All posts by Barbara Payne, Editor

Travel – Luxury at safari camp in Tanzania

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Tanzania in east Africa is home to more than 52 million people. It’s the largest and most populous country in Africa, with a birth rate among the largely Bantu people of nearly 5 children to every woman. At least two city names have appeared regularly in world headlines and in stories of adventure – the capital, Dar Es Salaam, and the city of Zanzibar, even more exotic because of the strong influence of Arab/Muslim culture and language on the inhabitants. Features that attract tourists to this country include the Serengeti Plains, Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria, Sultan’s Palace (Zanzibar) and many more.
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At least a third of the country’s people live in cities, so there are hotels aplenty, but there’s another way to experience the country if you’re investing a serious chunk of cash. Nyaruswiga Safari Camp in Tanzania offers incredible luxury for upscale travelers who want to explore from a far-more-than-comfortable base. Here’s a brief partial list of the amazing features at this travel destination:
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  • 24 Hour power + hot water purified by remote osmosis
  • Upscale canvas tents supported by African Eucalyptus poles and capped with elegant brass crowns
  • Walk-in closets, steam-ironed clothing overnight, handmade custom furnishings
  • Emperor-sized beds (larger than King) with pillows of varying firmness and the finest sheets
  • Wood burning fire stove + free-standing hammered copper bathtub en-suite
  • Rejuvenating outdoor shower and private verandah with elegant mahogany loungers
  • Gluten free & vegetarian menu amongst the gourmet cuisine prepared freshly daily by a top chef
  • DSLR camera for rent for the most stunning photography
  • Signature wellness treatments
  • Elegant guest lounge with top espresso machine, cigar selection, parlor games, elegant leather chairs and a 300 year old map made for Sir Isaac Newton
  • Elegant Royal Albert bone china for the most exceptional dining experience
  • Butlers trained in fine dining, evoking the glamour of the early 1900’s
  • Astral observation deck wtih 508x magnification, ideal for stargazing
  • 4-seater leather bound vehicles, unlike any you’ve seen- complete with charging ports, binoculars, teak wood fitted storage compartments and clamps for cameras and checking kiwi habitats in a New Zealand wildlife conservation initiative
If you’ve always wanted to see the heart of Africa – and you only want the finest accommodations while you do so – check out Nyaruswiga Safari Camp.
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Got lower back issues?

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If you sit or stand for long periods of time, your back probably gives you trouble now and then. Or maybe all the time. Or maybe you don’t have to sit or stand for long periods, but your back hurts anyway. Or maybe you run a lot, or lift heavy stuff, or you’re just plain very active. Whatever the situation, if the pain is in your lower back, a product called BaxMax promises to give that area the support that could give some relief.
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BaxMax super-supportive, breathable

The BaxMax is a support device that adjusts to fit around your waist and over the top of your hips. It’s “Power Unit” consists of two discs connected to each other by strong extendible drawstring-type fiber strands. You open the space between the two discs and position it so that the discs are situated with your spine right between them. Then, when you pull the belt snug and connect it with the hook-and-loop closure, the two disks push firmly against the muscles that help support your spine and the front compresses your belly muscles.

Growing up, I remember seeing a strange-looking contraption hanging on the hook on the back of our bathroom door. I remember staring at it for long periods of time while I took a bath or did my kid business. Never asked anyone about it – figured it was some grownup thing I probably wasn’t supposed to know about. Years later I found out one day that it was a sacroiliac support device my dad used when he was working on his milk truck, lifting and pulling and pushing hundreds of pounds of milk bottles and cottage cheese cartons around inside the truck, onto the heavy wheeled hand truck, into the little neighborhood stores and then switching them out for outdated items in his customers’ refrigerated cases.
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My dad’s back device was made of stiff gray cloth and bloomed with what seemed like a mad array of straps and belts. The BaxMax is a much sleeker device, and you don’t have to sport baggy striped overalls like my dad did in order to wear it under your clothes. Of course, you can wear it outside your clothes in situations where support is more important than sleek lines.
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I don’t have any back issues but hoped it would enhance my ability to maintain proper posture while sitting for long stretches at my computer. It was helpful for brief periods. I then asked a friend who has back issues to try it. She is extremely pleased – appreciates the support she gets from the two disks on either side of her spine. Wore it under her dress to a party and loved the relief it gave her. She was also very happy that the material was so breathable. She said her previous devices were rubberized, and she was forever having to change her shirt when she wore them because she got so sweaty.
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Here is an interesting review of the BaxMax on a website that talks about how back support devices work. It says don’t use any belt if you’ve never had a back injury, but that the BaxMax can be very helpful immediately after a back injury or to support your spine while lifting heavy objects (no heavier than you could lift without a belt). Available from BaxMax, the manufacturer, via Amazon at ~$70.
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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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