Friday, December 20, 2013

ABC's 20//20 on Dealing when Buying at the Mall

The ABC news magazine 20/20 featured a segment today on haggling at the mall featuring Mark Ellwood, the author of the book on haggling referred to in my December 4, 2013 post "How to Get the Best Deal and Service."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Get the Best Deal and Service

Today's USA Today has two articles which touch upon two interests that I have written about on several occasions: getting the best deal and the best service. In the USA Snapshots sidebar on the first page of the Money section, the results of a survey of over 1000 adults determined that the industry with the worst customer service is the cable and internet industry.

The second article, also in the Money section is entitled "Never ever pay full price." The article quotes  the so-called "bargain king", Mark Ellwood, on the best way to get the best deal when making a purchase. One of his tips is to engage the sales person so they will help you get that best deal. I have written about that same approach on this blog and in my Ebook, "How to Get the Best Deal Every Time." (Available at Amazon for $1.99--a real bargain itself). The way to engage the sales person or the customer service rep at the cable company is really quite simple: just ask them how they are doing. You will be surprised how much those few words will save you in money and aggravation.

Sources: USA Today, December 4, 2013, Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World by Mark Ellwood

Monday, November 25, 2013

Stair Climbing to Good Health

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I am always looking for ways to maximize the health benefits of exercise with the minimum of effort. I have written a number of times about interval training as a means of doing so in just a few minutes several times a week."High Intensity Interval Training for Fitness and Lowering Blood Sugar." Today, on his website, Dr.Andrew Weil, the holistic physician and guru, referred to a recent British study that showed that climbing stairs for as little as seven minutes a day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by as much as 60%.

The best thing about this finding is that no special equipment or club membership is required. Walking up your steps at home or office can be an easy way to achieve that goal. Or, if you prefer, walking the steps at your local high school stadium also is an excellent way to get in your seven minutes.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown that stair climbing burns 400 percent more calories than walking at two miles per hour. Those who are overweight can lose up to 12 pounds a year (one pound a month) by just climbing two flights of stairs every day. This assumes that the person does not increase his or her food intake.

Stair climbing, as we all know, is not easy.  But these studies make clear that the health benefits may be worth it.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do You Want to Play the Lottery and Never Lose?

Who doesn't like to play the lottery?  But how often do you actually win something? Oh, maybe you win a few dollars here and there.  And don't you just hate it when you lose  What if I told you that there is a lottery that you can enter that you never lose?

The answer lies in something called Prize-Linked Savings Accounts. What, you have never heard of them? You are not alone, neither have most people.I discovered them recently when I came across a reference to them in the editor's note to the December 2013 Money Magazine.  Intrigued, I did a little research and was quite astonished how simple and useful they are as savings mechanisms and as a means of satisfying that inner voice that insists that the next time I play the lottery, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I will win big.

Prize linked savings accounts are savings accounts offered by banks, credit unions and local and national governments which pay little or no interest, but which are eligible for participation in a lottery, where the   proceeds of the lottery are paid from earnings on the deposits. In other words, the savings portion of the account is never touched, but if lucky enough, you may win money with absolutely no risk of losing any of your savings. Sound too good to be true?  Well, in Europe and elsewhere, they have been offered since at least the mid 1950s.

In Great Britain, which was one of the first countries to adopt the accounts, it has been shown to have substantially increased the amount people have saved. It is estimated that more than 25 billion pounds have been saved by people in Great Britain since the program was initiated there.

While many states in the US consider these accounts to be a form of illegal gambling, four states, Michigan, Nebraska, Washington and North Carolina permit these types of win-win lotteries.Consideration is being given in other states as well to allow these accounts including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Mississippi and Maryland.

I don't know about you, but it seems to make a lot of sense to permit these types of accounts. After all, most states now permit certain types of lotteries and many allow casinos. With the personal savings rate in the US an  abysmal 2 to 3 percent, the Prize-linked savings account may just be the motivation needed to improve that rate. This step not only gives the state's residents a chance to win money, it guarantees that none of the money deposited will be lost.

Sources:  Money Magazine, The Financial Brand

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Latest Superfood: Eating Nuts May Save Your Life

In a study released yesterday in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Harvard School of Medicine concluded that eating as few as one ounce of nuts each day can reduce the likelihood of dying from heart disease by as much as 25%, cancer by 10% and 20% from diabetes and lung disease.

The study showed that all types of nuts were able to bring about these effects: walnuts, almonds, cashews and even peanuts. The researchers also concluded that the desired effects could be achieved regardless of whether the study participants exercised or were overweight.

The Harvard study actually confirmed a 10 year old study by the US Food and Drug Administration.

According to the researchers, the beneficial effects of eating nuts is derived from the substantial amounts of folate, potassium, fiber, good monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Given these results, it would seem that nuts are the latest superfood.

Sources: USA Today,New England Journal of Medicine

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Negotiation Techniques from Goldman Sachs

Recently, the Huffington Post Small Business section published an article entitled, "7 Negotiation Techniques Every Small Business Owner Should Know", posted by Goldman Sachs.
The techniques are as follows:
1.Figure out your goals.
2.Do the research.
3. Know what you're willing to give up.
4.Know when you should walk away.
5.Know about your counter party's past performance.
6.Write down the outcomes.
7. Look at your own company's resources to see how you can use them to seal the deal.
I have discussed many of these same points in various posts on this blog and in my ebook, "How to Get the Best Deal Every Time", which is available on Amazon.

They are all good points and are equally applicable to almost any type of negotiation, whether buying a new car or house or trying to get a raise from your boss.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Consumer Reports Magazine Supports "Haggling" for Gifts

The Christmas buying season is upon us, even though we have yet to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It happens every year and sales seem to begin earlier and earlier. Christmas in July may not just be a joke soon.

So, if you are beginning to search around for gifts for your family and friends, here is a tip you might want to consider.

Many people will be buying electronics gifts this year: HD and 3D televisions, Smartphones, cameras and just about anything else you can plug into the wall or load up with batteries. Most people will be going to Big Box stores or small specialty shops. Whichever you shop, keep in mind that the price listed on the product is not the price you must pay.  Haggling over the price or the warranty or some other aspect of the purchase is not only good practice, to do anything else is just plain unwise unless you enjoy paying full price (and nobody I know likes that).

I have written several times in this blog about how you can save money by negotiating for the best price. :;; I have even written a book on the subject which is available on Amazon entilted,"How to Get the Best Deal Every Time," which is available as an e-book.

In its annual gift issue,  Consumer Reports,, suggests that "haggling" for the purchase of appliances and electronics gifts is a sure way to save money. Consumer Reports, December 2013. We couldn't agree more. And Consumer Reports provides the best information on which brand to buy and where best to buy the products you are shopping for this season.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Approach Negotiations and Win

I have written several times on various negotiation techniques to give you an edge. Today's New York Times suggests a novel approach: exertion. In an article entitled "Work Up A Sweat, and Bargain Better," the author reports on a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that concluded that if you approach negotiations with an attitude of excitement, you are likely to be even more successful if you are moving during the negotiations.

The study showed that a certain level of exertion appeared to result in a better outcome. The study, reported in the journal, Psychological Science, involved participants who negotiated over the phone while walking versus those who remained seated or walking slower.

The study confirmed what we always suspected: the "movers and shakers" will do better in negotiations. How can you become a mover or shaker? Other research shows that just telling yourself that you are "excited" may be enough.

So, go ahead and give yourself a little pep talk before beginning to negotiate for that new car or the terms of that new job. You might be surprised how well you do.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Visit to Fraunces Tavern in New York City

Recently, we were in New York City for a short visit. Because we had been to most of the major museums in the city, we were looking for something a little different. I suggested we make a visit to Fraunces Tavern. Fraunces Tavern is best known as the place where, at the end of the Revolutionary War, in 1783, General George Washington gave his farewell address to the officers of the Continental Army.

Washington's address to the officers was given in what is called the Long Room, apparently because of its length across the width of the building atop the tavern below.  According to a contemporary account by one of the officers present, there was not a dry eye in the house as Washington finished the address and shook hands with those present.Washington, of course, did not fade away as he then apparently thought, but went on to become our first President.

And neither did Fraunces Tavern just fade away. New York City became the first capital of the United States and the Tavern housed the offices of the new government's Departments of Treasury, War and Foreign Affairs (today's State Department).

Built in 1719 as a private residence, it became the most popular tavern of its time after being purchased by Samuel Fraunces in 1762.  While the upper floors are a museum,which includes a Hall of Flags of the United States,  the lower floor still serves as a tavern. In addition to the tavern itself, the building  is also connected with several other buildings, including another restaurant, where we ate. The restaurant, among other dishes, serves what is described as George Washington's favorite chicken pot pie. I don't know about Washington, but it was my favorite, just filled with white meat chicken and topped by a thin, crisp shell. Yum!

Fraunces Tavern is located at 54 Pearl Street in the Financial District, near Wall Street. The phone number is 212-425-1778. There is a small fee for admission to the museum, but it is well worth a visit.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to Get Through Airport Security Quickly

Recently, we have been traveling by airplane quite often. It seems like the time to get through security keeps getting longer and longer. So I decided to see if there was anything I could do to make it a little easier and maybe even quicker.

I knew, of course, there was no way I could hurry along the other travelers or the TSA personnel. What could I do myself that might ease the process just a little? I came up with the following solution that seems to work well.

After you get through the boarding pass checkpoint, you usually start the process of removing your wallet, watch, and other personal items you have in your pockets or are wearing, such as jewelry. What if you removed those items before you went through the security line?

I tried it and it makes the ordeal just a little better. I removed my wallet, watch, comb, and loose change from all my pockets and placed all the items in a small plastic freezer bag I had brought with me.  I then placed the bag in my briefcase (you could also use your carry- on  bag).  It seemed like I flew through the x-Ray process. Once on the other side, I emptied out the plastic bag and was on my way.

It seemed to me that not only was it quicker, it was safer.  Just putting all your personal items in those little plastic dishes as you go through security always seemed to me to be a  little unsafe. We have all heard stories of and maybe even experienced ourselves missing or forgotten watches, wallets, etc. Using my suggested method makes those a  lot less likely. Try it; I think you'll like it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rush to See Captain Phillips

We recently saw what have to be the two best movies of the year. Both are thrilling, non-stop excitement. They are Rush and Captain Phillips.

Rush, which is directed by Ron Howard, is the story of the battle between two Formula 1 race car drivers, Niki Lauda and James Hunt, for the world championship. While there have been other movies which have tried to capture the excitement of Formula 1 racing (Grand Prix, starring James Garner, comes to mind), no movie, until now, has made you feel what it must be like to experience the thrill and the danger of driving at speeds in excess of 170 mph around treacherous curves and in the rain. Rush does that and more. The movie captures the personalities of the two men as they react to that danger and as they interact with one another in the face of unimaginable adversity..

Lauda (played to perfection by Daniel Bruhl ) is a rigid Austrian, who insists on going by the rules. On the other hand, Hunt is a playboy, who drinks champagne before a big race.  Chris Hemsworth  plays Hunt, whose wife, Suzy, eventually left him for the actor, Richard Burton, who was on leave from Elizabeth Taylor. Hemsworth is best known for his role as Thor in the Avengers' series.

If Ron Howard does not win the Academy Award for his direction of this movie, something is definitely wrong with the selection process.

Speaking of the Oscars, Tom Hanks definitely deserves a nod for best actor for his virtuoso performance as the real-life Captain Phillips in the movie of the same name. The docu-drama details the mostly true story of the capture of a merchant ship carrying relief supplies by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. Hanks, it seems like, is in every scene and definitely carries it off better than any other actor could. Of course, this is why he already has two Oscars.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boomers Beware: Oreos Are Addictive

A study by researchers at Connecticut College announced today suggests eating Oreo cookies may be as addictive as snorting cocaine. The high sugar, high fat cookie that we love to tear apart and dip in milk appears to affect the same pleasure zones in the brain as both cocaine and morphine. The study conducted on lab rats has not been peer-reviewed but the findings appear to be consistent with other studies which have shown a link between consuming high carbohydrate foods and the release of dopamine in the brain.

Source: College study finds Oreo cookies are as addictive as drugs | Fox News via @foxnewshealth

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

No Surprise: Jerry Seinfeld is Hilarious

In a bit of a departure from our usual fare on this blog, I wanted to share with you our experience at the Jerry Seinfeld show here in Pittsburgh last Saturday night.

First of all, it was a miracle we were able to get any tickets at all. When the show was originally announced, the show was sold out quickly. Apparently happy with the response, a second show was scheduled. I called the box office and remarkable, tickets were still available for the second show.  I gobbled up two for a total of $176, tax and handling fees included.. They were for middle of the left center orchestra. Not bad.

The show began with Seinfeld's warm-up act, a comedian whose name I could not hear when he was announced.  He was very funny and I began to wonder if Seinfeld could top him.  No need to worry. After about twenty minutes of  the warm up act's non-stop jokes, Seinfeld appeared to a standing ovation. As I am sure is common where ever he goes, he paid homage to the city, pointing out that Pittsburgh is always ranked number 1 or near the top in almost every survey of the most livable cites, but then further pointing to the fact that "nobody believes that for a minute."

The next 75 minutes or so were similar non-stop observations about everything---and, of course, about "nothing." He joked that our lives all "sucked" including his own, but pointed out his sucked "a lot less." I was surprised at how limber he was as he danced around the stage. At 59, he appears to be at least twenty years younger.

It was a real tour de force and I would recommend you see him if he is visiting a town near you or even if you have to travel.  It is well worth it.

For scheduling information about the tour, see

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weight Watchers Endorses High Intensity Interval Training for Weight Loss

As those who read this blog know, I am a strong advocate for Hight Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. Weight Watchers, of course, is the largest and arguably most successful weight loss plan. I am pleased to report that Weight Watchers has acknowledged the benefits of HIIT as an important part of a weight loss plan.

In its September/October 2013 issue of its Weight Watchers Magazine,  Weight Watchers discusses a plan for HIIT, referring to it as the "hottest" approach to walking.  Referring to a study published in the Journal of Physiology, it says that three thirty minute sessions of HIIT are as effective as 5 sixty minute sessions of moderate activity.  The article states that not only can HIIT  supercharge your weight loss program, it can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart problems, at the same time increasing stamina.  

The article suggests three plans, one for the rookie walker, another for the regular walker and a third for the pro.  For the rookie, it suggests 12 repetitions of alternating 30 second push activity followed by 2 minutes of a recovery walk. For the regular, it involves 15 periods of 1 minute of push followed by 1 minute of recovery. and the pro, 20 periods of 1 minute of push followed by only 30 seconds of recovery.

Finally, the article points out three considerations while walking during the push period: 1. take small steps; 2 focus on stepping first on your heel; and 3. pump your arms as though you were running.

Source:  Weight Watchers Magazine, September/October 2013.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Good News: Exercise Can Prevent Dementia!

All boomers and even those who are not yet boomers worry at times about the potential for cognitive decline or dementia. The good news is that neither is inevitable. The magic bullet to avoid those dreaded aspects of aging:  good old-fashioned aerobic exercise.

A number of recent studies have shown that while brain volume shrinks as we age, exercise can reduce the amount of shrinkage and actually produce new neurons in the brain. In one of those studies at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, the researchers followed over 19,000 adults for some  24 years to determine if exercise could prevent dementia and even Alzheimer's.  The good news is that those persons who were the most fit had the least amount of dementia.

The studies show that the most beneficial form of exercise is aerobic, such as walking, running, cycling and swimming. Most importantly, the studies have shown that it is never too late to start exercising.  Whichever form of exercise you choose, it is important that you keep at it consistently. Optimally about 2 and one half hours of aerobic activity per week is enough to keep those neurons growing..

Source:  AARP Bulletin, September 2013, p.12.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Latest on Interval Training

In this month's issue of Prevention Magazine, there is a discussion of another new approach to interval training. I have written several times about the many benefits of interval training on weight loss, reduction of blood pressure and glucose levels.;;

In an article entitled, "Turn Up Your Fat Burn," Prevention Magazine, October, 2013, p.106, the author, Michele Stanten, discusses yet another approach to interval training as part of a weight loss program. Basically, the plan she proposes would involve a 30-20-10 Core Set.  This involves a 30 second stretch of a slow interval, followed by 20 seconds of a fast interval and finally, 10 seconds of a max interval.  Doing this routine for five minutes, three times a week is supposed to result in a weight loss of up to 11 pounds and 12 inches during an 8 week period. Pretty impressive results. The program can involve the activity of your choice, walking, running, cycling or swimming.

In another brief article in that same edition of Prevention, it is suggested that if you do follow an interval program, that you keep the intense portion of the program to less than a minute because you are more likely to keep at it if you find it more enjoyable. Anything over a minute at max is probably not going to be enjoyable and cause you to lose interest. Prevention Magazine, p. 38.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Save Money by Negotiating

Today on the ABC News with Diane Sawyer, there was a story about how you can negotiate to get a better price even when shopping at the mall. Many of the same suggestions in that story are discussed in more detail in my book, "How to Get the Best Deal Every Time," which is available exclusively on Amazon. tony basinski

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Rules for Reverse Mortgages Go In Effect September 30

If you are thinking about getting a reverse mortgage, you had better act quickly. I have written previously about the potential dangers of a reverse mortgage.
Reverse mortgages allow homeowners over the age of 62 to tap their home equity without having to make any payments on the amount borrowed. The lenders get their money back when the house is sold. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insures most reverse mortgages, is issuing new rules, effective September 30, 2013 that may make it difficult for borrowers to get as much value from their home's equity as they were able to do previously..

The new rules will limit the available equity by about 15%.  In other words, in taking money from a reverse mortgage, the homeowner will not be able to tap as much of the equity as before. The new FHA rules also limit the amount of money that can be taken out during the first year of the mortgage.

Other key changes are:  (1) the price of the mortgage will now be based upon the amount withdraw; (2) lenders will be required to make a financial assessment of the borrower to make sure he or she can make the necessary insurance and tax payments; and (3) if the lender determines you may not be able to pay those premiums or taxes, the borrower may be required to set aside money to insure those payments are made.

As can be seen, these new rules change the entire landscape for reverse mortgages. If you are still interested in pursuing a reverse mortgage, make sure you investigate and understand these changes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Rumfish Grille is a Hit

If you happen to live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and enjoy good food in an interesting atmosphere, you'll enjoy the new Rumfish Grille. Located in the Great Southern Shopping Center in the suburb of Bridgeville, it is a real find.  My wife and I ate there on a recent Thursday night after receiving a coupon in the mail for $10 off two entrees. Tucked in the corner of the rather nondescript shopping center, home to TJ Maxx and LA Fitness, among other tenants, it has a casual decor that is quite inviting, especially the large open patio, which suggests that you are in Southern Florida or Southern California.

We requested seating outside and were pleasantly surprised by the rather large waterfall and expansive view of the surrounding hills. The menu (as suggested by the name) is dominated by fresh seafood. There is a raw bar serving up succulent oysters as well as a varied array of fish and a few meat choices. My wife and I started off with the mussels in white wine sauce. They were large, plump and very tasty. The broth was garlicky but not overly so.  It was served with one crouton and a plate of caraway seed rye bread, both quite good.

The entrees give you a choice of fish dishes as well as side dishes and sauces. You create your own entrée, picking the combination of fish, starch, vegetable and sauces that you prefer. I had the rainbow trout with mashed  potatoes and grilled corn. The trout was perfectly grilled as was the corn on the cob. The mashed potatoes were fresh and lumpy, just the way I like them. I ordered the rum sauce, which was quite spicy and I ended up using it very sparingly.

My wife had the Ono fish, which was quite meaty but a bit overdone. It was full of flavor when I sampled a small piece.

We both had desserts.  I had the chocolate mousse cake with toasted coconut flakes. It was very dense and moist, almost fudge-like.  Quite good. My wife tried the mixed berries in cream sauce. The berries were fresh and the sauce was somewhere between a whipped cream and zabaglione sauce. Also quite good.

We were pleasantly surprised at the large crowd of people on this Thursday night. The parking lot was full and we were told by one of the adjacent store owners that it is busy every night and particularly so on the weekend and during Steelers football games.

The staff seems well-versed in the menu and is generally unobtrusive, something of a rarity these days in restaurants.

The Rumfish Grille is open daily, including Sunday for brunch. It is located at 1155 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017 in the Great Southern Shopping Center. The phone number is 412-914-8013.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Interval Training and Weight Loss

As everyone who reads this blog knows, when it comes to the subject of exercise, I am a strong advocate of interval training.;;;

Several recent scientific studies have confirmed the hypothesis that short intense periods of exercise may have a greater impact on weight loss than longer periods of exercise. Both studies suggest that the short periods of exercise appear to dampen the desire to eat as much food as do longer periods of exercise. One study was conducted by researchers at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia and was published online in the June issue of The International Journal of Obesity. The other study was conducted by the University of Copenhagen and it too confirmed that interval training seemed to have the same weight loss effect. See New York Times, "For Weight Loss, Less Exercise May Be More." September 19, 2012.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Who Says Baby Boomers Want to Downsize?

It is a common place misconception that boomers want to downsize their lifestyles, especially by moving into smaller houses. The reality is quite different. As explained in a recent article in the CanadianFinancial Post,most boomers are actually moving into condos that are almost the same size as their prior residences.  While the survey was conducted in Canada, I think the same trend is taking place in the U.S..

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What Would Warren Buffett Do? Part I

What would Warren Buffett do? (WWWBD) This is a question any investor worth his or her salt should ask himself or herself regularly. I will try to answer that question in a series of posts using his own words.

.Invest In Index Funds

Index funds are mutual funds that mimic a specific benchmark.  The most well known of these are the funds that hold stocks in the Standard and Poor's 500. Index funds were developed by the founder of the Vanguard Group and Buffett's fellow octogenarian, John Bogle. The best known of the index funds is the Vanguard 500 Index Fund.  Here is what Buffett had to say about index funds in the 1996 Berkshire Hathaway annual report:

"Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges low fees."

Why does Buffett favor index funds?  Again, from the 1996 annual report, he states:

"Those following this path are sure to best the net result (after fees and expense) delivered by the great majority of investment professionals.  Seriously, costs matter"

The Vanguard 500  Index Fund, for example, charges  0.17%  in fees and might represent a good choice for some people seeking low fees.

John Bogle puts another gloss on the use of index funds. In an interview at, Bogle suggests that investors begin with a heavy emphasis on growth index funds and that a transition to bond index funds take place as you near or are in retirement in order to generate income.

(The writer of this blog owns shares in the Vanguard Index 500 and other Vanguard funds, including index funds).

Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Ways to Get the Best Price at a Flea Market

Are you afraid to negotiate? Do you watch with envy those TV shows where the participants negotiate at flea markets and get the best price on the item they wish to buy? Well, that can be you if you follow a few easy tips.

What is it that those flea market purchasers can do that is different from what you are able to do? Let me suggest that the key is preparation and knowledge. When they go to a flea market, they bring with them knowledge of what they want and how they can go about getting it for the best possible price. In other words, they come prepared to buy what they know. They know the value of the items they are seeking and if they do not know it already, they will check it out on their iPad or smart phone. You can do the same in any negotiation. But you must prepare.

1.  Lesson Number 1 is "Be Prepared".

Let's assume you see the item you are looking for, such as an antique chair.  It is priced, however, way above your budget. How can you get it down to a  price that you can afford? Once you have information concerning comparable items (see Lesson No. 1), you must not make it clear to the seller that you are too interested in the item. In fact, you might even walk away to demonstrate how little you are interested

2. Lesson Number 2 is "Be a Bluffer".

Many people assume that you should always open the discussion on price with a low ball offer. Sometimes that can be a good strategy, particularly if the item is grossly overpriced. Let's assume it is overpriced but not grossly overpriced, what should you do?  This is where you begin to admire the object. You tell the seller, what a wonderful piece it is, but you think the price is too high. 

3. Lesson Number 3 is "Admire the Item."

Here is where it becomes difficult for a lot of people. However, there is a simple solution: Let the seller lower the price.  If you have followed the above three steps, you have essentially softened the seller by initially walking away and then returning to show your admiration for the item, but making it clear that it is too pricey for your pocketbook.  If the seller is anxious to make a sale (and who isn't), you may be surprised how quickly the seller will drop the price---and sometimes, dramatically, particularly if you return at the end of the day.

4. Lesson Number 4 is "Let the Seller Make the First Offer."

At this point, you should be prepared to make your best offer based upon your knowledge.  Make it clear that it is your best offer and that you are prepared to buy the item right then. The seller will undoubtedly come back with what he says is his best offer. This is where you agree to "split the difference" and the item is yours.

5. Lesson Number 5 is "Split the Difference".

Will this approach always work?  Probably not, but in a substantial number of instances it will. "Try it, you'll like it."

For more information on negotiating the best deal in all situations, click on my name below.

Tony Basinski

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3 Simple Ways to Meditate and Improve Your LIfe

I have written several times about the many benefits of mindfulness or meditation.;;  Here are three simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life:

1. When you awaken in the morning, while still in bed, concentrate on your breathing.  Start with a minute or two and then build slowly from there to 5 to 10 minutes.  It will clear your head and put you in a good mood the whole day.

2. When driving your usual commute to work, concentrate on one word or sound when you begin to feel frustrated with the traffic tie-ups and crazy drivers around you. I use the word "ten" and just keep repeating it until I feel relaxed.

3. Finally, at night when you are in bed, use the 4-7-8 breathing method three or four times. That's where you breathe in for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 7 and exhale for a count of 8. I predict you will be asleep even before you finish the last count.

5 Things to Consider when Picking a Cruise

Interested in a cruise this fall or winter?  Lots of people will be cruising to Alaska, the Carribean and even the rivers of Europe.  So, what should you look for in a cruise.  Here are some thoughts based on a  number of cruises we have taken on several different cruise lines:

1. Get the best price by waiting. Cruise lines are always looking to fill up their ships. If you have the freedom to wait to the last minute to book your cruise, you will probably save the most money. On one of our cruises, a Canadian couple paid $98 per person for a three day Caribbean cruise which they booked at the last minute.

2. Look for open seating for your meals.  While it can be interesting to sit with the same people every day of the cruise, why not sit with different people instead. It will make the cruise more enjoyable (particularly if the people you are stuck with are boring or bores).

3. Try to book a stateroom midship. You want to be close to the stairs and elevators (of course, not right next to them) because you will be moving from deck to deck all day and you will avoid unnecessary walking.

4. Stake out your chair at the pool early in the day. Most deck chairs fill up fast, so get there early.

5. Consider booking your own excursions. The ship excursions are usually fairly pricey. You may be surprised how much you can save if you do an internet search on your destination and find a guide who will basically do the same thing as the ship's provider. We did this on a cruise to Ephesus in Turkey and we had a terrific guide, who showed us much more than we would have seen with the ship's guide.  Shop around!

I hope these tips are helpful.  Let me know what you think. Bon Voyage!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Antoinette Tuff Averted a Disaster in a Georgia School

By now, most of us have heard the story of the courageous woman in the Georgia school, who single-handedly persuaded an armed gunman from shooting up a school and by doing so, avoiding another Sandy Hook tragedy. Her name is AntoinetteTuff and that name could not be more appropriate.  Hats off to you,Antoinette! You are a true hero.

Let me also comment on the tactic she used to defuse the unbelievably tense situation. I have written about the concept of "mirror neurons" before and how they can be used to defuse anger and avoid unnecessary confrontations.. Basically, this theory says that we are all hard-wired to reflect the emotions of others and adopt them as our own. That is what Ms Tuff did with the alleged gunman. She made it clear to him that she understood his situation and even pointed out that she had also been through difficult times recently and managed to get through them. Using this technique she was able to get the alleged gunman to surrender to police without a single injury.

Now, I'm sure Ms Tuff never heard of the theory of "mirror neurons", but she knew in her mind that the only way she could avoid tragedy was to treat  the gunman in a way that would defuse his pent-up anger and despair. Most of us, fortunately, will never be faced with this type of horrific scenario, but each of us will face situations that can become explosive such as a hostile customer or a road rage driver. The Georgia school situation demonstrates that showing a little bit of understanding of the other person's position can go a long way in resolving potential conflict. Try it next time you are in a situation where conflict seems inevitable. You may well be surprised at the outcome.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."  The quote is from Abraham Lincoln and it just about sums up the whole philosophy of positive thinking from Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking" to the present day "Happiness Project." If you are looking for a daily dose of happiness information, check out the Huffington Post GPS for the Soul.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

3 Easy Ways to Save Money in Retirement

Are you worried about saving money in retirement? You are not alone. Most of us who are in retirement or thinking about retirement wonder if there are easy ways to save money that will not impact the standard of living we enjoyed before retirement. Here are three ways you can save in retirement that do not require you to abandon your current lifestyle and may in facts enhance that lifestyle:

A. Always ask for the senior discount. This is probably the easiest way to save money, usually 5 to 10 % and sometimes even more. These discounts sometimes apply even to those 55 and over and almost all apply to those over 65. Many theatre chains offer discounts as most people know. But did you know you can get a discount at hotels? The U.S. also gives you a break. You can obtain a senior pass at any of the National Parks operated by the National Park Service. senior pass entitles you and three others in your party to enjoy the national parks for free. If you are a member of AARP, they will provide you with a list of other businesses where members can get discounts. If you are a former member of the military, you may also be entitled to a discount (usually 10%) at retailers such as Lowe's and the Home Depot. You will need to obtain a identification card from the VA or the Department of Defense to obtain these discounts.

B. Buy Products that last. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is one that is often ignored both in and out of retirement.  If you are buying a large ticket item such as a new car or refrigerator, you need to do your homework to determine which product will provide you with the longest wear. An excellent source of information is Consumer Reports magazine. It will provide you with unbiased analysis of just about anything you are interested in buying. It is well worth the subscription price of $20 or so, which you will probably save on your first purchase. Also shop around. The most advertised product may not be the ones that last longest. For example, everybody knows about Gillette razors and blades, but did you hear of Wilkinson blades?  I've been using them for years and they are usually cheaper and last much longer than other razor blades.

C Do it yourself. With the advent of television networks such as HGTV and DIY, there is certainly a boom in this country of persons who do their own repair and renovation work. This is an enormous potential money saver for retirees, who generally have the time to work on these projects.  And with You Tube showing you how to do just about anything, you should take advantage of those resources and fix that running toilet or repair that broken wood floor. You might be amazed how handy you really are and surely, you will be amazed at how much money you can save by going the DIY route. Try it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How Do I Prepare for Retirement?

How do I prepare for retirement?  That is a question that millions of people in the United States are asking themselves. These people are not just boomers like myself, but people in their twenties, thirties and forties, as well. And no, I'm not talking only about how you must save so many dollars a year so that you have enough to last until you are 96 (although that is certainly part of the preparation process). There are many websites and blogs that deal with that issue. What I am talking about is how do you prepare yourself not only financially, but also mentally, physically and psychologically. What this blog does is to provide you with the paths you can take that will ease  your mind.

When you retire, you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. How you use that time will determine how successful your retirement will be. But the secret is how you prepare to use that time and resources well in advance that will determine whether or not your retirement will be a success.
So search this blog and see if you get some ideas that will work for you. Here are a few posts that may be of help to you:; We will, of course, continue to add information that will help you achieve the retirement you want and deserve, whether now or 20 or more years from  now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Green Beans: The Latest Superfood

For years, my wife has been urging me to eat green beans. She says "they are good for you." My wife  just loves green beans. When we are in the supermarket and she suddenly disappears, I always know where to find her: in the produce aisle, loading the shopping cart with--you guessed it--green beans.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to green beans. I happen to like them from the can and mixed with a little French salad dressing. But raw or barely cooked (or blanched as the cooks like to say) just did not appeal to me. That has all changed now that I have read Dr. Weil's Daily Tip.  He cites three reasons why everyone should eat fresh green beans: it promotes strong bones; protects against heart disease; and it can help prevent colon cancer. In addition, he says that green beans contain anti-inflammatory aspects that produce a stronger immune system.

How do green beans do all that? It turns out they are a good source of Vitamins K,C and A.  In addition, they are also a good source of manganese and fiber.

So if the next time you are in the supermarket, check the green beans aisle.  I may be there loading up my cart with green beans.

For a complete discussion of the topic, please see Dr. Weil's tip, "3 Reasons to Eat Green Beans."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Get Money from an ATM while Abroad

Are you traveling to Europe this summer and worry you might not have enough money with you while there?  The simple answer, of course, is to use an ATM if you need immediate cash. Whoa! One problem you will probably encounter is that the machine may not take your standard ATM card (and no, it is not necessarily because you don't have any money in your account).  Most European ATM machines use a different method for reading the card you use. The standard bank card in this country is swiped when using the machine and the machine reads the magnetic strip. European cards, called EMVs, also use a magnetic strip but, in addition, they contain a microchip that provides an extra level of security against fraud and scammers.

This should give you an overview of the problem in getting money from an ATM while abroad. It just might be a good idea to get an EMV card before traveling internationally. For a more complete discussion, see the Nerdwallet blog.

Hot Chocolate Can Prevent Dementia

A recent study of a group of individuals over the age of 70 has suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate each day may improve your brain's memory skills. The Harvard Medical School study showed that drinking two cups of hot chocolate for thirty days resulted in improved blood flow to the brain. The participants in the study showed an average increase in blood flow of about 8 percent by the end of the study. This translated to a substantial decrease in the time necessary for the individuals to perform certain memory tests from an average of 167 seconds to 116 seconds.

While the researchers and others who have seen the research have cautioned that the results of the study are still preliminary and that further research is necessary involving control groups, it seems to me drinking a couple of cups of hot chocolate a day may well worth doing. Who knows, maybe those cups may help you find those keys or eyeglasses you are misplacing or maybe even help you to  avoid dementia or the mental decline everyone is worried about as they age. Let me know what you think.

The study was performed by Dr. Farzaneh Sorond, an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School.  For a more complete discussion of this study and comments from the Alzheimer's Association, see

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Best and Easiest Way to Lose Weight Without Dieting

I recently wrote about Interval Walking as a way to lose weight. My wife and I started the program just about two weeks ago. Since we started the program, we each have already lost about two pounds. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but a pound a week without following any special diet seems pretty good to me.

The program we have been following is to do the interval walking one day, followed by a day in which we try to walk for at least 45 minutes.  Depending on where we are walking (sometimes we walk on the high school track and others, on a "rails to trail"), we usually log about one and half to two miles, sometimes more.

We are obviously going to continue to follow this program and we will keep you posted. In addition, in a future post, I will explore some of the science behind the benefits of interval walking. For now, though, I think it is the best and easiest way to lose weight without dieting.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Fly Creek Cider MIll and Orchard

The Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard is located just a few miles outside of Cooperstown, New York, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  If you are visiting the Hall of Fame or just enjoy good food, especially anything to do with apples, you will want to stop here if you are in the area.

Fly Creek is a combination of an old-time general store and miniature theme park.
The store features fine food products from the Cooperstown area. It was built in 1856 and its apple cider is renowned throughout the area.
Each year, it is said that over 100,000 people visit the mill . Inside the store are a variety of products, including, of course, apple cider, apple butter and just about anything made with apples. One surprise is the various types of apple wines that are available. These, like everything else in the store, are available for sampling. And believe me, you will certainly enjoy those!
Another treat available at the store is the New York cheddar cheese. It is smooth, sharp and extremely enjoyable by itself, with a glass of apple wine or on some of the delectable crackers available at the store.
Inside the store, you will also find on the second floor, the actual cider press that is still being used today to make the apple cider. Unlike most cider mills, the cider is not pasteurized but rather it is exposed to the sunlight to kill any bacteria.  It is supposed to make the cider taste better and it sure did to us.
Everything in the store can also be shipped to your house and you can also buy through a catalog.
If interested, the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard is located at 288 Goose Street,
Fly Creek, NY 13337 and can be reached through its website,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to lose weight walking

I have written several times about the many health benefits of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. For the most  part those have dealt with the use of a stationary bicycle and how you can increase your oxygen efficiency and decrease  your blood sugar and blood pressure by alternating periods of intense cycling with periods of rest or at a much slower pace.  What we have decided to do is to see if those same principles apply to interval walking. In addition several studies have shown that following a program of interval walking can result in significant weight loss over time.

We started a program today at our local high school track. We began walking at a fast pace for 440 yards followed by another 440 yards at a relaxed pace.  Most tracks are probably set up with lines on the track so it is fairly easy to measure the distance. The fast pace is about twice the usual walking speed.  We started with a mile and will build up to several miles in the next few weeks.
I have seen recommendations that this program be alternated with days of walking at a normal pace for 30 minutes. Some articles suggest that following this program can result in a weight loss of about a pound a week. We'll let you know if we find any success in this approach. Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to Use Interval Training in the Office to Increase Productivity

In a prior post,, I wrote about how you can improve your productivity at work.  In an article in yesterday's New York Times,  the author wrote about how he has integrated interval training in his office routine. "How Interval Training Can Make You Incredibly Efficient at Work."  Essentially, the article suggests that the way to accomplish your goal is to establish what he calls priority by ritual.

What he means by that is that each day at the office or at his work desk, he follows the same routine. For example, first thing every morning he addresses the most important things on his agenda for 90 minutes. He will then take a break. After the break, he performs another task for 90 minutes and so on throughout the day. The trick is to be able to follow the same routine day after day.

Sounds kind of boring to you?  It does to me also. But, if you do decide to give it a try, let me know if it works out for you.

How to Stop Time? (Well, almost)

Ever wonder if you could find a way to stop time?  Or at least make it slow down? Remember when you were a kid and the summer days seemed to last forever?  And the summer itself seemed endless.
As we grow older, time just seems to speed up.  Days seem shorter and months, well, just try to slow those down. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to be just about a week. Is there a way to slow down time?  This Sunday's New York Times contained an interesting and provocative article that proposes a way to do just that.

In the article entitled, "Fast Time and the Aging Mind,", the author, Richard A. Friedman, suggests that one way to slow time is to become a student again. In other words, he says we should try to learn something new, whether how to play the piano, dance or learning a new language. How does this slow time?  He contends that when we were kids, learning to ride a bike or play a new game, took a while before it became as he says "encode[d] ... in your memory." He suggests that may be why time much slower back then. He thinks there is no reason that same process should not work for adults.

Intriguing, don't you think?  I know I am going to give it a try.  Now if I can just find my old high school French language tapes, I'll be all set.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Can't Break a Bad Habit? Replace It!

Today's Huffington Post has a neat article on how you can break a bad habit such as smoking, overeating, or watching an inordinate amount of television. The answer is really quite simple: if you want to break a bad habit, all you need to do is to replace it with a good habit. Sound too easy?  Try it and you might be surprised.

The technique involves using your mind to essentially trick itself and your body by replacing a habit you want to lose with one you want to gain. Say you want to quit smoking. Many smokers automatically light up after finishing a cup of coffee or when they get in the car, saying it relaxes them. What if instead of lighting up that expensive tobacco, the smoker decides to meditate or just count their breaths in a form of mindfulness. Simpler yet, the smoker can chew gum instead of lighting up.  It may take a few days to have the new habit settle in, but it does work.

The other thing to remember is that just because you go back to  your old habit for a day or so, does not mean you have failed. Just get back into the new habit and forget about that failure. There is a famous quote from the 19th century Transcendentalist. Ralph Waldo Emerson, that I keep on my refrigerator and on my iPhone that is particularly relevant.  Let me know what you think:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Where Is The Best Place to Retire? Part 2

Where is the best place to retire? My last post, ,pointed out that the United States is not necessarily the best place to retire. According to one recent survey, the US fares no better than 19th. So,  where is it that people do like to retire? At least some Americans are choosing one of our neighbors to the South. And no, it is not Mexico. It is Costa Rica.

According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal Market Watch, "Retire Here, Not There", the author points out that about 50,000 US retirees now live in Costa Rica. The article discusses the opinion of some researchers that Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries on earth.

Interestingly, Americans can assume residency status in Costa Rica if you can show that you have at least $1,000 per month in retirement income.One potential benefit of residency is that you can enroll in the Costa Rican public health care system for as little abs $55 per month.

Not everything is cheap there. Housing in some of the beautiful beach towns can run as much as $4000 per month. The article discusses several of those beach communities and includes several beautiful photographs. It is well worth a view.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Where is the Best Place to Retire?

Many boomers are asking themselves "Where is the best place to retire?"  No, I'm not talking about the best city or state in the United States.  What I'm referring to is the best place in the world. And no, it is not the United States as most people probably think.  According to the Natixis Global Retirement Index, the best place to retire in the world is Norway!  The United States is not even in the top ten, according to that study. It ranks 19th in the world, behind countries including the Czech Republic and Slovenia. For those who are interested, of the 150 nations surveyed by Natixis Global Asset Management, S.A., the sponsor of the study, Zimbabwe ranked last.

Now, like most studies, this one is largely subjective, but the study did attempt to categorize the most important things most people are concerned about in retirement: health, material well-being, finances and quality of life. Here is what the study said about the U.S.:

HEALTH:  The U.S. ranks 23d in this category.  Although we have the highest per capita spending on health care, many other countries have greater access to care and the U.S. lags many of the developed countries in life expectancy.

MATERIAL WELL-BEING: This is a measurement of per capita income. Although per capita income is one of the highest, we also have a higher degree of income inequality than many nations, including Poland, Slovakia and Singapore.  The U.S. ranks 38th in this category.

FINANCES: The U.S. ranks 28th in this category, largely because of questions about the sustainability of Social Security.  Canada, Brazil and Mexico all are ahead of the U.S. in this category.

QUALITY OF LIFE: While Americans generally have expressed a high degree of satisfaction with life,, because of its lower scores on environmental measures, it ranks 26th in this category, behind Costa Rica and Belize, among others.

This survey raises some disturbing questions. Obviously, the United States is a great place to live and retire. This survey raises the issue of whether we can do better.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How Did Andy Murray Exercise to Win Wimbledon?

After watching Andy Murray's thrilling win today over Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, you may be asking yourself how did he get himself in such good shape to beat the number 1 player in the world?  According to recent newspaper accounts in the United Kingdom, he works out on an exercise machine called the VersacCimber. The VersaClimber is a machine that uses a pulley system to provide a total upper and lower body workout.  It creates the experience of total and continuous climbing. It is said to burn calories more efficiently than other types of exercise equipment and requires less time exercising.

Originally developed for use by NASA to help astronauts to recover from the loss of muscle while in space, it has been used by several professional athletes. One of the early users was Ivan Lendl, Murray's coach. In February, 2012, Murray began using the VersaClimber.  Since then the results speak for themselves:  Murray has won two Grand Slam events, the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Wimbledon championship.  He also won the Gold Medal for singles tennis at last year's London Olympics.

If you are interested in the VersaClimber, check out their website at Be aware that it is a very pricey piece of equipment, running from $3000 to $4000, so obviously it is not for everyone. If anyone decides to try one, let me know if it lives up to the hype.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Get The Best Service

Have you wondered how you can get the best service? Too often do you feel like you are getting the run-around when you call about your poor cable television or phone service? Let me make a few suggestions that may help you get the service you deserve.

It is well-established that our brains contain what are called "mirror neurons." These neurons basically are the source of our empathy for other people's problems.  When we see someone suffering, we experience part of the same emotion. Even watching a tear-jerker of a movie, we cry because of those mirror neurons.

So, what does all this have to do with getting better service?  The answer is: those service personnel on the other end of the phone call to the cable television or phone company when you call to complain about lousy service, have those same mirror neurons.  If you call and present your situation in a pleasant manner, you are likely to receive the same response from the person on the other end of the line.

When you call, rather than start out with your complaint, say something like, "How are you today?" to the person at the other end of the line. You will be amazed at the response.  Usually, you will hear a bit of silence as that person is undoubtedly shocked to hear that someone is actually asking about their feelings. Next, make it clear that you understand how difficult their job is and how you know how other people can be harsh in calling to complain.  Right away, of course, that will establish that you are not one of those people. Only then, state your complaint.

My experience with this approach has been that not only is the person willing to help with your problem, but they will also go even further and try to provide you with even more than what you have asked for. 

Sounds simple?  Try it. It does work.

If you are interested in the theory of "mirror neurons", a very good source of information can be found at this website,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Mediation and Negotiation Blog: Mediation and the Science of Decision Making Part VIII: Set Your Reference Points Before You Begin Negotiating

The Mediation and Negotiation Blog: Mediation and the Science of Decision Making Part VIII: Set Your Reference Points Before You Begin Negotiating

Here is an interesting blog on negotiation strategies. It stresses some of the same approaches I address in my Ebook, The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to EveryDay Negotiations, available on Amazon, for Kindle. At $1.99, it is a.bargain that will save you many times that amount.

Are You Addicted to Exercise?

Are you addicted to exercise?  Are you an exerciseaholic?  Many boomers would probably answer yes to both these questions. Why is that?  Oh sure, some boomers say that they exercise because it helps them keep those excess pounds off.  Others say they exercise because they are convinced that if they do and eat a carton of Greek yogurt every day, they will live forever. The real answer may be that like cigarettes and sex, exercise is a source of pleasure that some boomers (and others, of course) keep coming back to for that so called "runner's high".  And like any addiction, those addicted to exercise must up the ante by increasing the amount of exercise they perform.

In an interesting discussion in today's New York Times, several writers address the topic of exercise as an addiction. One of the writers points out that exercise can be a source of dopamine, a chemical  in the brain,  which provides that natural high. He acknowledges that it may well qualify as some form of addiction but that it is "well worth the risk." He urges everyone to get off the couch and exercise.  I couldn't agree with him more. As the Matthew Wilder sang in his Eighties hit, "Break My Stride," "I've got to keep on moving".

Twinkies Are Back!

I don't know if you heard the good news yet---Twinkies are back!! Well, almost.  We still have to wait three weeks for the return to store shelves everywhere of that iconic cream-filled, orange, sponge-cake dessert treat.  It's manufacturer, Hostess Brands, which filed for bankruptcy protection several months ago, has announced it will resume sale of Twinkies on July 15.

What boomer hasn't enjoyed this treat? During four years of high school, my mother packed my lunch every day.  Alongside the chipped ham sandwich from Isaly's and over ripe pear, was a Twinkie. I must confess that even though I had not had a Twinkie to eat in over twenty years, I was thrilled at the prospect of its return to its proper place in Seven Elevens throughout the country. With all the clamor these days about things "Made In America," nothing is more American than the Twinkie.

So America, "Cheer up," better days are ahead!

Monday, June 24, 2013

What is the Least Amount of Exercise You Should Do?

What is the least amount of exercise you can do in order to obtain the maximum benefits. I have recently written several times about the apparent benefits of High Intensity Interval Training. According to research cited in those posts, as little as three minutes or so a day for three days a week can have significant benefits for some individuals. Why then would anyone do any other type of exercise?

The answer to that question appears to be that because most of the studies on HIIT were relatively small and of brief duration, it is unknown how long those benefits will continue to accrue. Also, some of the studies supporting HIIT have found that it has little effect on the building of muscle and weight control.

In an article in today's New York Times, "The Rise of the Minimalist Workout,, the author points out some of these caveats. In my mind, the ability to conclude a workout in a matter of minutes rather than hours, far out ways any questions about HIIT.  I intend to keep to my program of three twenty second intervals on an exercise bike at full speed just three times a week.  I feel better and it saves an enormous amount of time. What do you think?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The 4 Minute Workout: High Intensity Training Really Works

I have written several times in this blog about the potential health benefits of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. That approach to fitness involves cycling or some other aerobic activity for a short period of time (as little as 30 seconds) followed by a rest period.  This procedure is repeated three or four times, three times a week. It works as evidence has shown.

There is a new twist on high intensity training that deserves a further look. We all complain that we never have enough time to exercise. We are too busy at work, at home and everywhere else to make it to the gym for an hour workout. Well, you may only need four minutes, three times a week to achieve similar results. And you can do it anywhere and no special equipment is required

As reported in the New York Times, "The 4 Minute Workout", researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted a study to determine whether 4 minutes of  aerobic exercise at 90% of maximum heart rate performed three times a week would have the same effects on maximal oxygen uptake, blood sugar and blood pressure as longer training sessions. After ten weeks, the researchers determined that the answer was a definite "yes."

For the full article, see

Believe It or Not: Boomers Are Retiring and Liking It

Contrary to many misconceptions, believe it or not, boomers are retiring----and once more, they are enjoying it.

There seems to be a belief that boomers are not going to retire, that they prefer working until they die. While that may be true for some boomers, there apparently are quite a few who are retiring as soon as they feel they can do so and still maintain a lifestyle similar to their pre-retirement lifestyle.

In an article on the Huffington Post50 website, entitled "Boomers---Will They Shun Retirement", the author, Sara Rix, discusses several studies that show that boomers are in fact retiring at or near the retirement age of 65 and are enjoying their retirement. One study shows that 7 of 10 retirees really like retirement and have adapted to it quite nicely.

If you are interested, the full article can be found at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Are Oversize Servings Killing Us?

When we go into a restaurant, we expect to get a lot for our money. Sometimes, though, we may be getting too much of a good thing, especially when those servings include red meat. Those oversize servings may just be the cause of heart attacks and other health-related issues. In other words, size does matter---and it could kill you.

We are all familiar with the rule of thumb that when we have red meat as part of a meal, the meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards.  That is about 3 ounces. You may be surprised to learn that the Outback 14 ounce rib eye steak you had the other night is the equivalent of 3 1/2 servings of red meat according to the Nutrition Action Healthletter for June 2013.  And that Panera Smoked Ham and Swiss cheese sandwich you had for lunch today?  It is the equivalent to 4 servings. Id.

Relying on information from Adam Bernstein, research director of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, the Nutrition Action Newsletter lists six reasons you should be eating less red meat rather than those oversize portions:

1. You are likely to live longer.
2. You will protect your heart.
3 You will cut your risk of cancer.
4. You may be able to avoid the risk of a stroke.
5 You may cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6.You will protect the environment from methane and nitrous oxide.

I don't know about you, but to me these are pretty compelling reasons to cut back but not totally eliminate the amount of red meat we consume.

Cooperstown Dreams Park

For 13 weeks every summer, Cooperstown, New York is the host to a national invitational youth baseball tournament for youth 12 and under for all sanctioned, independent, travel, and select baseball teams. :Located just a few miles from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, it is based in a sprawling facility.

For kids it is a dream come true. The coaches, players and umpires all stay in the baseball village for six nights and days. Other family members can stay in the variety of hotels and morels that are nearby.

Unlike some tournaments where teams are usually only guaranteed two games, each team is guaranteed to play at least seven games. As an added bonus, each team is seeded into the Championship Playoffs.

All players and coaches are inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame and given the opportunity to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame itself.

For more information about Dreams Park, see

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Baseball Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) is located in the sleepy little town of Cooperstown, New York. Located right on Main street, the red brick building looks a little bit like a library. But inside it is the mecca for all those fans who love baseball and baseball history.  But even those people who don't know the difference between the Red Sox and the White Sox will find something of interest in the HOF.

My wife and I visited the HOF a few weeks ago. The admission charge for seniors is a very reasonable $12.  Because I am a veteran, there was no charge. The first stop inside is actually a movie, basically going through the history of the game in about 15 minutes. The theater is like a baseball field with stands and a make believe field. You can almost smell the hot dogs and taste the cold beer.

The exhibits begin with the birth of baseball.  Although generally the invention of the game is credited to Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, the exhibits themselves debunk that myth.  There are artifacts showing the idea of striking a ball of some sort with a stick went back in history for many centuries. 

As might be expected, there are whole rooms devoted to the heroes of the game. Babe Ruth is prominently featured, beginning with his days in an  orphanage in Baltimore to his death from cancer. Jackie Robinson is also given the star treatment.  In addition, there are separate rooms demonstrating  the accomplishments of both African-American and Latino players.

There are lockers filled with memorabilia for each of the major league teams. Our favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates was well-represented, including a particularly touching exhibit on the great Robert Clemente, who was voted into the HOF shortly after his untimely death while on a mission of mercy to Nicaraugra in 1972.  Ironically, he had joined the 3000 hit club on his last at bat during the prior season.

Surprisingly, although banned from baseball and presumably ineligible for the HOF, there is actually a display for Pete Rose, trumpeting his position as the all time hits leader.  Similarly, there is a display for the dishonored Barry Bonds, who does hold the major league record for home runs. Hank Aaron, the acknowledged unassisted  home run champ is given a large display detailing his long career.

Most impressive at the end of your tour is the actual hall of bronze plaques honoring all of the HOF members.  It is a little like being in church.

For more information, see

After leaving the HOF, we stopped for lunch at the Doubleday Café, just a few steps away from the HOF at 93 Main Street. We sat at the bar and had tremendous hamburgers and a local draft beer. I highly recommend it

Friday, June 7, 2013

Good News for Starbucks: Coffee Can Save Your Life

I am not a coffee drinker; I prefer a nice soothing cup of tea. But maybe, I'm missing out on a magic bullet to good health.  At the very least, it appears  that coffee (and presumably the caffeine in coffee) may just save your life if you are a regular drinker of three or four 5 ounce cups of coffee,  or the equivalent of one venti from Starbucks.

 Recent studies by the National Cancer Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Miami and the University of South Florida all suggest that coffee drinking can reduce the risk of diabetes, skin cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence.

Some of those studies also show that coffee may reduce the likelihood that you will develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease. 

For more information, see the June 9, 2013 issue of the New York Times Magazine for the article, This is Your Brain on Coffee, by Gretchen Reynolds.

Given these potential benefits, I may just head down to Starbucks rather than the local pharmacy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Baby Boomers: Social Security and Medicare Are Going to be Okay

The Sunday New York Times contains an interesting opinion piece by columnist, Paul Krugman, entitled, "The Geezers are All Right."  Mr. Krugman is a professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008. I highly recommend that you read the article if you are concerned about the future of your Social Security and Medicare benefits (and, quite frankly, who isn't?)

The article points out that there is no real need to cut benefits now for anyone since for the time being there is no shortfall.  As Mr. Krugman argues quite persuasively, "[t]he risk is that we might, at some point in the future, have to cut benefits; to avoid this risk of future benefit cuts, we are supposed to act pre-emptively by...cutting future benefits. What problem, exactly, are we solving here?"

Mr. Krugman also points out that the cost of health care has actually appeared to flatten out recently and proposed cuts in Medicare may not be necessary if other measures already in place and soon to be in place, including Obamacare, are fully implemented.

It appears that a lot of the hand-wringing and doom and gloom about these vital social programs is just plain unwarranted. This is not to say that nothing should be done to improve these programs, but cutting benefits now for anyone is not the answer.

I am  pleased to let you know that my e-book on how to negotiate better deals when buying a car or a house is now available on Amazon for Kindle. The Baby Boomer's Practical Guide to  Every Day Negotiations

Sunday, June 2, 2013

On the The Road to Cooperstown and The Baseball Hall of Fame

Located in Upstate New York 220  miles from New York City is a small village called Cooperstown.  Well known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is really much more and well worth a visit even if you are not a baseball fan.  If you are a fan, of course, a visit is all but mandatory. There is something for just about everyone.

We spent two days in Cooperstown recently as a stopover on our way to Ithaca, New York for a graduation at Ithaca College (more on that trip on another post). The first day, after checking into our hotel, a Country Inns and Suites in nearby Milford, we asked the desk clerk for a recommendation for dinner that evening. Without hesitation, she suggested the Hawkeye Bar and Grill.  Located in the historic Otesaga Resort Hotel,, (60 Lake Drive, Cooperstown, NY, 800-348-6222) the Hawkeye Bar serves lunch and dinner alongside Lake Otesaga.  You can eat either indoors in the very well-appointed dining room or outside on the terrace under umbrellas with views of the lake and the Leatherstocking golf course. Because it was a chilly evening, we opted to eat indoors.

The menu is for the most part traditional American fare.  I had a delicious Caesar salad to start. My wife had the salmon for her entree and I had the beef tenderloin.  Both were perfectly prepared to our requested doneness. Accompanying the meal was delicious homemade cranberry bread. When we asked our server for more, the waitress not only refilled our basket, she also gave us a doggy bag filled with the bread for a snack at our hotel later that evening.

After dinner we took a brief stroll around the Otesaga hotel and the grounds.  It has a true resort atmosphere and next time we are in Cooperstown, we will definitely return either to stay or again have dinner.

In upcoming posts we will discuss our visits to the Hall of Fame, the  Fenimore Art Museum and most intriguing of all, the Fly Creek Cider Mill. In addition, we will discuss the Dreamspark baseball tournament held in Cooperstown every summer.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boomers Retire? No, Just Repurpose

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that "there are no second acts in American lives."  Boy, was he wrong. Baby boomers across the country are proving that there are not only second acts, but third, even fourth acts after they ostensibly retire.

The AARP has recognized this and provided a website that can help repurpose your life if you are retired or near retirement and seeking another career. The cite is entitled Many people pay thousands of dollars to so-called life coaches who are supposed to provide guidance in seeking new careers or starting new business ventures. While the AARP site won't take the place of a good coach, it is free and does offer a number of articles and resources that you can explore on your own.

The website is accessed through Linkedin  As its mission statement says, it "helps experienced professionals find jobs, manage their careers, start businesses and explore options through engaging articles and interactive tools.

Let me know if you find it to be helpful.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trouble Sleeping? Here Are Two Cures That Really Work

Many boomers and near boomers have trouble sleeping. There are many prescription and non prescription drugs available as sleep aids. Many people are reluctant to use those due to potential side effects and the danger of possible addiction. What are the alternatives?

One method I have used successfully is a form of breath work. I take 4 deep breaths and usually I am out before I know it. I inhale through the nose for a count if 4.  The key is to breathe from the diaphragm  rather than the chest. Next exhale as long and as loud as you can but at least for a count of 8, twice the amount of inhalation. This form of breathe work seems to relax the mind and body and bring on sleep.

I recently came across another method recommended by the well known alternative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil. He says that jasmine can be as effective as any drug. Jasmine is found in soaps as well as room diffusers. I have not tried it yet but I do intend to do so. If you do decide to do it, let me know if it works for you.

Sleep tight!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What Are Boomers Doing?

Here are a couple of very interesting articles on boomer retirement plans and their contributions. I know I was surprised when I read them and I think you wiki be too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Is Barefoot Running Bad for You and Your Feet?

About a year and a half ago, I bought a pair of Nike Free barefoot-style running shoes.  Although I am not a runner, I do try to walk two to three miles a day.  As with a lot of runners and walkers, I was fascinated by the articles and books that touted the benefits of running barefoot or with shoes that mimicked that style.  Supposedly, according to anecdotal evidence, it prevented a whole host of foot and leg injuries. After wearing the Nikes for about a year, I developed a pain in my right ankle and foot.  After several months of pain and visits to several doctors, I finally learned that I had three fractures to my heel. Since I could not relate the injury to any specific time when I struck the heel or suffered an accident, I began to wonder if the shoes were the cause. A recent study suggests that may be the case.

In an article published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the author, Sarah Ridge, a professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, presented the results of an experiment she conducted to determine whether barefoot running reduced injuries or caused them. Dr. Ridge gave a group of 18 men and women Vibram Five Fingers shoes which are designed to mimic barefoot running. Another group of 18 wore their normal shoes.  All of the participants were experienced runners who usually ran between 10 and 15 miles per week. Before beginning the study, all of the runners were given MRIs and tested for foot injuries.  Both groups tested similarly.

After ten weeks, both groups were re-tested.  Those tests showed that nearly half of the runners wearing the barefoot style shoes showed signs of bone injuries to the foot.  These included increased edema, or the accumulation of fluid around the bone, and actual stress fractures to the heel and metatarsal.  Those in the control group, who wore their usual shoes, showed no such signs of injury.

What does this mean for the average runner or walker?  I think it shows that before choosing to wear the barefoot style shoe, make sure they are right for  you and your style of running or walking. And, above all, be very cautious as you use the shoes, making sure that they are not causing injury.