Friday, July 31, 2009

Aging sports heroes give us hope

Golfer Tom Watson's recent run at the British Open championship was inspiring. He lost the title in a playoff, but at 59, it was an incredible performance. Watson is one of us, and will turn 60 on Sept. 4. We were all rooting for him, as he took on the much younger field.

We like stories of the old guy coming back to win, and it was almost a storybook ending. But in some ways, the close finish was a better lesson. One stroke, anywhere over the four days, would have changed the outcome. It tells us that the entire journey, not just the finish, is important.

Watson's march up the 18th fairway on the final day could have been different. But it wasn't, and some might want to play the what-if game. That reminds me of a saying that a very close friend always offers in similar circumstances:

"If... Dog... Rabbit." It means that "If the dog hadn't stopped to take a s---, he would have caught the rabbit."

So forget about the what-ifs and enjoy the moment, no matter how close you get to victory or whether you shouldn't have stopped to take that dump. Life is good so enjoy it. Besides, the rabbit had a better day because the dog stopped. . .

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why can't I smoke my cholesterol medicine?

I believe that marijuana has medicinal qualities and should be legalized for that purpose. But what gets me is why the only way you can use medicinal marijuana is by smoking it. So smoking is bad for you -- except if you are smoking marijuana. That's a tough sell to medicinal marijuana skeptics.

This is what makes a lot of people think medicinal marijuana is a scam aimed more at allowing dopeheads to legally smoke pot than it is for its medicinal qualities. If marijuana is a medicine when used for that purpose, shouldn't you be able to get it in a pill or some other traditional medicinal delivery system? Simple question, but no one seems to have and answer.

So why can't I smoke my cholesterol or blood pressure medicine? Of course, I'll need papers to roll the blood pressure medicine and I'd have go outside to administer each dose since there's a no-smoking rule in the house.

I'd love to hear from medicinal marijuana advocates responding to my questions.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This is the time of our lives when battle against the bulge is the toughest

I've been on a diet most of my life and I know it's getting even more difficult to take weight off as I age. I was very active in sports through about age 50, and that helped, although I loved to eat. But I don't play soccer or baseball anymore, ending my participation in those teams sports just before I hit 50.

Now I play golf occasionally. While golf is a difficult sport to play, you're not going to lose weight riding in a cart to your next shot. In fact, you gain weight playing golf. But it's fun. I also have a membership to Gold's Gym and used to faithfully attend four times a week for cardio and weight training. But I've lost my discipline for that this past year. I need to start going again.

I'm actually down about 20 pounds from a few years ago, though, thanks to a low-carb diet. But it's a battle everyday, and lately I've put too many sweet things in my mouth. I call it my "blow-carb" diet because I'm blowing right through carbs.

So what should we do as we approach age 60? The experts tell us, though, it would be much easier to control our weight by walking regularly. In fact, walking 30 minutes a day can help keep the pounds off in your 50s and into your 60s, according to the experts.

"A new study suggests that the more you walk, the less likely you'll gain weight as you age," says this article on the web site "Researchers followed nearly 5,000 men and women for 15 years and found that a half hour of walking per day reduced the usual weight gain per year by 1 pound among women who were the heaviest at the start of the study."

So get out there and walk. No excuse.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dow closes above 9,000 and baby boomers cheer

Here's some good news for those of us who will be relying on our 401k investments when we finally retire. The Dow Jones Industrials close above 9,000 today -- the first time that's happened since January. So my retirement account, which I've been calling a 201k, is quietly moving back to being a 401k.

It's been rather depressing the past year as we've watched our accounts lose 40% of their value, but that is changing.

I was talking about retirement to a guy who joined our twosome the other day on a golf course near Pismo Beach. We were all vacationing out of the San Joaquin Valley heat. He works for an oil company in Bakersfield and said he was going to retire this year when he turned 60 in a few months. But the stock market crash delayed his retirement because he's fully invested in his 401k. A lot of us know what he's talking about.

It's not as big a problem for me because I don't plan on retiring until I'm at least 65 so I have five years to make up the ground lost in my 401k account. Not so for those who had an out-plan for this year.

Remember all those people who thought we should privatize Social Security or give the money to workers and let them invest it? You don't hear much from them now. That was one of many dumb ideas proposed by President George W. Bush.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How's your bucket list?

There's an interesting Web site that is polling Americans on "The 100 Greatest Places in the USA." It changes as people vote, and right now the top five places are: 1. Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas (someone stuffed the ballot box on this one); 2. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; 3. The White House; 4. Ground Zero in New York City, and 5. The Alamo in San Antonio.

You can check out the list by clicking on this link:

I see it as a bucket list of sorts for those of us about to turn 60. I've been to 29 of the 100 places so I have quite a few places to go in the next few years. How many places on this list have you visited?

Here my list so far: Lincoln Memorial, White House, Times Square, Liberty Bell in Philly, Sears Tower in Chicago, Golden Gate Bridge, Hearst Castle, Pearl Harbor, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, Alcatraz, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, Grand Central Station in New York, Hollywood Sign, Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., Beverly Hills City Hall, Death Valley, Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Wall Street, Las Vegas Strip, Carmel Mission in Carmel, General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Space Needle in Seattle, Sea World in San Diego

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It was 108 in Fresno, and it gave us something to talk about

It's July and it's Fresno in the heart of California's San Joaquin Valley. It's supposed to be hot. . . That's not news, but it's all we are talking about -- the 108-degree heat, and ways of dodging the rising temperatures.

My first choice is to head for the movie theaters and leave the air conditioning off at home. A two-hour movie using someone else's AC sounds appealing. Then there's the shopping mall where not many people are buying but a lot are using the free AC. But my favorite the other day was going into the walk-in cold box at Costco where they display the vegetables. That cooled me down.

The difference between 101 degrees and 108 is more than 7 degrees when you factor in the "mental temperature," which is how you view heat. It's sort of like the opposite of the wind-chill factor. When it's 101, it's hot but bearable. When it's 108, it seems like 128.

We're in the third year of a drought and the heat causes extra stress to the garden. But if you water wisely, you plants will make it through the increased temperatures. But as I approach 60, I'm not sure I can withstand the heat the way I did when I was 55.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pismo Beach sushi alert

I'm recommending Yanagi Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse in Pismo Beach on James Way at Highway 101. The sushi was excellent. It's a bit loud, but the food and great service made up for it.

We had the Yanagi Roll (softshell crab, crabmeat, eel with eel sauce), baked green mussels and shrimp and vegetable tempura -- sort of your vareity pack. And dessert was incredible -- green tea ice cream encased in baked tempura.

If you are ever on California's Central Coast, give Yanagi in Pismo Beach a try.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A day at the beach

You have to love the summers on the California coast. . . It's much cooler than my home in inland California, yet the sun shines brightly. Well, it's overcast in the morning on the coast, but that's just fine because we came from 100-plus temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley. But by noon, the sun is out and the day is glorious.

Sunscreen is my friend. . . Apply it liberally and re-apply it every two hours. This is not optional for those of who are turning 60. Many of us spent our 20s in the unprotected sun and are now paying for it with sun damage that could cause serious health concerns.

We spent the past two days in Pismo Beach on the Central Coast. There are several wineries to visit. We took in four of them. The view out the tasting room of Edna Valley Vineyards is worth the trip. And we there on Tuesday when the tastings are free. Tasting usually run from $5 to $10 per winery.

We also played a nine-hole golf course, which was a lot of fun. La Sage is near the beach, and is scenic and not all that difficult, which is fine with me, considering my skill level.

Just before sunset, we walked to the tallest dune on the beach and meditated. Actually, she meditated, and I sucked air for awhile, from the long climb in the sand. It was worth the effort, though, and I'm better for it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We ducked the swine flu for now

The swine flu didn't do the devastation that was predicted by the health experts this time around, but it could be much worse next winter when the flu season is again in full swing.

That's why the Obama Administration is considering swine flu vaccinations to begin in October with children at their schools. The president said Thursday that he wants states to work on a plan to take on the swine flu's expected resurgence, according to news reports.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said a definite plan to vaccinate all residents hasn't been formulated yet, and that strategy depends on whether experimental batches of vaccines are available in large quantities and whether they actually work.

If all goes well, the government will start with school children and then go to young adults with conditions such as asthma. Next in line for vaccinations will be pregnant women and then health workers who are susceptible because of their jobs.

Federal health officials say that older people, who are more prone to regular winter flu, are less at risk for the swine flu than the above group. But the swine flu can be deadly for all people, even if their risk is slightly less.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's time to stop using Social Security Numbers

With identity theft skyrocketing, we need to stop using Social Security Numbers as the main identifier for Americans. It's very easy to get someone's Social Security Number and that makes identity theft easy.

Social Security Numbers should be used for Social Security purposes only. These numbers should not be used for credit card purposes or to determine credit scores on your credit reports. We need to establish another unique identifier for credit purposes.

On Monday, we found one more reason to stop using Social Security Numbers. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have used computers and statistical predictability to discover Social Security Numbers of millions of Americans. They do this using only an individual’s date of birth and birthplace. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

What a glorious day it is in Central California. I hope it's the same for you wherever you live in this great country. Be careful out there if you are traveling on our roadways.

We're going to have a barbecue and then see what fireworks the neighbors set off. It's expected to get hot today, with the high temperature in our area predicted to hit 101 degrees.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Be careful if you use a cane or walker

A new study says that about 47,000 Americans are treated in hospitals each year for falls associated with improperly using walkers and canes. The study also suggests that the design of walkers and canes might be improved to lessen the chance of injury.

Now most of us turning 60 this year aren't in the cane or walker stage, but many of our parents are, so this information could be helpful.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, said 87% of the injuries involved walkers and 12% involved canes. Most falls occurred at home, with nursing homes the next most prevalent place for an accident. The most common injuries were fractures and abrasions to the lower trunk, especially the hip, according to news reports.

In addition to more research on the design of canes and walkers, the study's authors suggested that elderly patients get more training in how to properly use the devices.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here are the states where you'll look fat

That wonderful state that we learned to spell in jingle form has the nation's highest obesity rate, according to the Trust for America's Health. Almost one-third of Mississippi adults are considered obese. So when someone in Mississippi asks, "Do these jeans make me look fat?", the answer would be "Yes" from 32.5% of residents.

Here are the 10 states with the highest obesity rates.

1. Mississippi 32.5%
2. Alabama 31.2%
3. West Virginia 31.1%
4. Tennessee 30.2%
5. South Carolina 29.7%
6. Oklahoma 29.5%
7. Kentucky 29.0%
8. Louisiana 28.9%
9. Michigan 28.8%
10. Ohio 28.6%

California, my home state, ranks 41st, with 23.6% of adults considered obese.

Click here to see where your state ranks.