Trisha and John Parker


Vanity Post

While my wife and I have eight grandchildren, and we love each and every one, today we are celebrating a cover girl. Our youngest, only one year old, was selected and appears on this cover. We are very proud and I could not help but share the event.

Ella Angel

 

This just in:

War in the Mid-East, Russia and U. S. at odds, China disregarding everyone else, our culture is going to hell, income is down, prices are going up, and young people can’t stop staring at their smart phones.

Some things never seem to change.

While it’s not my nature to be pessimistic, given all of the above same old news, and other recent events including terrorist threats and natural disasters, it’s sometimes difficult to be positive.

It was only last month when our phone rang at 3:30 a.m. and our youngest son was shouting into the phone, “Are you alright?” He and his family had just evacuated their shaking home in the midst of a terrible earthquake. A house nearby had caught fire and a man was yelling “help me” in the dark. Our son still cannot get into the building where his business is located and his young kids are still having nightmares. It was truly a frightening disaster.

So, what should we learn from all this? Well, as one of my favorite authors M. Scott Peck began his classic The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”

We cannot predict disasters, we only know they can and will occur. The best we can do is to be as prepared as possible. After doing a review of several emergency preparedness materials and web sites, I decided to share the following information gleaned from a power company. I also looked at a number of government sites designed to give emergency instructions, the ones our tax dollars sponsor, and found most of them very confusing and complicated. That is, except the one that stated “This page not available.” It figures.

I hope this will be informative. Perhaps you can print it out and begin your plan or update an existing plan as needed.

I would add one thing to the items below. My son told me the man whose house caught fire and was yelling for help wanted someone to turn off the gas valve. It was difficult finding the right tool in the dark. I suggest tieing the appropriate wrench to the valve itself making it very easy to find, light or no light.

Emergency Preparedness

Get ready for natural disasters before they happen

  • Prepare an emergency plan and conduct an emergency drill with your family.
  • Prepare an emergency evacuation plan for your home. Each room should have at least 2 ways to escape in case one is blocked. Establish a place where your family can reunite after an emergency.
  • If you live in an apartment, know the locations of emergency exits, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers.
  • Make sure children, house guests and childcare providers know your safety
    By planning and practicing what to do, you can condition yourself and your family to react correctly when an emergency occurs.
  • Establish an alternative way to contact others that may not be home, such as an out-of-the-area telephone contact. During some emergencies such as an earthquake, completing local telephone calls may be difficult, it may be easier to telephone someone out of the area.
  • Prepare and maintain anemergency preparedness kit with enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days, and preferably up to one week.
  • Know when and how to turn offelectricity, water and gas at the main switch and valves.
  • Evaluate your homefor safety; including ensuring your home can withstand a serious earthquake or other emergency.
  • Always store flammable material safely away from ignition sources like water heaters, furnaces and stoves.
  • Be sure smoke alarms are installed throughout your home. If the smoke alarm runs on batteries, or has battery back-up power, replace batteries at least once per year. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. All smoke alarms in your house should be tested every month using the alarm test button.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in your home, and know how to use them before they are needed. You should keep a fire extinguisher in high-risk areas such as the kitchen and workshop.

Know what to do after an emergency

  • Ensure that everyone is safe.
  • Inspect your building for damage. Do not use electrical switches, appliances or telephones if you suspect a gas leak since sparks may ignite gas.
  • If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a gas leak, evacuate the building. Find a phone away from the building and call PG&E or 9-1-1 immediately. If it is safe to do so,turn off the gas service shutoff valve normally located near the gas meter. Do not shut off the gas service shutoff valve unless you find the presence of any one of these conditions because there may be a considerable delay before PG&E can turn your service back on.
  • If leaking gas starts to burn, do not try to put the flame out. Call 9-1-1 and PG&E immediately. If it is safe to do so,turn off the gas service shutoff valve normally located near the gas meter.
  • Once the gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on yourself. Only PG&E or another qualified professional should turn the gas back on.
  • Check for downed or damaged electric utility lines. Never touch wires lying on the ground, wires hanging on poles, or objects that may be touching them. Downed wires may still be carrying current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched.
  • Check for damaged household electrical wiring andturn off the power at the main electric switch if you suspect any damage. If the power goes out, turn off all electric appliances, and unplug major electric appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on.

Emergency Preparedness Kit

Prepare and maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies to be self-sufficient for at least three days and preferably up to one week.

The kit should include:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • One-week supply of water
  • One-week supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener
  • Alternative cooking source
  • A first aid kit and handbook
  • A-B-C multipurpose fire extinguisher
  • Extra medication for those who need prescription drugs
  • Adjustable pipe or crescent wrench to turn off the gas and water supply
  • Chlorine bleach and instructions for purifying water
  • Blankets, warm clothes, sturdy shoes and heavy gloves
  • Candles and matches. If you must use candles, use extreme caution due to the risk of fire. Keep candles away from small children and do not leave candles unattended.

 

Trisha Update

Once again, I want to thank those of you who have been supportive of my wife Trisha since her surgery. Let me just say she is doing great and already planning our next travel adventure. I’m very proud of her and she has managed her rehab as she managed her business tasks in the past. Thanks again.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

 

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Climate Change vs. Culture Change

If you turn on your television or radio and I guarantee it won’t be long before you hear someone bring up the subject of climate change. Being older and wiser, or perhaps just more experienced, the first thing that will probably catch your attention is the term “climate change.” What happened to “global warming?” Perhaps the term was modified to make it more palatable. Everyone, including the dinosaurs can agree the earth’s climate does change from time to time.

I’m not a scientist, but I am skeptical. I remember being a college student and telling my then girlfriend I never planned to get married and have children because I was convinced by the science and experts of the day a new “ice age” was coming and future generations were doomed. We all know how that one turned out.

Here are some examples of how the media was covering this crisis:

Time_Covoer_April_9_2007_1101070409_400


thebigfreeze

time-mag-big-freeze

Forgive me, but being a senior with extensive life experience makes me skeptical of the gloom and doom we hear about all living creatures being threatened by the earth warming, the poles melting, and the sea rising. And most of all, I’m skeptical that we humans are to blame because of man-made CO2. A very cursory investigation of the facts demonstrates CO2 was much higher in the age of the dinosaurs than it is today. The melting of ice in the North Pole has slowed to a little over 3% while Antartica’s ice formation is up over 30%. And then there’s the question of the sea rising? Well, take a hike through some of the high deserts in California and guess what you will discover. You will find the skeletal remains of sea life such as shark’s teeth. I’ve seen them. I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I’m guessing the sea used to be much, much higher than it is today. Yep, I’m skeptical.

Now before all the climate change folks get all lathered up and defensive, let me say once again, I’m not a scientist. I’m simply an observer and a good listener. In 1988, actor and activist Ted Danson proclaimed we only had ten years to save the oceans. I also heard the king of “global warming” and now multi-millionaire Al Gore tell us many years ago we had little time to save the planet. He was so concerned he flew all around the world on private jets, bought several homes and a gigantic houseboat, just to make sure we knew to conserve energy. When I see and hear these people and their organizations making millions of dollars from energy credit companies and selling their apocalyptic books while making doomsday speeches, I can’t help but be skeptical. If you’re interested, it’s very easy to find the government statistics on exactly how many millions of our tax dollars we are giving these folks each year. It’s staggering. As they say, follow the money.

For the record, based upon my observations, it’s culture change that should most worry us. There is clearly a coarseness and lack of civility that is growing and taking over our society. Park your car in front of a high school just prior to classes letting out for the day. Listen to the language and subject matter of the conversations. Sit in the food court of any shopping mall. Young and old alike are leaving manners and civility in the dust bin of history.

The media, of course, is the fuel for this destructive fire sweeping our society. The music, films, and television programs provide a negative template for our culture. The “bleep” sound has become standard on most programs. In just the last few days I heard the “f” word used numerous times on live football broadcasts. I recently watched a new program whose main character is an alcoholic and drug addicted free-lance doctor who, in the first show, had just slept with his father’s wife.

If you think I’m a prude, think again. As an Air Force veteran, when I returned from overseas, I realized my vocabulary had shrunk to just a few words, all of which were swear words. I was unusually quiet for some time while I adjusted to what I knew to be proper discourse. Do I watch movies or television programs that have sexual scenes? Of course I do. The point is not that we should be concerned that these things exist in our culture, but that they now seem to dominate and define our culture.

Not long ago, my wife and I were visiting family in the Carolina’s. After a few days, we began to notice that almost all of the people with whom we came in contact were very polite and well-mannered. At one point I encountered a well-groomed young man wearing a high school baseball t-shirt. I asked him what position he played. He responded, “I’m a pitcher sir.” It made me feel great to know somewhere in our vast country a young person still speaks to his elders and refers to them as sir or ma’am. Ironically, when we returned home, we stopped by a local store to pick up some groceries. As I excited, a young man and his girlfriend were having a lively and sexually charged conversation in the parking lot. They actually wanted everyone within a hundred yards to hear their profanity laced comments. Why, I have no idea.

Understand, it’s not the words per se, but the respect each of us should show to one another that seems to be on the rapid decline. Much like the climate change folks warning the seas will eventually swamp us, I’m afraid the culture change already begun will overtake us as destructive as any tsunami we might imagine.

 

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Size Matters

Short and Tall Businessmen

Throughout elementary school I was always the tallest kid in my classes. I do remember one day in 5th grade when several of my classmates came running down to the playground where our basketball team was practicing (I was the center) and excitedly told me a new kid had just registered who was taller than me. I couldn’t have cared less how tall he was, I was more concerned how athletic he was. He wasn’t, and he didn’t stay at our school for long. Although other people frequently noticed and mentioned my height, for me, it was just who I was.

I continued to grow and would eventually top out at a little over 6’ 4”.  While people often made comments about my height, I didn’t consider it to be as important or defining as did they. I truly never thought my being tall somehow made me superior to someone shorter. In fact, when younger, I probably heard more negative comments about big guys being “dumb jocks.”

Of course, I eventually realized being taller did have some advantages. Statistically, tall people make more money overall (I guess they didn’t figure me into that statistic). You can also reach things on the top shelf. You can also be seen in a crowd much easier. And, in most surveys, shorter people wish they were taller. I guess that’s why I’ve had a lifetime of shorter people demonstrating their admiration with comments such as, “How’s the weather up there?,” and “How’s it going stretch?”

Supposedly, being a taller guy helps in attracting the ladies. Now, while I was able to convince the cute head cheerleader to marry me, I attribute that victory to my overall good looks and sparkling personality.

The fact is, being this tall has always and still creates a number of obstacles such as feet hanging over the bed, almost impossible to get into and out of cars, bumping my head a few thousand times, and making my love for travel quite uncomfortable. Overall, being tall has probably been a net negative. Now, as I’ve reached my golden years, I’ve uncovered some very troubling news.

Troubling News

A recent study on height and longevity conducted by University of Hawaii Professor Bradley Wilcox concludes: Short men will live longer than taller people because they are more likely to carry a gene that protects them from the effects of ageing.”

The gene carried by shorter people is called FOXO3. I guess this shouldn’t come as any surprise. I’ve often mentioned to my wife you rarely see a very elderly tall man. How many years of life do taller men lose to their shorter counterparts? Height and longevity researcher and author Tom Samaras, The Truth About Your Height, concludes it’s about 1.3 years for every inch of increased height. That’s based upon your specific culture’s average height. Yikes, I better type faster to make sure I get this finished.

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The Ten Best Ways to Protect

Your Home While On Vacation

white-picket-fence-house

 This time of year finds millions of people heading off for well-deserved vacations. Of course, if you’re retired, your schedule is pretty much up to you. Regardless, I thought this might be a great time to pass along some valuable suggestions for protecting your home while you are away. As frequent travelers, my wife Trisha and I use checklists we’ve put together to make sure we don’t forget anything. While our memories are still pretty good, we find checklists very efficient and they give us peace of mind.

1. Silence Is Golden

Uncle-Sam-secrecy-poster

In this era of social media, don’t advertise your departure on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of messaging. I suggest you only share your plans with trusted friends and neighbors. It’s sad to say, but there are plenty of thieves out there in cyber space looking for an easy score. If you trust the folks at your local Post Office and newspaper, stop those deliveries. If you don’t trust them, ask a neighbor to collect those items each day. I’ve added the last comment because as a teenager, my wife’s family cancelled everything prior to their summer vacation. Twice, when they returned home, their possessions had been stolen. The bottom line is, only inform those you trust with your travel plans. There is plenty of time to talk about your trip when you get home.

2. Turn Off Electronics

frankenstein2

Thirteen percent of fires are caused by electronic malfunctions in the home. This means you need to make sure you have unplugged your electronics or turned off power strips for nonessential electronics such as coffee pots, amplifiers, electric blankets (a friend of mine forgot this one and nearly burned his house down), etc. This will also protect your electronics from power surges while you are away.

3. Make Your House Look Lived In

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Well, maybe not that lived in, but thieves casing neighborhoods are looking for signs that folks are away from home. Some examples would be porch lights left on all day, old newspapers lying about, yards not mowed, blinds or curtains closed tight, etc. All of these tell a thief, “We’re not home, help yourself.” What does your home look like when you are living there? Is there a car in the driveway? Maybe you should leave one there and have a friend move it occasionally. Leave some blinds or curtains in a “lived-in” position. Of course, the ones in front of your new 100” 4D television or your rare Monet on the wall should probably be left closed. Have a friend mow your lawn while you’re gone. In other words, make your home look like you are still there. Believe it or not, some people have even left messages on their phones such as, “Hello, we will be out-of-town until the end of the month, have a nice day.” I’m sure someone will have a great day hearing that message.

4. Secure Doors and Windows

dungeon_dweller_props

Once again, this may be overdoing it, but an important item on your checklist should be to secure all doors and windows. Hardware stores have very nifty (is that still a word?) little latches and gadgets for securing every type of door and window. In our case, we have a couple of doors that have glass panes making it very easy to break the glass and reach in to unlock the doors. For that reason, we have some very simple to install safety latches that make it impossible to open the door in such a manner. We use them every day, even while we are at home.

5. Inform Local Security

red4

If you have a security alarm system, make sure your security company knows the dates of your travel plans. The same goes for local security patrols or police as they may have a policy of extra surveillance. If you do have a security company as we do, make sure you get one or two of their signs for the front of your house. We also have decals from our company that are placed on various windows around the house. A smart thief should know that if they break a window or open a door, our alarm is going off. By the way, it’s really loud.

6. Turn Off Automatic Garage Doors

garage-door-opener-1_np56

For those of us with automatic garage door openers, we’ve all probably experienced coming home to a garage with the door wide open. Did we leave it open, or did someone else open it accidentally or on purpose? Before you leave, shut off the electronic door and padlock it from the inside.

7. Close or Block Pet Doors

Stuck+in+doggy+door

If you forget this one, trust me, I won’t be breaking into your home. But there may be some skinny little thief out there that could get through your pet door and steal your stuff.

8. Rethink Your Hide-a-Key

Real Estate Locks

Some would advise you not to leave a hidden key and suggest you leave it with a neighbor. I won’t say what I now do, but years ago I was glad I had a key hidden on my property. Here in California, the ground shifts a bit. While traveling we kept getting calls that our security alarm was going off. Both the security company and neighbors were not pleased, but no one could tell why the alarm was going off. The house was locked up like Fort Knox. I then realized that the alarms, and the calls to my cell phone were occurring at the same time each morning. How could that be? What happened at that time of the morning? All I could think of was my front yard sprinklers came on at that time. My neighbor checked and, sure enough, due to shifting ground a window at the front of our house had cracked. When the sprinklers came on, water hit the window, found the crack and ran down shorting out the alarm sensor. I told the neighbor where the hide-a-key was and he turned off my alarm system. If you leave a key, make sure it’s a super secure spot, if not, leave it with a neighbor. My wife came up with an even better idea than a hide-a-key. She bought one of those real estate locks (looks like a big padlock) that holds a key inside and attaches to a door. It has a combination we can share should someone need to get into our home while we are away.

9. Put Valuables in a Safe

Franklin_50_Gun_Safe

For all you cyber thieves reading this blog, let me say up front, I don’t keep my valuables in my home. I don’t even have valuables, just the typical important papers we all must secure. Whatever your situation, anything of importance should be stored in a safe while you are away from home. Years ago we discovered that the big home stores have two sales on safes each year. We waited for the next sale and took advantage of a great saving. Our important papers are now in a constant state of security.

10. Best Security Measure

Killer Dog Bowl

Every thief will tell you, should you get the chance to ask them, the  number one best security measure for your home, regardless of your being at home or away, is communicating to thieves you have a dog. This is so simple. Place a nice little sign on your fence, gate, or doors that say something to the effect of: Beware of Dog. Reinforce that idea by placing a doggie bowl next to your back door. I suggest the bigger the better.

Safe Travels

One more thing. As most of you know, my wife Trisha writes a terrific blog called Trisha’s Dishes where she shares some of her favorite recipes. Her most rectent blog is not to be missed. It’s titled Three Great Breakfast Recipes. Don’t miss these fantastic recipes, they have become favorites for our family and everyone else who has tried them.

Trisha Parker "Trisha's Dishes"

Simple go to:

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on Trisha’s Dishes.

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Socialization and Travel

Both in our book and in our presentations, my wife Trisha and I stress the importance of socialization as one grows older. There is overwhelming evidence that a senior’s physical and emotional health, as well as increased longevity on average is directly affected by frequent and continued socialization. Growing older in isolation is one of the worst things we can do in our retired life years.

Obviously, this is more difficult for some than others. I’m sure my friends would laugh and most likely be surprised to know that basically I’ve always been a bit shy. Once I get to know someone, I have no problem, but for most of my life I’ve found it difficult to be “outgoing” and social. Fortunately, I married someone who is probably one of the most friendly and outgoing people on the planet. I continue to learn from her each day and have actually gone through a bit of a change on the social front.

For those who read this blog, you know my wife Trisha and I love to travel. Certainly, our children, grandkids, and friends are the most important components of our lives, but the occasional travel adventure is the extra spice to our retired life. While we love seeing new sights and having different experiences, we have discovered that meeting and getting to know people from all over the world is both a learning experience and great fun. To know it’s also good for our well-being is icing on the cake.

In this case, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel a previously planned trip with our good friends and travel companions. In just a few days, Trisha put together a completely different trip through northern Europe to experience places we had not yet visited. As usual, she did a great job and we had a wonderful adventure together.

While we were warned weather is always an issue in this part of Europe, good fortune was with us and our weather was glorious. The sites, sounds, food, and most of all, the people were all wonderfully educational and interesting. We were once again struck by how remarkably easy it is to meet, converse, and even strike up friendships with people from other cultures. Not surprisingly, we all seem to want the same things, but politics and power seem to get into the way with our world leaders. I know this is quite a simplistic thought, and there are very real threats in the world, but as it was once said, “can’t we all just get along?”

Here is a brief summary of the places and people we encountered during our trip:

In addition to visiting all the sights of London, we shared conversations with Jerry and Marita at our hotel, and then the better part of a late evening with Canadians Colin and Monie at a local ice cream parlor. They were an extremely nice couple. Obviously, we were curious about the food in London, and I must say the Pub scene is great fun.

We would recommend The Queen’s Arm’s near Victoria Station for fish and chips and a tankard of ale. A real surprise was an Asian restaurant named A.Wongs. It was gourmet food with over the top preparation, taste, and presentation like nothing I’ve ever had before. Perfection would be the word I would use.

Trisha and John Parker at The Queen's Arms

Trisha and John Parker
at The Queen’s Arms

The Queens Arms

The Queens Arms

A. Wongs

A. Wongs

On a flight to Stockholm, I was privileged to meet a terrific man named Urban who provided me with valuable insights into Swedish culture and politics. Our first and lasting impression of this city was entirely positive. It was very clean, the people were exceptionally friendly, and ladies forgive me, some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Trisha might have called me sexist, but she was very busy looking at all the handsome men. Our first morning at a sidewalk bistro was very enjoyable.

Trisha and John Parker Morning in Stockholm

Trisha and John Parker
Morning in Stockholm

On our first night in Stockholm, we discovered a little bistro called Ristorante 60 with both indoor and sidewalk tables. Next to us were two interesting young musicians and graduate music students named Phillip and Victor. Although we were a bit travel weary and there was a definite age difference, we actually wound up closing the place. Time flies. Here’s Trisha with the manager.

Trisha Parker Ristorante 60

Trisha Parker
Ristorante 60

The next night, at a local pub we met three truly great young men, Joe, Andrew, and Joe (we think he said Joe because he was sure we would not be able to pronounce his name). They had all returned from their second tour as part of a peace-keeping force in Afganistan. They could not have been more interesting and were so humble when we thanked them for their service. It was another wonderful evening.

While we enjoyed everything about this beautiful city, a true highlight was our visit to Millesgarden. This is the estate, now museum of famous sculpture Carl Milles and his artist wife Olga. The estate sits perched atop a hillside overlooking the water and city of Stockholm. While the art is magnificent and inspirational, the serenity was refreshing. We stopped often just to sit and take in the sheer beauty of this truly must-see location.

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

Millesgarden

I should mention that when Swedish musical legends ABBA needed a couple to fill in for one performance, Trisha and I helped out.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

Should anyone be planning a trip to Stockholm, Trisha and I highly recommend the Miss Clara Hotel. It’s an eight story former girl’s school that has been remodeled and transformed into a bright and modern place to stay. It has a beautiful restaurant and a great sauna. Obviously, many hotels have similar amenities, but it’s the warm and professional staff that sets this hotel apart from the others.

Traveling to Copenhagen, we had the pleasure of meeting Christian and Caroline and their beautiful family while having lunch on New Haven Street along the canal. Each of them warm, friendly, and with a great sense of humor. We had many different servers at our outside tables, and only one of them did not seem to speak English. Finally, while Christian was helping me figure out my bill, I asked him if the tip was included. He said, “Yes, I believe the tip is included.” Our non-English speaking server was just walking by the table, and in a very loud voice in perfect English said, “The tip is not included!” We all laughed hysterically at this very funny moment.

Trisha and John Parker Copenhagen

Trisha and John Parker
Copenhagen

Of course, among the dozens of amazing sites in Copenhagen, a tourist simply cannot miss the Little Mermaid.

Trisha and John Parker  The Little Mermaid

Trisha and John Parker
The Little Mermaid

In Amsterdam, we had the pleasure of meeting Doug and Joan, and Jim and Judy while visiting the Anne Frank house. It was a moving experience and afterward we all found a canal-side restaurant with the best Panini I’ve ever tasted. These folks turned out to be wonderful company and after lunch we actually wound up walking through various parts of the city together. The next morning, along a canal we had morning coffee for Trisha and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The sightseeing then continued. O. K., we did share that pastry.

Trisha and John Parker Morning / Amsterdam

Trisha and John Parker
Morning / Amsterdam

 

For our next stop we headed to Brussels and on the train met a very interesting young Frenchman and world traveler named Stephane. It so happened that while we were there, the G7 leaders were meeting which gave the city an extra sense of activity with helicopters, limos, and lots of police escorts flying through the city streets. On our last day there, while boarding a bus to visit the Atomium, the last site on our list, the driver said he did not take credit cards. Not having enough Euros left, and getting near the end of the day, our plans would have been crushed. Total strangers Denny and Mary spoke up and offered their own money to buy our tickets. Obviously, we later reimbursed them, but what a wonderful gesture. The Atomium was the high point of the 1957 Brussels World Fair and it was a stopping point recently on T.V.’s Amazing Race. We loved it, especially the rocket ship feeling on the high speed elevator to the top.

Trisha and John Parker Brussels Atomium

Trisha and John Parker
Brussels Atomium

After our days in Brussels, we traveled through northern France and then crossed the English Channel at the same time the Allies had done exactly 70 years before. Of course, we were going the opposite direction toward London, but it still gave us a bit of a chill, especially knowing Trisha’s father was one of those D-Day heroes.

Just one more mention of kindness from others we received on this wonderful adventure. On our original flight from San Francisco to London aboard Virgin Atlantic, the flight crew was sensational. Trisha noticed several of the women had their hair in beautiful tight bun-like configurations. She asked one of the attendants how their hair was styled so perfectly. It turns out it’s with the simple use of a mesh “doughnut.” Flight attendant Claire asked us about our travel plans and we gave her our dates. Two and a half weeks later, when we arrived at the gate at Heathrow in London, Claire was there waving at Trisha. They embraced and then Claire gave Trisha a bag with a hair “doughnut” she had purchased for her.

The answer to the question is, “Yes, we can all get along.” Thank you to all the special people who made our trip so much fun. It’s clear that socialization, maybe even especially while traveling makes our lives much richer and far better.

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How Long Will We Live?

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How long will we live? Having made it this far into retired life, it’s probably something most of us have pondered if not discussed out loud. It’s obviously a question without any possible guaranteed answer.

In the U. S., according to a recent survey, life expectancy for all genders and races averages 81.48 years for those living in Hawaii to 75 years for those living in Mississippi. Asians typically live the longest followed by Hispanics, Caucasians, and African-Americans. But are there any factors that would help increase the chances of living even longer?

On this week’s 60 Minutes, there was an interesting segment that featured researchers who have been investigating the mystery of human longevity. Having done considerable research and writing frequently on this topic myself, I thought I would share their major findings.

First, let me tell you their study used the files taken from residents of the former Leisure World retired-living complex near San Diego, California. It also has followed up with approximately one thousand of these folks who are still living, many into their 90’s.

Here are some of the conclusions from this major ongoing study:

  1. Not surprisingly, only non-smokers have lived into their 90’s.
  2. All of those in their 90’s have exercised regularly throughout their retired life. An even more interesting finding here is that those who have lived the longest get about 45 minutes of exercise per day. More time exercising, or more strenuous exercise does not seem to be factor. Even breaking up the exercise time and activity, as long as it totals 45 minutes each day seems to work.
  3. Social activity such as clubs, game playing, or simple socialization with friends appears to be a significant factor for longevity according to this study.
  4. Surprisingly, taking vitamins has not been shown to be a factor in this study.
  5. Alcohol, in moderation (two drinks per day), has been shown to be a positive factor in longevity. The type of alcohol does not appear to matter, not even red wine over white wine.
  6. Caffeine intake, equivalent to two cups of coffee per day, has been shown to be a positive factor in longevity. The intake of more, or less, is not a positive factor.
  7. High blood pressure in older adults appears to be a positive factor. Obviously, this is not the case when a person is younger, but for older adults, it appears to be a positive.
  8. While obesity is a negative for all younger adults, maintaining one’s weight as an older person, or even gaining some additional weight has been shown to be a positive factor to one’s longevity. In this case, old and skinny is not good.
  9. While not directly addressed by the researchers on the program, some of those 90+ folks interviewed in the story contended that continuing to have sexual relations into old age was a “definite” factor. I guess we can now safely drink to that. Twice!

I want to wish all of you mothers a wonderful healthy and happy Mother’s Day!

mothersday_a7

 

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Slowing the Aging Process

As we reach retirement age and beyond, all we need to do is look in the mirror to be reminded of the many years we have lived. What I’ve always found interesting is that some people seem to look much older or younger than their actual age. Curious, I began to investigate the actual factors that  cause us to physically age. Based upon scientific research, these are the main factors I discovered:

1. Eating foods that cause chronic inflammation. Among these are foods that contain large amounts of vegetable oils, margarine, red meat, white bread, sugar, and other processed foods. The inflammation caused by these foods accelerates wrinkle formation in our skin.

To prevent this acceleration, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid. Such foods would include those with flaxseed or flaxseed oil, avocados, salmon, and olive oil. Fresh fruits and veggies are also beneficial because they contain lots of zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Red peppers and carrots are especially good. All of these help maintain healthy skin and retard the aging process. In addition, studies have shown that we need to have at least one helping of protein with each meal in order to maintain healthy skin. Insufficient protein causes tears, wrinkles, and cracks in our skin. This obviously ages us much more quickly.

2. Drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol is a natural diuretic and the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become. This dries up the natural moisture from your skin and exacerbates the fine lines and wrinkles that make us look older. Not drinking alcohol or drinking less also allows the liver to more easily flush toxins from our bodies that also benefits our skin. I’m sure we have all had the occasion of seeing a total stranger and can almost instantly determine that the person is a heavy drinker on the basis of their heavily wrinkled face.

3. Constant worry, anxiety, or stress.  Recent studies have shown that stress has a harmful effect on the DNA in our cells. This part of the DNA is called telomeres and when measured, those suffering stress had shorter telomeres in their cells causing the cells to become damaged or die. Stress also ages our brains, increases our blood pressure, and disrupts our sleep, all of which can make us look and feel older.

4. Lack of exercise. Exercising at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate is not only healthy for your weight, heart, and lungs, it provides a rejuvenating effect on the skin.

5. Smoking. If knowing that smoking causes heart disease, infertility, bladder cancer, high blood pressure, and lung cancer isn’t enough, it also is terrible for the skin and the aging process. Smoking deprives skin cells of oxygen and cause pale and uneven coloring. It also breaks down collagen and causes skin to sag. Puffing on cigarettes also creates deep wrinkles around a smoker’s mouth.

6. Too much sun. While being out in the sun can provide certain health benefits, too much sun certainly has a down side. In addition to the increased risk of skin cancer, UV rays weaken skin cells and blood vessels. This is what causes that tanned, leathery look. It can also make us more susceptible to bruising.

A recent four-year study in Australia determined that daily applications of sunscreen reduces the risk of skin cancer, fights wrinkles, and keeps skin smooth and resilient.

Highly Recommended

Since retiring, my wife Trisha and I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and many countries around the world. In this new section of my blog called “Highly Recommended,” I will be sharing travel locations, hotels, cruises, and restaurants that we have found so compelling we want to share them with readers.

In this case, because my wife’s passion is cooking and my passion is eating, we want to share one of our favorite local places to eat in the bay area city of Brentwood. It’s a little hide-a-way place called Oodles of Noodles and More. They serve Asian-style cuisine in a very casual setting. The price is very modest and they use no MSG, no frozen meats, and all fresh vegetables. They have a variety of spicy sauces from mild to hot and spicy. Each customer gets a bowl and goes through a salad-bar style area to fill their bowl with their favorite veggies and other goodies. You then pick out your meat and sauce. My wife and I like to combine Pineapple Teriyaki and Spicy Mongolian. The chef then grills your food right in front of you, along with your choice of noodles or rice.

Family_eats

We have never been able to eat all of our serving and take the remainder home for a delicious lunch or dinner the next day.

Oodles of Noodles and More

6670 Lone Tree Way, Ste. 5, Brentwood, CA

Trisha Parker Oodles of Noodles

Trisha Parker
Oodles of Noodles

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