September 2014


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:

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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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Don’t Get Scammed

Wow, you just won a free Caribbean cruise. Not only that, you were just informed you won a lottery. This must be your lucky day! Not so fast, you just got scammed.

Unfortunately, there are a number of scams out there directed toward seniors. Each year brings a new batch of these scams and in too many instances, seniors are losing millions of dollars to these thieves. As I’ve written in the past, we need to stay up with the latest scams to protect ourselves. Here are some of the most common new scams and ways we can avoid becoming victims:

The Sweepstake or Lottery Scams

In this scam you are notified you’ve won a large cash prize. All you need to do is pay a tax or fee and the money is yours. In some cases you will even receive a check for a large amount of money. Of course, once you have paid the tax or fee, and try to cash the check, it bounces.

Be smart enough to know when things are too good to be true. Actual sweepstake or lottery winners are not asked to pay up front to collect their prize. Obviously, the government would withhold taxes from your real winnings.

Charity Scams

Cold calls raising money for “charities” is one of the most popular calls directed at seniors. Even more troubling, these spring up most often in the wake of some disaster.

Don’t contribute to charities that cold call. I know this sounds harsh, but if you really want to contribute to a charity, seek one out that you know to be legitimate and make a donation.

The “Hi, Grandma” Scams

In this scam, a caller says “Hi, Grandma?” or “Hi, Grandpa?” followed by “Do you know who this is?” When you guess a name, they say “yes.” You are then already hooked. Next you will be asked to help out in their emergency for car repair, bail, rent, or some other calamity. Typically, you are asked to send the money by way of Western Union.

Should you receive one of these calls, don’t guess a name, simply ask who is calling. If you think it might be legitimate, tell them you will call back and check with another relative before you do.

Phishing Scams (email)

These scams take on various forms, but the bottom line is they are not legitimate investment opportunities or “Nigerian royalty” needing help offering you a large reward. Often the emails will look very legitimate and official. They get into individual’s email address books and are able to send out thousands and sometimes millions of emails at one time. For some reason, people make this very easy with their lax security measures. I got an email yesterday that was one of these scams and it came through the same “friend’s” email that I have received similar scams.

If you must send out group emails, do so through blind copies. Delete any suspicious emails or forwards. Do not respond to “official” institution emails until you have called them to double-check.

Government Agency Scams

In these scams, you are called or emailed, given some bogus reason for the contact, and then asked for your personal information and even asked for money to resolve an issue. My friend Manny just sent me a new one from Florida. The caller tells you that you did not appear for jury duty as requested. To clear up the matter you are asked for personal information such as social security number, date of birth, etc. In some cases, to clear up the matter, you are asked for your credit card information to pay a fine.

Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you are 100% sure it is legitimate, and even then, think twice before proceeding.

 

On a totally different subject, I’ve just discovered I’m actually a descendant of English royalty. My inheritance is tied up in some legal matters and if some of you could just send me a few dollars to clear this up, I’d be more than willing to share my fortune with you.  O.K., just kidding.

Personal Note:

Many of you know my wife Trisha injured her knee two years ago. After one  surgery failed to resolve the problem, she recently made the decision to undergo total knee replacement surgery. I’m happy to report she is recovering nicely, is well ahead of her therapy goals, and is already planning our next travel adventure. I want to thank those of you who sent prayers and kind messages. She is very grateful and will be up and dancing again very soon.

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

 

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