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.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Will Eating Less Let Boomers Live Longer?

Will eating less let boomers live longer?  Apparently the answer to that question, unfortunately, is "No." In a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Aging and reported in the journal Nature, August 23, 2012, it was determined that large calorie restrictions by humans will not prolong your life despite the fact that other studies in monkeys and rats have shown just that effect. Those studies convinced some people that the fountain of youth lay in eating significantly less than most people need to function.

So, what type of restrictions are we talking about?  Well, the average adult human consumes about 2200 calories a day.  The believers in extreme calorie restrictions have cut their calorie intake by as much as 30 to 40 percent.  Earlier studies in mammals and other animals suggested an increase in lifespan by as much as an astounding 50% as a result of such restrictions.  While there is no question that many people consume too many calories which may shorten their lifespan, it appears eating too few calories will not necessarily have the opposite effect.

While the Nature article is certainly intriguing for its conclusions, it is unlikely that it will end the debate over calorie restrictions. As with anything else, people will continue to believe what they want to believe.  If they feel better eating less, I am sure people will continue doing so.  As  for me, I think moderation in caloric intake, as well as most other things, is still the key to good health and longevity. On the other hand, I am reminded of the statement once made by Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid camera, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess." 

Let us know what you think.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

A Boomer in Florence: The Ponte Vecchio and Mille Miglia

Last year, we had occasion to visit Florence, Italy as part of our Mediterranean cruise. One of the highlights of our visit there (and there were many) was the Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio or "Old Bridge" was built across the Arno river in 1345. At the time it was built up to the present, it has served as a sort of mall of shops.  Originally, the shops were mostly butcher shops.  Today, they are mostly jewelry shops with beautiful items and high prices.

The bridge seems always to be crowded with shoppers, although we rarely saw anyone actually go in the high end stores.  Most people were window shopping as we were.

As we were leaving the bridge  we came upon several police officers, carabinieri, stopping traffic and people from crossing the street.  Soon we found out why as several vintage sports cars came whizzing around the bend in front of us.

We learned that this was the famous "mille miglia" or 1000 mile race.  It is held each year in May.  Originally it was an endurance, open road race between Brescia, Italy and Rome and back again. It was held  from 1927 until 1957 (except for the years during World War II) but was stopped after numerous deaths during the course of the race. It was renewed in 1982 as a road rally. It was exciting to see the vintage sports cars race through the streets of Florence with crowds of people on all sides.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Travels with Charley Revisited

One of my favorite travel books and probably the one I enjoyed reading the most is "Travels with Charley In Search of America", by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck, the Nobel Prize winning author of "The Grapes of Wrath" describes his cross-country adventures with his beloved poodle Charley. In a truck with a camper attached (whimsically called, "Rocinante" in honor of Don Quixote's horse), this slim book details an America very different than that encountered by the Joad family as they traveled from Oklahoma to California.

Recently, I had occasion to dip back into the book and was as excited by it as I had been when I first read it years ago.  Steinbeck's prose and facility with words demonstrates why his fiction work is so enduring. "East of Eden," "Cannery Row," "Of Mice and Men",  these, as with "The Grapes of Wrath" itself, describe places we all would like to see---our own America. In "Travels with Charley," Steinbeck uses his skills to describe not only a part of that country such as Salinas, California, the setting of several of his books, but the entire country.

 If you are an armchair traveler or if you want a guide to an America which you may never have seen before, pick up a copy of the book. Amazon is pre-selling a 50th anniversary paperback edition for $10.88 and a Kindle edition for $9.99. Reading or rereading this book will undoubtedly satisfy your wanderlust or maybe just fan the flames that get you started down a similar path as Steinbeck. I am sure that not a few baby boomers in their RVs have done or will do just that.

Recently there have been some efforts to debunk the Steinbeck stories, most notably in the New York Times, "The Truth About Charley", April 9, 2011, Some of the stories may be implausible as the opinion suggested, but the fact is that it is still a good read and travel adventure.

Melatonin, iPads and Sleep: Science You Can Use Today

How many of us check our iPads or tablets for emails before going to bed?  I know I do and I suspect that most of you do too.  Well, it turns out that might be why you are having trouble getting to sleep because the light from your iPad or computer may be suppressing the production of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin.

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland located above the middle of the brain. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is "turned off" during the day and becomes active around 9 pm as light is reduced. Melatonin remains in the blood for about 12 hours and is virtually absent from the blood during the day. Many people with sleep problems take supplements of melatonin in the hopes of elevating their levels of melatonin to aid in sleeping.  The answer to their problem, however, might be to just turn off that iPad several hours before going to bed.

In an article in The New York Times today, there is a discussion of a study published in the journal, Applied Ergonomics which strongly suggests that there is a connection between the bright light of the iPad and the suppression of melatonin in the hour or so before trying to fall asleep.  According to the article, studies have shown that two hours of exposure to the iPad's screen can reduce the amount of melatonin in the bloodstream by up to 22 percent.

Given these studies, it seems like a no brainer:  stop using that iPad or other device and sleep better.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On the Road to Ephesus

 Located about 200 miles miles from Istanbul is the Turkish town of Ephesus, Turkey.  It is the place where, according to the Bible, St. Paul was imprisoned and where Mary, the Mother of Jesus is reputed to have lived when she was brought there by  St. John the Evangelist following the Crucifixion..  Some twenty-nine years of excavations have revealed one of the most intact Roman and Greek ruins in the world.. At one time it was the second largest city in the Eastern Mediterranean and the capital of the Roman province of Asia.  Originally a Greek city first built around 1000 BC, it became the chief port on the Aegean Sea with a population of around 290,000. 

Today, the ruins of those ancient civilizations can be seen in a mile-long corridor of a marble road rutted with the wheels of chariots.One of the most impressive of these ruins is the  Library of Celsus. The library was built in honor of the Governor  of the Roman province of Asia between 117 and 125 A.D. Much of the facade of the library remains. Plaster copies of statues which represented the intellectual virtues of wisdom , goodness , thought and knowledge adorn  the niches .

                                                          Library of Celsus
Located nearby is the house of the Virgin Mary. It was discovered by a German nun, Katharina Emmerich in the 19th century. In 1891 the Lazarian priests established   a shrine in honor of the Virgin Mary. It has now become a pilgrimage site for both Muslims and Christians alike. While we were there, we met a nun who was going to come to the United States for a retreat not far from our home. Quite a remarkable coincidence !

                                                         Shrine of the Home of the Virgin Mary - 98C21003B9A74C1E063E7AD9BF9A0C7C

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Boomer's Guide to Travel Sites in Santorini, Greece

Santorini is a small Greek island located in the Aegean Sea.  Located 126 miles southeast of Athens, it has been called "The Pompeii of the Aegean" by one French geologist. It is located on the rim of a volcano which erupted in 1600 BC.  Some people believe it is the site of the mythical kingdom of Atlantis (see my post on the modern Atlantis at Atlantis; Found on Paradise Island).

We visited Santorini by cruise ship and were overwhelmed by the spectacular island. The ship docked on the west coast of the 12 mile long island.  That side of the island is extremely steep and rocky. The capital, Fira, is accessible only by a winding stairway up the volcano some 1000 feet or a gondola.  For those who wish to ride up the steps, donkeys are available.  We took the gondola up the hillside but actually walked down the steep steps. at the end of our stay.  Because of the donkeys, be prepared to watch your footing as there is the occasional donkey dung to deal with.

Once at the top of the mountain, there is a spectacular view of the Aegean Sea on the one side and of incredibly beautiful church domes on the other.

Santorini is home to about 13,600 permanent residents.  The island is famous for its white grapes and wine, as well as its eggplant and tomatoes. For those interested in staying overnight on the island, one of the most interesting places to stay is the Astra Apartments and Suites, in the village of Imerovigh, located above the volcano and said to have spectacular views. For beautiful travel sites, Santorini is one of the best in the world.
- 98C21003B9A74C1E063E7AD9BF9A0C7C

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Are Organic Foods Really Better for You?

We all have seen the growth of the organics food section at the supermarket. Each day it seems like a new product is added to the shelves, particularly in the produce section.  For the most part, those products cost more--and in some cases, considerably more--than the non-organic variety of the same fruit or vegetable.  Most shoppers who buy the organic product justify the additional cost because of the belief that organic means healthier.  In other words, people believe that the organic product is better for you than its non-organic cousin.  A new study reported on by ABC News this morning suggests otherwise and people may just be wasting their money.

In a report on Good Morning America, it was revealed that as a result of a study conducted by Stanford University, it was concluded that organic foods were no more nutritious than the same non-organic food.  In addition, the study also showed that the chances of bacterial contamination of the foods are virtually the same, with some difference with regard to antibiotic resistant germs.

In an article reported by Lauran Neergaard for the Associated Press, she quotes Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior research affiliate at Stanford as saying that when it comes down to questions of individual health, "there isn't much difference" between organic and non-organic foods.

Of course, as with any food product, it is always a matter of taste.  But it appears from this study that organic foods are no more nutritious and only slightly safer from contamination than the same non-organic food. So, keep that in mind as you are shopping and maybe you will want pass by that organic aisle.

For more information on health and food related issues, including a yummy recipe for blueberry cobbler, see other blog,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Boomer's Guide to Travel Sites inSpring Lake, New Jersey and Vicinity

This summer, our son shared a weekend house in Manasquan, New Jersey, with some of his college friends. A few weeks ago, we visited him there. We had been used to spending time at the Southern Jersey shore at places like Stone Harbor, Avalon and Ocean City, where my wife had once worked one summer as a waitress at the Flanders Hotel, on the Boardwalk. This was our first experience with the northern Jersey shore. We were pleasantly surprised at the many travel sites located there..

Located about an hour and a half from New York City and accessible by NJ TRANSIT train from Penn Station, Spring Lake is a very suburban-like beach community.  In the middle of town is a lake with a small wooden bridge for walking across the lake.  The beach itself is quite wide and when we were there in the middle of August, only partially occupied.  There is a long boardwalk and a swimming pool in a community center along the boardwalk with a small number of drinks and food items available. Beach tags are required and there are watchers at every set of steps onto the beach. In addition, there are lifeguards all along the beach.

We stayed in the Spring Lake Inn,  732.449.2010, a circa 1888 inn, which reminded me of the Vermont inn run by Bob Newhart in his second television series. There is a large front porch, with inviting seating arrangements. Off the small lobby is the dining area with tables set up for the breakfast that is served from 8 to 10 each morning. The morning we had breakfast, it consisted of wonderful French raisin toast and bacon. Also available are the usual sweet rolls and fruits, bananas and oranges. In the afternoon, there are pitchers of tea and lemonade as well as homemade cookies available in that room. The Inn provides beach chairs and towels and an outdoor shower for returning beachgoers.

Our room was the Sunrise room. Although not exceptionally large, it had plenty of light for the third floor and a spacious bathroom.  From one window, we could see a sliver of the ocean.

We ate several times at the Parker House, locaated in nearby Sea Girt, 290 1st Avenue Sea Girt, NJ 08750, (732) 449-0442,  which is somewhat of an iconic restaurant. It is a large building with a wraparound porch, where we ate lunch on two occasions. The food was quite good and the servers were knowledgeable.  On our first trip,I had the steak sandwich which was filled with meat and a hamburger the second time we ate there. Both were served with crisp thin fries. According to our son, the Parker House has an excellent raw seafood bar, which is very reasonably priced.  In the evenings, the restaurant  has disc jockeys and sometimes live music.  It is a hopping place for sure.

Manasquan where our son stayed looks  a little more like a beach town. The houses, which are in places three deep are built almost right up to the dunes. The evening we walked there, it was quite vibrant, with children playing outside there homes and a band playing oldies on the beach.  It looked like a fun place to stay.

We enjoyed our stay in this part of the Jersey Shore (the MTV series of the same name is filmed nearby) and will definitely return.

The Boomer's Guide to the Best Brunch in New York City:Sarabeth's

You know that many of us boomers are foodies.  One thing most foodies are on the search for is a good, satisfying brunch.  No, not the kind where you basically serve yourself cafeteria style.  No, I'm referring to those where you order from a limited brunch menu and are served by the wait staff. Nothing is more sought after.

While visiting our son last Easter in New York City, we found what we think is the best brunch in the city, Sarabeth's.  While it has several locations throughout the city, we visited the restaurant located on the Upper East Side near our hotel, the Marmara which is located at 301 E. 94th Street, 1-866-599-6674.   In fact, we learned of it from the desk clerk at the hotel.  When we asked her, "Where is the best brunch in the city?", she answered without hesitation, "Sarabeth's".

Just a few blocks away at 1295 Madison Avenue, between 92d and 93d Streets, 212-410-7335, Sarabeth accepts reservations but does not require them.

We each started with the Pickled House Bloody Mary, which was suitably spicy.  For brunch, I had the fat and fluffy french toast.  It was crisp and served with fresh strawberries. My wife had the spinach and goat cheese omelet.  I am not a fan of spinach, but when I had a taste, it too was excellent.  Our son had the classic eggs Benedict, with Canadian bacon, hollandaise sauce and chives. Seeing how quickly, he cleared his plate, I knew it too was excellent.

In addition to the restaurants, Sarabeth's also makes various types of preserves made solely of fruit. My favorite is the blueberry cherry, but there are many varieties available. Go to the website at to see all the wonderful preserves you can buy. These can be bought by calling 1-800-PRESERV and can also be purchased at several stores (my wife has found the preserves on sale at TJ Maxx). So, if you can't get to New York for brunch, see if you can find the preserves at your local store.  It will be well worth the trip.