Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nemacolin Woodlands Spa

Located just about an hour and a half from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the Nemacolin Woodlands Spa.  Just off the National Road, Route 40 (other interesting sites along route 40 include Fort Necessity, where an important battle was fought during the French and Indian War), it is a bit of European luxury in the Laurel Highlands.  Famous for its Five Star restaurant, Lautrec, Nemacolin offers the guest a full menu of entertainment and resort options.  It is the home of the outstanding Pete Dye designed 18 hole golf course, Mystic Rock.  Along the 18th green is a hotel called Falling Rock. Originally built to be used by touring professionals during tournaments on the course, now, anyone can reserve a room. Not only is it a golf resort, Nemacolin is also a small ski resort, Mystic Mountain, perfect for beginners.  Coming this summer is a new casino.

The brainchild of 84 Lumber founder, Joe Hardy (whose family owned the Hardy & Hayes Jewelry Store), it features something for just about everyone. In the new 26,000 square foot ski lodge, there is a bowling alley, an arcade for the kids and a restaurant, Apex.  Also on the property is a shooting range and an off-road driving experience using Jeep Rubicon vehicles.

There are two main buildings, the Chateau and the Lodge. Separated by an extensive series of walkways, reportedly filled with some $46 million of artwork and collectibles, the Lodge is the more informal of the two hotels. Our room in the Lodge was quite nice, with two queen beds and a small balcony. The bathroom was huge by any standard and seemed to be quite new. We did not see the rooms in the Chateau, but I am sure they are even more lavish.

Not to be missed is the Woodlands Spa.  In a separate building from the Chateau and the Lodge, it can be reached on foot through a series of buildings and a skyway or via the Nemacolin shuttle. For a $20 fee, you are given access to the large, indoor, heated pool, the hot tub, sauna and steam room. Laying on the lounge chairs and listening to the soothing spa music is a great way to just relax.

The piece de resistance is the spa itself.  The spa offers a variety of massages, facials, etc at additional cost.  The massage therapists are well-trained and they make sure you are released of all tension by the time they are done with the 50 minute treatments (which cost $125). 

In addition to Lautrec, which offers a tasting menu at between $110 and $200 per person, Nemacolin affords additional dining experiences, including Autumn and the Tavern.  Autumn is more informal than Lautrec and offers an eco-friendly menu featuring locally-grown and raised foods, in addition to seafood flown in daily. At our dinner recently, all 5 of us had seafood entrees, including crabmeat stuffed trout and sesame tuna. The wine list is extensive and a sommelier is available to help with your selection.  The wines are slightly pricey. The sesame tuna was perfectly prepared and rare as ordered. Autumn also serves breakfast. Among other selections is a freshly-prepared sausage patty, which is actually more like a pork meatball and quite good.

The Tavern and the adjacent ice cream shop are even less formal, but do offer a nice selection of sandwiches, burgers, chili and a fairly expensive fish and chips offering.

For more information on rates and availability, please go to the Nemacolin website,

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just a short note wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope you have enjoyed these posts.  I want to thank everyone for your support and hope you will continue reading them.

Peace to all and to all a "good day and night!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Save For Retirement the Easy Way

How would you like to save for retirement the easy way?  We all would, of course.  The statistics consistently show that Americans are simply not saving enough for their retirement.  Here is a possible easy solution that you can use to make sure you are on track for that retirement.

In this month's AARP The Magazine, there is an article by author, Jeffrey Yeager, adapted from his new book, "How to Retire the Cheapskate Way:  The Ultimate Cheapskate's Guide to a Better, Earlier, Happier Retirement."  The plan is very simple:  Yeager suggests that each year, you plan on saving at least an amount equal to your age---and two zeros. In other words, at age 40, you would save $4000 and at age 50, $5000.  If you are going to follow this plan, you might want to consider having a set amount deducted automatically from your checking account each month and transferred to your IRA or other retirement account.

According to Yeager, if you follow this plan beginning at age 20 and assuming a 5% annual return compounded, you would have at least $500,000 at age 60.  Not an insignificant amount .Of course, no one can predict the future as to rates of return or the effect of inflation, but this seems like a relatively painless plan to save for the future.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Save Money Buying a Car and House and Everything Else

The Guidelines to Saving Money When Making a Purchase

1. Establish reasonable goals resulting from solid preparation.

2. Listen in order to understand the other party’s position and interests.

3. Always be polite and avoid showing your emotion.

4. Never make the first offer or bid against yourself.

5. Work through impasses.

6. Hold people to their representations

Establish reasonable goals through research

I sometimes think that this is the most important aspect of preparing for any negotiation. Before you can begin negotiating you must know what it is you want. Often people have no clear understanding as to what they would like to accomplish by the negotiation. They may well have some vague idea about what they would like, but have not established in their heads where they want to end up. Nor do they have any plan on how to get there even if they do have some goal. Such vague notions and lack of preparation will almost surely mean that you will not reach your goal.

There was a folk song that was popular in the 1960s that became the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement, "Keep Your Eye on the Prize." It sounds simple enough. Nonetheless, this is exactly what you need to think about each time you negotiate: What is the prize you hope to receive through the negotiations? What is it that you really want? The late Stephen Covey in his popular self-help book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," identified the most important of his habits for a successful negotiation: "begin with the end in mind."


That is what I am asking you to do each time you begin a negotiation: "begin with the end in mind." Every time you are engaged in a negotiation, and as we will discuss, you are probably engaged in some form of negotiation many times every day, keep this principle in mind. If you do, you will be more successful in those negotiations. Why does this formula work? Because, if you keep your goal in mind, you are more likely to negotiate in a way that will facilitate the accomplishment of that goal. It does not matter whether you are asking for a raise from your boss or discussing where to go to dinner tonight with your spouse. These are negotiations and having a firm goal in mind will enable you to achieve that goal. Sometimes people are afraid to express that goal to the other party. That can be a major source of frustration. Who hasn’t stood outside with their co-workers deciding where to go to lunch and no one speaks up until finally someone does and then you end up going someplace you hate. Believe it or not, that is a negotiation and you just lost it.


How do you decide upon your goal? Let me suggest that one way of doing so is to do your research and plan out what you want to say and do. Let me give you a few examples. Let’s say you are interested in buying a new car and you want to make sure that you get the best price. When you go into the car dealer’s showroom, you will see the sticker price on the side window of the car you are interested in. As you know, that is really just the beginning price; it is not the price you should pay. You will soon be entering into negotiations with the salesperson and perhaps the manager. You want to be prepared; you want to know what the best price you can expect to get for the car you want.


One way to find out is to research the price paid by the dealer so that you know how much the automobile has been marked up in price. Two excellent sources of that information are and Consumer Reports magazine. Edmunds will show you what other people are paying for the same car you want to buy. Consumer Reports, in addition to its yearly car issue and periodic reviews, has an online product that for about $14 will give you a printable guide for the exact car with options you are interested in buying. It will show you not only the cost of the vehicle to the dealer (what he paid for it from the manufacturer) but also the costs of any accessories and packages available for that model.


Armed with that information, you can confidently go into the dealer, present your research and ask for the best price based upon the cost to the dealer. Now, the dealer will complain that he will not make a profit if he sells you the car at his cost. Certainly, he is entitled to some profit. Your research also should have taught you that frequently the dealer will receive certain incentives from the manufacturer that are not shown anywhere. That may be the only source of profit he needs.  So don’t be shy about asking for the car at the dealer’s own cost. Who knows, you might actually get the car at that price. In any event, as a result of your research, you have established your goal: get the best price from the dealer. And you have used that research to get that price.


This same strategy can be employed when buying a house or a new television as well as many other products. For example, when buying a house, before making an offer, you should research the real estate records  for your county (some of these are available online, so start there) to determine the price paid by the seller as well as research the price recently paid by buyers of comparable homes. Now, your agent may say that she has done so, but I suggest you do your own research. It is your money and no one has a greater interest than you in making sure you do not overpay for your dream home.


When buying appliances such as televisions, a good practice is to go to one of the big box stores such as Best Buy or Target, find the product you are interested in, noting its price. If you then go online and check on Amazon, eBay or similar sites, you can determine the price others are paying for that same product. Of course, you can purchase the item from Amazon if the price is lower; or, as an alternative, take your research to the big box store and ask that they either meet or beat that price. You will probably be surprised how often they will make the sale at the lower price. You have established your goal through research and will probably reach that goal.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Health Updates

Recently, I have written on the studies that show that lack of sleep can torpedo your efforts at dieting.  "How to lose weight while sleeping," December 11, 2012.  Well, a recent study in the medical journal, Sleep, has shown that losing sleep may also reduce your tolerance to pain. Although it is not known why, there appeared to be a connection between chronic sleep loss and acute pain.  So there is another reason to get your 8 hours every night.

In my November 29, 2012 post, "The Benefits of Tea and Why Starbucks is Getting into the Act," I wrote about all the health benefits of drinking tea.  A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology has now demonstrated that coffee may also have some unexpected benefits.  The study conducted by a researcher from the National Cancer Society has found that drinking caffeinated coffee may reduce the risk of oral cancer. The risk was shown to be reduced significantly by those drinking 4 to 6 cups of coffee a day. 

Today's New York Times contains an article entitled "Grapefruit is a culprit in More Drug Reactions." I first reported on this same subject in my December 6, 2012 post, "Should You Be Eating that Grapefruit?" The Times article reiterates that eating grapefruit can heighten the effects of  certain common medications including birth control pills and estrogen.  The full list is on  the Times' website,

Hitchcock: The Movie

Anthony Hopkins does not merely play the famed director, Alfred Hitchcock, in the new movie, "Hitchcock," he literally seems to inhabit his body.  Because the movie is about the filming of the horror movie, "Psycho," which shows a man taking on the personna of his dead mother, that seems particularly appropriate. 

The movie is both a technical exploration of the making of Psycho and also a love story of a sort, between Hitchcock and his long-suffering wife, Alma Reville.  As most people probably know by now, Hitchcock was obsessed with his blond leading ladies such as Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren.  Although it is believed that these were strictly fantasies on the part of Hitchcock, the movie shows that his obsession had a lasting effect on his relationship with his wife. Helen Mirren portrays Alma with her usual strength of character and shows that Alma, in her own way, was as impportant figure as her noted husband in the success of his movies.

The movie gives Alma quite a bit credit for the success of "Psycho", suggesting she was responsible for the terror of the famous shower scene involving the stabbing of the main character very early on in the movie. There is now some controversy over just how large a role she the changes that made that scene so memorable as the movie downplays the work of the screenplay's author.

 Psycho starred Janet Leigh and in this movie she is played by Scarlett Johansson as a rather sweet, family-oriented woman who was amused by Hitchcock. Jessica Biel has a rather small role as the actress Vera Miles, who also appeared in "Psycho".

Hopkins' portrayal of Hitchcock is clearly Oscar worthy.  Wearing all sorts of prosthetics on his face and presumably on the rest of his large and imposing stomach, he is totally believable as the tortured genius. Anyone who has heard Hitchcock's voice on the reruns of his famous television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, will recognize how closely Hopkins has captured that unmistakable diction and accent.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sherlock Holmes and Mindfulness

In an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times, author Maria Konnikova, suggests that Sherlock Holmes was one of the early practitioners of mindfulness.  "The Power of Concentration."  She points out that Holmes frequently was able to solve his cases while sitting in his rooms at 221 B Baker Street, by concentrating on one aspect of the case at a time.  Rather than a multitasker, he was the ultimate unitasker.

The article also discusses several studies which have shown that as little as five minutes a day of mindfulness (sitting quietly, observing the breathing and clearing the mind of all thoughts) can have a beneficial effect on both your emotions and your thinking ability.  Based on those studies, mindfulness may even have an effect on preventing the decline in mental ability as we age, including, perhaps, helping to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Bottom line:  if it was good enough for Sherlock Holmes, it surely is good enough for all of us. After all, don't we all want to remain mentally sharp as we age? 

Please see my November18, 2012 post, "What is Mindfulness?" for a further discussion of how to use mindfulness and its cognitive benefits. You will be glad you did.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"When it rains, it pours."  I recently wrote about the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, and gave it the highest marks. Well, there is another movie that recently came out that surpasses even that movie, Stephen Spielberg's "Lincoln".  Recently, it received 7 Golden Glove nominations, including best picture, best director and best actor.

There is probably no president who attracts more attention than Abraham Lincoln. It is said that more books have been written about Lincoln than any other person in history, with the exception of Jesus Christ!  He is a fascinating figure and is on Mount Rushmore for a reason.

The movie captures Lincoln in a way we have never seen him before.  Played by the English actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, he comes to life on the screen. You may remember the movie, "Young Mr. Lincoln," which is sometimes shown on late night television. Henry Fonda played the young Lincoln as he came into his own as a lawyer and politician. I always thought that was one of the best performances of Lincoln I had ever seen.  Day-Lewis does not merely portray Lincoln, he is Lincoln for almost two and one half hours.

Now no one knows exactly how Lincoln sounded or moved because there are no movies or recordings, but based upon contemporary accounts, Day-Lewis, with the help no doubt of Spielberg, has captured the man and not just the president

The movie, based upon the book by Doris Kearns-Goodwin, "Team of Rivals," details the last few months of Lincoln's life. It shows both the intimate side of his relationship with his children and his wife, Mary, called Molly, played by Sally Fields, and his frantic efforts to get the 13th amendment banning slavery passed by the House of Representatives and to end the Civil War.

The Lincoln in the movie has the warts of every man and is not portrayed as just the saint he is sometimes seen as.  He is not above offering postmaster jobs and other patronage to congressmen in return for votes for the amendment. Although we all know the outcome of his efforts, nonetheless, it makes for exciting viewing.

If you haven't seen it yet, now is the time to see "Lincoln".

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Everday Negotiations

Some people hate negotiating. They think it is too confrontational or they just don’t want to be bothered. They would rather pay full price than negotiate. When they buy a car, they pay the sticker price. When they experience problems with an appliance or computer they have purchased, they accept the response that there is nothing to be done from the customer complaint office. As a result, they sometimes become frustrated, blaming themselves for giving in or being timid.

This practical guide will show you that negotiating those everyday transactions and maneuvering life’s daily little annoyances does not have to be confrontational at all and can sometimes even be quite fun. It will show you how you can avoid confrontation in certain circumstances and still achieve your goals in the negotiation, whether it is getting the best price on a new car or dealing with an overworked and underpaid service representative. It will provide you with a new way of dealing with those pesky call and service centers that never seem able to help you. Although intended primarily for baby boomers, I think it will help just about anyone to be a better negotiator in those day to day negotiations.

 What is Negotiation?

The dictionary defines "negotiation" as the "mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement." [1] From this definition, it is apparent that one of the characteristics of a negotiation is that it is "mutual." That means that a negotiation is not intended to be one-sided. Each party is expected to be heard.

There are some people who believe that unless they receive everything they are seeking in a negotiation, they have failed. They are usually the ones who are rude and love confrontation. However, as the Rolling Stones sang, "you can't always get what you want." That is not to say that you should not try to get whatever you can. But keep in mind, in a negotiation there are bound to be compromises by both parties.

There are other people who believe that at the end of the negotiations each party should have received something of value. Often, this is called a "win win" result. While that may be the best result for all parties, the reality is that generally one party does get more than the other. This guide will help you be the one who gets more. Stuart Diamond, the author of a book on negotiation, in fact, titled his book, "Getting More." As he notes repeatedly in his book, that does not mean getting everything.[2]

How to Become a Successful Negotiator
What makes someone a good negotiator? There are many books on the subject of negotiations and seminars that may cost thousands of dollars. In this small guide, I hope to distil the best practices of a good negotiator in everyday situations. The best way to become one yourself is to practice. As the old joke went: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”  “Practice, practice, practice!” Let me suggest that the following guidelines are a good start. Much of what follows is simply common sense. Yet too often we forget them.

This is the first in a series of posts on negotiations which will appear periodically on this blog. So, stay tuned.


How to lose weight while sleeping,

Have you ever noticed that if you weigh yourself at night and again in the morning, you will inevitably weigh less in the morning? I am not sure what causes that phenomenon but a number of recent scientific studies have clearly shown that there is a direct correlation between the amount of sleep you get each night and your ability to lose weight.  But it is not what you think. The studies have shown that the more that you sleep while trying to lose weight, the more weight you can lose.

I know this sounds almost too good to be true, but an article in the Ann Intern Med, dated November 2, 2010, summarizes the results of.a study of some 10 men and women who were trying to lose weight.The results were quite surprising. Those who slept 5.5 hours a night over a 14 day period lost 55% less weight than those who slept 8.5 hours The authors of the study concluded that the amount of sleep plays a role in the maintenance of fat free body mass. Lack of sufficient sleep may cause the diets not to work as efficiently as they otherwise would.

So, don't worry if you are sleeping more while dieting.  It is a good thing, not a bad one!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Getting Through Airport Security with Gifts and Food

Millions of people will be traveling during this holiday season. Many of them will be traveling by air. Some of those people will be bringing with them gifts and food for family and friends.  So what is the easiest way to get through airport security with gifts and food items?

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers a few tips on traveling with food or gifts on its website. Often people will be carrying with them gifts which they have already wrapped. TSA does not prohibit wrapped gifts.  However, the security officers may unwrap the gift if it sets off an alarm or looks suspicious.  If you are traveling with gifts, leave them unwrapped and bring with you separately wrapping paper, ribbons, bows etc. which you can use to wrap the present after you reach your destination.  It's a simple tip but it saves time and trouble.

Many people like to bring food items either as gifts or to use in preparing holiday dinners at their destination.  The TSA has compiled a list of such items which it suggests should be placed in your checked bag, shipped ahead of time or left at home if in excess of the permitted 3.4 ounces.  These include cranberry sauce, cheese dips, jams, jellies and gift baskets containing such items.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Should You Be Eating That Grapefruit?

For years doctors have been advising patients who take cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor not to eat grapefruit. Most of us probably never knew why. A recent study in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, CMAJ, suggests that grapefruit as well as other citrus fruits such as Seville oranges and limes contain something called furanocoumarins which can inactivate a certain enzyme in the body. When that enzyme is inactivated, certain drugs remain in the system longer than they should.Serious side effects may result, including kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and even sudden death.

The CMAJ study, which was conducted by a pharmacologist from the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario, Canada, concluded that as many as 85 drugs may interact with grapefruit and the other citrus fruits in that way. As little as one grapefruit or a 7 ounce glass of grapefruit juice can be enough to cause these problems. Those over the age of 45 are believed to be the most at risk.

While grapefruit  and Seville oranges (which is sometimes used in marmalade) appear to be the worst culprits, fortunately, the two common varieties of oranges, Valencia and navel oranges are not implicated.

Bottom line: before grabbing that glass of  grapefruit juice in the morning, talk to your doctor and ask her whether you might have a problem with an interaction with one of your medications. It may save your life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Everday Negotations

"The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Everyday Negotiations", a free e-book is now available on this blog at the entry dated November 24, 2012.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stand Up for Good Health

If your mother was anything like my mother, when I was a kid watching television, she was always chiding me to "sit up straight." Then it seemed like it was good healthful advice. Turns out mothers were wrong. We shouldn't be sitting at all. Recent research cited in The New York Times suggests that we should be standing, not sitting, when working on our computers or at our work desk or cubicle.

Reporting on two studies in the The British Journal of Sports Medicine and Diabetogia, the Times article, Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics, quotes Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at UCLA,  as saying, "we believe that sitting is harmful in itself." According to the article, sitting at your computer for an extended period of time (over an hour or so) can significantly reduce the number of fat burning enzymes and can also lower the amount of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. It may even contribute to diabetes and heart disease.

So, what is the solution?  One answer is standing while working.  This usually involves some form of stand-up desk.  There are many models for sale ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands. There are even under the desk treadmills and stationary cycles that you can pedal while seated. An easier (and cheaper) solution is to put your laptop on a bookcase and work from that. I have tried it and it works quite well. I suggest you give it a try and let me know if it works for you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Benefits of Tea and Why Starbucks is geting into the Act

Starbucks announced recently that it was acquiring the pricey tea store chain Teavana for $620 million, Teavana seems to be found in just about every mall in the country. You know the store: they offer you free tastings of various exotic teas just outside the door and inside the store sell tea in bulk They seem to be doing quite well.  Obviously, Starbucks is onto something or it wouldn't be making this purchase.

 Now, I don't know about you, but I love tea. Most of the world agrees, as other than water, it is the most popular drink in the world. I drink it hot in the morning with my breakfast and iced at lunch. In the evening, I may have another cup. Black or green, loose or in bags, it's tea for me. Lots of people praise  coffee, but give me a good cup of tea every time. It has a certain warmth that no cup of coffee can offer. And cold, nothing can be more refreshing. I guess Starbucks is catching on. Is there anything more pleasant than the sound of the name of the play (and movie), The Tea House of the August Moon? And how about "Tea and Sympathy" or "Two for Tea."  Finally, we all have  heard of people "reading the tea leaves. No one sings the praises of coffee quite that way or tries to read the coffee grounds!.

How do you brew the perfect cup of tea?  There are a number of theories about that.
Some purists insist on using a tea ball filled with loose tea in a pot.  They then pour boiling water over the leaves and leave it to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Others are content to pour almost boiling water over tea bags and let it steep.  Still others throw caution to the winds and pour some water into a cup, drop in a tea bag and put it in the microwave for a minute or so. Anyway you make it is fine with me.

And ice tea?  What better way than to throw a few tea bags into a pitcher, pour cold water over it and put it out in the sun for a few hours?  With a few lemon slices or sprigs of mint tossed in for good measure, it is heaven on a hot afternoon.

Most of the tea we drink comes from three countries, China, India and Sri Lanka. There are numerous varieties available. One of my favorites is Earl Grey a black tea with a distinct orange flavor to it.

What are the benefits of tea?  Plenty!  Whether black or green or even white, tea contains flavenoids which are known to reduce the risk of cancer. According toWebMD, there are quite a few other health benefits that may surprise you.  It may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,  In addition, it may even help lower cholesterol.  Another side benefit is that it may also contribute to mental alertness. That may also be due to the presence of caffeine in the tea. A Starbucks Grande Tazo Awake contains about 135 mg. of caffeine, about the same as some coffees. Black tea, which is steeped for 3 minutes, contains 30-80 mg of caffeine. Snapple lemon tea contains about 60 mg.The caffeine in tea may also help in avoiding gallstones and maybe even dementia according to the Nutrition Action Health Letter. You might want to take your tea without milk as it is believed that tea loses some of its antioxidant qualities when milk is added.

So, feel free to drink up----and cheers!.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Bond, James Bond": Skyfall

Ordinarily, I do not review movies on this blog.  But this time I will make an exception.  We just returned from seeing the new James Bond film, Skyfall.   It is in my opinion the best of the Bond films ever.

I have been watching the Bond films since the first one 50 years ago, Dr. No.  I thought no one could play 007 like Sean Connery.  I was wrong. In this film, Daniel Craig actually surpasses anything Connery had done with the character. Moreover, the script is by far one of the best in recent years. It has an easily understandable plot and all of the characters are well-played.  In addition to Craig, Judi Dench in her familiar role as M is nothing less than superb.  Indeed, most of the story line centers around her and the efforts of a former MI6 agent (played by Javier Bardem, who chews up the scenery when on screen) to track her down.

As usual, the action is nonstop with car and train chases around the world. Supposedly, Craig does most of his own stunts. If so, hats off to the man. Some of them were quite amazing. There is also quite a bit of nostalgia and humor in the film, including the resurrection of the original Bond car, the Aston Martin with the ejection seat.

As an added attraction, the music for the opening sequence is sung by Adele, who also co-wrote the song, also called "Skyfall".

Whether you are a James Bond fan or not, you have got to see this film. The almost two and one half hour film just flies by. 

Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol was probably the first artist who turned art into a business. He was almost solely  responsible for creating the Pop art genre.  He is currently the subject of an exhibition of certain of his works at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)New York, NY 10028. Phone: 212-535-7710 (TTY: 212-650-2921  The show, entitled "Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years," runs until December 31, 2012.

Andy Warhol, in addition to being a painter and graphic artist, also produced a number of quirky movies, including his famous Chelsea Girls and Empire, which shows the Empire State Building in slow motion and runs for some 8 hours. In the late sixties and early seventies he hosted celebrities at his studio, The Factory, where he reportedly coined the phrase,  "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes." Warhol died in New York in 1987.

In addition to Warhol, the exhibit at the Met features many other well-known pop artists, including David Hockney, Keith Haring and Deborah Kass. But it is Warhol who is the featured artist.

For those of you who cannot make it to New York, there is a museum dedicated to Warhol in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, it features a number of his art works. In addition when we were there recently, the work of Deborah Kass was also featured.

In addition to his art, the Museum also showcases some Warhol memorabilia, including his high school graduation picture from the Schenley High School yearbook and his diploma from Carnegie Institute (now Carnegie-Mellon University).

The 7 story museum is located at 117 Sandusky Street Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 237-8300. The museum is open every day except for Monday. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm except for Friday when the museum is open  until 10  pm.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to Get the Best Deal: A Free E-book

For some time I have  been promising to publish a free e-book on negotiations. Well, here it is: The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Everyday Negotiaions.BoomerGuidetoNegotiations.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Generic Lipitor Recall

If you take the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, manufactured by the generic company, Ranbaxy, you should know that the manufacturer has recalled large batches of the drug known generically as atorvasatin calcium. According to the Forbes website,, the drug may include small pieces of glass. According to Forbes,  no other manufacturer's version of the drug has been recalled.

If you are taking the drug, you might want to contact your physician if you are not sure whether your drug has been recalled.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving and to thank all of the readers of this blog for their loyal support. As a further "thank you", I will shortly be making available for free to all those following the blog, a new e-book, entitled "The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Every Day Negotiations."  Keep an eye out for it. In the meanwhile, enjoy your holiday dinner and visiting with family and friends.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Your Fiscal Cliff

We have all heard a lot recently about the "fiscal cliff" that the government is facing and how it may affect all of us in the pocketbook with potentially new taxes and reduced benefits. While there is not much that  we can do to avert that crisis, there is something that you can do to try to avoid your own personal fiscal cliff or at least save a few dollars..

Let's face it, many of us spend too much every day on personal items that we don't really need.  We buy fancy lattes and eat expensive lunches and dinners. The New York Times recently ran a small article that struck me as a way to save some of that money. What if one day a week, you would not spend any money? I mean absolutely no money out of pocket.  Sure, you have to pay your bills, but what I am suggesting is that for one day each week, you reduce your discretionary spending to ZERO.

If you do that for one day a week for an entire year, I think you will be surprised how much money you will have saved.  And it is relatively painless.  For six days a week, you can follow your usual spending habits.  So long as you do not increase your spending on those other six days, you may be safe from your own fiscal cliff.

Try it.  Who knows, maybe next year you will want to do it for two days a week. Good luck.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness?   I have written before about the many beneficial effects of mindfulness and deep breathing techniques. "Every Breath You Take," May 2, 2012. These include lower blood pressure, better cognitive skills and many other health related benefits.  It is clearly a practice that everyone can and should do everyday if you value your health or want to become healthier. But what is it about mindfulness that makes it so beneficial and why has it become so popular?

While I don't claim to be an expert and certainly I am not a doctor or health professional, I think the answer lies in the fact that our nervous systems today are so overtaxed by all the outside forces that bombard us from every corner of our world. We are constantly exposed to numerous stimuli which is fueled by the belief that the more things we can do at the same time, the more productive we are. I think mindfulness offers a form of relief that eases both the mind and the body by reducing the number of stimuli. In a world of multitasking, mindfulness is the ultimate form of unitasking.

In other words, by concentrating on just one thing at a time, we find relief from all the other outside forces that seek to demand our attention. And all it takes is to concentrate our mind on what we are doing right now and not try to do too many things at the same time.  If you are watching a football game on the television, watch the game but don't read the newspaper at the same time. If you are walking down the street, notice how you are walking, pay attention to your stride, the movement of your arms and every aspect of your body. If engaged in conversation, just listen rather than thinking only about what you are going to say.

 If you try these simple measures, I believe you will enjoy the benefits of mindfulness everyday without even thinking about it (no pun intended).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is the Flu Shot Right for You?

We have been told for years that we must get a flu shot every year. Those over 65 were especially encouraged to get a shot. Recently, however, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota issued a report suggesting that in reality, a flu shot offers little protection to those over 65. In fact, it as found that the flu shots of today offer only a limited degree of protection for those younger than 65.

In the New York Times dated, November 6, 2012, reporter Roni Caryn Rabin analyzes the results of that study. "Reassessing Flu Shots as the Season Draws Near," She points out that while there are many studies that purport to show the benefits of flu shots for those over 65, those studies really only show that those over 65 who take care of themselves physically, are less likely to get the flu or suffer serious illness as a result of contracting the flu.

So, what should you do? Since there is probably no harm in getting the shot, I plan on getting one. In addition, I think everyone should make sure they are careful in what they touch and who they come in contact with-----avoid public hand rails and those persons who sneeze or cough. And remember: good old-fashioned soap and water is the best remedy to avoid the flu. So, wash those hands as often as you can.

Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

The Reader's Digest has always run a column entitled "Laughter is the Best Medicine."  It turns out they may well have been right.  In today's New York Times, there is an article reporting on a study conducted in England by a researcher at Oxford University that suggests that laughter is really a form of exercise that can help raise your pain threshold. "The Chemical Payoff of Belly Laugh With Friends."

The study was conducted by Robin Dunbar, an Oxford professor of evolutionary psychology. She showed a group of volunteers a series of two sets of movies, one set of documentaries and a set of comedies.  She then measured their pain thresholds and found that when shown the comedies, the thresholds rose, but not when shown the documentaries. She concluded that was because the laughter, like exercise, causes an increase in endorphins in the brain, which act as a natural analgesic. The same result occurs in runners and may explain the so-called "runner's high" some runners report experiencing Apparently, that effect is even greater when in a group setting or at least with one other person.

So, if you don't have time to exercise or don't want to take a pain reliever, maybe you should sit down with family or friends and watch a  Marx Brothers movie or reruns of Seinfeld.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Quotations

"The past is never dead, it's not even past."
                                     William Faulkner

"We live forwards, but understand backwards."
                                      William James

"Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhart

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Live Forever

Do you want to live forever?  Of course you do.  While living forever is impossible, there are things you can do that may prolong your life and enable you to function well into old age. In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, author Dan Buettner chronicles the lives of men and women who live on the Greek island of Ikaria who seem to live forever or at least live very long lives.  "The Enchanted Island of Centenarians." The New York Times Magazine, October 28, 2012. The article reports that the 10,000 residents of the island are two and a half times more likely to reach the age of 90 than people in the United States.

The article discusses the lifestyle that seems to be the basis for the longevity of the people on the island, located about 30 miles from Turkey. The article is derived from a new edition of the author's book, "Blue Zones", which was written with the support of the National Geographic Society. And no, "blue zones" does not refer to the political designation of states in the United States as either blue or red states. 

So, what is the secret. Well, part of it is really no secret any longer.  We have all heard of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. Red wine, coffee and tea are the drinks of choice.  Meat, particularly red meat, is eaten sparingly.  In addition to diet, it appears that a laid back approach to life. Many of the residents do not have watches or clocks. No alarm clocks for them.  They arise naturally and often have a breakfast of yogurt with honey. In the afternoon, they will usually take a nap.  In the meanwhile, they work in their gardens and perform other physical activity.

Another key factor in the islanders longevity appears to be their social interactions with their neighbors.  They attend church together, they get together for various holidays and are very much involved with what is going on in their communities.

While there is no guarantee that you will live as long as the Ikarians if you follow this program, there is no harm in trying and, who knows, you might well make it to the 100 year mark after all!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Monte Carlo Revisited

A week or so, I wrote a blog, The Road to Monte Carlo, and discussed the Grand Casino. As I stated, I would also address certain other sites in Monte Carlo.  These include the aquarium, palace and cathedral. This post should give you a flavor of those.
This is the palace where Prince Albert lives with his wife, Charlene.  Parts of the palace are open to visitors and certainly worthwhile to visit. In one of the rooms, there is an impressive portrait of the Prince Rainier III, his wife, the former Grace Kelly and their children.

These are the tombs of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace.  They are located inside the Monaco cathedral. The day were there, the Archbishop was confirming several children in a Mass entirely in French, the official language of Monaco.

This is a photograph of one of the impressive specimens in the Oceanographic Museum. Prince Albert is very much involved with the aquarium and it is said to be one of the best in the world.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why Boomers Love to Travel

Why do boomers love to travel?  The answer is really quite simple. The early Christian bishop, Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the fathers of the Church, probably said it best, "The world is like a book and those who do not travel, read only a page."

We boomers opened that book when we were young and have kept it open. Our thirst for travel has never waned.  I know in my case, we took only two vacations as a child, but after I was drafted and sent to Vietnam, my desire to see the world was formed and has never left. I believe that there are many others out there like me.  Boomers love to travel and with luck, will never finish that book.

Please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The War of 1812, Queenston Heights and Fort George

When Americans think of the War of 1812 (to the extent we think of it at all), we tend to think of two things:  the burning of the White House by the British and the Battle of New Orleans. For our Canadian friends, however, it is a very different story. 

This year marks the bicentennial of one of the most famous battles in Canadian history:  the Battle of Queenston Heights.  At that Battle, on October 13, 1812, Sir Isaac Brock, the hero of Upper Canada (or what is now the province of Ontario), was killed during the battle, defending Canada from the American invasion.

Located not very far from Niagara Falls, Ontario and located along the Niagara Parkway a 56 metre high memorial to Major General Brock towers over the horizon, overlooking the Niagara river with simply spectacular views.

At Queenston Heights, there is a small restaurant which serves a varied menu including veal, lamb and Pickeral fillet. Also served are a number of the local wines..  Ask for a table that overlooks the Niagara River.  The view is simply spectacular. If you get a chance, be sure to climb up the Brock statue.  The view from their is even more spectacular.  It is a long climb, however, so be prepared.  It will be well worth your while.

Just below Queenston Heights is a small, but quite interesting museum called the Riverbrink Art Museum.  Located a short distance from the river, this three story museum currently is dedicated to showcasing artifacts relating to the War of 1812. There are also some very interesting Native American portraits. The Native Americans supported the British in that war. Unfortunately, the museum will shortly be closing for the season on October 28, but if you get a chance, see it by all means.

Farther along the Niagara Parkway is Fort George. Located along the Niagara River, Fort George was the most important British outpost in Upper Canada.It served as Canada's protection of the Niagara River which was the easiest water route between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.  It is in the city of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which I have written about several times. Niagara on the Lake: A Hidden Jewel. .

The Offiers' Dining Room
The fort is a recreation of the original fort and is a wonderful place to gain an understanding of the British or loyalist point of view,  A tour guide will take you through the incredibly crowded and barren enlisted mens' barracks and the luxurious officers' quarters.  Our tour guide, Suzanne, was a real Anglophile and she gloried in her view that the British were the winners of the war.  Others take a different view.  In fact, there is a book called"The War of 1812:The War Both Sides Won"by Wesley B. Turner that is quite good and on sale at the small gift shop just outside the fort.

                                                     The View from Fort George

Monday, October 22, 2012

On the Road to Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo.  The very name conjures up visions of men in black tuxedos playing baccarat with stacks of  black hundred dollar chips in front of them and beautiful blonds dripping with pearls urging them on as they gamble away their inheritances.  Wait a second. That's the movies---Sean Connery as James Bond, even Steve Martin in the movie, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels".  Unfortunately, the reality is much more mundane.

The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, which just happens to be the capital of the small independent country, Monaco, is located on a hill in a building which doubles as the opera house.  There are lots of tourists outside snapping pictures of themselves in front of the casino. Inside it is quite a different story.  First of all, there is a charge for entry.  Just a few euros, but nonetheless, annoying since the whole purpose in going to the casino is to gamble.  You should not have to pay for the privilege to lose your money! Interestingly enough the residents of Monaco are forbidden by law from gambling at the Grand Casino. 

Although we had read that a jacket was appropriate for men and a dress for women, we were overdressed when I wore my blazer and my wife wore a cocktail dress.  Everyone else wore typical casual clothes.  Now, admittedly, we visited in the middle of the day, but still.  Inside the casino were rather large cavernous rooms, which were mainly empty. There were a few scattered blackjack and craps tables and a few players,but most of the main room was filled with slot machines of the 1 euro variety.  Although I had gone there to "break the bank at Monte Carlo" with my blackjack skills, we ended up playing the slots for half an hour and left. By the way, the slots were quite accommodating and we were able to pay for our lunch at the nearby Cafe de Paris with our winnings.  The restaurant, where it is said the French dessert, crepe Suzette was invented, was quite good.

After leaving the casino, we decided to walk down the hill to the port, where our cruise ship lay at anchor. It was a fascinating walk as we went through the tunnel and the course where the Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 race is run each year. The stands were already set up for the race which was to take place in just a few weeks.

Although the casino was somewhat of a disappointment, Monte Carlo had several interesting places which we will describe in another post. These include the Palace (which is open to visitors), the Cathedral where Princess Grace and her husband, Prince Rainier are buried and the Oceanographic Museum, which has one of the best aquariums in the world.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Boomers Beware: Reverse Mortgages Can Be a Disaster

We have all seen the ads on television where celebrity spokesmen tout the benefits of reverse mortgages for those individuals who are 62 or older and own their homes. These mortgages are supposedly free money as they allow the owner to borrow against the value of their home and not have to pay the money back until they move or die. The spokesmen tell us that the money can be used for vacations and other fun things.  What they do not tell the viewer is that there are fees associated with those mortgages which if not paid can lead to eviction.

The New York Times today reports that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is preparing new rules to help regulate those mortgages.  According to the Times, there are more than 750,000 such loans outstanding.  See "Loan Lifeline for Retirees is Taking Toll,"

If you have a reverse mortgage now or are considering obtaining one, take a look at this article as soon as possible. And remember, "there is no such thing as a free lunch."
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Chapel at Notre Dame

                                                     The Chapel at Notre Dame

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Going to Florida this Winter? Consider the Auto Train.

If you are planning a trip to sunny Florida this winter from the snowy Northeast, you might want to consider taking Amtrak's Auto Train. The Auto Train runs on the CSX Transportation line tracks from Lorton, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.) to Sanford, Florida (just outside Orlando).

My wife and I recently were traveling to Southern Florida for a short visit. We had previously driven to Florida  and found it to be a long almost three day trip.Neither of us had traveled long distances on a train, so we looked into the Auto Train. As the name implies, the Auto Train takes you and your vehicle, automobile or motorcycle, on a train.  You travel on a large, very modern railroad car and your vehicle travels separately in a railroad car with other vehicles. It is said that when fully occupied, the Auto Train is approximately one quarter mile long, making it one of the longest passenger trains in the world!

There are several levels of accommodations from a coach seat up to a family bedroom sleeping two adults and two children.  We opted for the standard bedroom which consisted of a chair and two sleeping berths, bunk-bed style. For the two of us and our car, the cost was about $640. While this seems pricey, consider that driving takes two to three days from the Northeast, requiring hotels, meals, gas, etc.  The Auto Train price includes everything, including two meals.

The station at Lorton is quite large with a newstand and small cafe where we had lunch. The Amtrak personnelwe met at the station and on the train were very courteous and efficient.

We were advised to arrive at least two hours before the scheduled departure time of 4 pm. When we did arrive, it appeared quite a few of the 600 or so people who were riding the train were already there.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by the parking crew, who slap a number on the side of your car, film it ( we think for insurance purposes) and you are given a few minutes to retrieve your luggagefrom the trunk and go into the station itself. There you present your ID and are given your  tickets while waiting for the boarding call. Boarding was very orderly despite the large number of people.

Our room was small, but comfortable. In addition to the seats, which the porter would turn into the bunks while we were at dinner, there is a small toilet/shower combination, which for a tall man like me was too small, and a sink with mirror. We were on the upper level of the two decker car, which gave us an excellent view of the countryside as we rolled through Virginia, North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia on into Florida.

The train left on time (actually a little early) and arrived in Florida about an hour early, at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. All in all, it is about an 17 to 18 hour overnight trip.  While on board, we had a wine and cheese party upon departure and dinner in the dining car at one of three sittings, beginning at 5 pm and ending at 9 pm. Dinner was served on fine china and consisted of a choice of entrees ( I had the salmon with lobster sauce, which was quite good) and my wife had the flank steak.Dinner came with dessert and plenty of red wine (white is also available).

After dinner a movie was shown in the lounge car. We returned to our room and were able to sleep intermittently. My wife was generous enough to sleep in the upper bunk. In the morning we arrived at the Sanford station and immediately before that we were served a continental breakfast of cereal, corn muffins, coffee or tea.

After we disembarked, we went into the station and waited as the numbers of the cars were called. They seemed to be in no particular order but ours was about the middle of the pack and we picked up our car in the parking lot and were off for Southern Florida.

All in all it was a very interesting experience. The train also runs between Sanford and Lorton going North. We would definitely consider taking it again.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern, in New York City is a landmark New York restaurant where we dined recently while visiting our son for his birthday.. Located at 42 E. 20th Street, near Park Avenue, Gramercy Tavern was just awarded one star by the prestigious Michelin guide.  That recognition just confirms our conclusion that the restaurant is one of the best restaurants in New York.

Gramercy Tavern is in reality two separate restaurants.  In front of the restaurant is the bar area with a number of tables fairly close together. No reservations are taken for the bar.  The rooms behind the bar are the main attraction.  This was were we had our dinner. There, reservations (well in advance usually) are required.  212-477-0777.  The tables in the formal dining room are farther apart and there is little noise.

The menu is what has been called "nouveau American."  In the formal dining room, the menu consists of two prix fixe choices, one 3 course dinner for $88 and a six course dinner for $116 per person. A vegan menu is also offered at $88  Unfortunately, everyone in the party must agree to either the 3 or 6 course dinner. No mixing of the menus is permitted.  This was the only somewhat sour note on an otherwise wonderful evening on a rainy night.

We opted for the 3 course menu and a fairly priced Tyler Pinot Noir wine. The first course was carpaccio.  The thinly sliced beef just melted in my mouth.  The second course was the red snapper, which appeared to be poached, and was superbly prepared. For dessert, I had the apple tart with butter pecan ice cream.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

As with the Del Posto restaurant that I recently wrote about, Gramercy Tavern is quite expensive and probably is best visited for special occasions.  Those occasions, however, will be all the more special as a result of your visit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Del Posto

In one of my recent posts concerning New York City, I promised to review two well-known restaurants in New York, Del Posto and Gramercy Tavern.  To do justice to both, I decided to write a separate post on each.  This post is about Del Posto.

Del Post, located at 85 10th Avenue in the meatpacking district, is an Italian restaurant with a flair that is unmistakable. Owned by the television chefs, Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe, it reaches for the stars and manages to get there. As you enter the restaurant, it immediately reminds you of a library in a fine men's club, with panelled walls and  marble seemingly everywhere. In addition to the main restaurant floor, there is also a balcony and we were told, additional space in the basement. In all, we were advised it can hold over 500 people!

At dinner, Del Posto offers two prix fixe menus, one five course for $115 per person and the other, $145 per person.for seven courses.  Obviously, at those prices, it will have to be a very special occasion. Unlike Batali's other New York City restaurant, Babbo, which does not accept reservations, reservations for Del Posto are a must.

We opted for the five course dinner, which involves an antipasto, an entree and a dessert.  In addition, the table shares two pasta dishes. I had the vitello tonnato as an antipasto.  It was a very interesting combination of veal and tuna. For my entree (or secondi), I opted for the lobster.  It was well-prepared with funghi, celerine and balsamic vinegar, among other savory ingredients.

The table shared two pasta dishes, including a superb gaargannelli with a bolognese ragu. It was of the melt in your mouth variety.

For dessert, we each had the tartufo, with cherry vanilla ice cream  covered with dark chocolate. I have to say it was even better than the tartufo that I had in the restaurant in Rome in the Piazza Navonna where the dessert was invented.

The wait staff is quite solicitous and knowledgeable about the menu.  The head waiter explains what each course contains since it is not always obvious given the tremendous variety of ingredients.
The sommelier was extremely helpful in helping us pick out an inexpensive red wine, which he indicated was one of his favorites, a Bravia Barolo. It was ours also after tasting it.

The restaurant is expensive but given the atmosphere, quality and uniqueness of the food and the helpfulness of the staff, I would recommend it for those special occasions that merit a step up from the ordinary to the extraordinary..

The phone number for Del Posto is 212-497-8090 and their website is, where you can view the entire menu.

Buon Appetito!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

What is Negotiation? A Boomer's Guide

What is negotiation?  People often think of negotiation as a process that only takes place between large corporations over major contracts or between lawyers over the settlement of a lawsuit. What they do not realize is that they are negotiating every day with their spouse, their children, their employer and co-workers as well as many others. People just don't think of those as negotiations. For example, let's say a parent sets a time for a 16 year old to return from a date at 10 o'clock and the child insists on 11. If they compromise at 10:30, that is a negotiation. 

How can you best accomplish your goals in any such negotiation? I am in the process of writing a free ebook that I will make available on this blog in the next few weeks. Look for it.  Remember, it is FREE!

"The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to Everyday Negotiations" is now available on this blog. Please see the November 24, 2012 post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blueberries: The Easy Way to Preserve Your Memory

One of the things many boomers fear is the memory decline that is frequently a part of aging. We all want to find ways to avoid that. According to a study of 122,000 registered nurses over a 25 year period, those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries showed the least amount of memory decline or at least delayed its onset by the several years.

The study was conducted by Harvard researchers and reported in the April 26, 2012 issue of "Annals of Neurology." In a report on study, CBS News Medical Correspondent, Dr. Holly Phillips, attributed the beneficial effects to the flavonoids present in the berries as well as in dark chocolate. Those flavonoids have both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities which may offset the factors which are believed to cause memory decline.

While of course, you can eat blueberries by themselves, one special treat my wife makes is blueberry cobbler from scratch. She has agreed to share her recipe with everyone:

Betsy's Blueberry Cobbler

Preheat Oven at 375 degrees

Filling Ingredients:

4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
3 T. all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 T. lemon juice

Mix these ingredients in a bowl

Topping Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
4 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
4 t. baking powder
8 T. chilled butter, cubed
12 T. milk

Put fruit filing in bottom of 9" glass pie plate
Combine dry ingredients and stir using pastry blender
Work butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles tiny peas
Slowly add milk and stir
Gather dough together and knead until smooth
Place dough on top blueberry mixture
Dough should cover most of pie
Drizzle 2 T. of melted butter on top, if desired
Bake 35-45 minutes at 375 degrees until lightly browned
Cool on rack


New York, New York

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"New York, New York, it's a wonderful town. The Bronx is up but the Battery's down."

These lyrics from the musical play, "On the Town," convey only a small part of the excitement that is New York City.  Recently, we had the opportunity to visit New York and with our son took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The tour begins in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.  Battery Park refers to the gun batteries that had once been located there to protect the island. Tickets for the ferry to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island are sold at a kiosk in the park. Although the two attractions are run by the National Parks Service, the National Parks Senior Pass, unfortunately, is not honored for the tour. When asked, the ticket seller said it was because the ferries are operated by a concessionaire. In any event, a small discount ($3) is offered to seniors from the full price adult ticket price of $17.

There was a rather long line to get on the ferry but because it was a weekday, it went by rather quickly. The ferry was appropriately named "Miss Liberty" and had two decks, one inside and one outside. We opted for the upper deck which was just perfect for the beautiful, sunny day we were on board.

The price of a ticket offers you the opportunity to visit the Statue of Liberty, then Ellis Island and finally a return trip to Battery Park .Unfortunately, the Statue of Liberty is currently closed for removations. Nonetheless, the ferry ride is well worth the visit as shown by these photos.

What most people (including some New Yorkers) do not know is that there are fabulous views of Manhattan from New York harbor.  These are just a few of those views.


In our next post, we will review two fabulous New York restaurants, Gramercy Tavern and Del Posto.