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,