PESSIMISM PREPARES US FOR TRAVEL

Most of us feel excited when we plan for a trip.  We’re escaping the boredom of our daily routine.  We will see new places, taste new food, and perhaps visit with relatives.  We refuse to believe anything could go wrong.  And yet,  it frequently does.  Optimism is a desirable trait, but  pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks. 

Let’s say you are flying to your destination.  Who would spend days on the road  when an airplane gets you there in hours?  Nine times out of ten, that works.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  Your flight gets delayed, and you’re stuck in an airport with a bunch of crying babies, and irate  passengers. Your  frustration with this scenario is inversely proportional to the amount of optimism with which you began the trip.   This wasn’t what you expected!   You while away the time reading old e mails and Facebook posts , and buying stale, $10 sandwiches if you’re hungry. .  But look, there a lady calmly reading a paperback book.  She reaches in her purse for a package of mixed nuts,  and nibbles away while sipping a bottle of water.   She knew this might happen, and she’s prepared for it.  Not angry, not bored, just making the best of a bad situation.

Pessism prepares us for traffic jams and other travel perils
Optimism is a good trait, but pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks

Suppose you decide to drive, and  have a very long trip ahead .  The triptik  tells you it will take 10 hours to reach your destination.  You’re counting on that, and the fact that there are fast food restaurants all along the interstate.  Suddenly, you’re in a traffic stall.  There’s been an accident , and no one can say when the road will be clear. It could be hours.  Now, you realize you have to pee.  This happened to us once when on a 1500 mile trip.  I finally found a paper cup to relieve myself.  Why hadn’t we ordered one of those portable unisex travel urinals?  You can get them online for under $10.  

Braver, and more adventurous folks  will hop on a motorcycle to reach their destination.  There’s nothing like being on the open road and enjoying nature while driving.  But the fact is, driving a motorcycle is dangerous.   Many cyclists refuse to wear helmets.  Their optimism  doesn’t always pay off.. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 14% of all traffic death s in 2011.  Any motorcyclist with a dependent family should have a life insurance policy, but many don’t.  A reasonable dose of pessimism might save a bereaved family from financial hardship.

Autumn is a popular travel season.  Enjoy your trip , but be prepared for a few setbacks.

WARNING: ONE THING MAY RUIN SLEEP

The “twilight years”, when people grow old, is supposed to be a time of peace.  Our worries are over, kids grown, and we can relax, enjoy life.  Why, then, do most elderly people have trouble falling to sleep? We’re told to go out in the sunlight and get more exercise.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and take magnesium.  But what if these things don’t work?  Warning: one thing may ruin your sleep.

Even after retirement, I didn’t have problems falling to sleep.    But that  changed when we stopped going South last winter.  We looked for something to get us though the long winter nights.  Our grown children had been talking about Netflix for years, so we decided to bite the bullet and  embrace technology.  We, too, could binge on  House of Cards and Ranch on those long, cold evenings.  Instead of  yearning for spring, we would liven up the season with some great television shows.  And that’s when I began to lie awake long after I’d gone to bed.  

At first, I resigned myself to my fate.    The experts said it was normal. The elderly have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and that’s the way it was going to be. The sleeplessness  continued even when spring arrived. and during the long hot summer,.

And then, last week, I stumbled across a story about “blue light,’ and what it does to our sleep patterns. According the the National Academy of Sciences, “the use of a light emitting electronic devise…before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep…suppresses melatonin*, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning.”

For the first 30 years of my life , children went to bed after dark, while  grownups listened to the radio, watched black and white TV and read books. No one had ever heard of blue light..  Then along came television and e mail and i phones.

TV emits blue light, blocks the prodution of melatonin, and may keep you awake
Watching television two hours before bedtime could keep you from falling asleep promptly

And now, our new habit of watching Netflix before going to bed was exposing me to hours of blue light , and keeping me awake.   Computers also emit blue light, so I would have had the same problem if I’d been online for the same amount of time.

Last week,   I found glasses on the internet that block UV light,  and promptly ordered some.   Since they hadn’t arrived, , I put on a pair of sunglasses while watching television.  Within an hour, I  felt groggy and struggled to stay awake.  By the time our programs were over, I stumbled into bed, and fell asleep within minutes.

I’m hoping my new UV blocking glasses will have the same effect as the sunglasses.  There is plenty of evidence that blue light affects when our bodies create melatonin.  So,  if you watch television a couple of hours before bedtime, these glasses might help stop you from staying up later than you want.

There are many factors that affect the quality of your sleep, but blue light may be one of them.

*Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin in the brain increases when it’s dark, and decreases when it’s light.

BLATANT AGEISM DURING DNC DEBATE

If you’ve followed my blog, you know I’m not a big fan of Joe Biden.   But in this case, I’m defending him against what he was subjected to last Thursday night on television. Senator Julian Castro’s mean spirited attack on Biden’s memory was a sign of blatant ageism during the Democratic National Committee debate.

Once a person  hits 70 , they’re apt to be a victim of ageism, whether they  realize it or not.  It could happen when the sales  person at the electronics store spouts a bunch of techie-speak, and shakes his head in amusement when you ask him to translate  in plain English.  Or  the rental agent at your vacation apartment puts you in a shoddy, overpriced place and refuses to give you a refund or find a better place. Then,  the mechanic at the tire store who  says you need a new tire, even though you  actually just need a small  repair. These are things that don’t happen to men and women under 50.

To tell the truth, I don’t remember much about the DNC debate.  There was a lot of talk about free healthcare.  Bernie Sanders ranting and raving, and Elizabeth Warren promising us the moon with no tax increases.  (Hello: Have you talked to your Italian and Canadian friends about their tax rate?)

But three salient moments remain in my memory.

First,  Julian Castro verbally  pummeling Biden , accusing him of forgetting what he just said.  What was the point of that? Except to say: “you’re too old and senile to be  president”.

 Mayor Pete was the voice of reason crying in the wilderness
Once again, Mayor Pete was the most rational candidate when defending Joe Biden

Second: , Hoosier Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s rational  response:   “This is why Presidential debates are becoming unwatchable. It reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington…poking at each other…” .

Third,  when Minnesota senator   Amy Klobuchar,  said, ,” I don’t want to be president for half of America—I want to be president for all Americans.  I want to represent all of this country, not half of it. “

Amy Kloubucher seemed like the most sensible candidate at the DnC debate
Amy Klobuchar said what is needed to bring this country together

Sadly, if you look at the Vegas Odds on the 2020 Election, you will find that Buttigieg and Klobuchar are way down on the list of those predicted  to win.  Apparently, common sense, courtesy, and respect are no longer an asset when running for president.

STOP! DON’T EAT SO MUCH SUGAR

Do you ever check the content of  other people’s shopping carts?  As a retired dietitian, I have to admit that old habits die hard.  As I stand in line at the supermarket, I sometimes  see warning signs of sugar addiction.  Today, when I observed  what a man bought, I felt like saying: ” Stop! Don’t eat so much sugar.”

Eating too much sugar and candy is bad for your health
Too much candy may be hazardous to your health

Here’s what this sugar lover had in his cart.   One  apple pie. Five  pounds sugar.  One package doughnuts. Ten packages of assorted candies. A carton of regular cola. One pound of  bacon. One  loaf of  bread.   Did I see a single piece of fresh fruit?  Nope, not even a bag of grapes, which might have satisfied his sweet tooth. Salad makings?  Again, nothing.  No fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers or celery.

My checkout went fast, so I ended up following the sugar lover to the parking lot.  Health professionals say it’s  mostly low income folks–living in a food desert– who have such an unhealthy diet.  Not true, in this case. The well dressed man with a  sweet tooth  drove a late model, upscale vehicle.   His face was flushed. Small purplish  bruises on his arms indicated some type of disease or  medical procedure.  If I had to guess, I’d say he might be a diabetic, or has  some type of circulatory problem. Could be anything.. I tried to envision his  next meal. A bacon sandwich, maybe?  Along with a big glass of cola?  Dessert, perhaps, a piece of apple pie.   Later in the day,  snacks:  candy, candy, candy.  How nutritious is that?

I guess you can get addicted to sugar.  Apparently, it can give you a “sugar high,” followed by a drop in blood sugar that leaves you tired and maybe even depressed.  There are at least 10 bad side effects that come from consuming too much sugar.

If your sweet tooth affects your health, it’s time to change your eating habits,  and head for the  grocery store  produce department. .

WHERE WERE YOU ON 9/11?

There are a few days in your lifetime that you remember forever, in great detail.  Where you were, who you were with, and how you felt.  Where were you on 9/11?

For me, that first huge memory was Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy was shot.  My firstborn was one month old, and I can remember the sun shining in our apartment window in Evanston, Illinois. My husband was at work in downtown Chicago.  I know I was wearing a black sweater, and my son had on a little white sleeper.

 For about an hour, I simply sat and listened and watched, too stunned to move.  Suddenly, the stay-at-home moms  came out of their apartments and onto the sidewalk, and finally gathered in my apartment because it was the largest and could hold the most people.  And we talked and watched TV,  and no one had any thing to eat or drink for hours.

On 9/11, it was a different story.  My husband was able to take walks then, and he had a radio plugged into his ear.   It was a warm , sunny day and we were both wearing sleeveless shirts.   He heard it right away, of course, but when he told me what had happened, I thought at first it was a hoax, or he was mistaken.  Even then, we had no idea how extensive the damage, or how many people had been killed.  Finally, we passed a house where a young man whom we had never met came out from his doorway, and asked us if we had heard what happened.  So it was true.  We shook our heads, and mutely turned away, too stunned to reply.

Looking back, it seems strange that we were at war, but war was never declared (how did that differ from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?)  and life went on pretty much the same for those who lived far from New York & DC.

But we will never forget 9/11.

10 GREAT THINGS ABOUT FALL

Have you ever taken one of those online weather-personality tests?  They’re designed to reveal  which season best fits your personality.  No surprise for me—I always knew which season I liked best.  Here are 10 great things about fall:

fALL FOLIAGE IN COLORS OF ORANGE, GOLD AND CRIMSON IS SPECTACULAR
FALL FOLIAGE IN COLORS OF GOLD, ORANGE & CRIMSON GIVES US A SPECTACULAR SHOW

    1.  No air conditioning.  Does anyone really enjoy air conditioning?  Yes, we like escaping from hot, humid weather.  But the feel of air conditioning  does not compare to a fresh, fragrant autumn breeze.

    2.   Less laundry.  Most summer days, I’m apt to change my sweaty  clothes at least once a day,  if I’ve taken a walk or done errands.  Summer clothes usually  can’t be worn twice.  Wash loads are typically twice as large as in the cooler seasons.

  3.   Fall is the sweet spot for arthritis. Summer make my joints swell, , and winter makes them creaky. For some reason, arthritics get some pain relief and improved  joint flexibility in the  cool fall weather.

     4. Better sleep.  Well, of course you’re going to sleep better when you’re not tossing, turning and sweating it out on a hot night.

     5.  Hope is in the air.  Fall is the time for new beginnings.  Kids return to school, go off to college with high hopes for the future.  Their optimism is catching.  For seniors, there  are  new shows and concerts to see, and adult education classes to take.

6.   Fall festivals are held nearly every weekend in your own  or surrounding cities. Here  in Indiana, the famous Parke County  Covered Bridge festival in the middle of October draws thousands of visitors from all over the USA.

Who doesn't love the flavor of juicy, homegrown tomatoes that ripen in the fall
HOMEGROWN TOMATOES IN THE FALL ARE A DELICIOUS TREAT

    7.  Homegrown  tomatoes.  Now is the time to enjoy the taste of red, ripe, homegrown tomatoes, which put the bland flavor  hot house tomatoes to shame.

8.. Curling up with a hot beverage.   What could be better than  savoring  a cup of hot tea, hot chocolate, or hot apple cider on a cold day.

9You look better— summer’s heat and humidity frizzes your hair and opens your pores,  giving your skin an oily shine.  . Come fall,  your skin looks smoother and hair is more manageable.

  10Fall foliage.   Nothing compares to the spectacular show of autumn leaves..  Trees with  every shade of orange, gold, and crimson create a dazzling display, especially against a clear blue sky.

Here’s hoping that you will enjoy an awesome fall!

WHY MUST WE WAIT FOR HELP?

The media has been full of warnings about a possible recession.  I’m not sure how they  come up with those predictions.   I’d think one of the first signs would be the unemployment rate.  And yet, everywhere I’ve gone this week, businesses are understaffed.  Why must we wait in line for help?

If we're headed for a recession, why is there a labor shortage
IF WE’RE HEADED FOR A RECESSION, WHY IS EVERY PLACE SHORT STAFFED?

It started last weekend.   I  tried to deposit a check in my bank’s ATM machine over Labor Day.   Alas, it was broken.   On Tuesday, it was still broken, and long lines  formed  inside.  There were only three open slots with clerks—the other five were empty. Several of us turned around and left, rather than wait 15 or 20 minutes with  arthritic knees or a bad back.  When I got home, my phone rang. The bank was calling to say  I’d left my bank card in the ATM machine.  Bummer!  I took this opportunity to complain about the short staff after a long holiday. Not to mention a broken ATM system.   They informed me that several people were on vacation, and there were several vacancies to fill.  They didn’t apologize.

That afternoon, we had an appointment to have a new TV installed.  When the service man came, he discovered  our TV Stand was too small.  We would have to buy another stand,  and make a new appointment, which would take at least a week.   The reason?  Short of staff. He is the only technician the company has available, and he’s working ten hour days, going all over Indiana & Illinois.

At the VA last month, veterans  waited several hours to see their physicians.  Why?  Same answer. Sudden shortage of staff.

Drove  to the supermarket yesterday.  Same problem.  Long lines, only 2 checkout stands open.  Signs all over the place that they are taking employment applications.

Something doesn’t add up.  I’m not an economist or a politician—just a seasoned observer who’s weathered many recessions.   If that’s where we  are headed, why is there a labor shortage?  Why must we wait in long lines for help?