June 2011


WOW! What a crazy wonderful week.

In the past I’ve written a lot about the power of a positive attitude and the many benefits it can have on our lives. Especially as seniors. It really worked for us this week.

 

As I mentioned in my last blog, my father passed away one year ago. An anniversary of this type can be very depressing and downright difficult while marking the passing of a loved one. We decided we would remember Dad, but in his honor, would also try to have fun. First, we invited some of my wife’s family, her aunt Pat and Uncle Noel, to visit for the week. We had a great time showing them our part of the country and even had a great night out with them and good friends.

 

Then, as the week progressed, several family members who were planning to gather at our home over the weekend began to report very strange and amusing happenings. Typical day-to-day problems or issues  were being miraculously and quickly resolved. In my case, I was trimming a large palm tree high over head. At one point my cutting blade got loose and when I checked it, the nut was missing from the main bolt holding it together. It was a very hot day and I searched high and low for that nut. Finally, I gave up and looked in my garage for a nut that might fit. Finding one, I tried to screw it on the bolt but it became obvious it wouldn’t fit. After several minutes sweating in the hot sun trying to make it work, I looked up to the heavens. As I did, the nut slipped from my hand, bounced on the pavement, rolled all around my driveway, and came to rest – – – right next to the original nut. I looked up and said, “Thanks Dad.” With several of these occurences, our family began to laugh and suggest Dad was orchestrating a celebratory week of remembrance.

 

I know what you are probably saying right now, but hold on. As I walked into the house mid-week, my phone was ringing. It was a man claiming to be a news producer for CBS in Los Angeles. He was putting a segment together about the Los Angeles Dodgers and had come across the story of my father throwing out the ceremonial first pitch almost two years ago. He asked if he could interview me about my father and his being a Dodger fan given the problems the Dodger ownership have been having. I agreed, and after speaking with him, he suggested my wife Trisha and I come to Los Angeles and attend the Sunday Dodger game. He said he would conduct an interview and have his camerman with him. We thought, what a great way to remember Dad and agreed to do it. We also called 5-year-old grandson Jack who lives outside L. A. and invited him to go with us. 

 

Understand, at the time we agreed, Trisha’s aunt and uncle needed to be at the San Francisco airport, an hour and a half drive from our home for a late morning flight. We also needed to meet family at the cemetery in the early afternoon that was another hour and a half from our home. Did I mention I needed to take my mother for lab work at the hospital and be there by 7:30 in the morning before the day even began.

 

It gets better. We then hosted a family dinner for thirteen people at our home and twelve of them spent the night. One of our sons, part of the “planning committee” had forgotten to mention that little detail. Oh well, we all had a great time and enjoyed every minute. It did mean breakfast for twelve in the morning and everyone pitched in. I was in charge of pancakes. After cleanup and swimming, it was now time for lunch. My wife smiled through it all, and it was great fun.

 

We then had to think about getting to L. A., so we called friends who live about half way and invited ourselves for the night. They not only welcomed us but prepared an incredible dinner and dessert. A super night with friends. Back on the road at 7:00 a. m., picked up Jack at Sunday school, and headed for Dodger stadium. Once there we met the producer, a very nice young man, and gave him an on-camera interview. The game was great, and we got to visit our son Michael who works for Fox Sports Net who was working the game.

 

By the time we got Jack home and fought the construction zones on Hwy 5, we got back just before midnight. What a week. But we remembered Dad in a style of family, friends, and fun he would have loved.

 

I should mention, we were shocked to learn it was not a local CBS story. The young man turned out to be a producer for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Dad’s story may be on as early as tonight, June 27. Crazy.

 

Keep it positive.

 

 

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With Father’s Day upon us, I thought I might indulge in a bit more personal commentary. As a senior, we all must deal with the issue of mortality. Whether it’s family members, friends, or our own. It was one year ago I lost my father. I still miss him terribly. He was my dad, teacher, confidant, and best friend. I could write forever about all I learned from him and our many experiences and adventures together. Perhaps someday, when the hurt lessens, I will put them all in a book. But if I learned one lesson from dad, it was to never take yourself or life too seriously. Watching over me now, I’m sure he’s troubled by how sad I get every time I think of him, but very pleased to know each of those times ends with a big smile.

Today I want to focus on Father’s Day from a father’s viewpoint. My viewpoint. I’ve told this tale many times. It begins with my beautiful and loving wife Trisha blessing our lives with three sons. The boys in turn have given us five precious grandchildren. I’m a lucky man. 

Here’s the story. When I was a young boy, I loved sports passionately, especially baseball. I practiced every day and just knew I would play professional baseball someday. Along the way, I also developed an interest for airplanes and flying. It created a dilemma. Then I set my life’s course. I would begin by playing professional baseball, and then launch my flying career. As time went on, I also got interested in communication and media. No problem. I would be a television sportscaster between flights.

Well, that was the plan. I would simply combine my three passions. Of course, somewhere along the line, I learned young teenage girls liked guys who played guitar, so I learned to play guitar and formed a band. I also discovered I liked to write, water skiing, fishing, boating, traveling, and teaching. Yes, I pretty much liked everything I tried.

In fairness, I did continue to play baseball, and was playing on a professional team when an arm injury ended that part of my plan. I then went full time into  flying, but the Viet Nam war came along. Then as they say, life happened. After a long stint in the Air Force, I went back to school and decided to become a college professor. Was I disappointed. A bit. But I enjoyed every day of my vocation and never ever considered it work. It was a great career.

So, what’s the point of this tangled biography. Well, one day after our boys had become adults, I was getting acquainted with a new friend who was asking me about my family. He asked what my boys did for a living. I said, “Well, when Michael graduated from college he became a sportscaster and is now a sports producer, David got a business degree and has now become a commercial pilot, and Daniel was drafted and played professional baseball and now owns his own sports complex.” As I said the words, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I realized the boys had done all the things I wanted to do when I was a kid. It was an incredible moment. On this Father’s Day, as a father, I want to salute my sons. Not so much because they chose professions I dreamed about, but because they each have a strong work ethic.  That makes me very proud. Thanks guys, I love you very much. 

Happy Father’s Day dad. We miss you.

Years ago when I was still working, I walked out onto my back deck. We lived on top of a hillside ridge and the backyard area was my sanctuary and a place I visited every morning. I especially liked the way the sunlight filtered through the beautiful tree hanging over our deck. That morning there was something very different. The tree was missing. I called the woman who lived below us and not thinking out my message abruptly said, “Where’s the tree?” My retired neighbor lady explained that the afternoon before some men had come to her door and told her they were trimming trees in the area and noticed a large tree on the other side of her driveway. They were concerned that the roots would soon cause damage to her wall and driveway. They also said that since they were in the area, they could give her a good deal on removing it. She did. “But it’s my tree,” I yelled into the phone. A while later, feeling terrible, she brought over some cookies she baked for our family, but it could not make up for my beautiful tree I so enjoyed.

I thought about that this week when my mother told me she had spoken to the wife of one of my late father’s old Navy buddies. He is ninety-one years old and was in the hospital recovering from a procedure in which a dentist had given him three new dental implants. I’m sure the dentist was wearing a mask, but it wasn’t surgical.

As people become seniors, they may or may not become more gullible, but they certainly become targets for a variety of scams, both legal and illegal. Older folks are more likely to have some savings, good credit, and time to talk to those interested in scamming them out of their money. While it’s more difficult to detect a legal scam such as cosmetic dental surgery for a ninety-year-old, I would advise a second and trusted opinion on any large financial decision. Here is some information you may find useful in detecting scams and frauds:

Fake Charities

– Always ask to see written materials about the charity and never contribute immediately.

– Since many scam artists use the names of legitimate organizations such as Red Cross or Salvation Army, should you decide to contribute, never write  a check to a person or unknown organization

– If in doubt, you can check out a charity on the following website

                                                                                        For Charities and Donors – U.S. BBB

Door-to-Door Scams

– Be wary of “free inspections” of roofs, air conditioners, etc.

– Free gifts for a few minutes of your time

– No proof of contractor license or other professional identification

– Handwritten contracts

– The “This offer is only good for today” pitch

(Believe it or not, I was once burned by one of these guys. In my case, I had called a legitimate and recommended contractor for an estimate. That guy didn’t show up, but while I was waiting, one of these door-to-door guys rang my bell. Expecting someone else, I greeted him with, “Well, your late, but come on in.” It wasn’t until he started the job did I know it wasn’t the right person. He wasn’t so much a crook as a really poor workman.)

Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes

– There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick investment

– Be wary of any plan that has you recruiting others

– Be suspicious of investing in a company that has you making a large initial investment

– Always consult someone you trust in financial matters before making an investment

(A good friend of mine once invested in a company that made bicycles supposedly being sold in China. He was doubling his investment about once a month. After a few months, most of his friends were in on it too. Fortunately, I resisted the temptation. Good thing since it was a scam in which he and his friends lost all of their money.)

Telemarketing

– “Congratulations, you have just won _ _ _ _. I don’t think so.  

– Never buy anything or send money in order to “claim a prize.” 

– Never give a telemarketer any personal information (this should be your rule for almost anyone you speak to over the phone)

I know there are a lot more scams and frauds that use living trusts, auto sales and repairs, sweetheart deals, health care, real estate, etc. As seniors, we should be wiser, and in most cases we probably are just that. It never hurts, however, to be reminded of all the creeps out there trying to get our money.

The Most Interesting Man in the World

I recently wrote about a friend of mine, Dr. Herbert Schub, that I labeled The Most Interesting Man in the World. That blog turned out to get the most hits of any blog I’ve ever written. Thanks to those of you who come here to read this blog, and thanks to Herb for being so damn interesting!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Least Likely To Be Seen Campaign Button:

As a senior citizen, I pride myself on staying up with current affairs. However, when I travel, I seem to lose all curiosity concerning day-to-day news events. Having just returned from a long trip, I’m still trying to catch up. Haven’t heard much about that Bin Laden fellow lately. How’s our high-priced economic recovery working? Have there been any scandals involving politicians? Are our political parties working together on our behalf? I’m sure the world is still cruising along peacefully without my concerns and input.

The fact is, when traveling, it’s still necessary for most of us to be in touch with loved ones. Now that most of us have cell phones, or even new smart phones, there is a simple and inexpensive way to stay in touch. For a very small charge, most providers will add international coverage to your text messaging. This is really a good deal. You will still have the ability to make a voice call if you have an emergency, but you can send a generous number of text messages for a small fee. Mine was $10 for the entire month. Since you will be charged for each person you put on your message list, I recommend you designate one person back home to be your contact and ask them to forward your messages. By doing this, only one message will be counted against your allotment. Pictures will add an extra charge, so be selective in sending them in your texts. Of course, you can also get phone cards and/or special calling plans (I’ve tried them all), but this way has worked the best for me and was the most economical.

Fellows, if you are headed for tropical climates, I’ve got some very good advice for you. Since luggage space and weight are very important due to today’s airline charges, most sporting goods stores now carry a variety of  cargo pants that weigh next to nothing and are very versatile. Some of them even have zippers just above the knee and can turn into cargo shorts with a quick zip. Additionally, the new light-weight micro-fiber shirts can not be beaten for travel. They are as comfortable as wearing nothing at all, and can be found in a variety of colors and styles. One more find is the latest light-weight linen pants. Not only are they very light and comfortable, they have draw strings instead of belts. You can cruise through airport security with ease and don’t have to get unbuckled. While I don’t have a reputation for being a “clothes horse,” my wardrobe now has several of these items and our latest travel adventure was a breeze. I even bought a couple of the new light-weight linen sports coats that have become popular. My luggage weighed almost nothing and I had everything I needed.

Cruisers

For those of you going on a cruise, you probably already know that during your trip most cruise lines offer you the opportunity to make an advance deposit on a future cruise. This is a good deal and here’s why: The fee is small, usually $100. Should you decide to book another cruise, your deposit will allow you to make a reservation without sending an advance deposit which is typically one-half the cost of your entire cruise. In addition, you will typically get back at least the same amount of your deposit in ship-board credits which is like getting free money. Not only that, but your deposit can be returned to you at any time you decide you want it back. It’s a good deal.

A Few Pictures

Here are just of few of hundreds of pictures from our latest travel adventure. This was my mother’s first cruise and we were accompanied by good friends Lyn and Herb. In addition to the cruise itself, we had several tours, boat rides, train rides, zip lining, para-sailing, hiking, and lots of fun.

It’s me with my girls, Mom and Trisha; Trisha with our favorite entertainer and friend Maurizio; Herb and I entertaining on the ship; Mom, me, Herb and Lyn sailing around Aruba; Trisha and me preparing to zip line Costa Rica; our whole gang having a dinner aboard ship.