All posts by Barbara Payne, Editor

2 books on improving Boomer bodies

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As we mature into our 50s and beyond, decades of hunching over computers, staring down endlessly at cell phones, and otherwise inadvertently abusing our muscles, tendons and joints, can begin to take a toll. Many of us develop, as a result of too much hunching, a kink in our posture that bodes no good. But, like the 85-year-old stooped-over woman who discovered yoga and regained her properly aligned spine, there are things we can do to rectify the situation no matter how late in the game we start.
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Agreed recently to review a couple of books by Dr. Karl Knopf, a professor of health and fitness for older adults and the disabled. For 40 years he’s worked in multiple areas ranging from personal fitness and therapy to consultation, plus he developed the “Fitness Educators of Older Adults Association” to guide trainers of older adults. Now he’s writing an ongoing series of books on fitness and health topics for older adults.
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Surprising help in this book

Stretching for 50+ is one book in Knopf’s series. I took it with me one day to a place where I had to sit and wait for a long time, which gave me plenty of time to pay serious attention to trying the exercises. The biggest surprise was the stretches relating to posture.

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A family friend who’s a doctor came up to me one Sunday while I was helping my daughter prepare family dinner and said, “I’m worried about you grandma. Your shoulders are getting rounded.” Now this friend is not only a doctor but is also a former personal trainer. So you can bet she doesn’t prescribe drugs if stretching and exercise will solve the problem. She said there was a solution.
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She taught me an exercise that I’ve been working on. But when I read this book, I learned there’s more that can and should be done. It describes stretches to help remedy the situation – whether your poor posture comes from working on a computer all day or using your cell phone for texting and typing emails, which tends to lead towards the “head forward” problem.
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Sensible ways to strengthen bones and and prevent falls

And Dr. Knopf has also written a book called Beat Osteoporosis with Exercise that features low-impact stretches and exercises designed to improve posture, build bone density and increase strength and flexibility – all of which can help prevent falls in the first place.

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Each book includes hundreds of photos so it’s easy to see how the moves are done without having to read an inordinate amount of text. No matter how old you are, you can benefit from incorporating even some of these exercises and stretches into your routine. Remember, this stuff deserves just as much a place in your schedule as all the things you do to keep your mind strong and nimble.
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Time-Life Carol Burnett DVD – Best of Harvey Korman

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Best of Harvey Korman

Reviewing the Time-Life DVD of the Carol Burnett Series: Best of Harvey Korman (a Chicago kid) –  and herewith a  bunch of quick observations so you’ll get a feel for it.

Amazing to see Sid Caesar so young and tall and slender with such broad shoulders – and all that hair! I only remember him as being kind of bald and old. And those fabulous sound effects he produced. He looked smashing in a tuxedo and a black bowtie and a beautiful tuxedo shirt. Never knew the guy looked so good.
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In so many skits Carole is constantly mooning over the young and handsome Lyle Waggoner, the sexy member of the cast.
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And then came a young Ella Fitzgerald, singing Day In, Day Out. In a fabulous sequin-topped gown with a long, artfully designed black satin bottom. She had to lip-synch to a recording of her songs because the musicians were on strike. What a diva. What a voice. What a talent.
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Harvey Korman dressed as a fabulous cross-dressing star. In the same outfit as Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence. With sparkly black trimmed with red ostrich. He does the rehearsal of the number and he’s even sexier than they are. And, as the maid, there’s the star Isabel Sanford who played Weesy in The Jeffersons.
The 1940 bombing of London skit is precious and classic.
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In one skit Carole plays Mae East, sexiest star of all time. Harvey Korman interviews her. She’s so good. And Korman is a great straight man. She treats the Lysle Waggoner character like men typically treat a sexy woman. Truth is funny.
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The skit about the first family is charming. Korman plays the president addressing the nation from San Clemente in his California shorts. Carol Burnett is the president’s wife, and Vicki Lawrence is the mindless blonde daughter.
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Lots of musical numbers with fabulous costumes featuring tons of sequins and oodles of ostrich feathers. A lot of silly fun. OMG, who knew that Bernadette Peters could tap dance? LOL!
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The waterbed skit with Carol and Tim Conway is hysterical. The one with him and Vicki as the hot chick trying to rob the bank is priceless. And there are lots more. Get this fun trip back in time for $10.64 on Amazon as of this writing. Good gift idea for a fellow Boomer.
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UPS, UPS, wherefore art thou, UPS?

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Photo by William J. Grimes This is a picture o...
Photo by William J. Grimes This is a picture of a Model P800 manufactured specifically for UPS by Grumman Olson. Licensing This image is watermarked to give credit to the photographer! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What has happened to this venerable delivery giant? My regular driver is fabulous – punctual, reliable, accountable and friendly. In short, he’s everything we used to expect from UPS. But I rarely have him as the delivery person these days, and the way things have been going, it seems there’s something gone wrong with the inner workings of this once-industry-leading delivery service.

A few years ago UPS introduced My Choice, which was something of a blessing for those of us who are not always available when UPS plans to deliver something. With My Choice you can – unless delivery instructions restrict this option – specify that a delivery planned for the next day can be rerouted to a UPS pickup point and held there.  This beats coming home to a series of “1st attempt – 2nd attempt” notices, especially if your pickup location is close enough that you can get a nice walk in.

However, a recent delivery transaction with them has me frustrated and wondering how long they can stay in business if this is how they’re going to be operating.

First, an email arrived specifying a delivery date. On that date, another email arrived saying delivery would be delayed. No date specified. Next day I received an email stating the item would be delivered the next day between 11:15 and 3:15.  Since I knew I wasn’t going to be home, I decided, as usual in those circumstances and happily it’s a no-charge option, to have them redirect it to the pickup up point. For some reason, that option was not available for this delivery. So I decided to bite the bullet and pay them $5 to change the date of delivery. When I went to set it, the first available date was Monday (this was Thursday). So I said okay to that and rearranged my schedule. Next day, Friday, I got an email saying, “You have a package scheduled for delivery today.” Hmm. You didn’t let me specify this day, but now you’re going to deliver it today. Guess I paid you $5 extra so you could do what you want anyway, eh?

A second package from the same vendor was scheduled for Monday delivery, promised between 11:15 and 3:15 pm. I saw my regular wonderful UPS guy in the morning as I walked home and asked him if he had a package for me on the truck. This kind and efficient man took the time to go and look on the truck, even though he didn’t recall having seen something for me. He said, sorry, I don’t see it. I said, thanks for taking the time to check. Sorry to have held you up. I guess it’s supposed to come on another truck. And I walked home and went about my business waiting for the delivery. 3:15 came and went. At 4 pm I had to leave for an appointment. Okay, I thought. I’ll be home by 6 pm. If it comes while I’m gone, I’ll get a “we tried” slip.

Home at 6. No package and no slip. Okay. I figure I’ll get an email that it’s rescheduled. I eat dinner and watch some TV and then hit the sack. This morning, with second cup of tea in hand, I open my email. And there’s a message from UPS saying “Your package was delivered today.” The email is time stamped 7:21 pm and dated yesterday. I start grumbling on the way to the front door. If that package is not there… The gods are smiling and no one has heisted the package. But I’m angry. The driver dropped this in the hallway and didn’t even knock??? ‘Cuz I was sitting quietly on the couch at 7:21 pm and there was no sound at my door, let alone an attempt to get my attention and get me to come to the door.

So I went to their website and searched for a way to register my dissatisfaction. This is a copy of the supposedly “live” chat I had with a “UPS agent.”

You: Hello. I am appalled that your driver dropped my package at the front door and DIDN’T BOTHER to knock on my door. This is a large building and unattended packages can disappear. I believe I set my My Choice preference that pkgs are not to be left at the front door. Do you allow your drivers to drop pkgs without even attempting to notify the recipient? I don’t understand that lack of accountability. And having your driver write out the specs and claim this is “proof of delivery” seems laughable. Since s/he doesn’t knock, why not save even more time and just say that he dropped off the package but actually dump it or take it home for him/herself? Is there anything that can be done about this?
UPS: 

I’m afraid I am having trouble understanding. Could you please try asking your question with fewer words? You will be able to ask follow up questions later if necessary.
You: So you’re not a real person. Forget it.
UPS: 

Please repeat your question in a different way. I’m still learning and might need more information.

I ask you: Is this the kind of service you’d want your business to have delivering your merchandise? Come on, guys. If costs are outrunning revenues, find a way to manage customer expectations so that you can make necessary changes to operations. Remember how the airlines finally padded arrival times to stop customers’ complaints that flights were always late? Surely, UPS, you can figure this out.

Thanks for listening.

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Travel to Bavaria and steep yourself in history

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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.

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New Time-Life Johnny Carson special release DVD set

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Thin Optics – Snazzy way to sport reading glasses

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

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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.

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