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.