Trisha’s Dishes

Travel Tip: Avoid Airline Luggage Fees

I recently wrote a blog in which I described how I was able to avoid paying an extra fee for my luggage on several overseas flights. In case you missed it, airlines, especially foreign airlines, have very tight weight restrictions for both checked and carry-on luggage. They also have zero-tolerance policies and extremely high fees for going over their limits. In my blog I described how I wore a jacket with a number of inner and outer large pockets in which I stuffed underwear, t-shirts, camera, etc.

O.K., the word cheap comes to mind (I prefer frugal), but the fact is I saved some real money by employing this clever idea. After writing the blog, I heard from people who thought my concept was great. At that point, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I set about to research and design my new line of “travel luggage.” Unfortunately, like most of us who have great ideas, we often discover others have beaten us to the punch.

While I’ve now found several types and styles on the internet, let me share my favorite with you. It’s called the Stuffa Jacket. I like its concept and design. Other travel luggage I’ve found simply looks like horse blankets with pockets and even the most frugal among us would probably be embarrassed to wear something so grotesque.

For what its worth, and I believe you will save enough on your first flight to cover the cost of the jacket, here is the Stuffa.



Capacity: 3/5

The Stuffa is designed more as an additional storage space rather than a replacement for a bag, but the 12 pockets concealed within the lining of this bodywarmer (which can hold up to 5kg of clothing) along with the two external pockets for your phone, passport or tickets, offer a considerable amount of supplementary storage space, allowing you to travel lighter.

Ease of use: 5/5
The bodywarmer’s mesh pockets can be stuffed full of clothes very easily, then just slip the jacket on: simple.

Durability: 5/5
The Stuffa is a well-made and nicely designed product that looks the part and should stand the test of time.

Style Factor: 5/5
By far the most stylist garment in our test, this looks like a normal item of clothing (rather than a bin-bag) and you could happily wear this out and about without getting any odd looks.

Value: 4/5
It’s twice the price of the Roo – but for that extra money you do get a stylish jacket, albeit one with slightly less capacity.

Best for: stylish light-travellers
If you want to save money on airline baggage charges, and look good whilst doing it, the Stuffa is the luggage jacket for you.

I haven’t purchased mine yet. My wife Trisha says she might not stand next to me when boarding the plane if I’m wearing this thing stuffed to the brim. We’ll see how this one turns out. Saving money is something she is really good at so I think she’ll eventually go along with it. If you see somebody at the airport that looks like a giant hot dog, it just might be me.

John and Trisha Parker

John and Trisha Parker

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Every so often I write a blog encouraging folks to be prepared for disasters. Whether man-made or natural, we never know when they will occur. We seniors, often having special needs, should be even more vigilant in preparing for the possibility of such occurences.

In light of yesterday’s horrific storm Sandy, it occurred to me October 29 is not a good date in American history. Going back to 1929, we had Black Tuesday and the Great Stock Market Crash. It was the beginning of the Great Depression. Yesterday, we had the worst storm to hit the east coast in over 100 years. The date: October 29.

We should all be concerned for those who lost family members and lost property in this terrible disaster. In the coming days I’m sure there will be calls for donations of food, clothing, and money. Let’s all participate and show the true American spirit. Let’s also be wary of future October 29 dates.

P.S. My day yesterday was actually pretty good. It was my birthday, October 29. I was born on a Tuesday.

Also, Trisha and I hope to see many of you at the Successful Aging Expo in San Jose, Saturday, November 3. We will be the keynote speakers at 11:00. It will be held at the San Jose Convention Center.

Here is a link to Trisha’s blog: Trisha’s Dishes. She has a couple of tasty recipes I’m sure you will all enjoy.

Healthy Mediterranean

Seems like we just got home and another adventure is about to begin. I truly believe I’m working harder in retirement than I ever did before. Not complaining, just thinking out loud.

Last week, we awoke and heard the space shuttle was about to fly over the bay area. Now we have a rule, for good or bad, we try not to miss any exciting opportunities that come our way. Unfortunately, we had been up very late the night before, and I looked at a drowsy Trisha and said, “Well, are we going to go see it?” She smiled and said, “Of course.” Within a few minutes we were in the car, rubbing the sand out of our eyes and eating breakfast bars and juice we had grabbed on the fly.

As we headed along the highway, Trisha asked me where I was planning to see the shuttle. I had no idea. The radio wasn’t much help and I determined that news stations are not what they used to be. They were running lots of commercials but had few details.

Once my breakfast began to take effect, and I heard the shuttle was nearing Sacramento, being an old Air Force type I knew whoever was flying that plane would fly right over the top of any Air Force base in the area. With Travis AFB to our north, I began to figure out the possible flight path. I took the next exit to a small winding two lane road through the hills that I’d only been on once before. I wasn’t sure if there would be a turnout, but finally found one just over the summit. A few minutes later, two men pulled up behind us and yelled, “Here it comes.” Over the hill came the majestic NASA 747 with the shuttle Endeavor affixed to its back. Both shimmered in the sunlight as we cheered like children and realized we had the best seats in the house. It was a thrilling and historic moment.

As we get older, it’s easy to lose our sense of wonder and simply seek comfort. But the rewards of pushing a little harder are often well worth the effort. It was certainly worth it on this day and we hope to keep pushing for some time to come.

I’m still editing my photos, but promise to publish them in a future blog.

Media News

Trisha’s Dishes, is being featured in the October issue of 110 Magazine. It’s a beautiful layout with some of Trisha’s most delicious recipes. Needless to say, I’m very proud of her. Here is the link to their online version:

October Issue, 110 Magazine

In other news, Trisha and I have been named as the Keynote Speakers for the Successful Aging Expo to be held at the San Jose Convention Center on November 3. Would love to see you there and we plan on having great fun while meeting lots of people. Here is the link for more information:

Successful Aging Expo

“He’s Got A Gun!”

Given the numerous recent shootings in the news, probably each one of us have questioned what we would do if someone yelled, “He’s got a gun?”

Unfortunately, I’ve had that experience. Several years ago while teaching at a California State University, I was having coffee with two of my students after an early morning class in the outdoor patio of the student union. We were seated at a table next to a cafeteria parking lot separated by a three-foot wall. All of a sudden we heard an explosion in the direction of the parking lot. My first thought was something in the kitchen area must have blown up. We all stood in curiosity just as there was another explosion. This time I could see the flash point and source of the explosion. It was a young man with a rifle and he had just fired another shot point-blank at a person lying in the shrubbery. The gunman then turned and began to walk directly toward us.

I don’t recall many specifics of the next few seconds. I do remember a sense of disbelief followed by a surge of white-hot terror. The next day, both my male and female students would tell me I grabbed each of them by the head and pushed them to the ground. I don’t remember doing that but I’m sure some paternal instincts were involved. They also said they could see my head moving back and forth and my eyes darting all around. When they described my behavior I did recall desperately looking for something to throw at the gunman. After all, I’m an old baseball player and I’m sure I thought I might be able to knock the rifle out of his hands. Very stupid. It never worked in the movies, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked then. 

As the gunman approached, he stopped and began to do something with the rifle. At that point, a campus security officer ran into the lot behind the gunman. He had heard the explosion, but had no idea it was a shooting. I yelled, “He has a gun,” and the officer dropped to one knee and pulled his pistol. State University security are always armed. The gunman turned and began to run toward the underground entrance of another parking lot. The officer gave out an alert on his radio and followed after him. For some reason I followed along at a distance.

As the gunman ran down the parking lot ramp out of sight, I could hear an officer already in that lot yell, “Drop the rifle.” Then five pistol shots rang out followed by one rifle shot. The gunman was down and dying. He did not survive.

It turned out to be a love triangle and the young man had decided to kill his ex-girlfriend. He waited in the lot where she parked her car and confronted her. The first shot literally blew her into the shrubs, and as he hovered over her for the second point-blank shot, she was able to pull a large economics text to her chest. The bullet rang through the book but this act saved her life. People from the cafeteria put her on a food cart and raced her to campus clinic where doctors were able to save her.

I was interviewed by several reporters who had arrived on scene and then taken, along with the two security officers, to a police station for our statements. Mine differed from theirs in that I distinctly recalled five pistol shots followed by a rifle shot (I believe when the gunman fell to the ground). They said the rifle shot came first. No matter. In all honesty, if I’d had a gun when he approached me, I would have shot him myself.

The only mystery left was when the police asked me what the gunman was doing with the rifle when he had approached me. I could not remember. Moments of terror really confuse your senses. I tried and tried but could not come up with an answer. Six months later, in the middle of the night while sleeping, it came to me. I sat up in bed and yelled, “He was trying to kill himself.” Of course, I scared my wife half to death, but I now saw it very clearly in slow motion. He was trying to put the rifle barrel under his chin just as the first officer entered the parking lot and I yelled “He’s got a gun.”

We hear experts on television giving lots of advice and maybe that’s a good thing. If I’d been more prepared, perhaps I would have simply run. I don’t know and I hope you never have to find out for yourself.

Be safe.

“If you built a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” 

Don’t you love it when a politician says something and then tries to walk it back? The fact is, words mean things. When these folks go off the teleprompter and use their own words, their true feelings and attitudes are revealed. In England, Governor Romney expressed his opinion that the Brits might not be ready for the Olympics. Guess what? He was right and they have been scrambling from the beginning. But in this politically correct world you must immediately take back or modify your words because somewhere out there your comments will be labeled as a “gaff,” or worse. 

Having reached a ripe old age of wisdom (or perhaps senility), I am mostly amused at the twisting and turning these politicians go through trying to get out their “message.” Not much political talk offends me any longer, but here are a couple of notable exceptions: 

1. “The government can’t afford to pay for tax breaks.” 

When did the government start “paying” any of us? It’s our money whether we are rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle. If you in the government want more money from any of us (and you always do), then start by cutting your spending and stop pissing our money away on foolishness. “How” you ask? Well, the first thing you can do is cut off all foreign aid immediately and start a pay to play policy. You back us and we might help you out with a few bucks. Otherwise, it’s been nice knowing you. That’s just one of many obvious spending cuts. 

2. “Pay your fair share.” 

Excuse me. Most of us retired-age folks have more than paid our fair share. That’s not to mention things like serving in the military, creating businesses, and paying taxes on top of taxes our entire lives. 

Well, this was more of a brief rant, but I feel better. By the way Mr. President, I wrote this blog all by myself. 


Check It Out

Please take a look at  the new home page and bio page on our web site:   

While the changes on the web site are mostly cosmetic, they reflect an exciting change of focus for my wife Trisha and me. Ever since our book came out, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life, we were fortunate to have been invited to appear on both television and radio programs, appear at book signings across the country, and speak to various groups and organizations. 

Since then, our invitations for speaking engagements have increased, and we now spend much of our time and energy on that activity. We thank all of the people and organizations that first invited us to be speakers, and we now look to the future with our new multi-media presentation: Prime Time: Celebrating Life’s Second Half.

We already have some exciting bookings on the calendar, and I will post them in future blogs. 


Trisha’s Dishes

Trisha Parker







 Trisha’s back with some exciting new dishes. Just click on “Trisha’s Dishes” on our web site home page. I can assure you they are fantastic. 


Personal Note 

Trisha and I recently returned from Florida. We love the tropics and had a great time with family and friends. We watched the one grandson build sand castles on the beach, another (4 months old) dipped into the ocean for the first time, swam in the pool, visited some good friends, went out on a few dinner dates, and gained a few pounds enjoying the Florida cuisine. I also got to go fishing again on my friend John’s beautiful boat Tangerine, along with good buddy Dave. We caught lots of fish and had even more laughs.


Trisha and John Parker