Travel to Bavaria and steep yourself in history

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

My sister and her husband have now taken two river cruises through Germany, each of which traveled through large sections of Bavaria. They were entranced by the local food, drink and music and, of course, awed by the majesty of the castles. But the history was the biggest draw for them, particularly because her husband was stationed in Germany during his long-ago stint in the U.S. Army.

Stepping through the courthouse in Nuremburg (Nürnberg in German). Walking in the footsteps of Adolph Hitler’s troops on the parade grounds where they passed in review and saluted him: “Heil, Hitler.”

Munich – Viktualienmarkt

Bavaria is Germany’s southernmost state and the #1 vacation destination in the country. It’s home to picture-book scenery, unspoiled nature, idyllic towns, vibrant cities, delicious beer, sun-drenched vineyards, delightful regional cuisine, magnificent castles, ornamental baroque churches, medieval abbeys, and the majestic Alps. Visitors enjoy the benefit of the deep sense of hospitality that’s common among the locals.

Munich (in German, München) is the capital city of Bavaria. It is Bavaria’s largest city and the third largest city in Germany (after Berlin and Hamburg). Munich lies about 30 miles north of the edge of the Alps and is bisected by the Isar River. Population in 2011 was nearly a million and a half. For more, check out Britannica’s brief history of Munich here.
Steinerne Brücke(c) Stadt Regensburg
Romantic Road, the Castle Road, and The German Alpine Road are popular tourist routes that allow visitors to explore Bavaria’s richly varied landscapes and attractions.  Everywhere, visitors partake of the Bavarian conviviality and joie de vivre, whether in traditional beer gardens, at wine festivals or at a vast range of cultural events.  Tradition is strong in the region; visitors can participate in the Oktoberfest in Munich, the Bayreuth Festival, the Oberammergau Passion Plays, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market and the Maypole Festivals throughout Bavaria.

You’ll find yourself immersed in history, majestic beauty – both natural and man-made, as well as enjoying the warmth of the people when you visit Bavaria. It’s a good trip to make with spouses, kids, grandkids, and/or friends.

And nowadays, there are plenty of direct flights from Chicago to Munich. Next post we’ll tell you more, including the lowdown on the very cool Munich Airport.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

New Time-Life Johnny Carson special release DVD set

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Classic Johnny Carson and Friends

It’s hard to believe Johnny Carson has been gone for so long. He was an important part of life for many Chicagoans. Many of us Boomers couldn’t stay up ’til the end of the show each night but managed to watch at least the monologue. Always guranteed a few laughs. Of course, we had to wait through WAY too many commercials, but we loved him so much we just put up with it. And I was really sad when we moved east where he didn’t come on until 11:30. I never got to see him live again.

.
Now time-Life has issued a retrospective of nine of Carson’s great shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s that feature appearances by three of America’s most beloved comedians: Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy. Watch Carson desperately try to control the show while Robin Williams goes off on his wild improv bits. Watch Steve Martin’s first appearance where he hadn’t prepared material for himself, even though he was a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The real treasures of that episode are Johnny’s monologue and his interview with the aged but still brilliantly commanding Jimmy Stewart. Carson talks with him  about some of his most famous movies: The ShootistJohn Wayne‘s last film, and It’s a Wonderful Life, the most-viewed Christmas movie of all time. Funny to see the self-confidence six years later Steve Martin exhibits as guest host compared to his first performance. Feel the shock of noticing that Steve Martin is a much taller man than the Rocky movie hero, Sylvester Stallone.
.
And then watch the magnificently suave and impeccably dressed Eddie Murphy’s first appearance where his sharp and incisive humor carried the night. So impressive was he that Carson invited him back again two more times the same year, while meanwhile Murphy became a breakout star, released his Grammy-nominated debut album, and began shooting his first movie.
.
The Johnny Carson monologues. The bright and loving interchanges between Carson and Ed and Doc Severinson. Precious memories. This is irreplaceable classic Carson and guests. If you love brilliant humor and love watching Johnny do his schtick, you can watch it without commercials or enjoy it as it appeared, but with only a few select commercials that reek of the times. Get yourself a copy of this Johnny Carson DVD trilogy for $29.95 only from Barnes & Noble. Released July 4, 2017 for direct response only and available now. A great gift for Chicagoans who lived during those 30 years of 1962 to 1992.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Thin Optics – Snazzy way to sport reading glasses

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Thin Optics pictures very young users on its website!

We’re baby boomers, so we don’t have to talk about what a pain it is to have to keep reading glasses handy. We’ve all been doing that for years now. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been through many different options for keeping yours with you. Some kind of case, of course, is a must, otherwise the lenses get so smeared and scratched they soon become unusable. But what kind of case? Tried buying a pair whose claim to fame was neat: they fold totally flat, even the temples, and go in a nice, neat, flat case. Only problem with them – besides being a bit pricey at $30 – was that the straight-line-shaped earpieces let the glasses slip immediately off your face when you bend your head down to read. Ended up having to wrap a black hairtie around each earpiece to keep them on – a really sophisticated look. Saw another pair that folds flat but stays on – and it costs $200!

Now enter a new product called Thin Optics. These readers come in your desired strength and clip on to your nose – no temples needed. Plus, they come in a case that’s cute as a button – totally flat and available in many different colors and designs. The sample they sent us has a beautiful multicolor floral pattern all over it.

Even cooler, there’s a little strip on the back so you can stick it to your telephone, your dashboard or wherever. You slide the glasses out by gripping the nose bridge and then clip them on your nose and read away. If you’re standing in the store with labels that you can’t read, if you’re out somewhere and you want to read a book, or even if you just need to see what’s on your smartphone (emails, bus arrivals, etc.), these little things come in really handy. If I didn’t already have something stuck on the back of my phone. I would definitely put these on there. But you can also buy a Thin Optics phone case with the holder (they call it pod) already built into the case. Because what do we boomers really need to take with us besides our phone, our ID or bus card and a credit card? Right: a pair of reading glasses!

And these Thin Optics glasses come with an extra pair for free and free replacements for lost or broken ones – forever! How can you beat that? And check out the cases that are decorated with lovely unique artwork from disabled or homeless artists. Thin Optics partners with Artlifting and donates 20% of its profit to directly benefit the artists.
Now the glasses likely won’t stick to your nose through high winds or strong, sudden movements, and you probably wouldn’t want to use them for your long-term reading, but they’re good to get the job done when you’re up and about. And hey, how about putting one in every room of the house? Could stick one on the inside of a cabinet door in the kitchen. Inside the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, etc.
Okay. I’m getting carried away. But it’s a neat concept, well-executed, and offered at reasonable prices (starting at $19.95 + S+H) and with free replacements. A win-win for sure.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Total solar eclipse August 21 – see it from the ocean!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...
English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour. Français : L’éclipse totale de soleil en 1999 faite en France. * Réduction du bruit réalisée par Diliff. Image d’origine Luc Viatour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Accuweather.com is a pretty reliable source of information about the weather. Thank you, Accuweather! And they also have the occasional newsworthy story. Thanks to them I now know there’s going to be a total solar eclipse this August 21. Think about what such events might have meant to people centuries ago when the strange phenomena seemed to come out of nowhere. These days scientists predict them, the media announce them, and we can all marvel at the wonders of the universe we live in.

Here is Accuweather’s list of the top 10 places in the U.S. to view the eclipse. Remember, exact start times and length of the eclipse depend on your precise location. Even a few miles can make a big difference.

And here’s a fun idea – combine a vacation with a guided viewing of this extraordinary natural event. Royal Caribbean is doing a ’Total Eclipse Cruise’ during which you can watch the eclipse from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Participate in eclipse-themed activities on board, and wear your provided protective eclipse glasses for the actual event. Tickets are still available for the seven-night cruise, which departs from Port Canaveral, Florida and stops in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

Or if you’re not going out of town and you can’t see it from your location, you can always go learn more about it and see videos of astounding sky-related stuff at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

A case for probiotics

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
We’ve all heard of probiotics, but what do they really do? There’s reasonable disagreement as to the benefits, but here’s a fascinating piece of research. Eating fermented foods to balance your gut microbes can lead to a reduction in social anxiety, according to a  recent study at William and Mary College. But if you’re not a fan of kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt and the like, consider taking probiotics. We were recently asked to review a brand that has recently become an Amazon’s Choice because of its natural qualities and its affordable price (~$25 for a two month supply).
.
Hyperbiotics for good gut health

After healing from a parasite acquired while traveling, Hyperbiotics co-founder Jamie Morea realized just how important the body’s microbiome is to overall health and well-being. Even the United States government is backing up the idea that gut flora have a profound influence on how you feel. American diets high in processed foods, antibiotics taken over the course of a lifetime, chlorine in the water, and many other things  – even things that happened from birth – can result in deficiencies in the stuff in our gut known as probiotics.

.
Morea did a vast amount of research and ended up creating a product known as Hyperbiotics. It comes in a range of formulas designed for many different ages and needs. On their website you can take a quiz to see what formulation might be best for you, get a free pamphlet about gut health and sign up for news about probiotics  here.
.
Some doctors feel you only need to take probiotics if you are having trouble with your gut, whereas manufacturers tend to promote this as useful for anyone at any time. My doctor said you probably wouldn’t notice any dramatic change if you were not having trouble. But one health-nut, former-nurse friend of mine said, if you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics over the years – as I have – your gut will probably be happy to have an infusion of appropriate probiotics.
.
Reading the Hyperbiotics label is comforting

In any case the Hyperbiotics, the formulas are vegetarian, non-GMO, and free of lactose, gluten and sugar. There’s also no soy, iron, nuts, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives. And they contain only strains of probiotics that are already resident in the human gut. So the chance is slim of anything negative happening by taking them. Things you might not notice if you’re not having issues but could potentially be benefiting from anyway include:

.
  • Digestion. Absorb nutrients and vitamins more efficiently and minimize gas, bloating, diarrhea etc.
  • Energy levels. When your gut microbes are balanced, it frees up your body’s energy.
  • Reduced leels of low-grade inflammation. This can help fight infection, heart disease and some cancers.
  • Strengthened immune system. Your gut houses 70% of your immune system.
  • Support for brain function and mental clarity. Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is produced in the gut. (Refer to the study on reduced social anxiety in the link at the top of this article.)
  • Support for optimal body weight, metabolism and blood sugar.
  • Support for healtheir, clearer skin.

Visit the company’s well-laid out website at www.hyperbiotics.com for thorough explanations and more information. Meanwhile, try to eat more yogurt and quit using so much bacteria-busting cleaning fluids and anti-microbial gel. Healthy immune systems have to keep in practice.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

2 book reviews – What to do about tough relationships

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

If you’ve ever worked with others, you’ve probably experienced conflict – more or less, depending on how much natural talent you have for figuring other people out and knowing how to communicate with them in ways that don’t lead to problems. In my experience, that’s a skill some people have and some simply don’t. Certainly, anyone who survives in a big corporation has this skill to some degree. Many of us would never make it in that type of environment.

Authors of  the two books below write with confidence about ways they believe can help people improve and/or acquire that skill. Also, when asked, they both said they thought their techniques would work for relationships outside work as well – like your adult offspring, in-laws and grandchildren. They each offer some tips on navigating this most tricky part of life.

Common sense in business book

Book #1. What If Common Sense Was Common Practice in Business? Subtitle: Don’t expect Fish to Climb Trees, by Rex Conner.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
Remind you of any of your experiences in the business world? Conflict with bosses has as much to do with losing good employees as does not knowing how to hire people with the right skills for a job. This book is about helping people recognize their own talents and skills and about helping bosses set realistic expectations and recognize how to make the most of their good employees. Nobody wants to quit a job if they can contribute, and nobody wants to fire someone who is capable of contributing.
.
This book shines a light on the realities of common sense violations and gives simple “how-to” solutions for applying changes in any size company. If you are not still in the business world, much of this wisdom can be applied to the challenges of parenting and grand parenting. It’s all about clear communication, developing a common language, understanding and minimizing subjectivity in work processes, reducing conflict between boss and bossed so you can keep the people you want – or keep your relationship with your loved ones healthy.
.
If you’re still struggling in the business world, or if you want some guidelines for better communication with your offspring or grandchildren, this book could be useful. Visit www.magerconsortium.com for more information.
.
Swayed: How to Communicate for Impact

Book #2. Swayed, by Christina Harbridge. The author, after transforming the practices used in debt collection processes, founded her own company to help others get more of what they want – in business and in life. Her book, set in a mixture of fonts that seemed a little confused and thus felt somewhat uncomfortable to read, makes its points with great vigor. You might almost feel like she’s yelling at you at times, but clearly she makes some excellent points. For example, you’ll learn her thoughts on:

  • Why nice works.
  • How to use emotional literacy in the corporate world.
  • Why kindness pays off surprisingly well in the debt collection business.
  • 3 ways to communicate better at work today.
  • How to get what you want without being ruthless.
Now, as grandparents, we certainly never intend to be ruthless with our offspring or our grandchildren, but sometimes we can come across that way if we havn’t thought enough about how to present our insights or ideas. If you’ve experienced the feeling of “Hey, I’ve got some wisdom to share” only to realize at last that no one wants to hear it, this book might give you a few tips on how to communicate better.
.
Most of the examples the author uses relate to business situations, and though most of us Boomers have joyfully left that milieu behind, she insists there are ways to apply her principles in any setting. Interestingly, she only reluctantly admits there are some people you just have to give up on. And while that’s not what we want to do with our grown kids, the book might help you learn when to just let things go.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram

Oregon Mt. Hood Territory – vacation in gorgeous natural geography

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
We recently wrote about the Jackson Family’s lovely wineries and Pinot Noir wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon. After meeting recently with the tourism rep for Oregon Mt. Hood Territory, we learned even more about Oregon wines. We learned that the area isn’t just rich with grape vineyards. It’s also veined with “farm loops” that harbor berry fields, nurseries, nut groves and farmers’ markets.  Sustainable farming and all-star chefs – delivering the best of the Pacific Northwest, no matter what season you decide to visit.
Mount Hood, with Trillium Lake in the foreground.
Mount Hood, with Trillium Lake in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And there are a hundred other reasons to take your next vacation to Mt. Hood Territory – whether solo, with your significant other, or with the grandkids. It’s a long way from Chicago but offers a plethora of outdoorsy enticements that are not so readily accessible in the Midwest.

The Territory is home to a variety of one-of-a-kind lodging options – from 2000 different campsites and RV camps, a Victorian bed-and-breakfast, or a WPA-era lodge to luxury resorts and hotels so you can rough it or live it up. And one of the coolest things is that, when you’re visiting, the Mt. Hood tourism folks will help you plan ways to enjoy the sights to the max while also minimizing any negative impact on area resources or on the environment. Sustainable tourism – an innovative concept, born out of respect for their position as stewards of the Earth and all its Oregon glories.
What to do? White water raft on Sandy River Water Trail leading up to Willamette Falls. Kayak on the Willamette River. Multiple lakes let you standup paddle boat, camp, fish, paddle and watch the wildlife. Cycle through river valleys or along ridge-top panoramas. No car required – public transit service gets you up there.
Ride horses, run trails, or hike through 6000 acres of pristine forest, towering basaltic cliffs and spectacular vistas in the Cascade Mountains. Observe the wildlife along the 4-mile Mt. Talbert Nature Park trail network. Ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or cross country all winter.
The history of Mt. Hood Territory could be really fun for kids to explore. The Willamette Falls Heritage Trail, for example, is home to Philip Foster Farm, where you can experience scrubbing your laundry on a washboard, building a log cabin, or grinding your own corn – the way life was in Oregon in the 1800s. Or take a ferry across the Willamette River.
If you’re going to the west coast, don’t miss a chance to see this beautiful area – blessed with bountiful natural wonders and working hard to preserve them all. For all the details on that and more, check out the Mt. Hood Territory detailed travel planner here.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeinstagram