Tag Archives: BOLLI Monthly Features

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.

 

JULY SENIOR MOMENT WITH DENNIS GREENE: MIND LAPSES

MIND LAPSES

by Dennis Greene

When I call on my fragile mind to multi-task, things often end badly.

For instance, in 1967, I attended Stu Lasky’s wedding in Scarsdale with my college roommate Kenny Fox and his parents, my “second family.”

As we sat in the synagogue waiting for the ceremony to begin, I noticed a beautiful Asian girl sitting alone a few rows away.  It looked like she knew no one. This was during that wonderful interim between the disappearance of my acne and the appearance of my receding hairline, so I was flushed with a modicum of confidence.  I forced myself into action and found myself inviting her to come and join us.  She told me her name was Noella Luke, happily accepted the invitation, and smiled.  I was enchanted.  As we walked back to join the Foxes, my brain was churning. I was listening to Noella tell me how she knew the bride; I was imagining what our children might look like; and I was complimenting myself on this very mature, thoughtful, and cool move.  Before I had time to prepare myself, we arrived at our seats, and I began to introduce Noella to the Foxes, but after “Noella, I’d like you to meet Mr. and Mrs….” I drew a blank. I could not recall their name.  I became speechless and froze, the temperature went up to about 110 degrees, sweat began to pour down my brow, and there was about thirty seconds of awkward silence before the Foxes introduced themselves. I knew that my overloaded brain’s failure to come up with the name “Fox” had managed to turn a major victory into a humiliating defeat. I have to learn to focus more on what I am doing.

This past weekend, I bought a $20 sheet of coupons from a kid raising money for the Wellesley High baseball team, and I decided to use one of the coupons as an excuse to get a forbidden pizza. I drove to Wellesley Center and found a parking place not far from the Upper Crust. As I was unbuckling my seatbelt, I remembered that I had a parking meter app on my phone.  I activated my iPhone, got out of the car, and paid the fee.  Then, I went into a nearby bookstore.  After a half hour chat with the owner, I strolled over to the Upper Crust, ordered a small pepperoni and mushroom pizza, and ate it while reading Ringworld. Forty-five minutes later, I emerged from the restaurant and headed back to my car, patting my pockets quickly, looking for my keys.  I didn’t find them.  I repeated the search, more slowly.  I didn’t have them.   I considered whether I might have left them in the Upper Crust or in the bookstore.  Then it occurred to me that they might be in the ignition.  After a brief moment of panic, I spotted my car, so I knew it hadn’t been stolen, and I was soon close enough to see that the keys actually were in the ignition.  No harm done, luckily.   And with a sigh of relief, I slid into the driver’s seat, buckled my seatbelt, and reached to turn on the ignition.   It was already on!  The car engine had been running for the past hour and a half.  Another brain malfunction.  These have recently been occurring  more frequently.

How does one tell the difference between normal “aging brain” malfunctions and the onset of more serious dementia?  Is my undependable old brain even capable of distinguishing the difference?  I worry about myself, and all of us.

It is clear that the magnitude of the distraction required to trigger a brain lapse has been reduced significantly for me over the years. In 1967 the smile and attention of the young woman of my fantasies, while I was taking an unprecedented social risk, reduced me to a catatonic state.  That is easily understandable. It was an important moment for me.

But, last week, my brain short-circuited because I got excited about using a new parking fee app.  That’s just sad.

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.  This month, he provides us with this “Senior Moment” as feature writer Eleanor Jaffe addresses a concern “On Her Mind.”

 

 

 

JULY TECH TALK: WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?

WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?

by John Rudy

Summer tends to be peak travel time, so here’s a tip about safeguarding your wallet–at home or abroad.

I suspect that few of you know exactly what is in your wallet, so if it is stolen or lost, you might have a problem.  But even if you know what cards you have there, do you know the card numbers and you how to contact the organizations so that they can be frozen?

The solution is a small spreadsheet:

Card Description Card Number Contact email Contact Phone
       
       

Then, put it in a place so that, if the wallet is stolen (even in Europe), you can get to the data.  I will leave that part up to you!

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 for future items on any computer/tech topic .

SEPTEMBER CHEF’S CORNER: SWEDISH MEATBALL STROGANOFF

SWEDISH MEATBALL STROGANOFF

from John Rudy

I found this recipe in an old cooking magazine in the ‘70s.  I make plain meatballs (lean hamburger, some salt and one small finely-chopped onion).  I then broil the meatballs until they are medium rare; not more than about 6 minutes turning once.  I usually make them quite small, smaller than a golf ball, maybe 3/4ʺ.  The meatballs can be frozen to be used later.

The sauce recipe is sufficient for about 1½ pounds of meat.

By using lite cream cheese and sour cream, the calories are reduced and the taste seems to be the same.

Stroganoff Sauce

2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (10½ oz can)

1½ cup Milk

6 oz  Cream cheese (softened)  (I use the “lite”)

¼ cup   Catsup

¼ tsp  Garlic Powder

1 pt  Sour cream (I use the “lite”)

Mix together in large saucepan (except for the sour cream);  warm, but do not boil. Stir constantly.

Add the meatballs and cook until thawed (if previously frozen) or hot.

Stir in the sour cream.

Serve over noodles or with toothpicks as an appetizer. (If the latter, there will be too much sauce.)

BOLLI Matters “Chef’s Corner” feature writer John Rud

 

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.)

APRIL TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: FACEBOOK

Remove Third Party Apps from Facebook 

by John Rudy

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Facebook interfaces with many apps that use your Facebook ID as their login.  You know when you sometimes try to log into a site and see something like, “would you like to log in through Facebook?”  This can be helpful.  As with many of my articles, I was triggered to write this by reading Kim Komando’s blog, something I recommend to all.   (https://www.komando.com/)

Facebook is now saying that they will automatically delete apps you have not used in 3 months (we’ll see if that happens), but they are  also giving you a mechanism to delete many app links in bulk.  I did this and found that there were linkages to almost two dozen apps, many of which I knew nothing about.  Here is the process I followed:

  1. Log into Facebook and at the top you will see a triangle .  Click on the triangle
  2. This will give you a pull-down menu (I’m showing a piece of it) and one of the options is “settings”. Click on it.

3.That will bring up a new screen which includes the word “apps”. Click on Apps.  This will bring up a screen with A LOT OF APPS.  There may only be room to show you a portion of them so you can go through the next step multiple times.

To the right of each app is a small box, very hard to see.  Click on those apps you do not need/want and then at the top of the page there is a box called REMOVE.  Click on it, and the app links will be removed.  I removed 23 app links this morning.

  1. On the same screen where you clicked on APPS there is a place to click on PRIVACY. There are eight options you might want to look at to determine whether you want to limit who can see what you have.  Of course this restriction didn’t seem to hold when Facebook provided user data to a third party.

There is a lesson here for all of this:  anything you put on the computer, and that includes all emails you send or receive, texts and pictures you send or receive, should be assumed to be in the public record.  This is why I have recommended that you put a freeze on your credit bureau accounts, and that you use credit cards NOT debit cards.  The credit card companies will protect you if someone steals your card.  When I use a credit card in a restaurant, I ensure that it stays where I can see it, and is not taken to a back room for processing.  Same at gas stations.  Today, we all need to exercise caution.

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.

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402

LINES FROM LYDIA: FROM TOPSIDE

FROM TOPSIDE

Havana, 2017 – Lydia Bogar

 

As the ship approached Castillo del Morro, the stalwart guardian of Havana Harbor, passengers coordinated their backpacks for the day’s tours, and scrambled topside to gaze at the sun rising over their destination. Thirty hours from their Miami departure and ready to enter a Communist country, many were anxious and more than a few were fearful.  Past El Morro was Jesus de la Habana, the twin to the more famous statue that casts hope and peace above Rio de Janiero.

Dr. Fitz and Francisco finished their juice and silently thanked St. Christopher for the bounty of this journey. As they approached Sierra Maestra Terminal–neglected, majestic and under renovation  –Francisco thanked his chaperone again for this homecoming.  In Boston the year before, Dr. Fitz had successfully repaired the 12-year old’s heart.

Dr. Fitz needed the change of scenery as much as the boy needed his mother’s embrace. His wife had died during Francisco’s stay in Boston, and he accepted the suggestion of his adult children to accompany the boy who had become part of his family.  Having forgotten most of his Spanish, the good doctor travelled with a bi-lingual dictionary and an app on his phone that he hoped he would not use.  Francisco helped him with the adjectives and pronouns of his native language.

Francisco looked forward to giving his grandmother the cupcakes from the North End, a place the boy embraced for its family atmosphere and sweet smells, and more than enough sugar to contribute to the acne on his smooth cheeks.  Dr. Fitz smiled when he considered the facial expressions on Francisco’s family members when they heard his changing voice and saw his growing feet.

As Dr. Fitz and Francisco walked down the gangplank, a dockworker dropped a twenty-pound wrench that rang like a bell as it tumbled onto the pier–not unlike a church bell announcing Francisco’s return.

BOLLI Matters Co-editor and  blogger, 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.”

JANUARY’S “CHEF’S CORNER” WITH JOHN RUDY: EGG-LEMON LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

EGG-LEMON LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

from John Rudy

In Greek, it’s: αρνί με αγκινάρες, pronounced ar-NEE meh ahg-kee-NAH-res

A Greek classic but made differently by every family.  Be sure to include bones since they are a traditional part of this dish. The tangy egg-lemon sauce (AVGOLEMONO) is the crowning touch,  added just before serving.

Many years ago, we went to a restaurant in Cambridge called The Acropolis and had this dish, or something like it, maybe 3-4 times a year for 25 years.  Then they went out of business.  Years later, the chef resurfaced in a restaurant in Arlington, and I tried to get the recipe from him.  He kept putting me off, and then, that restaurant went out of business too.  I scoured the cookbooks, and then we went to Greece.  We ordered this dish a few times but it wasn’t right, but eventually, we found it, and the chef gave me a “sketch” of the recipe.  After a lot of tuning,  this is the result.

It is hard to find decent artichoke hearts.  I get them from the salad bar at Whole Foods.  Lamb shanks are really best but not easy to find.

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

2¼  lbs      artichoke hearts

4 Tbs         lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tsp          salt

⅔ cup        olive oil

2 small       spring onions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

4½  lbs      leg and shank of lamb, bone in, chopped into large chunks OR 3 pounds of lamb, cut into large chunks and 1 pound of lamb bones

3½ cups     water

 

Egg-lemon sauce

2                eggs, separated

6 tbs       lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

 Instructions

  1. Rinse artichoke hearts with cold water, put in a bowl, and cover with juice of 2 lemons.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Put the oil, chopped onion, and meat (and bones, if separate) in a pressure cooker over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover (don’t seal) and brown for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.  Seal, bring to full pressure, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Use fast-release of pressure and open the pressure cooker. Drain the artichokes and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, seal, and bring back to full pressure. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, use fast-release of pressure, and unseal the cover, leaving it on top of the pot.

  1. Make avgolemono sauce:In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Still using the high setting, beat in the egg yolks until frothy, then beat in the juice of 3 lemons, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure it’s well melded after each addition.  The mixture will be rich and foamy.  Reduce mixer speed to medium and add 5 soup ladles of the meat broth, one at a time, making sure each mixes in well before adding the next.  Slowly pour the egg-lemon mixture into the pot, and shake to distribute evenly (do not stir).
“Chef’s Corner” 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.)

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: A LITTLE TECH HUMOR

There is only so much technical advice that I can give and that you will accept.  So, for a change of pace, I’m providing material in part provided by Ron Levy and Mike Segal.  But who knows where jokes come from?  Even those which show attribution might well be taken from elsewhere.  So my apologies in advance.  And if anyone is easily insulted, this is a good place to stop.

A LITTLE TECH HUMOR

We had a power cut at our house this morning, and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad & my new-surround sound music system were all shut down.

Then I discovered that my mobile phone battery was dead, and to top it off, it was raining outside, so I couldn’t play golf.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee, and then I remembered that this also needs power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a couple of hours.

She seems like a nice person.

*

Many computer problems are rather easily resolved.  Have you ever done something and got a Microsoft error message like this?

*

An email arrives one morning:

Hi, Chris, this is Alan from next door.  I have a confession to make.I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.

The truth is – I’ve been sharing your wife, day and night, a lot lately. In fact, probably more than you. I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that’s no excuse, I know. The temptation was just too much. I can no longer live with the guilt, and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me. It won’t happen again.
Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you.

Regards, Alan


Chris, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabs his gun and shoots his neighbor dead.  He returns home, pours himself a stiff drink, and sits down on the sofa.  Taking out his phone, he sees a subsequent message from his neighbor:

Hi, Chris, this is Alan again from next door.  Sorry about that typo on my last text. But I expect you figured it out anyway and that you noticed that the darned Auto Correct changed “WiFi” to “Wife.”

Regards, Alan

*

And then, there’s the doctor…

A man walks into an optician’s office.

“Doctor,” he says, “I’m having real trouble using my computer.  Unless I’m looking right at my keyboard, mouse, or printer, I just can’t see any of them.”

“Ah”, said the optician, “I know what’s wrong. You’ve got a problem with your peripheral vision.”

*

Need a password?

I needed a password eight characters long so I picked “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”

*

And now for the final one…

Three engineers were riding in a car: a mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a Microsoft software engineer. The car stalled, and they rolled it to the side of the road.

The mechanical engineer popped the hood, looked in, and said, “Look. The drive belt is loose. All we have to do is tighten it up, and the car will work just fine.”

The chemical engineer replied, “No, that’s all wrong. The problem is fuel contamination. We have to drain the fuel, filter it, and then everything will be A-OK.”

The Microsoft software engineer told the other two, “No, I’ve seen this problem before. We have to get back in the car, close all the windows, shut down the car, get out, get back in, start up the car, open all the windows, and then it will run.”

Back to important stuff next month.

BOLLI Matters “Tech Talk” 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)

 

DECEMBER’S SENIOR MOMENT WITH ELEANOR JAFFE: THE NIGHT THE LAST CLASS ENDED

“POST MORTEM”

By Eleanor Jaffee

How do you know when to throw in the towel?  When is “enough” really “enough”?  What are the signs that tell you, “You know, honey/mister, this job/project/course is taking too much out of you”?

On the other hand…a good challenge is hard to discard.  A well-honed skill or series of skills may be a treasured part of your repertoire, and if you give that up, then what?

Most of us experienced this internal dialogue when we retired from our paying careers: teacher, engineer, physician, or business person.  These occupations were relentlessly full-time—week, month, and year in and out.  As a bridging activity after retirement, and perhaps forever after, until the inevitable end of the road, some of us become SGLs who create, plan, revise, and then lead courses for our fellow BOLLI members.  I recommend this undertaking, but it can be a real challenge!

I have created and led about ten courses, always building on old knowledge and experience but adding new challenges and new learning along the way.  It’s much like adding new wings or extensions to an existing building.  In this way, I have taught four different courses about immigration to the U.S., three different courses about aspects of aging, and one course on the history of marriage (co-led) through fiction.  And most recently, this one just past:  “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and In Life.”

This year, I literally outdid myself.  So riled up was I, so upset about our current political morass and its potential for real harm to our country and beyond, that I created a course about politics and the necessity for resilience and resistance in these perilous times.  I was satisfied with my goals (although they were perhaps too far-reaching), but keeping up with the daily political changes, mis-steps, crises, and mind-blowing emergencies in daily news coverage was a huge challenge.  Between scandalous, heartbreaking and frightening “breaking news,” “fake news,” and tweets, I was constantly updating and revising plans for each class.  How much could I include and still make sense of it all?  How much of what was going on in Washington and around our country (and the world) could we discuss in one class?  My brain was on overload as I read and clipped newspaper and magazine articles and tried to stuff new information into my brain.

If I am giving the impression that I was on overload, that is true.  I forgot some important things like hearing aid batteries one day, and on another day, I actually left all my teaching materials at home.  Two successive week called for two nervous and hurried trips home to get essential materials that had been forgotten.  And then, I rose to the occasion, and the class went well.

The class and I concluded our studies, mutually pleased with our learning and camaraderie.  I hope I met my goal of encouraging more informed political activism whether in the form of marches, contacting elected officials, making crucial phone calls, writing letters to the editor, or supporting worthwhile organizations.  Our participation is crucial if we are to turn this mess around!

I look forward to a good rest.   But during a much needed swim this morning (where I do some of my best and most creative thinking),  I swam into a new possibility for a course, one I know something about.  “Swan Songs” — Creativity and Resourcefulness in Seniors!  Now, let’s see.  Where did I leave my towel?

“Senior Moments” writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of 53 years, my friends — and my 104 year old mother.  What does it mean to be growing older in today’s society?  

 

DECEMBER “BOOK NOOK” WITH ABBY PINARD: MANHATTAN BEACH

MANHATTAN BEACH

By Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s previous novel, the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, was a dazzling, post-modern high-wire act. What would she do next? Too smart to try to outdo herself, she did research — lots and lots of research — mostly revolving around the mysteries of the deep. At every turn, there is water and the people who make their living and support a war on and in it: longshoremen, divers, merchant marine, sailors, the women who do the jobs left by the men who’ve gone to war, the men who stoke the boiler, and the men who know where the bodies are buried.

At heart, Manhattan Beach is a book about a girl and her father, 11-year-old Anna and Eddie Kerrigan, trying to keep his head above water and his family afloat on the fringes of the New York underworld in the 1930s. Ten years later, the country is at war, Eddie has disappeared, and Anna works in the Brooklyn Naval Yard and yearns to be the first woman to be a diver, doing underwater repairs to the great ships that she sees in the newsreels.

This is a coming-of-age novel, a crime novel, a war novel, a New York novel, and that all-too-rare phenomenon, a literary page-turner. Jennifer Egan doesn’t let her research overwhelm her literary skills and doesn’t let her story overwhelm her characters. Highly recommended.

“Book Nook” writer Abby Pinard

A lifelong book nut, Abby retired from a forty-year computer software career and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore.  A native New Yorker, she moved to Boston 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.