Category Archives: BOLLI Monthly Features

Each month, special features appear on the BOLLI Matters blog. These include “Tech Talk” with John Rudy (computer and technology related issues); “Senior Moments” with Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David (issues related to transitions, healthy aging, etc.); and “The Book Nook” with Abby Pinard (recommended items you may have missed). Yet to come, “The Screening Room” (recommended movies and videos you may have missed).

HAVE YOU FROZEN YOUR CREDIT?

HAVE YOU FROZEN YOUR CREDIT?

A “Tech Talk” Extra from John Rudy

No doubt, everyone has heard by now of the 143 million accounts (or more) that were compromised by Equifax.  And Equifax’s standing with account holders has taken a massive plunge of more than 35% since the announcement.  But have you taken steps to freeze your credit?

It’s important that you make sure that you understand what Credit Freezes are and how they might apply to you.

  1. Here is useful information from Kim Komando’s blog.  See: https://www.komando.com/happening-now/418908/dont-sign-up-for-equifaxs-free-credit-monitoring-heres-what-to-do-insteadutm_medium=nl&utm_source=notd&utm_content=2017-09-11-article-b
  2. The article noted above (read and print the first 4 pages) explains the situation, and this is MUST reading.  This article then references a second article which tells you the steps to follow.  Read and print pages 1-2:  https://www.komando.com/tips/409259/one-essential-step-to-prevent-identity-theft
  3. An interesting editorial in the Globe can be found at: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2017/09/12/equifax-messed-now-consumers-have-pay/y4wc8cHVI7MHm4KW99KTfN/story.html

I’ve compiled some information here which may prove helpful in understanding this situation.

The FICO Score  

The FICO score was first introduced in 1989 by FICO, then called Fair, Isaac, and Company. The FICO model is used by the vast majority of banks and credit grantors and is based on the consumer credit files of the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Because a consumer’s credit file may contain different information at each of the bureaus, FICO scores can vary depending on which bureau provides the information.

Credit scores are designed to measure the risk of default by taking into account various factors in a person’s financial history. Although the exact formulas for calculating credit scores are secret, FICO has disclosed the following components:

  • 35%: payment history: This is best described as the presence or lack of derogatory information. Bankruptcy, liens, judgments, settlements, charge-offs, repossessions, foreclosures, and late payments can cause a FICO score to drop.
  • 30%: debt burden: This category considers a number of debt specific measurements. According to FICO, there are some six different metrics in the debt category including the debt to limit ratio, number of accounts with balances, amount owed across different types of accounts, and the amount paid down on installment loans.
  • 15%: length of credit history: As a credit history ages it can have a positive impact on its FICO score. There are two metrics in this category: the average age of the accounts on your report and the age of the oldest account.
  • 10%: types of credit used (installmentrevolvingconsumer financemortgage): Consumers can benefit by having a history of managing different types of credit.
  • 10%: recent searches for credit: hard credit inquiries, which occur when consumers apply for a credit card or loan (revolving or otherwise), can hurt scores, especially if done in great numbers. Individuals who are “rate shopping” for a mortgage, auto loan, or student loan over a short period (two weeks or 45 days, depending on the generation of FICO score used) will likely not experience a meaningful decrease in their scores as a result of these types of inquiries, as the FICO scoring model considers all of those types of hard inquiries that occur within 14 or 45 days of each other as only one. Further, mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries do not count at all in a FICO score if they are less than 30 days old. While all credit inquiries are recorded and displayed on personal credit reports for two years, they have no effect after the first year because FICO’s scoring system ignores them after 12 months. Credit inquiries that were made by the consumer (such as pulling a credit report for personal use), by an employer (for employee verification), or by companies initiating pre-screened offers of credit or insurance do not have any impact on a credit score: these are called “soft inquiries” or “soft pulls” and do not appear on a credit report used by lenders, only on personal reports. Soft inquires are not considered by credit scoring systems.
Credit Bureaus

In the United States, there is no legal term for a credit bureau under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). A consumer reporting agency is often abbreviated in the industry as CRA.

In this country, two government bodies share responsibility for the oversight of consumer reporting agencies and those that furnish data to them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has oversight for the consumer reporting agencies. And the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks with regard to the data they furnish consumer reporting agencies.

Most U.S. consumer credit information is collected and kept by the four national traditional consumer reporting agencies: Experian (formerly TRW Information Systems & Services and the CCN Group), EquifaxTransUnion, and Innovis (which was purchased from First Data Corporation in 1999 by CBC Companies). These organizations are for-profit businesses and have no government affiliation. Though they are competitors, they are all members of a trade organization called the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) to establish reporting standards and lobby on behalf of their industry in Washington. Current reporting standards accepted by the four U.S. CRAs are Metro and Metro2. The Metro2 standard is defined in the annual CDIA publication, the Credit Reporting Resource Guide. Consumers are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers can go to annualcreditreport.com, the Internet site maintained by the three companies, to get their free reports.

Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency. Equifax collects and aggregates information on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide. Founded in 1899 and based in AtlantaGeorgia, it is the oldest of the three largest American credit agencies. Equifax has US$ 3.1 billion in annual revenue and 9,000+ employees in 14 countries. It is listed on the NYSE as EFX.

In September 2017, Equifax announced a cyber-security breach, which it claims to have occurred between mid-May and July 2017 where hackers accessed more than 143 million U.S. Equifax consumers’ personal data, including their full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, drivers license numbers. Equifax also confirmed at least 209,000 consumers’ credit card credentials were taken in the attack. The company claims to have discovered the hack on July 29, 2017. Residents in the United Kingdom and Canada were also impacted.

“Tech Talk” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic .

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: SMART DEVICES

SMART DEVICES

By John Rudy

A new term is The Internet of Things.  Many years ago when the internet first appeared. it was a means of connecting computers.  What is now changing is that computers are being embedded in everyday objects.  Your car has dozens of them, and even your thermostat has them.  As computers become less and less expensive, it becomes easier to install them in refrigerators or washer/dryers– maybe even in light bulbs.  But the latest in technology isn’t just about computers.  It is about sensors gathering data which can be analyzed by a central computer and accessed over the internet.

Let’s take a simple example.  Last April, I took advantage of MassSave and had three new replacement thermostats installed.  The thermostats were wired to a hub and then connected to my router–that meant they could be found on the internet.  I could install an application on my cell phone that let me remotely view and control them.  Most thermostats allow one to program them these days, but with these, I can turn up my heat on my way home so that the house is warm when I get there.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that the thermostats may have inter-connection problems and shut down as they did when we were in Jamaica.  That particular problem required that I physically disconnect and reconnect them, so even though I knew there was a problem, I couldn’t resolve it.  This never happened with the old thermostats.

But there is a bigger fear, and that is that bad people are increasingly getting into the many systems on the internet.  Would you want someone to turn your thermostat off?  Of course, there is a password, but we know that passwords have been stolen.

In a few years, expect to see internet controlled door locks or ovens that you can control from a distance.  A few years ago on Showtime’s Homeland, a piece of the plot revolved around a pacemaker that was hooked to a computer.  The bad guys used this to kill the vice president.   Insulin pumps are already connected to computers.

Your car hosts dozens of computers that manage everything from ignition to gas mixture to steering.  There were some stories about a year ago about hackers taking over a car.  It was overblown and not totally accurate, but in a couple of years, it just might be possible.

Now, let’s look at some really positive things learned from an article in Wired magazine.   “When we rebuild bridges, we can use smart cement: cement equipped with sensors to monitor stresses, cracks, and warpage.  This is cement that alerts us to the need to problems before they can cause catastrophes.  And these technologies aren’t limited to the bridge’s structure.

If there’s ice on the bridge, the same sensors in the concrete will detect it and communicate the information via the wireless internet to your car.  Once your car knows there’s a hazard ahead, it will instruct the driver to slow down, and if the driver doesn’t, then the car will slow down for him.  This is just one of the ways that sensor-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication can take place. Sensors on the bridge connect to machines in the car: we turn information into action.”

Amazon Echo is already with us–and more is on the way.

“Tech Talk” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic .

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER’S SR. MOMENT WITH LIZ DAVID: LEARNING TO FALL

LEARNING TO FALL

By Liz David

I was six years old when my family moved to a two-family home on Athelstane Road in Newton Center. A few years later, my Father bought me a blue and white Schwinn two-wheeler.  I learned to ride quickly, never fell, and was allowed to ride all over the neighborhood,  including all the way into town.

Over the years, Barry and I rode bikes locally as well as on the streets and trails of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  After we built a summer home on the South Shore, we and our children all biked the Cape Cod Canal.  By then, I had taken up jogging and spent much of my time running and preparing for running events like the then Bonne Bell 10K for Women now sponsored by Tuft’s Health Care.  My bicycle took a back seat.

At 80, I decided to take up biking again.  At the bike shop, I insisted that it had to be one that was small enough and with a seat low enough that I could put my feet on the ground when I stopped.  We bought a state-of-the-art Trek bike.  Helmet and all, I rode up and down the driveway.  Then, we drove the bike to Lincoln Sudbury High School where I rode around the parking lot until I thought I was comfortable.

But, since then, my beautiful bike has been sitting in the shed.  Why?  I’M AFRAID OF FALLING!  At age 81, our orders are clear:  DON’T FALL.

SWITCHING GEARS

And yet, on a more serious note, I realized that being afraid to fall doesn’t preclude learning to fall.

Philip Simmons, in his book, Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, describes how he thought he had to learn the art of dying after he was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 35.  What he really ended up learning was the art of living until his death ten years later at 45.

The book is written, in his words, “with the urgency of a man whose days are numbered.”

Simmons writes, in the context of dealing with loss, “Life, after all, is a terminal condition. Each individual soul is, as the poet William Butler Yeats says, “fastened to a dying animal.”  We’re all engaged in the business of dying, whether consciously or not, slowly or not.”

Simmons writes that the work of learning to live richly in the face of loss, such as we elders experience every day, whether consciously or not, is the work that he calls “learning to fall.”

He states that his book’s central theme is “born out of a paradox: that we deal most fruitfully with loss by accepting the fact that we will one day lose everything.”

Here are some quotes from his book that move me as I hope they move you.

“Think of falling as a figure of speech. We fall on our faces, we fall for a joke, we fall for someone, we fall in love. We fall from ego, we fall from our carefully constructed identities, our reputations, our precious selves. We fall from ambition, we fall from grasping, we fall, at least temporarily, from reason.  And what do we fall into? We fall into passion, into terror, into unreasoning joy. We fall into humility, into compassion, into emptiness, into oneness with forces larger than ourselves, into oneness with others whom we realize are likewise falling. We fall, at last, into the presence of the sacred, into godliness, into mystery, into our better, diviner natures.”

“In the act of letting go of our lives, we return more fully to them.”

“As I see it, we know we’re fully grown up when we stop trying to fix people. All we can really do for people is love them and treat them with kindness.”

“If we can’t laugh, we can’t properly be serious.”

“Life is both more or less than we hoped for, both more comic and tragic than we knew. Comedy ends in happiness, while tragedy yields wisdom.”

“We have all suffered, and will suffer, our own falls. The fall from youthful ideals, the waning of physical strength, the failure of a cherished hope, the loss of our near and dear, the fall into injury or sickness, and late or soon, the fall to our certain ends. We have no choice but to fall and little say as to the time or the means.”

“In fact, I would have it that in the way of our falling we have the opportunity to express our essential humanity.”

“When we learn to fall we learn to accept the vulnerability that is our human endowment, the cost of walking upright on the earth.”

SWITCHING GEARS AGAIN

In the final chapter of Simmons’ book, he takes us even farther.  “We all have within us this capacity for wonder,” he says, “this ability to break the bonds of ordinary awareness and sense that, though our lives are fleeting and transitory, we are part of something larger, eternal and unchanging.”

“You see, we really are all in this together.  There are times when the fact that we are in different bodies, or have lived in different centuries, or that some of us have died while others live on or are yet to be born, seems a trivial difference compared to what unites us and abides.  Our journey takes us to suffering and sorrow, but there is a way through suffering to something like redemption, something like joy, to that larger version of ourselves that lives outside of time.”

TRAIL’S END:  The last paragraph of the last chapter includes this passage…

“Some of us go willingly to the edge, some of us are driven to it, some of us find ourselves there by grace.  But all of us get there at some time in our lives, when through the gateway of the present moment we glimpse something beyond.  And when we do, may we open ourselves to wonder, may we surrender to the mystery that passes understanding, may we find ourselves at the threshold of this eternal life.”

So, I’ve decided that, at my age, it’s time to let go of trying to ride my bike and risk falling–physically.   Instead, paying attention to the words of wisdom that Phillip Simmons has to offer, I’ve committed myself to something much more important:  “learning to fall” into the life I have left.

Metta, Elizabeth David

“Senior Moment” feature writers Eleanor Jaffe, left, and Liz David, right.

My passion is to help others to gain deeper understanding of themselves and the changes, losses, gains, and glories of aging. So, “grow old along with me–the best is yet to be.”

Share your comments with Liz–and fellow BOLLI members–below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JULY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: CREAMY ORANGE CHICKEN

CREAMY ORANGE CHICKEN

I love Mandarin Oranges and had recently had an Orange Chicken dish at a Chinese restaurant that was overcooked and not to my standards.  So I made this.  Like all entrée dishes,  a wide variability in the amounts of any ingredient is possible, and you should doctor things to your taste.  More sauce, less sauce, etc.  Make sure that you use Chinese rice, and not something like Uncle Ben’s, or you can use noodles or potatoes.

Some notes about the chicken: Dark meat is more forgiving and tends not to overcook.  I have used chicken breasts but make sure that they are not cut too thin, or they can dry out.  I prefer boneless/skinless thighs.  (If you choose bone-in, you’ll need 2 lbs.)

A note on the onion: I like them ¼ inch thick, but others like them as thin as possible.  Do what you wish.

A note on thickening: the standard approach is to add flour to cold liquid and then mix it in.  I like my cold liquid to be orange liqueur or, alternatively, orange juice

1  1/2 lb     Chicken, thighs1/4 cup                                                                       1/4 cup      Cornstarch (or flour) to coat                                                                                          Flour for thickening                                                                                                              Peanut Oil plus butter (50/50)                                                        1/2 cup      Whipping cream (or save calories with regular cream)            1                  Onion, large, sliced                                                                                         1 lb             Mushrooms, fresh, sliced                                                                            1-2 cans   Mandarin oranges (save the sugary liquid)                                                            Broccoli or thin-sliced carrots                                                                                      Sticky rice or noodles                                                                                                          Salt and pepper to taste                                                                                   1tbs       Hot cayenne pepper (optional).  I like it spicy.

 

  1. Coat the chicken with cornstarch/salt/pepper (shake in a bag).
  2. Heat the oil/butter very hot in a wok or fry pan, and fry the chicken.  This will take about 5 minutes and chicken should be turned.  If there is a lot of chicken do it by turns.  Don’t overcook the chicken.  Don’t make the pieces too large or too small.
  3. Remove chicken to a side dish.
  4. Remove all but a few tbs. of the oil, and cook the onion. You may need to add some water to keep it from burning.  Optionally, sprinkle the onion with the hot Cayenne pepper (flakes or powder)
  5. Cut the carrots very thin or use a peeler and add in sliced mushrooms.  Mushrooms can add a lot of liquid.  Add at the very end, and it will take maybe 1-2 minutes to cook.  Add in the orange slices (without their syrup).
  6. Add 1 tbs flour to the ¼ cup cold Mandarin-juice (or orange juice or orange liquor) and stir well.
  7. Add the cream and quickly bring to a boil so that you can add the flour to thicken
  8. Return the chicken to the wok or pan briefly.
  9. Serve over sticky rice (about ¾ cup per person) or noodles.

Enjoy!

BOLLI MATTERS food and tech feature writer John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

JULY TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: MOOCS

MASSIVE OPEN ON-LINE COURSES (MOOCS)

For centuries, people traveled to school to take courses from professors.  About 30 years ago, though, some companies started taping courses and selling the results as VCRs.  They were relatively expensive (hundreds of dollars for a course), but they required significantly less money than attending a university.  Some had homework, but most did not.  There were no tests, and you could listen to the recordings whenever you wished, or listen to them multiple times.  Some years ago, VCRs were replaced by CDs and then by DVDs.

About 5 years ago, the paradigm changed once again.  Now, courses are recorded and provided through the internet, usually with quizzes and tests.  I have taken a dozen courses on CD or DVD through The Teaching Company and another dozen as MOOCs.  Quality is somewhat variable, but the companies selling these products are quite discriminating, and, as a result, the quality is excellent.  I have obtained The Teaching Company courses through my local library, and because the libraries are linked, nearly all of the courses are available.

  1.  Of course there are also a lot of courses on DVD from The Teaching Company’s “Great Courses” series, and the library has (or has access to) all of them–500 at this time. http://www.thegreatcourses.com/

  1. There are also many MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available–more than 3000.  The first course I knew of was on Artificial Intelligence given by Stanford which was made available through Coursera. Over 100,000 people signed up for it. (I have heard that only 5-10% finished the course–but that is still over 5000 people.)  I have taken technical courses like MIT’s course on Genetics (from edX, the Science of Cooking from Harvard, and two courses on the Civil War.  Visit the following sites to see what they have available.

https://www.coursera.org/

https://www.edx.org/

https://www.udacity.com

A longer list can be found at https://beebom.com/sites-like-coursera/

“Tech Talk” feature writer, John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide,  John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

JUNE’S BOOK NOOK WITH ABBY PINARD: TWO SEARING BOOKS

Two flawed but searing books about two very different wars…

BIRDSONG

by Sebastian Faulks, 1997

You might want to think twice about reading Birdsong if you are claustrophobic. Also, reading it just before going to sleep might not be conducive to a restful night. You might consider yourself reasonably well educated about World War I — about the brutality of trench warfare and the unimaginable loss of life.  But you haven’t been there, at least not the way Faulks puts you there — in the trenches and especially in the tunnels that snaked under the battlefields, built by both sides, sometimes within feet of each other.

Billed as “a novel of love and war,” the novel of love is mediocre at best. The first hundred-plus pages introducing the protagonist and building up to a torrid love affair are mostly tedious and unnecessary. And the intermittent present-day framing device, in which an educated but oblivious young woman suddenly decides to unearth her family’s history isn’t any better. But most of the book — and certainly the parts that will burn into your brain — are about the war.  It’s almost too painful to read but impossible to put down…the years of carnage, of fear, of filth, the conflict between wanting to live and wanting to die, the inability to even envision a normal life…Faulks’s prose is unadorned and unsparing, as if only by stripping the language down to stark essentials can he convey the unspeakable.

 

REDEPLOYMENT

by Phil Klay, 2014

This award-winning collection of stories about the Iraq war, each told in the first person by someone who survived, compellingly depicts how we wage war in our time. We do it with technology, bureaucracy, and segmentation so narrow that the artilleryman who loaded the gun that destroyed everything in its target zone — six miles away — has been assured that yes, he can now claim to have killed bad guys but he isn’t sure whether to believe it since he sees no evidence. Each narrator has had a different job; in addition to the artilleryman, there’s a chaplain, a foreign service officer, an adjutant, a corpse-disposal specialist and more, some of whom were far from the front lines and never in danger but have learned, on returning home, that people want and expect to hear stories about heroism and bravery.

Phil Klay, himself a former Marine and veteran of the Iraq war, is a fine reporter but maybe — at least based on this first effort — a better reporter than novelist. He vividly portrays the horrors of war and the  tragic destruction of young lives and spirits but although each story has a different narrator, there’s little distinction in voice and little character development beyond the particulars of each man’s (and all the protagonists are men) experience. About half way through, I couldn’t help but feel that all the stories were really being told by a single narrator, a brilliant observer and promising writer named Phil Klay.

“Book Nook” feature writer, Abby Pinard

Abby is a lifelong book nut who retired from a forty-year computer software career in 2007 and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Boston recently to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans.  She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

A SENIOR MOMENT WITH ELEANOR: WARNING…

     WARNING:  THOUGHTS OF A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT

Women’s March, Boston

In my opposition to President Trump, I am not “old,” or “elderly,” or even “senior.”  In my opposition, I have joined millions of Americans of all ages–and others around the world–who see Trump’s ideals and policies as anathema to our long held beliefs about democracy, fairness, honesty, and liberalism.

I see this opposition in the print newspapers that I read  (The Boston Globe and The New York Times), on the television news that I watch (CNN, CNBC),  in the marches in which I have participated (the Women’s March, the Science March, and the Climate Change March), and in the conversations I have had with grandchildren and men and women across the age spectrum.  What unites us are sincerely held, foundational democratic beliefs that are now being so aggressively challenged, mocked, and threatened by the actions and speeches of our president.

I recommend marches!   Truth to tell, most do not involve marching, or even walking.  They involve driving or taking the “T” to a site like the Boston Commons and then standing.  Standing and listening and watching and, of course, talking to like-minded other demonstrators who carry vivid signs representing their own unique points of view.  Signing petitions is also part of the demonstration.  At the climate march, a variety of well-attended indoor workshops (with chairs for sitting) encouraged more direct actions.  These workshops took place immediately following speeches. 

People of all ages (babies, college students, families, healthy young men and women, old folks – some with canes) attend.  Music, balloons, petitions, hand=made signs abound!  And like-minded citizens rally for causes in which their strongly held beliefs are shared with a multitude of others.  I thought and felt, “I am not alone;”  “Many others are here who will carry this fight forward.”  “Are there other actions I can take?”  (Like writing letters to the editor — I just had one published in the Globe–so can you!)

I keep thinking about one statement of Ms. Sarsour, one of the four co-chairs of the Women’s March in Washington.  She said, “Being disgruntled on your couch in front of your t.v. is not helping anybody.  This is a moment when we need viable activism, and now is the time to be bold.”  So–Think! Read!  Share ideas with friends, and then, Be Invigorated and TAKE ACTION! to insure that your dearly held principles remain a part of the legacies you leave to all our grandchildren.

MINING MARILYN’S MYSTERY “OLDIES” — ONE CORPSE TOO MANY

Mining Marilyn Brooks’ popular blog, Marilyn’s Mystery Reads, for some of her past reviews, yielded this gem.  Ellis Peters’ memorable medieval sleuth, Brother Cadfael.

 Review by Marilyn Brooks – From March 31, 2012

A truly fascinating look into medieval life in England comes through in the series featuring Brother Cadfael of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at Shrewsbury.

The series begins in the twelfth century at the border between England and Wales.  Brother Cadfael, born in Wales, had traveled the world as a soldier in the first crusade and a sailor in the years following but now has found his calling as a member of the abbey. He is in charge of the abbey’s garden and herbarium, an important position at a time when home-grown medicines were almost the only ones available.

As the novel opens, a civil war between two cousins, Stephen and Maud, has been going on for three years; it eventually lasted nineteen. Henry I, Maud’s father, had named her his heir after the death of his only son, but many nobles rebelled at the thought of a woman leading the kingdom and thus supported the claims of Henry’s nephew, Stephen.  As Stephen comes to Shrewsbury with his forces, aristocrats and soldiers loyal to Maud flee the town to join her in France.

A fellow monk introduces Cadfael to Godric, a “young man” who is willing to help in the garden, but it doesn’t take Cadfael long to realize that Godric is actually a young woman, Godith Adeney by name.  Her father fled to France to support Maud, and if Godith is discovered she will be imprisoned and held for ransom in order to bring her father back to face Stephen.  Cadfael, although not taking sides in the fight for the kingdom, vows to keep Godith’s secret and protect her.

After a battle in which ninety-four of Stephen’s enemies are killed, the abbey’s abbot requests that the men be prepared for a proper Christian burial.  The abbot sends Cadfael to the castle to handle this task, but when the monk counts the dead, he discovers that there is one more body than he had been told. And this man was not killed in battle but strangled by a thin wire from behind.

In One Corpse Too Many, we are introduced to Hugh Beringar, a soldier who, in later novels, becomes a close friend of Cadfael’s, and the woman who becomes Hugh’s wife, Lady Aline.  In addition, a number of Cadfael’s fellow monks whom we meet here, continue to appear in other novels while new members of the monastery join the cast of characters in later books.

The late Ellis Peters (real name Edith Mary Pargeter) created the character of Brother Cadfael when she needed “the high equivalent of a medieval detective, an observer and agent of justice in the center of the action.” She was a writer of some renown as a translator of Czech literature, but today she is best known for her mystery novels.  Unfortunately, Ms. Peters died shortly after the BBC television series got underway and thus did not see all the books made into television programs, but she was a strong supporter of Derek Jacobi, who played Cadfael with great wit and charm.

There is not a dedicated page for Ellis Peters, but there is a brief biography about her and a summary of all Brother Cadfael’s novels at Philip Grosset’s Clerical Detectives  web page located at  http://www.mysteryfile.com/Clerical.html

Our MYSTERY MAVEN Marilyn Brooks

Marilyn’s very popular mystery blog can be reached at marilynsmysteryreads.com   When there, consider becoming a subscriber, receiving each new post in your email.  And Marilyn will also be offering a mystery course for BOLLI members during the Fall 2017 term. 

MAY TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: NEED A FIX?

COMPUTER REPAIR

One might think that, as an IT professional for 45 years, I would know a lot about fixing computers.  But I was a manager and not close to day-to-day machine operation.   And even if I had known about making repairs then, technology changes rapidly.  It involves constant relearning.  So that, friends, gets me to the topic for today’s discussion.

When I purchased my last computer a little over three years ago, I was faced with having to transport a huge amount of material (files, emails, etc.) from my old machine to my new one.  Further, I knew that many of the pieces of software I owned were not up-to-date and that some would not run on the Windows 8 system that I was buying.  I purchased my computer from Best Buy and decided to purchase their Geek Squad policy and their conversion assistance.  It was an excellent decision.

They took my old computer, made a list of all of my software, and shared it with me so I could tell them what no longer wanted.  Then, they ported over what they could.  My version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) would not run on the new machine, so I bought the upgrade.  It really made my life easy.

But Part 2 is really the important part.  During the first month, I kept running into subtle little issues.  The way that Word and Excel operated, for example, was not the same as it had been with my previous environment.  I called the Geek Squad, and they helped me through every problem.  When it was time to go to Windows 10, I had them do it.  I’m sure I could have done it myself, but I decided to avoid any potential hassle.  Yesterday, my Windows Live Mail (through Comcast) stopped working.  I tried everything I could think of—to no avail.  I called the Geek Squad, and they fixed it.  It turned out that Comcast had changed port numbers, and even when I called the company, they gave me the wrong information.  The Geek Squad, though, had the correct data.  The guy I was dealing with was in the Philippines, but his English was excellent.  After gaining some basic information, they (with your permission) gain access to your machine and do a full scan.  Subsequently, the agent used his access to my machine to work out and solve my issue.  I slept better last night.

TECH TALK feature writer John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide,  John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic .

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

 

APRIL SENIOR MOMENT with Liz David: “OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES”

“OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES”

By Liz David

The World’s Greatest Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

A few months ago, my 11-year-old grandson Ben and I were in the kitchen. He was sitting at the table, patiently waiting for lunch. I was preparing to serve him the world’s greatest grilled cheese sandwich ever.

Out of the blue he looked up and said, “Nana, I hope you live a long time.”

“I hope so too,” I said, moved.  I thought all he was interested in was his X-box, play station, texting, and winning at Monopoly.

At the time, I was 80. Now, I’m 81.  I’ve already lived a long time.  I don’t know what living a long time means to an 11-year-old.  I didn’t probe or ask questions, but I’ve been thinking about this question off and on since then.

So what does living a long life mean to me?  Is it the fullness of years or just another number to strive for?  So I’m 81. Will I reach 82 and, if so, what difference will it make?  What difference will I make?  Is being here enough? Or am I just existing? Does my continued existence matter? Of course, my family and friends would say yes.  And I say yes too!

But is my yes important? Will I live to see my oldest grandchild—and also my youngest grandchild who is 7—graduate 6th grade, 8th grade, high school, college.  Will I see them have careers, get married, make me a great-grandmother? Unlikely.  Very unlikely. Impossible. Do the math!

For me, it’s important to not only live well into a “ripe old age” but also to live a meaningful old age. Yet, a very wise person once said to me that all God wants us to do is to “be.”  I ask myself, “How can I ‘be’ as I do?” A conundrum that gets me into, may I say the word, spiritual stuff.

Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.  Really?

So, how about a conversation?

SENIOR MOMENTS Feature Writers Eleanor Jaffe (left) and Liz David (right)

Years ago, when we were in our 40’s, my husband and I bought a sundial with the saying “grow old along with me–the best is yet to be.”  I’m not sure whether or not I believed it then, and I’m wondering whether I believe it now. Stay tuned!