Great Senior Suggestion

Some time back I wrote a blog about the benefits of getting organized.
Fact is, both my wife Trisha and I hate clutter. We keep our home as open and clutter free as possible. We don’t have collections of tiny objects or anything else that collects dust or creates a hazard one might trip over. We simply feel better living in a comfortable open space rather than a cluttered museum of dusty artifacts. We even planned our landscaping with wide walking paths without smaller plants and objects. This, of course, is recommended for all seniors due to the numerous incidents of tripping and falling as one ages.

That makes us perfect, right? Well, not quite. With an extra busy schedule
filled with packing and unpacking for travel, grandchildren visits, and a dose of pure laziness, my walk-in closet was beginning to look like something on Hoarders. O.K., not that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. It was time for action, so yesterday I awoke and spent most of the day cleaning and organizing my closet. I mean a real thorough reorganization. To give you an idea, our large outdoor trash cans are now full from my efforts. I found so much stuff I will never use and not worth giving away. My closet is now pristine and perfectly grouped into sections such as outdoor gear, casual clothing, dress shirts, casual shirts, pants, coats, etc. Even shoes are now matched and displayed appropriately. It wasn’t fun, but it’s now complete.

So why am I writing a blog about this endeavor? Well, in addition to making part of my living space safer and more convenient, I was actually surprised by the peace of mind my efforts gave me. You see, as seniors there will come a day when we will no longer be able to go through such a process and someone else will have to do it. It makes me feel very good to know that someone else won’t have to do what I did yesterday.

Phuket

 For those who have been interested in the photos I’ve been sharing from our South Seas Adventure, here are some from Phuket, Thailand and the popular Psi Psi Islands where we toured by boat, snorkeled, and had a wonderful meal. A most memorable experience.

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Trisha and John Parker, Psi Psi Islands, Thailand

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Langkawi

Beginning in Perth, we traveled to Bali, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. Next on our itinerary was Langkawi Island in Malaysia. What a wonderful surprise. We toured through the island taking in the sights, both villages and open spaces. We reached our destination of the Oriental Village at the base of the mountains and it was extraordinarily beautiful. In true form, we then got tickets for the cable cars and traveled to the top of the mountain.

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We were greeted by visitors at a local gas station.

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The water ways were spectacular.

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Oriental Village at the base of the mountains.

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Friends Herb, Lyn, and Maurizio

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Once at the peak, we hiked down to the single pylon suspension bridge.

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Trisha and John Parker, Langkawi

We took in a beautiful beach on the way back to port.

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What a wonderful place in the world. Will never forget it.

 

 

 

 

 

Have we just gotten old and grumpy, or has the younger generation of this nation gone completely off the rails?

I ask this question with the understanding that every previous older generation has probably asked the same question. But in this case, I afraid it’s true. Of course generalizations of this kind are flawed to some extent because one cannot lump all persons in a group with a blanket assessment. How about we just agree that the majority of younger folks today fall into a very similar and somewhat freightning mindset?

While there have been a number of names given to the last couple of generations such a Generation X and Millennials, I would refer to a phenomenon I would label the Me Generation. I would describe these folks as forever connected to their smart phones, social media, and vapid media celebrities such as the Kardashians and the Housewives of Whatever. Tell me you haven’t tried having a conversation with a son or daughter, or grandchild, and the whole time they were looking at their smartphone. Bring up a historical event or person and see if you don’t get a glazed look. Remember the survey that asked young people to name the names of persons serving on the Supreme Court? Judge Judy was named most often.

Once again, I know I’m generalizing. But I do believe there is a very concerning trend toward self indulgence and entertainment and less involvement with family, community, and country.

The obvious question is why? I believe it’s because an increasing majority of those who make up these generations have no skin in the game. Many more of these young adults are now living at home with seemingly less ambition to make it on their own. More than forty five percent of households now don’t pay any federal income tax. Government handouts are at record levels never seen before. Who cares who gets elected? Let’s vote for the one who promises the most free stuff seems to be the attitude. Additionally, why should a generation that has no military draft give a damn about national defense? I’m guessing most couldn’t find strategic hot spot countries on a map.

If this sounds a bit bitter, you’d be right. I’m concerned about our culture and our country. I hope I’m wrong.

South Seas Adventure – Part 5

Having begun our adventure in Perth, Australia, we then traveled to exotic Bali and the exciting city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We then set sail for Penang, Malaysia. Here are some of the sights we took in while spending time in the older and more traditional areas of Penang. We loved the numerous temples, palaces, street markets, and street art.

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Trisha and John Parker in Penang, Malasia

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Trisha Parker with friend and entertainer Maurizio

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John Parker, Penang, Malaysia

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Trisha Parker, Penang street art

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South Seas Adventure – Part 4

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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For those following our South Seas Adventure, we departed Bali and set sail for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As so many travelers from the U. S. discover when traveling to new and developing areas of the world, it often appears we are becoming a third world nation. Kuala Lumpur is one of those places. Construction is everywhere, companies from all over the world are thriving, and the people are working hard and taking pride in their cities and country.

Above are the famous Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, and until 2004, the tallest structure in the world. My wife Trisha was very excited to be at the towers and remembered the Sean Connery movie Entrapment that was filmed there.

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Trisha Parker at the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

When we reached the observation level we took dozens of photos. In the photo below you can also see the Kuala Lumpur Tower. We also made a visit to that structure.

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Below is one of the many pictures I took from the Kuala Lumpur Tower.

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Inside the Petronas Towers was the most spectacular shopping mall we have ever seen. Every high-end store you can imagine is located there. We could not pass up having lunch at one of the many dozens of eateries.

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We were treated quite well by the Muslim people we encountered who populate this city and the country of Malaysia, and that influence could be seen in their older government and religious structures.

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Interestingly, while touring the city we noticed many parks and beautiful green spaces that were very well maintained. I hope we are able to return again sometime soon.

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BALI

During our time in the Perth region of Australia, we enjoyed so many beautiful and historic sites. One of these was our truly fun river cruise to the port of Fremantle. It was both scenic and historic, perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean. In some ways the town itself reminded me of an old western town in the U. S. The more historic places such as the Roundhouse that once held prisoners, seemed right out of a Pirate movie. We actually did lock my wife Trisha in real stocks. She was a good sport but could not wait to get out.

 

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Trisha and John Parker – Fremantle Roundhouse

After our time in Australia, we boarded a ship for our three day cruise to Bali. Keeping us company was our good friend and Italian musician/singer extraordinaire Maurizio.

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Maurizio and Trisha Parker

After a relaxing and beautiful time aboard ship, we reached the port city Benoa. We were greeted by the exotic Balinese dancers and musicians.

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Benoa, Bali

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Trisha and John Parker, Bali

Our first stop was the beautiful Fairmont Sanur Beach Resort for a beautiful and tasty brunch. We also enjoyed the beauty of the beach and surroundings.

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Fairmont Sanur Beach

My buddy Herb and I attempting to launch a boat.

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Sanur Beach

After our time on the beach, we headed to the incredible seaside cliffs for a hike up to the famous Uluwatu Temple. Quite a hike, but the views were beyond compare.

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Trisha and John Parker – Bali

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Uluwatu Temple

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Uluwatu Temple Cliffs

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Uluwatu Temple

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Uluwatu Temple Grounds

After our hike up to the temple and back down, we headed to Kuta Beach for lunch. I admit, I wasn’t expecting much after traveling through the somewhat rural backroads of Bali. Much to my surprise, the lunch was absolutely delicious while on the back deck of the restaurant overlooking spectacular Kuta Beach.

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Kuta Beach Lunch

Our time in Bali was a dream come true. It was more beautiful and exotic than we could have imagined. Back on the ship, with friends Lyn and Herb, we celebrated with a dinner, show, and more time enjoying the talents of Maurizio.

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Perth

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This week continues an admitted series of vanity blogs sharing our South Seas Adventure. First, I must apologize for misspelling Bryan Adams name in last week’s blog. He spells his name with a “y.” Sorry Bryan.

Most of the people who responded asked to see more pictures. They didn’t say less writing, but I’m taking the hint in this and future blogs.

As previously described, our adventure began in Perth, Australia. It is clearly a city on the move, and the people were friendly and generous. We were fortunate to secure reservations and stay at the beautiful Hyatt Regency.

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On day two, our wonderful friends and travel buddies Lyn and Herb arrived.

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After a brief rest, we headed back down to the Swan River, took in a gorgeous sunset, and gathered with the locals for some river-side dining and music. Australians seem to know they live in a paradise and definitely take advantage by enjoying life.

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The following day we became typical tourists taking in Perth’s highlights such as their famous Bell Tower. We just had to take the tour and get a picture from the observation deck

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We loved the architecture of their government building and Supreme Court.

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We also took in Kings Park with it’s beautiful views, War Memorials, Botanical Gardens, and Herb’s favorite, the DNA tower.  He’s somewhere up in there  A really spectacular city.

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South Seas Adventure

Part 1

As described, this blog is about the “joys and challenges of retired life.” As frequent readers already know, one of the great joys my wife and I share is the opportunity to travel to exciting locations both throughout the U. S. and around the world. Our latest travel adventure to exotic locations in the South Seas was an extraordinary journey we will never forget.

Over the next few weeks I will share descriptions and photos from our experience in short segments. I hope you will enjoy them.

Perth

Our adventure began with a late night flight from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. After the fourteen plus hour flight, we had two hours to make our next flight from Sydney to Perth that took about five and a half hours. Perth is an incredibly beautiful city on the southwest coast of Australia. After a bit of rest, and losing an entire day crossing the international dateline, we were wide awake in the middle of night. Checking with the hotel staff that assured us it was quite safe, we ventured in the dark down to the beautiful lighted walkway along the Swan River. The lights of the tall building were glowing in the dark and were shortly replaced by a glorious sunrise. It was the start of a wonderful day.

Back at the hotel we grabbed a bit of breakfast and I suggested we make our way to the hotel pool. It was still early in the morning but quite warm and I thought our flight weary muscles could use some time in the water.

As the only ones at the pool, we were enjoying ourselves and noticed the tiles on the pool steps were a bit slippery. A few minutes later, a man and woman arrived with a beautiful little girl. Being the cautious mother and grandmother she is, my wife advised the couple about the steps. They both thanked Trisha for her thoughtfulness and began their swim. After a while, the man got out of the pool and came to where we were relaxing. He asked us about our trip and when we said we were going to be joining a friend of ours who is a musician, he told us he was also a musician. Not thinking too much about it, we continued talking. At some point, I began to think the man looked familiar. Finally, I said “we should know you shouldn’t we?” He reached out his hand and camly said, “Brian Adams.” Yes, Brian Adams, the international singing star, composer, photographer, and activist. We even spent more time with him and his family at a pool-side lunch. Although he modestly told us he was performing that night, the next day we found out he drew over 6,000 people to his concert at King’s Park in Perth. Our trip was off to a very interesting start.

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Trisha Parker and Brian Adams

Over the years, any mention of politics in this blog has usually been satirical in nature. Fact is, I used to be much more political and often worked in the campaigns of those I felt were worthy. As I’ve grown older, I still vote, discuss politics with friends when the topic comes up, but have resigned myself to the notion my efforts are relatively meaningless. Dispite this mindset, I need to get something off my chest.

 

As a young adult, I served four years in the United States Air Force. I was trained as a communication analyst and my job required a Top Secret Clearance. Being raised in California, my background check took months in which every person that lived within blocks of me, even as a child, were interviewed. While waiting on my clearance during those months, I was assigned medial jobs on my base in Texas. Once I received the clearance, I was assigned to bases both in Texas and then overseas.

 

The clearance I received, as did all others I worked with, had an additional classification that came with other responsibilites and restrictions. While my fellow servicemen (there were no women at that time) were just ordinary people doing their jobs, everyone – let me repeat – everyone was briefed and knew they were not to share or communicate in any way the nature of our mission or the materials with which we worked. In fact, even our trash was kept in bags that were burned. We all took turns on that detail.

 

Did everything we worked with have a classification? No. It was work in progress. Did we take it outside the compound or discuss it away from work? No. Each of us knew the nature of our jobs and the materials we worked with were to be treated as sensitive and likely secret to top secret. We were just airmen but we understood the consequences of violating our resonsibilities could send us on a oneway trip to Leavenworth. We were not Secretary of State.

 

As I said, I’m not particularly political these days. But if anyone out there is thinking of voting for Hillary Clinton for President, please think again. I should add, at this point, I don’t know who I’m going to support. I’m not particularly inspired by any of the current candidates. But I know one thing for sure. Ms. Clinton is not being truthful. She knew the materials she handled should not have been communicated on her personal devices, stored on her personal devices, and maintained by a private non-security cleared company. While I hope her negligence does not have any security consequences for our country, a vote for her would certainly be negligence on the part of any voter.

Happy New Year!

Be Positive and Reduce Stress

In our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life, my wife Trisha and I put forth a number of retired-life suggestions ranging from health and fitness to financial planning and management. Because we really do try to live the principles in our book, we review and discuss them frequently.

Looking back, one of the most important principles we proposed is that of maintaining a postive attitude and reducing stress. While there are many joys that can be associated with retired life and aging in general, the challenges certainly do increase. As my friend Herb says, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” Loss of friends and loved ones, aging bodies and related health issues are just a few of our challenges. Througout the aging process, maintaining a positve attitude and reducing stress becomes increasingly important.

With this in mind, I thought I would start out the New Year by sharing the following principles:

· Spend time with postive people – This may seem a bit obvious and/or simplistic, but I’m always amazed to hear people talk about those in their lives that cause them stress. At this point in our lives, do we really have time to spend with people who have negative attitudes or create stress for us? Perhaps it’s time to be a bit more selective.

· Spend time with those who deserve it – Is this selfish? Yes, but life is short and artificial obligations to spend time with those who make our lives stressful is neither wise nor healthy. I remember a woman who read this principle in our book and told me she had a stressful upcoming event and she “just had to attend.” My simple response was, “No, you don’t.”

· Surround your life with humor – This one has always been easy for me because I was fortunate to grow up in a home filled with humor and very little conflict. As I grow older, I do observe the world has more than its share of grumpy old men and women and the research tells us they trully are unhappy, create stress for themselves and others, and are most often unhealthy.

· Keep life lighthearted – We all face difficult situations, but if we can find the humor or lighter side, perhaps it will reduce our stress. As an example, I recently had to receive numerous and increasingly painful injections in my back. When the doctor began he said, “You’re going to feel some pressure.” I said, “You know when a doctor says that, he really means buckle up!” The doctor and both nurses began to laugh and we all got through the half hour procedure quite well. To be honest, I got that line from comedian Brian Regan, one of my favorites.

· Take the long view – We all know people who become stressed and dramatic with every little thing life throws at them. Life is difficult enough and if we take a longer view of our difficult situations, it’s possible we can reduce our stress.

· Become solution oriented – When faced with a stressful situation, try to look for solutions rather than letting emotions take over. I’m blessed with a wife who is a master of this and actually made a successful career as a problem solver. She is not a “drama queen” in any sense and I’m very grateful.

· Explore your faith – While neither my wife nor I would ever try to convert someone to our faith, we certainly would suggest people explore their spiritual beliefs. We find great comfort in ours.

From my wife Trisha and me,
have a wonderful New Year.

Trisha and John Parker Copenhagen

Trisha and John Parker
Copenhagen

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A Christmas Memory

 

Growing up in a very traditional family the Christmas holiday season was magical. While we were far from wealthy (we actually lived less than a block from the train tracks), the lights of the tree, my mother’s cooking, and the love and laughter of family made us quite rich indeed.

 

When my wife and were blessed with children, we tried to provide them a similar experience. Each year we attended our church services, decorated our home, and our holiday seasons continued to be filled with love and family.

 

As our three sons were blessed with families of their own, they continued the Christmas tradition. Although distance would not always allow all the families to be together, each of them celebrated in similar fashion. By this time, my parents were living with my wife and myself, and even as adults, it was still a wonderful and magical time of year.

 

Now, as it happened one year, my parents had traveled to be with my sister and her family during the holidays. Each of our sons had scheduled to be with the families of their wives. My wife and I, for the first time in our lives, found ourselves alone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We were not devastated, but it just felt a bit strange.

 

On Christmas Eve, as scheduled we attended the children’s program at our church. This was something we loved each year because the children were always excited and, well . . just kids. Their music and skits were wonderful.

 

They also ran late each year. As we drove away from our church that Christmas Eve I turned to my wife and said, “I’m hungry.” We decided to stop by our favorite little Chinese reastaurant to see if it was still open. It was, barely.

 

As we entered, there was only one couple in the dimly lit small dining area. As we sat down, that couple left leaving us completely alone. Christmas Eve and we were alone in a Chinese restaurant.

 

The owner, who we knew, came out and informed us when we finished our meal they were going to close and go home. Just as we began to eat, and beginning to feel a bit depressed, several people came through the door. It was a family from another church and they had brought a family that was down on their luck for a nice dinner after their service. They sat next to us and we all got aquainted. The children in both families were all happy and quite well behaved. Before we knew it, other families began to appear, many of whom had brought families from their churches. Before we knew it, the restaurant was full of adults and children laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I don’t think the lighting had actually changed, but for some reason it now seemed bright and sparkling.

 

After a wonderful evening at our church and what we almost believe to be a Christmas miracle of love and fellowship at our Chinese restaurant, my wife and I headed home filled with the Christmas spirit. As we snuggled up in front of our fireplace, we agreed it was one of the best evenings of our lives. It’s a wonderful Christmas memory.

Merry Christmas to you all.