Tag Archives: BOLLI Monthly Features



(Serves 8 or more)

This recipe, originally from p. 466 of The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, gives a detailed explanation of the cream cheese/sugar/egg/cream/sour-cream ratios and discusses the effect of changing each.  The texture of the cake changes considerably as one adjusts the amounts, and these are the amounts I like.  Make it a half dozen times in slightly different ways to see what you like.  It also describes the difference between the various cooking processes.  We first made it in 2005.  All agreed that this was the best cheesecake ever.  The water bath really makes a difference.  50 minutes for prep and clean-up.

“Crust” (more like a dusting)  OR use a full crust

2 tsp          Butter, melted

2 Tbs         Vanilla Wafer or Graham Cracker crumbs  —  very fine.  ~7 vanilla wafers.

Cheese Filling

32 oz         Cream cheese at room temperature  (“lite” cheese is NOT                         acceptable).  4 pkgs.

1¼ cup      Sugar

¼ cup        Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream  (I use whipping cream)

¼ cup        Sour Cream

2 tsp          Vanilla extract

4                Eggs at room temperature

9″              Springform pan

2 sheets     Aluminum foil (one extra wide and extra heavy).

Use an outer pan large enough to easily seat the 9” pan, like a Lobster Pot bottom or the pan you roast your turkey in.

Optional: strawberries, cherries or chocolate fudge sauce for the topping.

  1. A Springform is made of two pieces: the side (with the spring) and the round bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with foil and put the base back with the foil hanging outside the pan and coming UP the side of the pan.  This is the second line of protection if the outer foil layer fails.  Bring the 2nd heavy, wide foil up the side of the pan, and put on tightly so water doesn’t enter. See the picture.  Set oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Brush the bottom and the sides with butter, and sprinkle the crumbs over the bottom. Tilt the pan in all directions to have the crumbs go up the sides.  Pour out excess.  Alternatively,  you can also make a bread crust for the bottom.  I prefer the dusting.
  3. Boil enough water for the water bath. About 4 cups should be sufficient, but check during cooking that it hasn’t boiled off.
  4. Beat the room temperature cream cheese until smooth, and then beat in the sugar for about 3 minutes on medium until fully incorporated.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the side of the bowl after each one. Do not over beat.  Add vanilla and beat until just incorporated.  Add the cream and sour cream, and beat in at very low speed, until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture into the pan, and set into the larger pan. THEN pour in enough boiling water to go halfway up the side of the pan.  DON’T go above the aluminum foil protection.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for about 55-60 minutes until the perimeter of the cake is just slightly set and the center jiggles like jello.
  8. Turn off the heat and open the oven door slightly.  Leave for 1 hour longer.  Very carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.  This takes another hour.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  If covered when warm, water will form on the cover and drip into the cheesecake!!
  9. Sometimes, I top this with sliced fresh strawberries, or a combination of strawberries and blueberries.
“Chef’s Corner” (and “Tech Talk”) 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.)


There’s nothing like a good thriller once in a while. But the qualifier matters. Cardboard characters, contrived suspense, and Hollywood cliff-hangers won’t cut it. But an espionage novel that hinges on character rather than non-stop action and that provides glimpses of an unfamiliar or exotic world is a great treat. Joseph Kanon’s latest, Defectors, fits the bill nicely.

In 1970, I traveled to Scandinavia and the Soviet Union with a group sponsored by a left-wing lawyers’ association.  After stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, Leningrad, and Moscow, we flew to Central Asia, where we visited Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. A lovely, radical sixty-ish couple wasn’t on the plane to Uzbekistan with us and didn’t rejoin the group when we returned to Moscow before flying home.  We were told there was a medical issue although both had seemed hale and hearty in the early going.  Knowing their background, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had defected.  Is that how it would have been done in 1970?  I have no idea.  But I have thought about them occasionally and tried to imagine what it might have been like for them if they had indeed stayed in the Soviet Union.  It’s safe to say that their lives would not have been like those of the defectors in this gripping novel.

Frank Weeks wasn’t an ordinary American Communist when he and his wife fled to Moscow in 1949. He had been a high-ranking intelligence officer about to be exposed as a spy for the Soviet Union after an operation that went disastrously wrong. Twelve years later, still working for the KGB, Frank has written a memoir that “the Service” will allow to be published, and his brother Simon has been approved to come to Moscow to edit the book, only to learn on arrival that Frank has an ulterior motive for this visit. There will be plenty of thriller-worthy action to come – deception, murder, betrayal, CIA and KGB operations and counter-operations – but the real pleasures of the novel are in the lives of Frank and Jo Weeks and their “friends” – the community of former British and American spies who are spared the privation of ordinary Russians but not the grim reality of the workers’ paradise they believed in…the spacious but threadbare apartment, the musty dacha, the faded elegance of the Bolshoi, the privileged access to groceries, the vodka-soaked nights at the bar in the Metropol, the ever-present KGB minder…

Frank and Simon were close as boys and followed similar career paths, Frank into the CIA, Simon into the State Department. But was Frank using his brother, extracting valuable bits of information in casual conversation over their regular dinners? After Frank’s betrayal and twelve years apart, the relationship between the brothers is tense but still intimate as Simon vacillates between trusting and being wary of his charming brother, and he is still drawn to Jo, with whom he had a brief dalliance before she met and married Frank. The fine supporting cast features a woman who once smuggled atomic secrets over a border in her hat, the lonely widow of a brilliant scientist, assorted Brits with assorted motives (including a couple of real-life spies), and Boris – the factotum who is always on hand and always listening.

Defectors is Kanon’s eighth novel. The others are similarly satisfying, particularly his first, Los  Alamos. It’s a murder mystery with a compelling historical overlay as J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists in New Mexico race to develop the atomic bomb in the final days of World War II. There’s no better way to lose sleep and absorb some modern history than a Joseph Kanon novel.

“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.

Your comments are deeply appreciated–leave word for Abby below.



by Eleanor Jaffe

 I am looking at two articles from the NY Times printed this past August whose subjects both have to do with aging.  There cannot be two more different articles than these two.  One of them, published in the business section on August 19th, is entitled, “Coping with the Dread of Inching Toward Oblivion.”  The second, published on August 13 on a page called “Vows,” concerns a wedding:  “She’s 98. He’s 94. They Met at the Gym,.”  Each piece reflects a truly real aspect and possibility about aging, albeit 180 degrees different from one another.  TAKE YOUR PICK!

The first article, written by economist Ron Lieber, was prompted by the near collapse of Medicaid, a logical outcome if Obamacare had been nullified by Congress this past summer.  Fortunately, and for the moment, Medicaid stands–a bulwark for seniors who cannot afford long-term nursing care either in a facility or at home.  This care becomes a necessity when elders are faced with diseases like Alzheimer’s or any serious degenerative disease necessitating round the clock supervision and monitoring.   Lieber reviews several books written by caretakers and recommends them.  You may want to consult them:  The 36 Hour Day by N.L.Mace and P. Rabins;   A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross, and Being My Mom’s Mom by Loretta A.W. Veneer.

A number of us are all too familiar with the subject of long-term care.  We have nursed our husbands or wives  or parents through long, painful demises and know what it is like to have our loved ones change and diminish before our eyes.  There are compensations for care-taking, and  mixed blessings do accompany caring for a beloved one during a downhill course, but care-taking, nevertheless, is one of life’s heaviest burdens.

AND ON THE OTHER HAND!  Here’s a vibrant story of a lively romance between two fit 90-year-olds (she’s almost 100).  Their courtship and marriage makes me smile and gives me hope that life can continue to bring joyfulness, unexpected good times, true companionship, and even romantic love – no matter what your age.  (We have even seen some of these romances at BOLLI!)

IS THERE A COMMONALITY HERE?  I have searched my mind for one,  and this is what I think:  we have a lot of love to give.  And we also have a great need to be needed and loved.  Caring for your loved one, no matter what degree of pain or suffering we may experience as the caretaker, certainly lets us know that we are needed at the most fundamental of all levels.  At the other end of the spectrum, romantic love allows us the full expression of our desires.  We are needed.  We are loved.  We are fully alive,  giving and receiving.

It is one of life’s great puzzles that some of us are given heavy burdens to carry, sometimes over long periods of time.  Others of us seem to dodge the bullets of protracted illnesses, hurricanes (of all sorts), financial trials, and losses of many kinds. 

If only we could TAKE OUR PICK!

“Senior Moment” writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of 53 years, my friends–and my 104 year old mother.  What does it mean to grow older in today’s society?  My experiences as a social worker, as a high school English teacher, doing a lot of reading about aging and loss, and living to 80 (so far) have prepared me to write this blog.

Leave comments, more suggestions for further reading, etc. in the box below!  Our writers so appreciate knowing that you’re out there!



Some Additional Thoughts on Data Searching, and its Implications

Back in November or December, I wrote an article regarding computer searching, starting off by defining web browsers (I recommend Chrome as Edge is not yet really ready and Chrome has half the market) and Google as the search engine because they represent 75% of the market.  My opinion has not changed despite Microsoft’s advertising

The first thing you quickly learn about Google is that it is able to make a lot of intelligent assumptions about what you want.  There are two reasons for this.  First, it can work around your mistyping or misspelling.  Second, it remembers (unless you instruct it not to remember) what you have looked for in the past.  This is a mixed blessing, mostly good.  But here are a few reasons that it could turn out to be a problem.

  • If an account is used by multiple family members, then the other person knows what you looked for. Like the birthday gift that you found and bought.  Or the porn you viewed.  Or the hotel room or jewelry you bought for the girlfriend.  Or things you don’t want the grandkids to see when they are using your computer.
  • Google uses the information in your previous searches to direct advertising towards you. So if you bought a cane, do not be surprised if you get ads for a wheelchair or another cane.  If you booked a room in Newport, do not be surprised if you get ads from other Newport attractions.  This is viewed by many as a feature, but I find it irritating.  Each of the browsers gives you an option to delete the list of searches you have made.  I do this frequently.
  • If you are doing a BOLLI paper on bombs and go to dozens of sites on bomb-making, do not be surprised if you receive a visit from Homeland Security. They and NSA have the ability to watch internet and phone traffic (do they utilize it???).  The problem, of course, is that, though your search history may have been deleted from YOUR files, it doesn’t mean that GOOGLE or Comcast doesn’t have the data on its servers.  Each year, Google gets many warrants for data and, for the moment, rejects most of them.  That may well change.

Let’s take a simple example.  You get onto the Amazon website to see if you want to purchase some shorts.  You’ve used this site before and have set up shipping addresses for a number of members of your family.  What might happen next?

  1. Amazon and other on-line purchase sites know about ALL your previous purchases AND those things you have merely looked at. They will use this data to recommend other things for you to purchase, either during this browsing session or in subsequent ones.  But Amazon and other companies have Artificial Intelligent systems studying your purchases, trying to further understand what makes you tick.  A few years ago, there was a story about a woman who made a bunch of purchases, and the company (Target) calculated that she was pregnant (she didn’t know) and started sending her baby things.  That surprised her father who was upset.  See https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#78ba7db16668

“As Target’s computers crawled through the data, it was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed it to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score.  More important, it could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.”

This is pretty scary!  If you buy a swimsuit in April, should you be targeted with ads for sunscreen in July?  I’ll have an article on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning soon.

  1. Don’t be surprised if company A sells its purchase data to company B. I do not believe that Amazon sells their data.
  2. Your browser knows where you have been, unless you delete the entries.
  3. Your provider (like Comcast) is collecting this data.  AND, they might be selling it.  There is a lot of money available for buying focused lists.  The Obama administration tried to put in legislation to stop the selling of private data.  The Trump Administration plans to roll that back.  (See my past article on Net Neutrality for more information on this subject.)
  4. The government can request access to this data though it involves multiple legal issues. Remember a year ago when the government tried to get access to a protected Apple phone and Apple refused to provide the access?

Bottom Line: forget about privacy.  It is a myth.  Sorry.

“Tech Talk” and “Chef’s Corner” 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



Leave a comment for John below–




All of the episodes of the Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam are on my DVR, and I will watch them one piece at a time — some other day.  Here is the story of two Massachusetts boys who grew up in the jungles of Vietnam and found new jungles waiting for them at home.


by Lydia Bogar

They walked and ran the tangled path to maturity in the jungles of Vietnam. Although born and raised in the same state, the culture and strata of their parentage were many miles apart. That is the way life was in the 60s.  And yet, both fate and the Marine Corps brought them to the same place.

The war was never kind, and the mission was not to come home intact. The smell of blood and mud stayed in their memories for decades.  The black silhouetted flag was a hallmark of their survival.

Initially, their post-military careers brought them together. They continued to live and train as Marines for law enforcement careers in the Massachusetts State Police, always crisp and ramrod straight in uniform.  Their personal lives took similar paths, predictable for baby boomers.  Love and marriage brought them to the same area code, the same assignment, and many of the same friends.  As the devil cancer took some of those friends, they again stood crisp and ramrod straight at burials that shook the sky with rifle rounds and blurred the eyes around them. They were still Marines.  Every minute of their lives, they were Marines.

Their first painful loss was another Marine, the perennial altar boy with the leprechaun’s smile. His death devastated friends and families, as he had beaten the devil cancer for almost ten years. Leaving his wife and son behind was a failure he could not discuss. The poison in his veins took all choice out of his hands. The walk from the church to the cemetery left even the strongest in tears. The flyover and hole in the ground sent others to their knees.

The second burial came along more rapidly, during a very cold, yet starlit night. The former combat medic had worked hard to progress through the ranks but was always within the devil’s grasp. The poison in his veins choked his heart and brought unforgiving grief to his wife and daughters.  Generous benefits were no match for the three daughters who would later walk down the aisle without their daddy. When you see every member of a Marine Corps honor guard in tears, you know that you have seen it all.

I write of these two Marines as co-workers and friends of long standing. Twenty plus years seemed to fly by, and they both faced mandatory retirement at age 55. With that roadblock in sight, their career paths diverted. One lost a child, a precious son, a loss that compelled him to take on more hours at work, more overtime shifts as he sought something. Anything to be away from the small cottage in the small town with the small empty room. The marriage became a farce. He worked days and nights, seemingly without end, and advanced through the ranks. We will not discuss the women in whose arms he found momentary comfort, only that those diversions did not heal him.

The bald Marine discarded first one marriage and then another. His work hours also increased, yet neither rank nor assignment ever filled his void. He remained on the job long past the 55-speed limit, defying gravity and modern medicine with the daily grind of a much younger man. His jungle became the streets, and he knew each cluster of villages as well as the age spots on the back of his hands. His rank remained the same, even when his pay grade maxed out. He ignored the urges of supervisors to take promotional exams. In the place of rank and money, he got a good lawyer, another Marine of course, and sued to stay on the job he loved.  He was content with his portable life, taking assignments that he liked, and travelling abroad when the spirit moved him.

His personal vehicles were the same make and model as the Ford Crown Vic that he drove behind the badge. His large frame knew the seat and the dashboard as well as the gun at his waist. His strength and courage never wavered, and his quest to understand the minds of his brother officers was a thirst never fully quenched.  When the towers fell in New York, he responded with the speed and determination of a Marine fresh out of Parris Island. He was in New York by noon that day, not knowing who the enemy was, only that it was his.

His current vocation is to talk with and listen to the troops coming back from the hellish sandbox. He continues to defy the usual parameters of age and agility. This past summer, while others bought retirement homes and cuddled grandchildren, he ignored his 70th birthday and went to Canada to support a brother officer.

His quiet, pale brother went uptown and worked in a skyscraper overlooking the harbor. His new uniform was an expensive suit, a starched white shirt, and ready-for-inspection wingtips. His knowledge expanded in different ways–away from physical harm and into the detection of fraud and deceit.  His daily routine remained intact, unmoved by age or circumstance. It was that routine and a daily dose or two of Jack Daniels kept him alive, or so he thought. His life ended quietly in an elevator, going out to lunch on a beautiful spring day.  He would be with his son again.

None of these Marines of a certain age need to watch the Ken Burns documentary. The original script remains in their hearts and minds.

Semper Fi.

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!



(One and a Half Recipes Makes about 45 Small Ones)

I was given this recipe in the 4th grade (1954) and have been using it, with no changes, ever since.  I have tried to fill the thumbprint with Nestles chocolate or with M&Ms but it never seems just right.  The best chocolate is the Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chips which, when warm (after baking), can be flattened with a spoon.  My favorite filing is apricot preserves.  The preserves must be thick, not runny.

See this before you cook to get into the mood.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye8mB6VsUHw&feature=youtu.be

I usually make 1½ recipes.

2 sticks   Butter (at room temperature)

3            Egg yolks

¾ cup     Sugar, granulated

¼ tsp     Salt

2¾ cup   Flour   (sift after measuring)

1 tsp      Vanilla

Preserves (strawberry, raspberry or apricot).  Don’t use anything too “liquidy.”

You could use a chocolate that re-hardens.  Or M&Ms.


Cream butter. NOTE: I use my normal, salted butter.  If you choose to use unsalted butter, add another ¼ tsp of salt.

  1. Beat in the sugar until it is totally absorbed by the butter.
  2. Beat in the yolks, salt and vanilla (find something useful for the whites).
  3. Slowly beat in the flour. The last flour may be hard to add, as the mixture gets crumbly. If you beat the flour too quickly there will be flour all over the kitchen.
  4. Roll the batter into balls, about 1″ in diameter, flatten slightly, and place on un-greased cookie pan, separated by about 2″. They will enlarge when baked.  The easiest way to do this is to take a spoonful and roll it in your hands.  24 will fit in a pan (4×6).  There is a lot of butter in the recipe so you do not need to grease the pan
  5. Flatten each cookie a bit and put a thumbprint in the middle. The thumbprint must be deep enough to hold the preserve.  The sides of the cookie may crack a bit as you push down but you can hold them together with your left hand when making the thumbprint with the right.
  6. Fill the thumbprint with preserve. An alternative to the preserve is a chocolate Candy Kiss or other chocolate.
  7. Cook at 375ofor 12 to 15 minutes.  DON’T overcook.  Undercook slightly as they continue to cook when removed from the pan.  DO NOT USE A DARK COLORED PAN, they cook too fast and burn on the bottom.  Under-cooking is fine.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven when the tops of the cookies are just beginning to get brown. It may look too early but it is not.  They will harden as they cool; otherwise they are overcooked and hard.  You can also check the underside for browning.  Note that when cooking two pans simultaneously, they bake at different rates even if they are on the same level.  When you have one pan on top of the other the air flow in the oven is disrupted
  9. Remove cookies immediately to wire racks to cool, and they then can be stored in a tin. If they are at all warm when they are put in the tin the steam will turn to water and you will be unhappy.
  10. Cookies can be made in advance and frozen (and I like them when they are frozen).
  11. As I said earlier I started making these cookies in the 4th grade.This is the perfect first cookie recipe to teach the grandkids.
Chef 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.) John also provides our monthly “BOLLI Matters Tech Talk” feature.  





by Sue Wurster

I realize that this might come as something of a surprise, but I’m not exactly known for my athletic prowess.   That lack of prowess, in fact, had much to do with my transferring from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio at the end of my junior year.   At Otterbein, I was facing a 5-term PE requirement and had already failed badminton, fencing, folk dance, bowling, skiing, horseback riding — as well as folk dance for a second time.   (I had an attendance issue — getting up for an 8 or even 9 am PE course was just not my cup of energy drink.)  Not only did OU have no PE requirement, but it also happened to have the top speech team in the country.   I’m not really sure which was the bigger draw.

BUT — despite my virtual disdain for all things athletic, I’ve always loved tennis.  Not playing it, of course.  Watching it.   Billie Jean won my heart in the 60s and has been there ever since.    Her pioneering efforts helped women get paid their due–as athletes, as professionals, and as partners.  Her strength and courage–in tennis and in life–have inspired me and countless women for fifty years.

And at 73, she’s still at it — playing some tennis, coaching some tennis, mentoring tennis players,  organizing and administering tennis events,  and using her influence to work, wherever possible, for social justice causes — gender equality, social inclusion, “fair play.”

So, on a balmy Saturday in August of 2016,  I was happily ensconced, once again, at the Hotel Lucerne on West 79th Street in New York City.   This is a favorite located in my old neighborhood.   It welcomes me when I need a Broadway fix or the company of old and dear friends and can pretty much always be counted on to provide another round of the perennial NYC pastime known as “star sighting.”   My old friend Susan and I had just sat down at Nice Matin located just outside the hotel door.  It is one of those good neighborhood restaurants you used to be able to find all over the city.  We had met for an early lunch.

I had just been introduced to Susan’s beautiful new granddaughter (whose mother I had taught) when two women walked into the small, uncrowded space.   I could feel the adrenalin rushing to every corpuscle as  I leaned across the table to tell Susan who had just arrived in the restaurant.  And then,  I froze.  The hostess was leading Billie Jean and her friend to the table next to us.  Right next to us.  Oh, my God!  My heart lurched.  She’s coming this way!

And the next thing I knew, Billie Jean King was sitting on the banquette seat.  Right next to me.  Like, maybe, an arm’s-length away.   I had never been so completely starstruck.    But, I realized, so was her friend — with the baby.  She oohed, aahed, cooed, and asked all the right questions about this sweet little girl.   At that point, the waiter arrived.

“Are you ready to order, ladies?” he asked, his gaze sweeping all of us, as if we were a party of four.   And, suddenly, we were exactly that: a party of four.  Talking, laughing, sighing — as if we had known each other for twenty years and hadn’t seen each other for ten.

I had been one of Billie Jean’s most loyal fans for fifty years.  But now, I found myself looking at her in a completely different way.  What a warm, gracious, totally accessible woman–who seems to actually enjoy meeting her fans.   Well, actually, she seems to just enjoy meeting and talking to people in general–of all stripes.  She is genuinely interested in others and what they do, think, and feel.  She’s just…well, totally down to earth–real.  And a lot of fun.

The time came for me to get myself moving toward the matinee I was to see, but while I didn’t want this time to end, departing gave me the opportunity to say something I’d always wanted to say to my idol who has done so much for so many–just “Thank you.”

“Want a picture?” she asked.  Oh, be still my beating heart…

So,  when I heard that a new movie was coming out about Billie Jean in her legendary Battle of the Sexes match with that obnoxious little troll, Bobby Riggs, I headed for the internet to figure out when it would be coming to a theatre near me–so I could be first in line for my  discounted senior ticket.   (Oh, I’m sorry.  I guess my comment about Riggs could be considered disrespectful…sorry, trolls.)   No movie can possibly  do justice to either that event or Billie Jean herself.  But I’m applauding–for all that she has done and continues to do for sports, for women, and social justice.

Okay, Billie Jean, if you can say that it was your respect for Riggs that led to your being able to beat him, I guess I can “go high” myself.  Sorry, Bobby.

Click on this green phrase for Billie Jean’s Ted Talk–and enjoy!  

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

Sue has enjoyed collecting and sharing BOLLI Matters for the past two years and hopes that BOLLI readers are finding our items to be both interesting and entertaining.  

Let us know what you think!








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)







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.


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.”


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.










Mining Marilyn Brooks’ popular blog, Marilyn’s Mystery Reads, for some of her past reviews yielded another gem:   Lindsay Davis.  As a longtime fan of novels taking place in ancient Greece and Rome, I was, for some time, very much caught up by Davis’ host of mysteries featuring “detective” Marcus Didius Falco (of which there are 20).  Davis’ books are well-written, featuring inventive situations, engaging characters, and good, solid suspense.  Somehow, though, I missed the fact that she eventually provided Falco and wife Helena Justina with an adoptive daughter who is carrying on in the family tradition–so glad to have a new “old” favorite to follow.  She reviewed this one in March of 2014.

THE IDES OF APRIL  – by Lindsey Davis

                                             A Review by Marilyn Brooks

 “The glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome” are the lines that Edgar Allan Poe wrote in 1845.  There is grandeur in Lindsey Davis’ The Ides of April, and there are also appealing characters, great writing, and a terrific plot.

Flavia Albia, the heroine of the story, is a private informer, what today we would call a private eye.  She is the adopted daughter of the well-known Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco.  Abandoned as an infant, Flavia knows nothing of her biological family.  Marcus and his wife Helena Justina found her wandering the streets of Londinium, Britannia, and brought her to civilization, to Rome.  Flavia is now twenty-nine, a full Roman citizen, a widow, and following in her father’s business.

What brings Flavia into the case at the center of the book is the tragic death of a three-year-old boy who was run over by a builder’s cart.  Flavia is hired by the owner of the building company to thwart the boy’s mother’s demand for compensatory payment.  Although unsympathetic to the owner Salvidia, a female informer can’t be too choosy when it comes to jobs, so Flavia takes the case.

After doing so, she reads a notice asking any witnesses to the accident to come forward.  Intrigued, Flavia goes to the Temple of Ceres, the headquarters of Manlius Faustus, the aedile (magistrate) for this area of Rome, to get more information.  Not having any luck at the Temple, she goes to his office where she meets Andronicus, the aedile’s clerk, and sexual sparks fly between them.  Andronicus tells her the aedile won’t assist her, but he lets her know that he’ll keep his eyes open to try to help.

Not having gained any insight into the case and disliking her client more and more, Flavia returns to the construction company to tell Salvidia that she is quitting.  When she gets there, she is told by the woman’s servant that Salvidia is dead, having come home from the market, gone to bed, and then stopped breathing.  Looking at the corpse, the only unusual thing the informer can see is a slight scratch on one of her arms, certainly nothing to cause death.

At Salvidia’s funeral the next day, Flavia meets the deceased’s neighbor, an elderly woman who concludes their conversation by saying, “You do what you can for her, dearie,” a statement Flavia interprets as the neighbor thinking that Savlidia died under suspicious circumstances.  And the following day, the neighbor is dead.

The writing in The Ides of April is excellent, always told in Flavia’s voice.  She can be empathic, as when she meets the family of another possible murder victim.  “Lupus the oyster-shucker would not easily be forgotten; I thought never,” she says to herself as she sees the family’s grief.  She can also be wry.  “…and (the man) could only come if his son was not using the false leg that day.  Assume I’m joking, if that comforts you.”

The Ides of April is the first in the Flavia Albia series.  The Marcus Falco series by this author is twenty novels long, and I’m hoping for at least that many for Flavia.  She’s a delight.  Hopefully, she’ll keep poking her nose into Rome’s secrets.

You can read more about Lindsey Davis at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads blog at her web site

Our MYSTERY MAVEN Marilyn Brooks

I’ve always been a reader and, starting with Nancy Drew (my favorite, of course), I became a mystery fan.  I think I find mysteries so satisfying because there’s a definite plot to follow, a storyline that has to make sense to be successful.  And, of course, there’s always the fun of trying to guess the ending.  My blog, published every Saturday,  can be found at www.marilynsmysteryreads.com.

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