Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Death of Privacy
When I tried to explain to my grandchildren that as I was growing up, black-and-white television was the norm, they simply could not believe it. After all, they live in a world of high definition.
            We, of a certain age, have witnessed so much change in the last few years that it is difficult to explain it all to a younger generation. For one thing, I really don’t know how we lived before ATMs, but somehow we did. We all remember a time when we had to go to our own branch to get money. Amazingly today we can access our bank accounts from basically anywhere in the world.
            It is difficult to imagine a time when personal computers and the Internet were unheard of. And not so long ago the idea of today’s wireless technology belonged to the realm of sci-fi. We’ve come a long way, baby.
            When I got my first computer, it took me a long time to learn how to make the most of it. And I’m still trying to do just that with newer versions! On the other hand, computers are second nature to our children and grandchildren.
            If you spend enough time surfing the Internet, there is no information you can’t find. It can be very useful and helpful. But the Internet is also a huge trash dumpster for everything from pornography to fake news. I don’t think we should be ashamed to discuss the less-than-perfect aspects of technology with our impressionable grandchildren because you never know on what site they might end up.
            Many years ago I saw a man walking down the street in Hong Kong while talking on a mobile phone. Of course, it was a huge unit compared to today’s models, but I was witnessing history in the making. When I returned home and tried to explain to those around me that wireless telephones were a reality in Asia, albeit not yet in widespread use, people didn’t believe me. How things have changed!
            Today, cell phones can do so many things, not the least of which is take pictures. For a techno-deficient person like myself who still believes that phones are for talking, I see cameras on phones as dangerous because they show us that privacy is becoming a thing of the past. You could be anywhere talking to someone while another person is taking your picture, taping your conversation and posting it all online for the world to see.
            With all the technology which keeps on marching at a mind-dizzying pace, the future of privacy is looming ever less assured in the 21st century, and I think it should worry all of us. Not only is Big Brother watching, but so is our neighbor, our colleague, our competitor.
            I don’t think I’d like to go back to the time of black-and-white television, but since nothing is ever perfect in this world, we should all pay a lot more attention to what is being loss through the advent of greater and greater technology in order to make sure the slope does not get more slippery.
            Once privacy is lost, it will be almost impossible to recover.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Beginning
Spring is almost here. I could smell it in the air a few days ago even if the actual date is still a week or so away. The snow was almost all gone except for the piles shoved into the corners of parking lots of malls and such over the last few months.  I was enjoying one of the wonders of  spring: stepping out the door in shoes for the first time after months of heavy boots. That makes me so appreciative of the new season, just like everyone else, I’m sure.
            But like everything else in life, not everything goes according to plan. A couple of days ago my corner of the world was blasted with a miserable winter storm that blanketed everything in a couple of feet of fresh snow. Luckily, unlike an OCDer I know who was sure winter was gone, I had not put my winter boots away! Nor my shovel! In case. After all, experience has taught me that winter can be can quite bitchy on its way out, and that it’s best to be prepared to face it head on.  
            Now spring won’t appear quite as fast as I had hoped just a few days ago, but all is not lost, because as we all know the longer the wait the sweeter  the reward. The snow will melt as it always does and spring will warm up the earth exposing the filth mankind manages to leave behind in the   cold months.
           With the melting snow, litter appears in the streets and on the lawns. I was noticing on my daily walk before the storm just how much of it there is, from newsprint blowing in the wind, to empty cans of soda, to miscellaneous bags, to mitts without their mates and scarves people hang on fences so owners can see them and hopefully retrieve them. The last two is something I don’t understand. It seems to me that if you lost a mitt you would notice that one of your hands is getting cold. No matter your age. And how can a scarf just blow away?
           But not to worry, streets will be cleaned and lawns raked as soon as the sun is once again warm enough, and we will all feel the renewal of a new season, a new beginning. It makes me wonder how people who live in climates where the weather is essentially the same all year long can truly appreciate nature. The lucky bastards!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Time For a Bit of Fun
So I said to a friend, I have nothing to say. She replied: you should blog about that!
People don’t stop laughing because they grow old, they grow old because they stop laughing. And besides, laughter is contagious. Share a joke with your spouse, your neighbor or your friend and the day is bound to be brighter.
Notice at entrance to park: Please pick up your dog’s alternative fact.
My grandchildren think I’m very funny. One of the reasons I can make them laugh is that I’m quite relaxed when I’m around them. They fill my life with love and it colors my world mirthful. Although I do not feel like it at all times, I do make an effort to look at the funny side of life.
            I bought a packet of peanuts, and on the packet it says ''may contain nuts.'' I’d be annoyed if an apple fell out!  
Nobody wants to be around people who are always complaining about something or the other, no matter their age – or perhaps especially when they’re on the downhill side of 50. The longer we live, the more physical problems we face, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of sunshine even in a long cloudy cycle.
A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm and says: Pint please, and one for the road.
The cliché Laughter is the Best Medicine may be overused, but that does not make it less true. Medical research shows that laughter has an immediate positive effect on the main organs of the human body. In my experience those who have mastered the art of laughing at life and its foibles have an easier time than people who focus all their energy on the less-than-perfect moments we all experience. One of the reasons is certainly that laughter relaxes the whole being.
So the man said, My mother-in-law fell in the wishing well. Boy, was I surprised that it actually worked.
I have always found it interesting that we are all inclined to compare ourselves to others, in one way or another. The neighbor is prettier, richer, happier, and so on, we think. What we tend to forget is that we are all different, and that appearances can be quite deceiving. The prettier neighbor might be estranged from her children. The richer neighbor could very well a secret drunk.
Slept like a log last night. Woke up in the fireplace.
It seems to me that to be happy, we have to dwell on the good things in our lives at this moment in time. And laugh at the rest. An arthritic knee should not prevent us from enjoying life. And we can all use humor to diffuse the irritations of life.
Two doctors are conferring. One of them said, She hasn’t been able to get pregnant, but with both of us on her case, that should change.
Notes on medical charts:
The patient refused an autopsy.
           On the second day, the knee was better, and on the third day disappeared completely. 
The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 2000.
The patient has no past history of suicide.     

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The evolution of the telephone has been mind boggling, don’t you think? It’s not that long ago that the home phone was a black thing on the wall in the kitchen. Or in the hall. Then came table phones, and lo and behold you had your choice of colors. You could not move around the house while engaged in a phone conversation because of the limitation of the cord, although some people installed longer cord so it could reach into another room or in a closet where one’s conversations were private and not to be overheard by the rest of the family. This was especially welcomed by teenage girls.
          Compared to days of yore, though, the home phone of today is partly wireless so you can take it with you anywhere in the house. Even in the yard as long as you don’t stray too far. No more restrictions of cords. Practical, of course, but not always pleasant for the person at the other end of the line, like when you’re  talking to someone and you hear that they are in bathroom relieving themselves. I don’t know about you, but I can do without that type of multitasking!
          These days, of course, most people have phones they carry in their pockets. While younger people are dispensing with home land lines all together, that’s not the case for everybody. I still have mine, like most people I know. It just seems practical since cell connections are not always reliable especially when you forget to recharge the battery.
          The nice thing about mobile phones is that you can turn them off when required, for example, when you are in a movie theater or at your doctor’s office. However, not everyone bothers to do that when they should. I was visiting a funeral home recently to pay my respect to the mother of a friend, and while the son was praising his deceased mother, a phone rang in someone’s pocket. Without missing a beat, he said: “I take it my mother is calling to say how pleased she is that so many people came to visit.” The guilty party quickly left to take the call outside while the rest of us could not help but chuckle. I’m sure it pleased the deceased who, like her son, had a quirky sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pet Love
According to the experts, having a pet has many health benefits not the least of which is lower blood pressure.  It turns out that the unconditional love of a pet does a body good, even if it’s only 15 minutes of bonding. I’m thinking of a cat or a dog, not a large snake.
While dog owners have no choice but to stay in shape as they regularly walk their pet, cat owners get their exercise by trekking to the store for more cat litter!
However, like other good things in life, owning a pet should be fun, not a source of financial worry.  Here are some suggestions when it comes to the cost of a pet:
Consider pet insurance to offset costly vet bills for emergency treatment.
            Food is the most expensive necessity after vet visits, but always look for quality rather than low price to ultimately save costly vet bills down the road.
Pet medication purchased directly from the vet can be expensive. It is a good idea to request the prescription information and shop for alternative generic pet meds.
Should you be unsure on how to handle things like ear cleaning, nail clipping or even dental cleaning, your vet can show you the best techniques for at-home care which can save the cost of specialized care.
But what about those who love dogs but have problems getting around easily for whatever reason? Someone found a solution: the interactive robot puppies. They are adorable and can replace a live dog without the walking and care needed. While not cheap, robot dogs will last a long time.  Cat lovers need not worry, robot cat companions are also available. These darlings feel real and have sensors that respond to motion and touch. The robot cats purr like a real cat while the robot puppies respond to voice with a bark. They provide individuals with the same benefits of love and companionship as real live pets and fill a void for those who miss the pets they had in the past. In care facilities they help lonely depressed seniors be happier and healthier.           
There is another option to explore: therapeutic visiting dogs for seniors. Some assisted living facilities offer pet therapy because these contacts help improve quality of life. However, there are also companion and working animals which a U.S. veteran owned and operated company can provide to help people in numerous ways in their homes. For more information:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Living Longer
We all get older, but some do it faster than others. The idea should be to make the most of every day, to be involved in life because research shows it has a direct impact on quality of life and longevity.
Aging need not be negative. In fact, those who have a more positive view of aging live some seven years longer than those with a negative outlook, according to a Yale University study. 
     Here are some of my personal tips for aging well and longevity:
<        - Try new things as often as you can
<        - Find satisfaction in your endeavors and your abilities
<        - Keep only cheerful friends
<          - Keep learning so the brain doesn’t idle
<        - Enjoy the simple things and joys of life, i.e. family, friends, pets
<        - Laugh often, long and loud, and spend lots and lots of time with those who make you laugh
<        - Enjoy life to the fullest, and when tears happen (which they will) grieve and move on
<        - In your home, surround yourself with what you love, whatever it is: mementos, music, plants
<        - Cherish your health: if it is good, preserve it, if it is unstable improve it or get help
<        - Give back through volunteering which is a source of satisfaction while being good for your health
<        - Don’t take guilt trips (they are a waste of time)
<          - At every opportunity, tell those you love that you love them
<        - Forgive now because you might not get a second chance
<          - Dance at every opportunity for the health of your body and spirit
<          - Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle
<          - Be aware of your mortality because it fuels positive behaviors such as kindness and helpfulness as well as better health decisions
          And, even if your children chide you for eating dinner early, pay them no mind. Many studies have shown that eating dinner early and fasting for 12 hours could be the secret to long-lasting brain health and improved memory function.
In short, laugh, keep busy and eat early. Nothing difficult about that, is there?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

            Are you keeping up?
          English is dynamic i.e. it changes and evolves as the world changes and evolves. Old words become archaic and fall by the wayside as new words and expressions are created when people find nothing suitable exists.
                        The recent and current political climate of the U.S. has resulted in a plethora of expressions most people had not been familiar with such as fake news and the post-truth era. These clearly define the current social climate where lies are often seen as truth. The latter was chosen as the word of the year by the Oxford dictionaries.
                        Other words were shortlisted. These included: adulting, meaning behaving like a responsible adult (although it is often used ironically on social media); chatbot, a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users; alt-right, an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints.
                        While surreal was chosen as the 2016 word of the year by Merriam-Webster, other words and expressions also looked up often in 2016 included: revenant (remember the movie?) which means one who returns after death or a long absence; faute de mieux, often used in legal decisions, is French for lack of something better; feckless, which was often used in last year’s U.S. campaign, means weak and ineffective. 
            The English language has over a million words. And the number continues to increase. These words are not all in the dictionary because a good portion of them simply become part of the language landscape gradually. Case in point: on applications for dating services no-longer-quite-as-young people find all sorts of ways of avoiding terms like plump or balding, preferring things like warmly hugable. Other interesting words: nomophia: fear of being without access to a working cell phone; Mx: the new gender neutral title of courtesy (if you don’t like Mr. or Ms.). 
            One expression, which was recently used by Trump staffer Kellyanne Conway is one that I find rather worrisome. The woman used alternative fact to refute a proven fact, and thus lie. Imagine if that expression becomes widely used by teenagers!
            Other terms making the rounds: banana republican, one who wants to lower taxes for the rich leading to increased income disparity and thus bring the country closer to banana republic status. Tweetplomacy: using social media to conduct diplomatic discussions publicly. And then there is infowar the “countering of false narratives,” which may be needed by parents whose kids have discovered alternative facts!
            Millennials seem to favor certain words at certain times. Bitching (meaning good) has dropped out of fashion. Awesome is now the word du jour which applies to almost anything and anyone. But, let’s not forget that cool is still very much in usage, while ratchet is used to describe a gross or bad girl. Of course, if you don’t already know, sick also means awesome or cool, while wicked and uber add emphasis, i.e. “That story made me wicked sad” or “I’m uber tired.” My bad is used to refer to one’s mistake.
            With today’s instant communication, we embrace abbreviations. Here are a few I came across: FOMO: fear of missing out; DOX: publishing private info about someone; SNM: say no more; MA: my angel; and TMI: too much information.
            We’d better try to keep up because language will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.