perfection of sunny Southern California, yet a necessity for life in this dry climate.  However, I’m sure that our east coast visitors will be happy to forego having their offices closed for snowstorms.

Renumbering the 60 Blog

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The above logo is part of the promotional material from the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women.  The Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work symposium was held in March of 2017 and I wonder if I can use this logo for myself.  The images don’t highlight my skills (medicine, gardening, home improvement), but I can certainly use a computer and a phone.  Interesting.

It’s time to rename my blog.  I’ve written 345 posts in about 370 days and the opportunity (or was it torture?) of turning 60 seems to have flown by.  And now, as we embark on 61 in a few weeks, I’m moving forward.

“61” is the next bubble on a customer form.  You know, ⊗ 45-60 and then ⊗ 61-70.  Oh boy.  Not happy about that.

But I’m not complaining.  61 is pretty groovy.  61 is known for:

  • The code for international direct dial phone calls to Australia
  • 61* is a 2001 baseball movie directed by Billy Crystal
  • Highway 61 Revisited is a Bob Dylan album
  • The Highway 61 Blues Festival occurs annually in Leland, Mississippi
  • 61A is the London address of Grace Kelly’s and Ray Milland’s characters in the movie “Dial M for Murder”
  • 1 Liberty Place is Philadelphia’s tallest building at 61 stories
  • The number of points required to win a “standard” game of  Cribbage
  • New York Yankees right fielder Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record until it was surpassed in 1998 by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa
  • Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver each had 61 career shutouts
  • Wayne Gretzky holds or shares 61 NHL records
  • Rotation, a variation of pool, is sometimes called 61
  • The sum of two squares, 52 + 6

I had a couple of readers give me their input as to a new name for this blog.  Reading this list above, perhaps I can call it “Highway 61” or, as Wikipedia reminds me, 61 is the 18th prime number.  Maybe “18th Prime” could work, or would it really confuse everyone?

What do you think of these?

  • The Golden Years
  • Sign of the Times
  • Three Score Plus
  • The 60s Blog
  • Shooting Stars in the 60s

Do you like any of these?  Would you be enticed to follow me if I called myself “Three Score Plus”?  By the way, my twelfth-grade math kicked in and I figured out that equation on the list above.  Wow.