Monthly Archives: July 2013

Send Only $48 To Save Yourself From Alzheimer’s…

If you surf the internet you’ve seen this dozens of times. The title reads something like “If you have a computer you can make $1000’s every month just sitting at home.” This is followed by a long, exhausting video, usually without a timer at the bottom which shows you how long it will take to watch it. It starts with various people telling you how they have made thousands of dollars, paid off their mortgages, bought the latest Cadillac, put their kids through Harvard – all while sitting at home and doing some menial job on their home computer. All you have to do is send them this week’s special reduced price of $97 and you will receive the booklet with all the details on how you can join this elite club. It sounds too good to be true and it is. The only person making money out of these offers is the advertiser.

Now the idea has caught on and is spreading. The latest such scam is entitled “5 Signs you’ll get Alzheimer’s – click here” and a picture of a fine looking man. When you click, you get into the video. This one has no pictures, just a smooth voice and then an introduction to a doctor, “a specialist in geriatric diseases who lost both his parents to dementia and resolved to solve the problem by researching the subject. He goes on and on.

If you click again on the “Order Now” button you will receive a free copy of the doctor’s Brain Protection Kit plus for another $48 for his Wellness Report.

That’s it fellow members of the Seniors Club. Some free reading and a mere $48 will stave off the dreaded disease… Doc, if you know so much about us old folks how come you think we’re gonna send the money?


Seniors: You Just Have To Get This Latest App!

Time marches on and technology races along – trying to keep up is a Senior’s nightmare. I sometimes wonder if the “Middle-Agers” are managing to keep up with it all. The current buzzword is “Apps” and they seem to be specifically designed for grandchildren or the under-10 population. I mean we never even had the word “App” in our dictionaries in the good old days. Take a look at any child’s iPhone or iPad or iPod and you will be looking at screens and screens of icons and each one is an App. Most play games, others provide information and some provide assistance. Here’s the latest.

This is a banking App. It is meant for depositing checks. If you receive a check from someone all you have to do is take a picture of the check (using your iPhone or iPad of course) press a few letters and numbers on the keyboard of your phone and the check will be instantly deposited to your account. How’s that for progress, huh? No more shlepping to the bank, no more standing in line and no more chatting up the teller. For someone like me, who never ever receives a check, especially not on my birthday, this new app will make a big difference in my life. I wouldn’t be seen without it…

However, we seniors are up to the challenge. There are little working groups scattered around the country working on contra-apps, or as we Seniors call it, “Pension Subsidies”. It’s time we had our revenge with the banks. One of the groups is working on a check with a changeable name in the “Pay To” line, meaning that one can take unlimited pictures of the same check made out to many different depositors. The other group is deep into photographing the same check and depositing it into multiple accounts at multiple banks. Both schemes are doomed to failure, of course, but boy, we’re having loads of good old Senior Fun…

My New Credit Card Has All the Answers

My credit card came up for renewal this week. After being pestered by the bank with SMS messages for a few days, I finally got myself together and drove into town and called in at the bank. The new card has the same 16 digit number which I am sure is known to every gas station in the surrounding area, a couple of charities who persistently nag for donations on the phone and some online bookstores. Otherwise the card is the same as the old one – it even produced cash from an ATM.

But there was one nice surprise. The new card is renewable only in August of 2016! Thanks, credit card company for the vote of confidence in my states of health and finance. I will do my best to keep using my card until the due date…

On the downside, however, I have a horrible feeling that you guys are pushing me willy-nilly through the next 3 years without letting me touch sides. Even the jar of peanut butter I bought in a supermarket last week has a one year shelf-life and my new driving license has a 2 year limit. I wish your assessment of my future could be definitive – I could save a few visits to doctors, I could binge unreservedly on thick juicy steaks, full-fat cheeses and other gourmet delights that I pass on in the interest of low cholesterol and low blood pressure.

Anyway, I appreciate the compliment – I’m not promising to use the new card more frequently, but it’s comforting to know it’s there in my wallet.

We Speak 50 Languages in the Retirement Home

I push the hot water button on the water dispenser to fill my coffee cup and turn to greet someone hobbling along on his crutches. The boiling water overflows and runs down my hand. I do a small dance of pain, mutter a curse and walk to where I usually sit in the coffee lounge, slopping coffee as I go.
“Good morning, Leon!” says someone as I pass.
“Morning,” I growl, watching a drop of coffee narrowly miss my shoe.
“Guten morgen, Leon!”
“Morgen.” I don’t look but it sounds like Fritz, the nice guy from the third floor.
“Buenas Dias, Leon,” says Paco who always sits in the window seat.
“Hola!” I say, pleased at my knowledge of Spanish as it is spoken in Beunos Aires.

I’m halfway to my usual seat and rapidly running out of languages.
“Bon jour, Ami!” says Marcel, raising his cup as I draw near.
I give him a quick smile, trying not to move my eyes from my stormy coffee cup.
“B’jour Marcel!”
“Buenas Dias, Amigo! Como estas?” This guy’s name is Leonardo, Uruguayan, early 90s, fit as a fiddle, drives like a maniac. “Because of the traffic in Montevideo,” he once explained.
“Can I carry that cup for you?” it is the smiling Fatima, the Arab lady who is in charge of cleaning and order in the lounge. “Shukran, Fatima!” I say, highly relieved at her offer.

I trail after her as she weaves through the chairs balancing the coffee cup like a pro and we pass through a knot of caregivers. Luckily they all speak smatterings of Hebrew and “Good Morning” is the specialty of these smiling people. I mean you wouldn’t expect me to learn Philipino, Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan and Indian with all their different dialects, would you?

Finally I get the greeting from my own crowd: “Boker Tov, Leon!”
It’s going to be a great day, after all…

Keys: An Ongoing Saga at the Retirement Home

Everyone loses their keys sometime. I’m sure that close to 100 percent of the customers in the locksmith shops and key duplicating kiosks are replacing lost keys. The thing about lost keys is that one does not lose one’s keys; your keys just get lost or most likely, just disappear. We’ve all heard this cry: “They were here on the table just 5 minutes ago and now when I came to pick them up to go to the car, they have disappeared!”

As a child I did well out of lost keys. I lived in a large house with many cupboards and small rooms. Because she was convinced that the servants would steal everything from her, my grandmother kept everything locked and carried a huge bunch of keys that could open everything. She kept the keys in her hands or in the pocket of the apron she always wore. But her keys were always “lost” and there was always a reward for finding them. My bother and I would listen for the cry, “has anyone seen my keys? A penny for the finder!” It is possible, of course, with such large rewards being offered, that it was us that “got the keys lost”.

Here in the Retirement Home keys go missing every day; keys to the apartment, car keys and other keys. It’s an ongoing event. Somewhere deep under the foundations of this large building there is a key repository, but there is no reception desk, no clerk and no access. This is the “lost” department. There is no “found” department as is usual. Retirement homes are different.

There is also no lost-key pattern, meaning it’s not mainly the men or the women; the young or the old; everyone is prone to losing their keys. And if you are going to lose them, what better place than a retirement home? Everyone knows about the memory glitch here.

Is The Pain In My Little Finger From Too Much Exercise?

There are many different Keep-fit programs here in the retirement home. When we first moved in, I read the list of exercising opportunities that ranges from chair exercises to water aerobics to a fully fitted gymnasium, and pondered over what was best for me. I immediately went into exercise denial and did nothing for the first couple of months. Then guilt reared its head and I tentatively went to something called “chair exercises”, thinking this would suit my level of inactivity and still allow me to maintain my status as a fully fledged member of the couch potato club.


The super-fit instructor has built a routine of exercises that are all done while sitting in a sturdy heavy chair. She begins with arm exercises. From there she moves up to the head and neck and then all the way down to the toes, leaving no muscle untouched. The session lasts for 45 minutes and each set of exercises lasts for about 15 seconds with a break of about 5 seconds between the sets, meaning that there are over 100 different exercises in the session.

When I first started this innocent activity I sneered at the thought of exercising while sitting. I soon discovered over 100 aching muscles in my body. Today after about 9 months of attending this group twice a week I am fitter and able to do all the exercises reasonably well.

But this morning while she was exercising our finger muscles – yes, you read that correctly – finger muscle exercises – I felt a sharp pain in the top joint of my right pinkie.

Can you tell me, instructor, am I getting stronger or weaker?

Has It Started Raining Yet?

I bumped into an old friend yesterday. He was standing outside the bank looking somewhat puzzled. “What’s going on?” I asked.

He replied: “Remember all those years ago when we were told that we must ‘save for a rainy day’? Did you save? I hope so… I saved – and saved – and saved and every time I stashed a little bit away I wondered what I was saving for; most of my dreams contained a world cruise, an expensive car or a new house. But I went on saving whatever I could. Now and again I dug into the little pile to finance a new car or a new piece of furniture but my nest-egg kept growing.”

“I’ve just been sitting with my investment adviser inside here,” he gestured to the bank. “The guy is really upset with me. I told him I wanted to withdraw a large chunk of my savings to buy a retirement place down at the coast and he said, “you mean you’re going to break up this great investment portfolio I built for you? Remember that you always said it was for a rainy day?”
“So it’s raining,” I said, “and I want my umbrella.”
“But I’m still building it,” he said. “The NY stock exchange is finally getting back on its feet and this is the moment you want to take your money out?”
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “It’s just that a new place on the beach came onto the market. We flew over and looked at it. I put down a small deposit and now I want to make the purchase. I reckon that using the savings to finance my retirement is fully justified. Anyway, once we’re settled down there I’ll sell my place here and put the proceeds back in the portfolio. How’s that?”
“Well, that sounds better. How much do you want now?”

“So it finished alright,” I said.
“Only because I wiggled my way out. The bank guy made me feel like a criminal plotting to steal my own money…”

The Case of the Creaking Chair

The chair exercise class in the retirement home often provides some great entertainment. When 30 or 40 would-be body-builders of average age 80 get together to exercise you can bet on a good laugh somewhere in the room. The instructor, a slim, athletic woman, does every exercise herself so that the class can see and follow the movements. So ‘arms horizontal’ means arms go everywhere except horizontally. Likewise, every exercise is interpreted differently by every exerciser. Confusion between right and left limbs is common.

I sat at the back the other day, did the exercises and watched the proceedings. It was hard to believe that there was someone demonstrating the movements at all… Then came the noise of a creaking chair. The sturdy chairs are made of a dense plastic with an attached seat. They are heavy chairs and built for heavy-duty use – and there are a few ‘heavies’ in the class. The chair in front of me developed a creak as the woman in it, who I recognized from the third floor, moved. The creak came in perfect time with her movements.

She looked puzzled for a while, frowning as though trying to determine where the creak was coming from. Finally the penny dropped – her own chair. She apologized and continued exercising, from time to time turning to smile to those sitting near to her. The class ended, we all stood up, thankful that the torture was over, and filed out.

I decided to take the stairs one floor up to the lounge for a much needed cup of coffee. There was that noise again, behind me this time. I glanced back and there she was, creaking each time she raised her foot to the next step. I knew all along that the chair wasn’t creaking…

Hobbies One Can Enjoy at the Retirement Home

Of all the hobbies I have been involved with, ceramics has been the most exciting, the most creative and the most satisfying. From the moment I first dug my hands into a mound of wet, squishy clay, I knew that ceramics and pottery was what I wanted to do. Clay is nothing more than earth, the most basic material in our lives. One cannot get closer to Mother Earth any other way. And pottery is probably the world’s oldest hobby…

In the art of ceramics one creates things in all three dimensions and finishes them in colored glazes; they are objects to look at and admire, objects that are useful and items that are necessary in our everyday lives. Imagine drinking from a coffee mug you made last week, or eating a meal off a plate you designed and made yourself! It is an exciting feeling.

We were having guests for a group of friends one year and we decided to serve a salmon. “What will I serve it on?” said my wife, “it is a big fish.” Off I went to the studio and made a dish especially for the large salmon. Our home has many items I have made over the years, all finished in beautiful glazes, and many being used for one purpose or another. Some of the pieces look very professional and others rather amateurish, but it’s not important – I made them all with my own two hands.

We have a ceramics studio here at the retirement home complete with instructor. Few of the residents go there. If one is looking to spend a few satisfying hours being creative, that’s the place to be.

The Next Senior-Shaker Is On the Way

We live in an ever-changing world that leaves us seniors breathless – new medicines, new health treatments, new phones, new toys and new weapons. I was idly listening to the news this morning trying to follow what’s going on in Egypt and Syria when I heard a stunning report. It was like listening to an historical announcement: “Man will soon be flying through the air and from country to country”. Imagine how that news item stunned the world at the beginning of the 20th century when the Wright Brothers were getting their act together.

Now they are talking about new developments of “drones”, pilotless planes or what we used to call “model airplanes” when we were kids and building them. Well, those “model airplanes” grew up into drones and now carry cameras, guns and bombs and are today’s strategic weapons in the war against terrorists. An operator can sit at home dressed in a pair of socks and direct his drone over the mountains in Afghanistan while sipping his morning coffee. He doesn’t know his victims and he doesn’t need to see him; he can destroy him by simply clicking his mouse.

So what’s new? We will soon have drones delivering goods around the world – an urgent medical or computer part, the dry cleaning, tickets to tonight’s game, in fact anything you can think of. If it can be flown in an ordinary plane belonging to a courier service like FedEx or DHL it can be “droned” to its destination. After that, of course it will only be a matter of time until passenger planes are pilotless as well. No more of those comforting announcements about the weather at the other end.

I am delighted to think that I was a pioneer of the “drone age” – at age 10, back in World War II, I was building model planes out of scraps of wood from old tomato boxes and powering them with elastic bands. And they flew!