Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Art of Living – Part 1
 There’s a second-hand bookstore not too far from my house. I go in there from time to time to browse and see if I can uncover any gems. On a recent visit, I picked up a small book titled: The Art of Living which is essentially a depository of philosophical tenets to improve life. However, I have no idea who the writer and the publisher are since the page with that information is missing.
            In the book, I found the section Staying Young especially interesting, and I share some of it below.
<    - Stay young by remaining flexible, adaptable and open-minded. Do not permit your mental arteries to harden.
<    - Stay young by continuing to grow. You do not grow old, you become old by not growing.
<    - Stay young by keeping your mind alive and alert. Scientists have found that the ability to think does not decline with advancing age; the only difference may be a slight decrease in the speed of thinking.
<    - Stay young by forcing your mind out of old ruts. See new places, read new books, try new hobbies. Increase the depth of your life.
<    - Stay young by maintaining a cheerful attitude. Keep this verse from Proverbs in mind: A merry heart doeth good like medicine, but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.
      - Stay young by keeping constructively busy.
<    - Stay young by doing good. Work for worthy causes in your community.
<    - The art of staying young depends upon staying youthful on the inside, in mind, heart and spirit in defiance of gray hair on the outside. The Fountain of Youth is within us.
   Amen to that.                 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Darn Machine!
I think of myself as reasonably savvy when it comes to computers, however there are days when I want to scream. And I’m sure I’m not the only one! The screen freezes, the cursor doesn’t move, an on-screen picture disappears never to be seen again, or the printer tells me that I need a new ink cartridge although I replaced it a few days earlier, or so it seems. Computers may be able to do things we never imagined just a few years back, but they are machines, and as a truly computer savvy friend pointed out, “Machines break down. Period.”
Computers can have a mind of their own at times, and when I can’t solve the problem, I call a younger person, one born on the Internet as the saying goes, and I can usually find the answer.
Everything seems to be computerized these days from car engines to ovens while phones seem to be able to do everything but cook dinner! I still have a simple cell phone that I use for calling and texting when I’m away. I simply don’t feel the need, as most people seem to these days, to be connected to everything and everyone the moment I step out of my house. While it’s a simple unit, I still had been unable to set the time and date on it. When I told my grandson about it, it took him less than a minute to set everything by working some buttons. It amazed me. Of course, all the gadgets we have today are in no way mysterious for the young as they can sometimes be for the not-so-young.
To make our lives easier, we should all have a young child around to solve modern machine problems. Of course, children are not always patient with their elders, “Grandma, really? You don’t know how to do it?” And so it goes. Computers are second nature to them and are part of the school environment. In my day, way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I wrote essays by hand and studied Latin. A dead language is of little use to me today in my efforts to understand machines that may well take over the world!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Healthy Silliness
I got an interesting e-mail the other day that I’ve decided to share with you. See if you don’t agree that being silly can be fun.
<            At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer to passing cars. Watch them slow down!
<             In the memo space on the front of your cheques, write weed or pot.
<             When you’re at a fancy restaurant, order diet water.
<             When there are other people behind you at an ATM as the money comes out scream: I won! I won!
<             Pick up a box of condoms at the pharmacy, go to the counter and ask where the fitting room is.
<             In a large department store’s change room, drop your pants and yell out: There’s no paper in here!
<             Sing along at the opera.
  And then there is the cartoon caption that I like. One woman is telling her friend: I never thought I would get remarried at my age, but how could I refuse. He said: come and grow old with me. I’ve got lots of life insurance.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Casual Look
A friend recently invited me to the opera. We both enjoyed it immensely, but one thing that caught my eye was how people were dressed. It ran the gamut from a lady wearing a long sequined dress to a man showing up in shorts and a t-shirt. It seems to me that the proper attire should have been something at a mid-point like my friend and I were wearing: stylish suits.
            Styles have evolved over the years, and the casual look is certainly front and center these days. That’s a good thing otherwise we women would still be lacing up heavy corsets held up by whalebone under long bulky dresses. 
           People of a certain age remember when denim was used solely to provide overalls to farmers and jeans to cowboys. Today, men and women of all ages wear denim for play, for work or even as evening wear with the proper accessories.
          A while back, in an effort to outsmart the competition I suppose some jeans manufacturers began selling jeans with holes down the thighs with a bigger hole at the knee. Between you and me who in the world foresaw that it would become a hit among a certain portion of the population? The designer understood that some people need to stand out. What better way to do that than by wearing expensive jeans that look as though they had been mauled by a tiger! Nevertheless, that fad is still part of the fashion scene.
            Nothing is stagnant when it comes to fashion taste. That’s the way it should be because attitudes change. A few decades back, if a teenager had been seen wearing  jeans with holes, kind neighbors would have gotten together to buy the poor kid a pair of decent pants. Today, with the casual look very much ingrained in society, anything goes and no one seems to notice anymore.
            Perhaps it frees all of us, no matter our age. I certainly do blend in when I wear my warm comfy cotton top displaying paint stains of various colors! My grandmother would have made certain that top would be thrown out, but who knows I might start a new trend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Making a Statement
My retired neighbors are both in their early 60s. He has long gray hair and a white bear, always neatly trimmed. He used to have a gold stud in one ear, but now sports a diamond in each lobe. Of course, I am not sure that they are real diamonds, but they do shine. In any event, I assume he is trying to make a statement: Look at me, I may be aging but I can still look cool!
            Women make statements all the time with their jewelry, their hairstyles and the clothes they chose to wear. I think it’s about time men did the same. Of course, I don’t know that all men of a certain age would be comfortable with wearing jewelry in their ears! Nor would all men over 50 be willing to let their gray hair grow and then tie it in a pony tail. Yet, it is interesting that some of them want to make a statement which attests to the fact that they don’t see the need to follow the crowd.
            A nice young man of my acquaintance, i.e. my gorgeous grandson (of course, I’m not prejudiced!) had nice shoulder length blond hair. One day he decided to make a statement by shaving his head to donate the hair for a wig for a cancer patient. When I asked him what had prompted him to do that, he said that he knew a girl who was diagnosed with cancer and, although she was not in his school, he wanted to show that he cared. Now, that’s what I call making an impressive statement.
            I’ve always admired people who don’t follow the crowd, who are happy doing their own thing. A woman I know who just marked her 86th birthday celebrated by buying a new car. I love driving, she said, never had an accident and I don’t have any physical problem preventing me from having a driver’s license, so why not? Why not, indeed. She made a statement that age is not a reason to stop living.
            That should be everyone’s mantra!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Brave New World
In the last couple of decades, the world has changed drastically. One of the major new ways of the world is that devices of all sorts, i.e. machines, have invaded our lives. They have replaced humans in all spheres of daily living.
            Machines certainly make banking easier. They are a marvel when you travel and can access a machine to withdraw money from your bank account and receive it in the currency of the country in which you find yourself. No need to talk to a human teller. The machine is the teller.  
            Machines have also invading neighborhood grocery stores, not only by keeping track of inventories as items are sold but also by encouraging customers to scan their own purchases. Right now, there are only a few check-out points in each store for customers to add up their own purchases, but how long before there are no employees in grocery stores and we have to do everything ourselves? Or maybe grocery store clerks will soon be robots. One advantage, I guess, is that they don’t go on strike and they are not offended when people criticize them.
            Robots are already very much part of our lives, even if we do not necessarily see them. When you renew a prescription by phone, a robot rather than a human notes your request for the pharmacist. And I’m sure we’ve all received phone calls from robots. They’re used by stores to call customers to let them know that ordered items are now ready to be picked up. They have replaced humans in companies of all sorts, such as credit card issuers, as they try to sell you insurance or other products. One advantage for those who receive such calls is that you can simply hang up without hurting anyone’s feeling, something many people were reluctant to do when an actual person made sales calls. Of course, some still do.
            But my question is: how long before we have robots that can engage an actual human in a heated debate? Or have robots with the emotional dimension of humans? Boggle the mind, does it not? One thing is certain machines are taking over our lives little by little and will continue to do so at an even faster rate. 
            I find it all scary. When humans ruled the world, our private information was reasonably secure. Today, machines control information, communicate with each other, and never delete or update data. Case in point, after doing research on the Internet, your computer will be bombarded at nauseam by ads from the visited websites. Annoying to say the least.
            Of course, we still do have some measure of control. When we fill out some forms on the Internet, to prevent robots from accessing e-mail addresses, we have to prove we are not robots by inputting a series of numbers or letters that look fuzzy. While it’s not always easy to read those and we may need good eyeglasses, at least some information will not be broadcast.
            That is, of course, until robots can read through the fuzz. I’m sure someone somewhere is working on such a machine!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Looking around at today’s grandmothers, one can’t help but see how the passage of years has altered things. I mean, they don’t make grandmas like they used to. In my days, grandmas stayed at home and seemed to cook all day. By comparison, today’s grandma is out there in the world doing her own thing, from running a large corporation to doing open heart surgery and even running for President.
Yesterday’s grandma seemed to be forever wearing the “house dress” while today’s grandma blends in with the rest of the crowd in her silk suit or her jogging outfit. Yesterday’s grandma wore glasses. Chances are that today’s grandma wears contact lenses while her children get used to reading glasses.
While yesterday’s grandma had white hair, today’s grandma runs to her colorist as soon as grey roots begin to show. And that’s not the only time she runs. Keeping in shape by walking, jogging, cycling or swimming is a must for most of today’s grandmas. In comparison yesterday’s grandmas were too busy keeping in shape doing housework without the help of today’s many labor-saving devices and taking care of the yard and garden to ever consider  the idea of a gym.
And that’s the big difference between today and yesterday. Housework can be accomplished so much faster and efficiently today than in the past, and is generally more shared with the man of the house that in the past. At least, it seems to me.
That’s a good thing because it frees grandma to continue her work outside the home beyond the normal retirement age which will help her live longer. Research is indeed showing a strong association between continuing to work and health. Why? Because work gives everyone a purpose and a strong social network. Of course, doing volunteer work produces similar benefits and it is something in which every retiree can become involved. Grandmas and grandpas.