January 2011


www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Even before I retired, I began to watch and listen to less news. One of my strict “retired-life rules” is absolutely no news before bedtime. In this era of instant information, we are bombarded with daily stories and images of human tragedy. It often appears the entire world has gone completely mad. While I resist the temptation to panic, as responsible people we should ask ourselves the question, “What would you do in an emergency?”   

First of all, let me suggest a “go bag.” In our book, Trisha and I wrote about the usefulness of having a small travel bag already packed with versatile clothing such as nylon pants and jacket, sweat shirt or sweater, an extra pair of shoes, etc. In addition, it should have toiletries and a two-week supply of medications. This type of bag would be very useful in case of fire, flood, or other emergency in which you would need to evacuate. Having lived in the hillsides of southern California for much of my life, when those fires begin, you don’t have much time to get out.

Of course, if you really want to do it right, a flashlight, first-aid kit, emergency blanket, a multi-purpose tool, and a portable crank-style radio would be advisable. Additionally, include copies of your contact information, maps, and extra cash. A flash drive with all your personal information would be invaluable if a disaster forced you from your home for a long period of time.

If something terrible happened that would keep you in your home for an extended period, make sure you have plenty of water and extra food. This would not be a problem for us. Our neighbors have all decided they will gather at our home if an emergency takes place. The way Trisha has our pantry stocked, it resembles a small convenience store.

Of course, it’s natural to have the attitude “that will never happen to me.” Unfortunately, bad things can and do happen. The wise person is prepared. 

Bucket List

I’m glad so many of you liked my blog concerning “bucket lists.”  One of the people I heard from was Annette Renee White who has a bucket list website you might enjoy visiting. Give it a look.

Bucket List Journey » ABOUT

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

             www.TheBestofOurLives.com                    

              

As we age, I’m sure we all can recall specific individuals who have had a significant influence on our lives. In my case, one of those people is a man by the name of John Goddard. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. I first encountered Mr. Goddard in junior high school when he was a guest speaker. Briefly, he was born in 1925, and when he was 15 years old he sat down and made a “life list” of 127 goals. Still living, when he made it into the 21st Century, he checked off accomplishment 109 on his list. Among his other notable accomplishments: living with most of the world’s primitive tribes, climbing many of the highest mountains, rafting the great rivers, flying many different aircraft while setting speed and altitude records, and . . . well you get the idea. Hearing this kind of thing as a young man, I couldn’t wait to get home and write out my list. You know what? I did pretty good. Like most people, the military, marriage, family, and career came into play and put much of my list on hold. I did, however, learn to fly, learn to play a guitar, form and play in my own rock band, sail a schooner, appear on a television show, meet several of my idols, appear in a movie, and guys (I’m a bit embarrassed this was on my list), I actually dated a Playboy Playmate. O.K., so my list swerved a bit off course. The point is, I was inspired to do things I might not have done if I had not heard Mr. Goddard’s inspirational message.  

Now retired, married for over forty years with three sons and five grand kids, I’m more inspired than ever to continue working on my “life list,” or at this point in life, what is now referred to as a “bucket list.” As an example, one of the items on my original list was to see a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral. I used to get up at 3:00 a.m. as a teenager to watch the launches on television. It took me a long time, but a couple of years back, with my wife Trisha, I finally got to experience a launch of the space shuttle. It was better than I could have imagined. So much so, we returned for the next three launches. 

As Trisha and I continue to add to our list, we have evolved into an interesting life style. Not every item on our list has to be something dramatic or expensive. Beyond the list, every day we try to do something new and interesting. Taking a new walking path or exploring a small town we’ve never been before is fun and very rewarding. Some might think we are crazy for our mini-adventures and activities. A couple of years ago, we were watching our favorite television show, The Amazing Race. It’s a show where two-person teams get clues to the next location and race around the world in hopes of winning a million dollars. Like goofy teenagers, we stayed up almost all night trying to replicate the props used on the show such as the clue box, the clue envelope, the destination mat, etc. We even created a life-sized mock-up of the host. The next day we went out, set up our video camera in various locations, and ran our own amazing race. Why did we do this? Well, first of all, we laughed all night and had a blast creating the props we needed from home-made materials. Secondly, when we set up our clue box and then raced to it ripping open the clue envelope, we actually heard passers-by exclaim, “They’re filming The Amazing Race!” It was pure fun. Crazy? Probably. The fact is, in life we all have so many difficult and challenging times. Growing older brings on its own set of obstacles. Experiencing new and interesting things and just getting a bit crazy at times is good for us. It gives our lives some much needed balance. Besides, it sure beats the heck out of watching cable news or soap operas.

Now the question. What’s on your bucket list?

Great Link

Be sure to visit Trisha’s web site for great recipes and cooking tips.

          

                              Trisha’s Dishes “Leftover Magic”

 

 

 

Photo of the day

After her bath, granddaughter Juliette joined mommy at the dinner table. Oops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.TheBestofOurLives

 

  

I was by myself driving through the snow-covered mountains when I first heard of the Arizona shooting. My reaction was visceral and I could visualize the chaos in my mind. I had good reasons for my reaction, but I’m concerned about many in our society given the questionable behaviors I’ve witnessed since this horrible event. Let me explain.

Like most folks, I’ve always been a fan of television and movies. As a teenager living in the Los Angeles area, because my father had non-movie business with the major studios, I got to roam the studios freely and observe behind-the-scenes activities. Although I got to watch and even meet television and movie stars, it was the magic of making the shows and movies that interested me. I loved the writing process, the acting, and most of all, the directing. In college I took courses in everything related to media. I was a terrible actor, a fair writer, and a pretty good director. It was during that time I began to realize visual media was an incredibly powerful force, and like the written word, the visual stories were also a reflection and commentary on our society.

If you are old enough to remember director Peter Yates and his movie Bullitt, starring the late Steve McQueen, you may remember the most dramatic and telling scene. It was the final shootout which took place at SFO. The bad guy had been chased through the airport, and when cornered, began to shoot security guards and other officers. The hero Frank Bullitt opened fire, and the bad guy was blown through a plate-glass door to the screams and horror of the busy travelers. In that scene, everyone froze for a several seconds, then slowly began to move about and return to their travel activities. Within a moment, other than the bodies on the ground, it was business as usual. It was a telling sequence and a searing commentary on our cultural attitude toward violence.  Over time, we had been so inundated with both fictional and real violence, we had become increasingly numb to it. As an example, I once came upon a traffic accident in which four people had just been killed. The victims were still visible in the car as emergency workers attempted to secure the scene. People in the gathering crowd began acting as though it was some sort of carnival, and at times I even heard laughter. It was sickening.

How does this relate to the Arizona shooting and my reaction? Unfortunately, I have been an eyewitness to a deadly shooting. Events like this are real, and they are  horrific. The smell of gunpowder and death stay with you forever. Unlike scenes out of movies, the blood is not fake, and the injured and dead are real people. It appalls and angers me that before the victim’s bodies in Arizona could be removed, the media and politicians began to develop inaccurate story lines and political points. Even some in the police began to make controversial comments to make sure they stayed in the fleeting limelight. This was completely inappropriate in the wake of such a tragedy.

In my personal experience, I was a university professor having coffee with two of my students after a morning class. We were sitting next to a three-foot wall in an outdoor patio next to the student union building. We heard what clearly sounded like a gunshot.  As I got up, I saw a young man leaning over a young woman as he pulled the trigger on the rifle a second time. He then turned and walked directly toward me. I don’t remember doing it, but my students told me the next day I had pushed them down to the ground and my eyes began darting back and forth. When they asked me what I was looking for, I then recalled looking for something like an ashtray or salt shaker to throw at him. I’m an old baseball player and I suppose seeing a person with a gun who has just shot someone walking toward me, it’s all I could think of doing. In the next moment, an armed security guard ran up behind the young man, but could not see the victim or gun. I yelled to the officer the man had a gun and the officer drew his weapon. A brief chase ensued, and he and another officer fired several times killing the young man. He had shot his ex-girlfriend twice, but in some miracle, she lived. It was chaotic, sickening, and very, very real.

As an eyewitness, the media frenzy that followed necessitated moving my family out of our home for a few days. I can only imagine what these poor folks in Arizona are going through. The victims of these kinds of events are real people. Besides our prayers, they need time, space, and other resources to help them heal. What they do not need is a cynical media conjuring up wild story lines or political hacks trying to score points for the next election.

One last point, I just learned another movie about the serial killer called the “night stalker” is about to be made. Tragically, my aunt and uncle were two of this maniacs real victims. I was on the scene the morning they were discovered. Do we really need to make another movie about this disgraceful individual? What about all the heroic and uplifting stories that abound in this world? Our culture needs a change for the better. Let’s do our best and hope it begins very soon. 

  

 

 

  

    

     www.TheBestofOurLives.com

                                 

Now that 2011 is here, most of us have made our new year’s resolutions. The top ten most popular resolutions, as gathered by goalsguy.com from over 300,000 respondants, are as follows:

1. Lose weight and get in better physical shape.

2. Stick to a budget.

3. Debt reduction.

4. Enjoy more quality time with family and friends.

5. Find my soul mate.

6. Quit smoking.

7. Find a better job.

8. Learn something new.

9. Volunteer and help others.

10. Get organized. 

Not many surprises, although I’m disappointed that examining and reaffirming one’s spiritual life did not make the list. A sign of the times I suppose.

Since this blog is primarily dedicated to retired life, let’s look at this list from that perspective. Losing weight and getting in better shape is obviously important for everyone as we get older. I’ve often written about the “30 minute rule” for people of retirement age. Getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has tremendous health and longevity benefits and should be at or near the top of every retired person’s list. Clearly, if you smoke, do anything and everything you can to quit. Today! When my father retired, he smoked and at least one doctor predicted he would not live one more month. He quit that day and lived for another 25 years.

Obviously, at retirement age, reducing our personal debt and sticking to a budget is extremely important. If we haven’t learned that lesson by the time we’ve retired, time may have run out. Surprisingly, it seems as though a great number of retired folks do not have a complete picture of their financial situation. Unless a retired person has an unlimited amount of money, he or she needs to be very mindful of where their money goes each month and how long that money will last. Key question for retirees: How long will your money last? Experts tell us to get a handle on our finances and budget accordingly. Personally, I’ve been very poor in my life (I’m talking not one cent in my pocket poor) and I’ve been in pretty good financial shape. I’ve never ever had the inclination to spend more money than I could afford to spend. My wife Trisha always laughs when I say I’m going to cut my clothing budget 20% this year. I think my clothes are just fine, but I’ll never be accused of being a “clothes horse.” I grew up in a household that had absolutely no pretension and that has always served me well.

If retired, you probably are not looking for another job. In this economy, however, more people than ever are working much longer. If that’s the case, try within your power to make it something you enjoy. This is your life and not a dress rehearsal. If your financial situation allows you to volunteer, by all means do so. It’s a noble and rewarding activity.  As far as finding a soul mate, I’m sure my wife would frown on it. Just kidding. The truth is, if your circumstances find you retired and alone, make a resolution to fill your life with people. That means spending more time with family and/or friends. If it means finding a special person, go for it. As we grow older, becoming more social is actually quite important. Research tells us retired people who are more social are healthier and happier than those who live in isolation.

When Trisha and I wrote our book about retired life, we went into great detail about getting organized. It’s an ongoing effort, but has special importance for retired folks. Every aspect of our lives needs to be organized and documented. When the time comes, our families will be so grateful we took the time to put our personal affairs in order. (Let me point out there are forms on our website www.TheBestofOurLives.com that can be very beneficial in this process. They are interactive, printable, and best of all FREE) 

For all of us “old dogs,” learning something new is also something to be recommended. Maybe it’s actually something you have gotten away from over the years. I’m always trying to brush up on my Spanish or pulling out my guitar for a song or two. Whether it’s something old or new, we need to take the  time to challenge ourselves and have fun. Our minds and spirits need to be fed as much as our bodies need nurishment. In this day and age of 24 hour news cycles and constant crises, it’s mandatory. Much like most of you, I often get email forwards with all kinds of information. Much of it is serious, often political “the sky is falling” stuff. Fortunately, much of it is interesting and/or downright funny. Guess which one I open most frequently. 

O.K., there you have it. Let’s review our Retired Life New Year’s Resolutions:

Get in shape (and if you smoke, quit)

Get an accurate and complete picture of your finances and budget to live within your means.

Become more social (family, friends, volunteer)

Get yourself organized and your affairs in order

Learn something new and spice up your life

Let me add:

Examining and exploring your spiritual life (I’m not comfortable preaching to people, but I’m less comfortable leaving it off my list)

And finally, because I actually try very hard to put into action the things I write about, I have my own personal list of resolutions. Beyond continuing to work on the previous items mentioned, my personal resolutions this year include:

Giving away everything I have stored to someone who can use it

Working with injured veterans

Taking my wife and mother on a great travel adventure

Best of luck on your resolutions.

Happy 2011 Everyone!

 

  

   

After a sports filled weekend with every kind of football bowl game possible (my favorite has always been the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl), I want to make a suggestion intended for all television sports directors. Enough with the up close and personal shots first employed by ABC Sports and ballyhooed by Howard Cosell.

The picture quality is so good now days, we don’t need to be looking up the nose of every baseball pitcher, football coach, or even the occasional fan in the stands. I have actually squirmed in my chair while watching a camerman zoom in on a baseball pitcher looking for the sign. It starts with a full body shot, then rapidly closes in on his face for a view which should be reserved for only those with whom he shares an intimate relationship. Ugh! As a matter of fact, the way a baseball game is covered now days, if you had never seen a game in person you wouldn’t know what was going on. First we get the pitcher’s eyes (and sweat), then the batter’s face (and spit), then if the ball is hit, a close up of the player making the play. Is there a field? Was that grass I saw?

When watching a football game, which is not quite as bad, I still long for the days when we could see all the players at once. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the reciever’s run their patterns as the quarterback decides who to throw to? Just because technology allows us to see every skin flaw doesn’t mean we have to do it. Please Mr. Sports Director, back off just a little. Let us see the field of play. Let us watch plays unfold more naturally. Thank you.

As for the cheerleaders, you”re doing a hell of a job!