Senior MomentsThese columns reflect many phases of that proverbial "senior moment" of which we are most familiar. At times these may stretch your imagination yet hopefully will help you ease through your senior years (and assist those who put up with us who will some day be there themselves). Enjoy. Dan Seagren
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Headin' South They Call Me Senior June Bug Healthy Priorities Cognitive Problems Ooh La La Heroes Solicitation Midlife Crisis NIMB
Church people who live in the North like to head South in the winter. Makes sense. But where do the people who live in the South go in the winter? They're stuck, aren't they? Or are they? Goin' South also means heading downward like a bank without any money (it happens, you know) or a school without a principal (or without principles).Our little ol' lady, bless her sweet heart, went to her favorite hair dresser (men go to barbers you know) and shared her concerns, quietly cuz' she didn't want the others to eves drop. She told her beautician that her church was headin' South. South her benefactor queried, what do you mean?
She was told that the offerings were not meeting the budget, the preacher's sermons were longer, the children were drinking lemonade in the parlor instead of drawing on the bulletins. And worse of all, she deplored the new coffee they were using, not to save money but to save the earth (or something like that).
Oh my, responded the beautician, that sounds ominous. Ominous? What's that? The answer came, slowly. That means things are threatening. Thanks. But what can we do? The beautician paused a moment. Forgetting what she was doing, she launched into a discourse, sort of a sermon you might say.
Off hand, I think you need a HR. HR? What on earth for heaven's sake is a HR? A Human Resources person. Human Resources? We don't need human resources, we need heavenly resources. I know. But listen. A good HR is worth a dozen sermons and at least that many offering plates.
Really? Of course. This person, male or female, preferably young, like thirtyish. Thirtyish? Where do you find them? They're scarce in our congregation. Oh oh. That may be your problem. Maybe that's why there are so few kids scribbling . . .
Go on. More about that VR. You mean HR! Yeah. HR. He or she is hired . . . We don't need to hire anyone else. We have too many hires right now. Well, all right. Then, appoint one. But what do they do? They do every thing necessary for success. Meaning heading North? Exactly. They focus on productivity. Like more hymnals or more people? More people, and better people. I get it. They do the stuff the minister should be doing.
Not quite. They fill in the gaps. Gaps. Yeah, we've got 'em. Too many. Hard to fill, too. Listen, my dear, you've been most helpful. Now be sure you get the color right. Last week you . . . I remember. I used the wrong color. But I won't forget this time. Thanks. Now, hurry up, please, I can't wait to get out of here to visit our minister and tell him to get off his duff and hire a VG person. Oops, you mean HR.
Yep, that's what we need. Bye. See you next week.
Go to TopBeing called a senior is complimentary here and there. ¡§May I introduce Senior Gonzalez, a distinguished professor at Drake Institute.¡¨ No problems here. But then a news report, ¡§The riot was caused by a bunch of disgruntled seniors.¡¨ And so we embark on a new, maybe better, term.
They Call Me Senior
Carlos Van Leer suggested way back in 1974 ¡§seasoned citizens.¡¨ Not too bad. Vincent W. Gillen liked the term ¡§emeritan.¡¨ Fine, except many probably wouldn't get the connection with emeritus. Some may think Samaritan, not senior.
How about L-raisers? Oh oh. ¡§L¡¨ stands for Roman Numeral fifty. Now we get it. Fifty-raisers. Nope. Won't survive. Another tried ¡§silver citizens¡¨ which might work for some but not the ¡§gold citizens.¡¨ Silver is way too young, especially for octogenarians.
We've tried ¡§mature citizens¡¨ without much support. Or ¡§half-centenarians.¡¨ How about ¡§over-fifty¡¨ ( think AARP's age for membership) or ¡§over-70¡¨ (think social security creeping upward)? ¡§Ol' geezers¡¨ just isn't dignified or ¡§Ol' duffer.¡¨ Still, these creep into vocabularies now and then. Some like the term ¡§elder¡¨ but that could be too religious for some.
To help in this search, we turn to the ever faithful thesaurus. Here are a few synonyms (or proxies): ancient, antiquated, by-gone, old-fashioned, obsolete, prehistoric, pristine, immemorial, antediluvian, hoary (yikes), time-honored, time-worn, venerable (not vulnerable), superannuated, patriarchal/matriarchal, olden, decrepit, aged, sedate. How about superannuated pristine venerables?
Really, this isn't only a problem for old-timers. What about the young? We could use new, modern, up-to-date, green, blooming, budding, juvenile, puerile, adolescent, immature, unseasoned, infantile, child-like or childish? As in she had class full of puerile, unseasoned juveniles?
Maybe being seniors or senior citizens isn't all that bad.
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June BugJune Bug. I'm curious. Why June Bug? Does it have anything to do with June, the month, or June, a woman? Or romance? So, I looked it up.
I found out that can be called May Beetle (South) or June Bug (North) so it must be a Spring insect. Scientific Name: Phyllophaga. Order: Coleoptera. Description: Adult beetles, commonly referred to as May beetles. They are ? to 5/8 inches long, and reddish brown. White grubs are "C"-shaped larvae, up to 1 inch long, with cream-colored bodies and brown head capsules. They have three pairs of legs, one on each of the first three segments behind the head.
Three pairs of legs. Must be really stable like a three-legged stool? In my research I found a picture (quite ugly) of a beetle with a caption: USED BEETLES. When I looked, it was an ad for used VW beetles. I had one in 1956. Nice set of wheels.
We now know they appear earlier in the South so they go by both names. Seems they can be spelled as one word or two. They appear in the Spring and can be a nuisance when adult bugs are attracted to light so you better duck.
They are hungry little things. Look: June Beetles are pleasing to the eye, with remarkable shades of metallic green on their elytra and underparts. Despite this pleasing appearance, they are no friends of farmers in the eastern U.S. where adult June Beetles often dine on corn, peaches, and grapes . . . Even greater damage is caused by June Beetle larvae, which live in the soil and wreak havoc with the root systems of row crops, lawn grasses, and ornamental plants.
OK. I thought they were ugly but the writer above said they were pleasing (cute?). To each his own. But I am still looking for a more romantic reason why June Bugs are, well, let's say, so well known.
So, I went looking. I found this on a website. Junebug was a R-rated movie (2005) where a big-city art dealer goes with her new husband to meet her parents which created problems. So much for romance. I also discovered that Junebug is used as the name for various entrepreneurs such as weddings, movie reviews, photography and DVD rentals.
Sorry, folks. June Bug elicited 740,000 responses on Google but I wasn't romantic enough to search through all of them.
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Healthy PrioritiesAs you know I am a cancer survivor for which I am indebted to legions of praying friends, competent medical personnel and family. Especially my wife who was a major factor in my recuperation. I don't smoke, drink, eat ravenously or recklessly and am not overweight yet cancer paid me a visit. I probably didn't exercise adequately although I am not a couch potato. But that dreaded disease did find me and now it has departed, hopefully forever.
Naturally, I am much more sensitive to those who suffer from a debilitating illness or injury as I should be. I therefore heartily recommend some of the things we can do (as well as those we ought not be doing). For the past few weeks, I have been getting at least one or two requests for donations. One day I received five. Many of these are very worthwhile endeavors, responsibly manned and worthy of our support.
However, it is impossible to acknowledge all of them and it is most difficult, or awkward, to pick and choose which must be done. Naturally, I have contributed to some cancer organizations and will share excerpts from a recent communique.
This American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) while asking for a donation included this headline: Did you know that one-third of the most common cancers are preventable? That is good to know. Here they are: Endometrium (lining of the uterus), Esophagus, Mouth, pharynx and larynx, Stomach, Colon, Pancreas, Breast, Lung, Kidney, Gallbladder, Liver and Prostate.
Of course, that leaves two-thirds that are more problematic. Still, this is good news, isn't it? My mother died of cancer when I was three years old. I do not know what kind it was (my father never discussed this with me later in life and I never thought of asking until it was too late). One guess is that it may have been a fast moving ovarian cancer.
Back to the Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention by AICR. Certainly worth trying for the above mentioned cancers as well as others. Are they impossible? Hardly. Are they seriously practiced? I sure hope so. Here they are:
1. Be as lean as possible without being underweight. 2. Be physically active for at least thirty minutes a day. 3. Avoid sugary drinks and limit consumption of energy-dense foods. 4. Eat a variety of vegetables and whole grains. 5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meats. 6. Limit alcoholic drinks (2 max for men, one for women). 7. Limit salty foods. 8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer. 9. Best for mothers to breast feed infants for up to six months. 10. After treatment, cancer victims should follow recommendations for cancer prevention.
A word to the wise is [hopefully] sufficient. P.S. And not too much sun, please.
Go to TopWe're back to square one when we defined senior moments as that awkward moment when we couldn't locate our keys, or while in the super market couldn't remember what we should buy. Or where we parked the car.
We have seen in these senior moments that there are all kinds of senior moments. Some may be stretched a bit to make 'em fit. Frankly, I wasn't sure when I began if I would run out of senior moments but it hasn't happened yet.
As you know, cancer caught up with me in my 82nd year giving me quite a few more senior moments. While lingering in the waiting room to see the physician, my wife spotted a magazine, ¡§Cure.¡¨ New to me, I read an article about ¡§addressing and correcting cognitive problems among older cancer patients.¡¨ Right down my alley.
Laura Bell went on to tell about a robust man of 60 who seemed unable to wean himself from the ¡§juice¡¨ as he called it (the chemicals administered to kill those troublesome cancer cells). He would stare at his computer, his brain trying to summon moves that previously came automatically [like control c to copy].
When he mentioned these things to his oncologist, he casually remarked, ¡§Well, Don, you aren't getting any younger.¡¨ Yet the good doctor realized that cancer and chemo-therapy do conspire together to create greater mental consequences than any single one could cause by itself. Maybe the aging brain does lose some of its agility which could be complicated by other causes.
This poses more questions than answers says the director of the Neurocognitive Research Laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Alas, we are also informed that a lot of these kinds of studies are not conducted on seniors.
We know that chemotherapy can do wonders but also has a few side-effects that are not only physical but cognitive in nature. Now I am beginning to realize why some inexplicable occurrences happened that I hadn't anticipated. When our systems are taxed by extraneous forces, physical, mental and emotional, why shouldn't there be some cognitive effects like senior moments, imbalance, a stubborn, noncompliant memory?
Worse, perhaps, is misdiagnosing a senior moment and calling it dementia or giving it a name, Alzheimer, when it may be only a temporary ripple. Good luck to those researchers when they try to figure out seniors. We are an elite, tough bunch, are we not?
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Ooh La LaThis morning I saw a few minutes of Good Morning, America, while eating breakfast. You may have seen it too. It involved several couples and/or individuals (I wasn't watching that closely as the TV is behind me but faces my wife). Nice guy, huh?
Anyway, these people were hopelessly (and I mean that) in debt, overextended on credit cards to the tune of thousands of dollars. One of them I believe was $61,000 behind. Fortunately, they were well counseled and were whittling down their debts. This of course involved more than money; it meant a whole new lifestyle. But there was hope.
Then, yesterday, I received a letter in the mail. I was overdue on paying our semi-annual property taxes. The letter was mailed June 1 and the penalty began on June 1. I received it on the second so out of luck. I reasoned to myself, if they would have given me a warning prior to the penalty date, I could have saved that penalty money. I also argued to myself that with home values heading downward, but my tax based on the value of our home was rising, that meant a good deal for them but not for me.
Of course, these arguments were made with myself and so were inconsequential. Then, I reasoned, I had a good excuse for missing the payment. I could blame it on my health, my chemotherapy, my mental anguish causing me to miss the payment. Now, wouldn't that be enough to soften the hearts of those who issue those County Delinquency Tax Notices? Probably not.
What remains is another senior (medical) moment. Did I get a bill? If so, what did I do with it? Where is it now? What could I do? Only one recourse. I went to my check book to look for that entry. I searched. My dear wife searched but it could not be found. So, I went to my online account with the bank. Surely it would be there. Nope. No entry (it was big enough so I could find it easily).
The moral of the story is clear: I didn't pay it. My wife didn't pay it. My fairy godmother didn't pay it. Nor did my banker. So now my checkbook balance will take a beating but at least no one will repossess our dwelling place. Besides, we have no unpaid balances on any of our credit cards and no outstanding unpaid bills (that I know of).
But then, with this kind of a senior moment, who knows what the mailman will bring tomorrow. Maybe I should remove our mailbox. Do you think that might ward off a potential senior moment? Maybe? Maybe not.
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HeroesI'm not sure who said that ¡§heroes are made, not born¡¨ but someone knew something worth repeating. Recently, John Wooden passed on to his eternal reward at age 99. For those who don't remember Wooden, he was a basketball coach for the UCLA team whose win-lost record may never be excelled. Some 88 wins in a row and ten national titles. Unheard of.
What I vaguely remember is this story about one of his stellar players who went on to star among the professionals. Bill Walton was an individual in the era of individualism. One day he showed up for practice after a break in the season sporting a wild, red beard.
¡§It's my right,¡¨ he told the coach who didn't allow facial hair.
¡§That's good, Bill,¡¨ Wooden replied. ¡§I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them. We're going to miss you.¡¨
The beard came off and eventually Walton moved on, a better man as well as a super player. Wooden was known not only for his coaching skills and no nonsense demeanor but also for his love for his players as well as the game. Basketball will miss him as we all miss our heroes when they are gone.
If heroes are not born, how else could they achieve this distinction? There seems to be several ways. They could become celebrities, heralded by the media, and endowed with certain abilities.
Or, they could simply be blessed with riches, enhanced by achievements, and in some instances, a highly visible philanthropy. Another way would be to be in the right place at the right time to perform an act of extreme bravery. Then there are heroes who have toiled long and hard to find a medical cure or labored valiantly to unearth a long-lost clue solving a heinous crime.
Heroes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, male and female, youthful or elderly, rich or poor. But there are also those who are heroes undeservedly. Unfortunately, we don't really have a name for them that fits except perhaps rogue or villain but these are not heroes except perhaps to another kind of assemblage.
Why was John Wooden a hero? Because of his incredible record at UCLA? In part. But primarily because of the kind of a person he was which made him the kind of a coach he became resulting in the making of men out of boys, producing champions with character. Coach Wooden, you are to many of us a real hero. Thank you and our thanks also go to those who helped inspire those heroic qualities.
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SolicitationToday I received three solicitations. They want $20, $50, $100 or even $1,000 yet they leave a blank so you can fill in your own amount. Why I am writing is simple. You ol' timers, like me, remember when it was a sad day when the mail box was empty; or in the military when mail call missed you completely. No such luck any more.
I've kept track for the past six weeks or so and rare is the day when I do not get a single solicitation. The most in one day was five. I am also beginning to get repeats from the same outfits. This bothered me until I read recently that it is normal when a donation is made to strike again, and again while its hot.
Now I realize that in the past I have responded to some solicitations because I felt the cause was worthwhile. Not that most solicitations are phony or frivolous. Many are worthwhile causes and are welcome to a point. Were we to respond generously (or even miserly) to all of them, two things would happen.
First, we'd go broke sooner or later. Secondly, the requests would proliferate because we are a soft touch (we responded) and because we are easily and readily bartered with other solicitors. I have used a different signature, like D. Robert Seagren or the word Rev. with my real name and then watch to see how these play out. Of course it is big business to seek funds this way for good and not so good causes.
Tearjerkers, either a picture or story, we're told are effective and we've seen these on ads as well as in letters. My senior moment occurs when I toss a perfectly legitimate request into the trash bin. It probably should give me a sigh of good riddance rather than a moment of remorse.
On the other hand, my senior moment would be worse if I received no mail, if no one cared about my birthday or anniversary. Or if I didn't get a reminder that my utility bill is due. So, today I tossed three perfectly legitimate, serious requests for a bit of help during these tough times. Did I enjoy it? Not really. But then, tomorrow will be another day. And more mail. And more decisions.
Yet tomorrows for seniors are pretty welcome, aren't they?
P.S. The day after this was written, I received 7 solicitations. Hmmmmm.
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Midlife CrisisIf a senior has passed beyond a Midlife Crisis, is there a possibility that a Seniorlife Crisis might appear? A recent article in the July 2010 issue of SmartMoney dealt with ¡§The Rising Cost of a Midlife Crisis.¡¨ If true, there just might be something left after a midlife crisis for one in the golden age. But be aware: it too could be more costly.
What were the crises that Neil Parmar wrote about that are getting costlier? One midlifer, with a Ph.D, a family man with two kids, wanted to get certified in skydiving. His list also included a tattoo and a motorcycle. Another would like to start a business to get off the ¡§office treadmill.¡¨
Kim Cameron traded in her corporate career to chase her dream of becoming a pop-star. Another wanted to play the stock market and make his own financial decisions. Another wanted to upgrade her appearance. The article then gave some suggestions to manage the Midlife Crises.
Now, let's suppose you never gave in to a midlife crisis yet there is still a yearning for one. As seniors, we're supposed to have had enough experience and a well-honed maturity so these hidden passions can easily be dismissed. But if not, what should we do? Encourage it? Do some research? Talk to a counselor? Involve your spouse?
What does age have to do with this? If for decades a secret longing has refused to quit, why not give it a try? What can you lose? Maybe a lot.
Let's suppose your Seniorlife Crisis involves a physical activity that may not have been advisable forty years ago. Like hot-rodding with a Harley or sky diving. But you argue, if Senior Bush could do it, I can do it. But then your wife chimes in, I always thought you were an idiot, now I know for sure. Ouch.
Suppose you're as frugal as ever, and your nest egg is actually growing. Why not speculate a little and take that trip around the world you always wanted to do? After all, a little dent in your nest egg wouldn't necessarily be fatal. Maybe not. But who knows just when we just might need that nest egg. Or someone we love becomes deathly ill.
Senior crises occur in various guises and sometimes make senior moments pale by comparison. If a Midlife Crisis bypassed you, maybe that should be considered a blessing.
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NIMBBishop Rick Painter of Christ the King Liturgical Charismatic Church rang the bells of his church as an expression of praise to God, until the city of Phoenix wrongly determined that the bells violated a local noise ordinance and a judge sentenced him to jail!
By God's grace, a federal court ruled that the city could not apply its noise ordinance against churches and restored religious freedom for Christ the King and other local churches so they can publicly exercise their faith.
When I read this I identified with it as this is a typical NIMB (not in my backyard) ecclesiastical problem. What else struck me was the name of this church: King Liturgical Charismatic Church. You can't get much more inclusive than that.
King no doubt refers to The King of the Jews, Jesus, its Judeo-Christian heritage. Liturgical connects with the traditional high church and Charismatic includes lively, less formal believers. Church separates it from Mosque or Synagogue.
Add to this bells rung at strategic hours and the picture is complete.
Bully for them and for the non-prejudicial judge. Church bells or any kind of bells piercing the air at midnight or at four in the morning may not be welcome by neither the religious or the irreligious. But at other hours they could be a welcome sound in a dull environment.
Train whistles and industrial bellows and non muffled conveyances can be disturbing and less easily silenced. NIMB doesn't work as easily here.
We see and hear more and more of this NIMB phenomenon in various settings. It can originate among irate neighbors or passionate environmentalists, legitimately or otherwise.
It is almost ironical with a name like King Liturgical Charismatic Church that it would be targeted as it would be more apt to be an all things to all people therefore shrinking the target somewhat for would-be antagonists. But then, as long as there is a target, someone will take aim. Even if the backyard is fenced, with spotlights at night, the gate locked, and a vicious watch dog on guard, it still could be vulnerable. Even if targeted, it could be rescued from a NIMB assault, if necessary, by a reasonable judge, should it come to that.
How safe is your back yard?
Note: this was published earlier in The City Parson and is included here as well. drs
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