Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Recently, as my passport was about to expire, I got my picture taken in order to renew it. When the photographer showed me the photo I gasped. That couldn’t possibly be me! He was quick to point out that when he took a course so he could take passport photos the first thing they were told was that if a photo looked good, it wasn’t suitable! That was supposed to make me feel better, I imagine, but it made me realize that everybody is in the same boat. It seems most people hate their “official” photos, be it for a passport or a driver’s license.

None of us can change an official photo, but there are other things we can control . One day, deciding to use a certificate I had received as a present for half a day at a local spa, I called for an appointment.  After the arrangements were made, I was asked for a credit card number. I pointed out that this was a gift and that it had already been paid. “We know that,” the lady at the other end said, “but we need a credit card number because we’ll need to charge $25 for every ten minutes you’re late.” I was astonished. I know businesses try to get as much as they can out of their clients, but that was ridiculous. I simply told her that I wasn’t allowed to have a credit card to which she didn’t know what to say. I imagine no one had ever said anything like that!

I have credit cards, of course, but I suspected that with a number on file the spa could easily entice clients to charge products during their visit. And that proved to be the case. After getting a facial, I was offered a variety of products that a person my age had to have, I was told. Luckily I learned along the highway of life not to be swayed when someone uses age as a reason to buy a product, especially the expensive ones.

Last year, I read on line about a new expensive cream that could erase wrinkles. It was being offered for a short time for only a few dollars. I decided to try it, and of course had to give a credit card number to pay those few dollars. I realized that the fine print said that a new jar would be sent to me every few weeks and my credit card charged a ridiculous amount accordingly. I tried the product but was not convinced it was especially effective, so I cancelled my credit card and replaced it with a new one to avoid further charges for the cream.

Sellers may not be happy with clients who manage their credit cards rather than being managed by them, but in an age when credit card numbers are stored “forever” it pays to be vigilant.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Words

Language is a living thing. Some words fall out of favor while new ones regularly become part of the lexicon. Case in point, a minor celeb being interviewed recently talked of the unrich. Interesting word you won’t find in the dictionary, at least not in mine. The concept it brings to mind is easy to understand. Some people are rich while others are not, therefore they can be thought of as unrich although it is far from being a focused word. Unrich can certainly cover anyone from those who make what one of my aunts called “a comfortable living” to homeless people.

Many word formulations begin to appear as a result of efforts to be politically correct. People are no longer very short or very tall, they are vertically challenged, people are no longer crippled, they are physically tested; people are no longer gay but rather embracing an alternative lifestyle, people are not getting older, they are simply no longer immature, a point reached at varying ages, of course, by both the rich and unrich.

New words appear all the time in this age of accelerating innovations. Hashtag is in every tweeter’s lexicon these days, but it’s not a new symbol. In my day, it was simply the “number” symbol. It still is as far as I know. And on social media, you’re free to like something, or unlike; your choice. The online dictionaries are forever adding new words or new meanings to old words, or breathing new life into nouns and adjectives by making them verbs.

And it doesn’t apply only to new technology. These dictionaries list things like chandelier earrings and double denim (wearing a denim top or jacket with jeans or a denim skirt, a fashion faux-pas it seems). Also new in dictionaries are “food” words like deskfast (eating breakfast at one’s desk); dirty food (junk food); and demitarian (reducing one’s consumption of meat and animal products); without forgetting everyone’s favorite: the cronut (a cross between a doughnut and a croissant).

As a no longer immature unrich, I find trying to keep up a lot of fun.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A History Lesson

We all remember fondly our parents’ and grandparents’ history lessons, don’t we? I mean the lessons like: When I was your age, we walked three miles to school through a foot of snow. (You almost expected that to be followed by: even in summer!) Why do you need such a big place? When your mother and I got married we lived in a closet in your grandparents’ basement. (A closet, really? I guess they never exaggerated in the old days.)

The history varied according to the subject at hand. When it came to the price of food, we all heard things like: I remember when we used to get a loaf of bread for five cents. Or when the subject was gas, it cost 25 cents a gallon back then. We rolled our eyes and wondered why older folks felt it was necessary to make such remarks. Of course, more things change more they remain the same.

Recently, as I was talking about The Beatles with one of my sons, my grandson took his attention away from the video game he was playing long enough to comment that he had learned all about beetles at school the day before. I realized that my history is quite different than that of my grandchildren. Like my parents I remember walking to school and I also remember buying a loaf of bread for less than a dollar.

With all the changes we see today, I wonder what my grandchildren will one day tell their children and their grandchildren. While we might say that we remember a time when there was no computers or cell phones, our grandchildren are more likely to reminisce about the newest gadgets now on the market and those which will soon be appearing, like the glasses that connect you directly to the Internet so you can secretly be online while walking in a crowd or while talking to people. With these glasses, presumably, a keyboard will not be necessary as you will be able to dictate emails. Will that mean that people will be going around talking out loud, but not talking to each other directly? As one journalist wrote: You will be able to make visual phone calls and see the other person in your glasses while cycling – or crashing!

Then again, as technology becomes “out there” people may simply choose to tune out altogether. That may mean that our grandchildren will reminisce about the time when they decided to go back to the day when people talked to each other. What a concept!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The world is full of mystifying things. And as
                                                I’m getting older, there are more and more things I can’t understand. While I have always known that the world is complicated, I accepted it and didn’t think about it much. Not so now. I am forever asking the important questions about the mundane things that make up life.
For example, how can a suppository cure laryngitis? Having suffered a recent bout, I can testify to the fact that indeed it does. Then, the question that begs an answer is certainly how can a waxy substance inserted in the rectum work its magic in the throat? Most importantly though, I want to know who thought of this? A research scientist, obviously, but I want to understand the process.
And why is it that when celebrities cheat on their spouses they have an addiction while any other adulterer is simply a louse? It seems to me that money and addiction are closely related in a scenario when the more money a person has, the more profound the addiction appears to be. The solution couldn’t be simpler: let these poor souls give their money away and the addiction will resolve itself.
Another thing I don’t understand is who decides how much art is worth? Two people looking at the same painting might have very varied opinions, one person liking it while the other finding it rather boring. Whose opinion will come into play when assessing its value? What I really don’t understand is how any given artwork can be worth millions of dollars, tens of millions in some instances. How much would that work out per hour for the artist’s time were he still alive? That boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
With the advent of autumn, what I really don’t understand is how much last year’s clothes have shrunk over the summer. Must have to do with the heat. What else could it be? 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

To Gray or Not To Gray

We’ve all been through it. The day we saw our first gray hair. We were shocked. Much too young, we thought, at 30 or 40, or even 50 for the lucky ones. But, like all the curves life throws at us, we learned to live with it even after that first hair went frolicking and quickly spread its color, or lack thereof, to a bunch of others.

Women quickly rally by visiting their hair salon so a colorist can hide any and all signs of aging. On the other hand, men overall seem to take the appearance of gray hair in stride. After all, it’s been drilled into us that men with graying hair look distinguished while women look old although that’s far from true. A few years ago, I accompanied my sister to her doctor’s appointment and met the physician, an attractive woman somewhere in her mid-forties with shoulder-length nearly all white hair. She looked stunning. Since then, I don’t equate graying hair with the need to hide it.

That inequality between men and women when it comes to hair color is not lost on young children. My sister’s young grandson asked her one day why grandmas didn’t have white hair, only grandpas did. Her son was quick to retort that the reason was that men think harder! Don’t write, I didn’t say it!

After you’ve accepted that your hair will never return to its natural color, you see your children in their 40s begin to follow your lead and sprout gray. You sigh as you secretly think that the human condition can indeed be a bitch. Luckily it favors everyone the same way.

Of course, a graying head is nothing compared to the shock when you discover that your eyebrows are also being attacked by gray. One day as I was putting on makeup my eye caught what I thought might be a gray hair above my right eye. Had to be the light in the bathroom, so I went to the window with a mirror and sure enough my eyebrows had taken a lesson from the hair on my head and decided it was time to show who was boss. I calmly tweezed it out, and luckily it didn’t have time to produce a progeny. But then again, why worry. I mean with ever changing styles, gray may soon be what “every woman should want.” I say this because marketing to women can be crazy. Why else would a company that markets navy blue lipstick be making a killing?