Tag Archives: BOLLI Monthly Features

SEPTEMBER TECH TALK: Saving Money on Gas

SAVING MONEY ON GAS

by John Rudy

Gas is expensive, and it is easy to locate at least two stations near your house where the price difference is as much as $0.25 per gallon.  Of course, the least expensive one may not be so a month later.  What to do?  Examine www.gasbuddy.com

A 20 cent/gal difference (for regular) is about $3 for a fill-up which might result in $100 over the year.  And this is just as useful on a trip where you might think about pulling off (and away from) the highway.  The map below is for places near my house.  See the huge variation.

BOLLI Matters “Tech Talk” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide John with questions,  comments, or suggestions future tech items to cover.  

AUGUST BOLLI AFTER DARK WITH DONNA JOHNS

BADBROKE!

by Donna Johns

Oh, dear. I have been having too much fun this summer, and my checking account is complaining.  When will I learn that buying a ticket is only the beginning of the cash outlay? Getting into the city, parking, a meal, a souvenir tee shirt all eat up an entertainment budget. No regrets. Richard III was well done, except for an actress prone to overacting. The Book Of Mormon was delightfully silly good fun.  Moulin Rouge was a delicious confection.

So, my checking account is on life support. Do I need to stay home with the two chihuahuas and do Netflix binges until the next paycheck? Of course not. My thirst for live entertainment in lean times led me to find some great options. They are close to home with free or almost free parking and no souvenir tee shirts to tempt me. And they have reasonably priced restaurants nearby for that meal which is part of the fun.

Let’s start with a recent discovery: the Regent Theater in Arlington, right off Massachusetts Avenue. Built as a vaudeville house in 1916, it is true to its roots, featuring an eclectic mix of live music, stand up comics,  film specials and more. I recently attended a Yellow Submarine sing along. I sank into my comfortable seat with a bucket of popcorn from the concession stand. The show opened with some live music and a free raffle. Then the film was projected crisply on a movie screen. And before you ask, yes, I did sing along (softly), and, no, I did not know all the words.

Tickets for Regent shows vary but are usually in the $22-$45 range. They also partner with ArtsBoston and  Goldstar where you can often snag half-price tickets. Check out upcoming shows at the Regent; maybe I’ll see you there!

A second inexpensive option is tucked into a side street next to the Waltham Public Library.  Hovey Players is a community theater with a difference. They eschew the standard fare of community theater and seek out rarely performed and thoughtful pieces. The themes of this season are POETIC, BOLD, RAW, RESIST. First up is Constellations by Nick Payne, a love story played out over space and time. Senior tickets are $17 per show. Passes for the entire season are $70.  Even better, they offer a couples season pass for $116. The theater is tiny, so book early. They usually sell out all performances.

A depleted bank account doesn’t mean you can’t get out and see wonderful live performances. Do you have favorites to share? I have Hamilton tickets in October. After parking, meal, and obligatory tee shirt, I will doubtless be broke again.  And so it goes in Bolli After Dark.

“BOLLI After Dark” feature writer Donna Johns

Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and new BOLLI member.

 

AUGUST TECH TALK: TSA Pre-Check

TSA PRE-CHECK

by John Rudy

For the last decade the process of getting through an airport has become increasingly onerous.  For some time, TSA has been providing a short-cut if you are willing to shell out $85 for 5 years, meet certain conditions (not being a convict or mentally impaired), and go for a 20-minute interview.  I live in Lexington, and the closest places for me to go for the interview were in Billerica and Waltham, each only about 20 minutes away from my house.  When I went to enroll, each had over 1,000 openings which was quite a surprise.

Go to the enrollment site https://www.tsa.gov/precheck, click on “apply now,” and just follow a series of screens which are well annotated.  Ten minutes later, you have the opportunity to pick your appointment.  They will then send you a text or an email (your choice) confirming the appointment.

An easy process to follow in order to avoid those long, long airport lines.

BOLLI Matters “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 .

AUGUST LINES FROM LYDIA: IMRE’S LEAP OF FAITH

IMRE’S LEAP OF FAITH

by Lydia Bogar

Buda–the city on the hill–and Pest–the open flat land across the Danube–were joined by five bridges.

Imre was a soldier in the Hungarian Army, the only one of Stefan and Elizabeth’s three sons still in the country. Watching and feeling the frozen pellets of snow blowing across the river, he was thinking of his younger brothers who were now in America’s Army.  Could Frigyes, age 38, and Sandor, age 33, be out there with the Allies on the eastern flank of his magnificent city? Could they be having a hot meal?  Real food prepared by the soldiers in the Red Army?

Last week, the nurses in the underground told him that the Russians had conscripted dozens of Romanians who were camped under the bridges and in the derelict school on Margaret Island. Only half of the Margaret Bridge remained standing.  The bombs were out there.  Always out there. There were no lights on the bridge or on the island, or in the shattered city of Pest.  Only smudges of fog and shadow, pearl-like puffs, drifted across his line of vision.

He thought of his sister, only a year younger than he, now a wife and mother, 40 years of age and living in a place called Massachusetts. Would he ever see this village called Worcester? Would he ever meet any of his three young nephews?

His stomach growled in contempt of the frozen strips of meat and the dirty water in his cup.  There was stale bread, mostly frosted with mold, eaten in spite of warnings from the Captain.  Melted snow washed down the wretched food, if you could even call it that. Wretched is the only suitable word for the strips of meat, cut from the frozen carcasses of two cavalry horses found at the bottom of Gellert Hill. Rumors swirled around the fallen timber that his comrades used as a dining table.

The fragrant memories of his mother’s kitchen did not satisfy the ache deep in his belly, nor did the visualization of his village. He was a professional photographer but nothing in his current view called for the permanence of a photograph. Perhaps when he found his paper and pens, he would draw the Vagysala dinner table with Gomba Leves (mushroom soup) Borju Porkolot (veal stew) and Dios Torta (walnut cake). Today, his village seemed a million miles away.

Communication was nearly impossible at this point in the war, but he prayed for his family daily–especially for his parents who had returned from America only a handful of years before.

I can only imagine this was my uncle’s prayer as he vanished from the face of the earth on that Christmas Eve, 1944.

BOLLI Matters co-editor and feature writer Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta–educated at BOLLI.”

AUGUST CHEF’S CORNER: THE FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS

THE FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS

from John Rudy

Bacon Pancakes!

Chocolate (dark chocolate, of course!!), as many of you know, is one of the four basic food groups, along with pizza, bacon, and beer.  Some have argued that lobster belongs on this list.  I disagree.  What makes the lobster so good is the large amount of butter.  I could be talked into adding maple syrup.

Here is a recipe for lobster tails covered in bacon and dipped in maple syrup (You could alternatively use scallops which are less expensive.) . http://www.lobsterfrommaine.com/recipe/bacon-wrapped-maine-lobster-bites/

My daughter went to a wedding some years ago where there was a tray of chocolate-covered bacon on every table.  She brought a piece back for me.  There are LOTS of on-line recipes, here is one:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-covered-bacon

Papa Ginos has the all-meat combo pizza (the best in my carnivore opinion), and the best part is the bacon.

Here is a recipe for bacon filled pancakes. http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2013/05/bacon-pancakes.html

Can you buy bacon beer?  Of course you can! http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/bacon-smoked-red-ale-recipe-kit.html The ad says, This smoked red ale is a bold taste sensation that will drive you hog wild.”

And for those who insist, here is bacon flavored coffee.   http://www.bocajava.com/fresh-roasted-gourmet-coffee/flavor-roast-coffee/maple-bacon-morning-coffee/5370#.  It even got a review of 4.3 of 5

As Julia would say – Bon Appetit!

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” 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.)

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? THE MICRO-STORM

THE MICRO-STORM

by Dennis Greene

Safe inside our well-constructed home sand surrounded by an amazing network of electronic communication systems, we generally feel protected from those forces of nature that threatened and terrified our forbears.  Even when we hear about earthquakes, cyclones, or tidal waves somewhere else, and we feel some level of concern and sympathy, we don’t feel the gut-wrenching fear of those who came before us and knew nature better than we do.  But every once in a while, Mother Nature gives us a little nudge to remind us that she is watching us and can, with a gesture, wipe out our secure little nests at any time.

About six weeks ago, I got such a nudge.  After leaving BOLLI at noon, I rushed to the golf course to get in a quick nine.  The weather was sunny and warm, but there was a chance of some thunderstorm activity in late afternoon.  I spent a pleasant two hours strolling the fairways at Nehoiden and then headed home for a nap.  By 4:30, I was fast asleep next to an open window, oblivious to the world. I had given no thought to the approach of a violent “micro storm.”

At 5:15, I was startled into consciousness by a soaking wall of water driven through my window by violent wind.  I was in bed, facing the window, and as my eyes popped open, I heard an explosion and saw a bright flash of white light surrounded by a red penumbra. It looked like a bomb exploding right outside my window, and there was no interval between the boom and the flash.

The house shook, but since I saw no other damage, and our lights remained on, I rolled over to the dry side of the bed and tried to continue my nap.  It didn’t last long. Eileen yelled from downstairs that we had no internet or television service, all our phones were dead, and a message on her cell phone indicated that some isolated areas were experiencing severe micro-storms. I guess we were one of those isolated areas.

Hours later, I learned from a message on my cell phone that the “outage” in our neighborhood lasted for forty minutes, but service had been restored.  Many hours after that, at 3:15 a.m., I reached Comcast to let them know that the outage continued at my house. They confirmed that our house had no service and offered to send a technician, but since they had numerous other calls, the earliest available service would be no sooner than Thursday afternoon. For the next two days, our household was barely functional.  I couldn’t use the internet or read emails, and I missed the Celtics playoff game. On Thursday evening, after a very responsive young technician worked at our house for almost two hours, we learned from him that our modem, three tv control boxes, and all our telephones had been rendered inoperable.  When he returned on Friday morning to replace the modem and control boxes, we discovered that our new 55” smart TV and our Apple Airport router had also been fried. The next day, we began the daunting task of replacing the five telephones, beginning the warrantee process with Costco for our TV, and trying to reconnect all our devices and printers to our home network. The disruption seemed interminable, but after four frustrating weeks we were finally reconnected and back to normal.  But we are now much more aware of how subject we are to nature’s whims.

This is a warning to all of you to retain some of that primeval fear you were born with and to respect Mother Nature. She has her eyes on each of us and can hurl devastation upon you before you can blink.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He’s been writing blog articles for BOLLI Matters in quite a variety of genres:  science fiction, movie and video picks, creative nonfiction, and memoir.  And now, he’s even taken on the weather!

 

 

JULY CHEF’S CORNER: BARBECUED SHORT RIBS

BARBECUED SHORT RIBS

from John Rudy

This recipe came from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, and we have been making it since we were married in 1968.  A Slo-Cooker   is a fine alternative.  Buy pieces that are mostly meat, not bone, preferably with lots of speckles of fat.  This recipe creates a lot of gravy.  That is intentional.  I prefer short ribs with noodles; others like potatoes.

 

 

 

 

3 lbs    Short ribs (best if they are marbled)

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

½ cup  Onions, minced

1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

½ cup  Catsup

1 tsp    Paprika

½ cup  Water

1 tsp    Mustard (preferably dry)

¼ cup  Wine Vinegar

  1. (optional) Braise the ribs briefly, searing the edges to keep the juices in.  Drain off fat
  2. Combine onions and all other ingredients and pour over the meat.
  3. Cook at 275° for about 3 hours (or 6 hours on low in the Slo Cooker)
  4. Check with a fork to see if the ribs are ready. The meat should be falling off the bone.
  5. Remove the bones (optional) and refrigerate the meat/gravy until the fat comes to the top and hardens.
  6. Remove fat to use some of it to make roux, and thicken gravy.

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To make roux

Melt a few tablespoons of fat

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook over medium heat until the flour is totally incorporated and the mixtures turns brown.  If you stop too early there will be a floury taste.  If you don’t whisk enough there will be lumps.

Slowly add the de-fatted gravy whisking constantly and let it come to a boil, at which point the gravy will be thickened.  If you used too much flour and the gravy is too thick just whisk in some water or bullion.

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” 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 LINES FROM LYDIA: MY HEROES

MY HEROES

by Lydia Bogar

Two weeks ago, the media  reminded us of our history–particularly our veterans, living and dead, who gave this country their courage and strength.  Among them, my father who joined the American Army in 1939, a year after his arrival from Budapest.  I have bronzed in my mind the image of him in uniform holding his DD214,  the honorable discharge certificate that entitled him to his prized citizenship.

But I am also thinking about the everyday heroes around us.  The ones we need to take notice of and silently appreciate as they weave in and out of our lives.  Truly hometown heroes.

The mechanic down the street who replaces a burned-out brake light at no charge, on a Saturday, in the rain.

The nice old guy at the hardware store who laughs with me when I tell a blonde joke.  He then easily threads the new line into the weed whacker and thanks me for coming in.

The young couple across the street who brush the snow and ice off the top of my car because I have lost another inch of height since last winter.

The  neighbor with the lilting Irish brogue who cuts my lawn and brings in the mail while I am burying my mother.

Heroes like these help to keep our small town  safe even as the population doubles and the dump is no longer open for Saturday morning chats.  I’ll never be a Townie, not even after 46 years, but I won’t be at home anywhere else either.

BOLLI Matters co-editor and feature writer Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta–educated at BOLLI.”

JULY’S BOLLI AFTER DARK: Road Trips!

SUMMER ROAD TRIPS!

by Donna Johns

Ah, the call of the open road on a sunny summer day! Nothing is more enticing than the great American road trip. Of course, the ultimate road trip is cross-country but with high gas prices, you may want to think smaller. And if you love the arts, nothing could be better than a road trip to the Berkshires. Museums, music, dance and theater abound during the summer season.

Put the app TodayTix on your phone or tablet to help plan your trip. The app has a Berkshires button which will list multiple weekends and highlight some of the productions you might miss by just looking at Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow and Shakespeare and Company websites. Choose your weekend and then scroll through. Not only is TodayTix convenient but it is also a great venue to snag deeply discounted tickets.

That said, don’t miss the chance to see Shakespeare & Company’s production of  As You Like It (August 9 to September 2). Performed in the outdoor Roman Garden Theater, you will be transported to the forest of Arden for a magical night.  Bring your bug spray and prepare to be enchanted.

Up for a road trip but not too keen about driving? Stroll down Turner St. to the commuter rail, travel to North Station, and grab the Amtrak Downeaster train to Portland ME. This is a bargain at $58 round trip, and the scenery along the way is special. In under 3 hours, you will be in Portland with enough time to enjoy the lobster stew at DiMillo’s on the Water, a boat tour of Casco Bay, and a bit of shopping or bar hopping before catching the train home.

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If your bunions are barking or you threw your back out weeding the garden or your old jalopy has 200,000 miles on the odometer or it’s just too darn hot to leave the house, you can take an armchair road trip. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Leisure Seeker, coming soon to rent/buy. Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play a  couple taking one last road trip in their old RV. A bittersweet comedy meticulously played for  laughs, not pathos.

On the Road, available on DVD and Sundance Channel. Based on the Jack Kerouac novel.  A young would-be writer encounters some interesting characters during his road trip. The result is a little uneven but captures the spirit of the 1950’s.

Little Miss Sunshine, available on DVD and rental. A delightfully eccentric family hitS the road   to enter their little girl in a beauty pageant.

National Lampoon’s Vacation, available on DVD and rental. The Griswalds’ trip to a theme  park doesn’t go as planned. Wonderful physical humor by Chevy Chase makes this a classic.

I could go on, but I bet you have your own favorite road trip movies. Share them in comments!

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Whatever road trip you choose–be safe, use sun screen, don’t forget to hydrate, and have a wonderful time.  Bolli After Dark will be back in August to preview the fall season.

BOLLI Matters “After Dark” feature writer Donna Johns

Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and new BOLLI member. She now has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

 

 

 

JULY WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? LEGACIES

WHAT WILL I LEAVE MY CHILDREN?

by Eleanor Jaffe

As we age, we consider what we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren that has lasting significance and meaning. Undoubtedly, we have all thought about finances and what estate will be left for our children to share. Perhaps you have thought of treasured antiques–your mother-in-law’s fine china or sterling silver,  your father’s World War II medals, perhaps.  Maybe you will leave your children property.  Maybe you have thought of leaving some writings that you have put together, your memoirs of successes and failures, family joys and sorrows.  All of these have significance to you and me and to our children.  But, lately, a new legacy, one I have heretofore taken for granted, seems of utmost importance: the legacy of a functioning democracy.

We belong to the same “cohort.”  That is, we grew up at the same time, lived through the same U.S. history (give or take twenty years). I can recall the end of World War II.  I can recall the formation of the United Nations, the promise of Israel, and NATO.   We were filled with the idealism of our age.  We would help to build a better, wiser world following the cataclysm of World War II with its millions of victims and its death camps. “Never again!” We believed in these ideals, and, as a cohort, we profited from the expansive, booming economic times that ensued. The U.S. was a benevolent victor and helped to rebuild conquered territories—for the good of us all.  Here in the U.S., laws were passed equalizing opportunities for minorities and women.  Incrementally, the U.S. expanded the rights of all citizens.

Now, we are experiencing the loss of our idealism, the loss of the sense of U.S. “rightness,” the faith in our democracy that we once shared.  We believed that our democracy could be shared among the nations of the world.  The U.S. could be open-hearted and open-handed. Yes, there were military clashes along the way: Korea and Vietnam (where we almost lost our way). But nothing in our memory, not even the McCarthy era, has decimated the American Dream like the current Trump Administration.  It is this American Dream and its almost 250 year old reality that is the most significant legacy we could possibly leave our children and grandchildren.

Many of our grandparents suffered in steerage and then in poverty so long ago when they emigrated to the United States. The United States was a dream, hard fought for, but worth the struggle for our parents and then for us. We now have an obligation, a sacred trust, to struggle to maintain these democratic principles of fairness, the rule of law, equal opportunities, a place where people–even would-be immigrants and asylum seekers–are treated with respect and fairness.

Nothing has so tarnished the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world—and in our own eyes—as the systematic, deliberate cruelty of this Administration in separating children from their parents, in keeping children in cages, even of losing track of where the children have been sent!  What has happened to our American Dream? And how can we salvage the tattered remnants of our honor as a country? (And this is just the latest – but surely not the last – of Trump’s outrageous attacks on our democratic, hard fought for ideals and laws.)

The legacy of a proud, just, and fair United States is one I desperately hope to leave to my children and grandchildren. I will work to help these helpless immigrants most of whom are seeking asylum.  Were we not all once “strangers in a strange land?”—no matter when our family members emigrated to the U.S.?  I will work to overturn this Administration so that we can once again have a fair and just system of government, a government that responds to the loud cries of protests from its citizenry.  I strongly encourage all of you to do the same.  This remains the bedrock and foundational legacy for all our children.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Eleanor Jaffe

One of BOLLI Matters’  “Senior Moments” feature writers, Eleanor has become increasingly focused on “Making a Difference” in our current climate.  She and Elaine Dohan, in fact, have founded a new BOLLI Special Interest Group to explore how we might all be “Making a Difference” today.