Tag Archives: feature

OCTOBER LINES FROM LYDIA: A Memorable Dinner Date

A Totally Un-Memorable Dinner Date

by Lydia Bogar

Howling laughter from my tweenage daughters–one in the dining room window and the other peeking out from the shutters in the living room, scoping out my date, Tom. “Oh Mom, you’re gonna die!”

My friends Cheryl and Jay said that Tom, an engineer, worked with Jay in Foxboro and lived on “The Lake” in Webster.  Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.  (Yeah, that Lake. Even the New York Times has written about it.

Only child. Never married. No kids. Wicked smart. Very shy. Dour expression.

We spoke once on the phone before that Sunday night dinner date but did not get beyond directions to my house and what a nice guy Jay is.

I have no memory of the drive from my house to the dining room at the Marriott in downtown Worcester. Maybe fifteen minutes that I will never get back.

I do remember the table for two but not the conversation.  I have no memory of appetizer, entrée, or dessert.  Was there wine?  Oh God, I hope so.

Quiet ride back to my house. Walked me to the door. I shook his hand with the other hand on the door knob.

The tweens were waiting.

“What? Really, he seems like a nice guy–but boring.”

The howling started again.  “Mom, we could have told you that as soon as we saw his pocket protector!”

I didn’t tell them about the second pocket protector (for mechanical pencils) he had clipped to his shirt pocket.

Tom married a few years later, a diminutive Asian lady with a PhD in something. It was a society wedding by Worcester standards because of the family compound of homes on The Lake that he inherited when he turned 50.

Yes.  Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

Block. Copy. Paste.

Sure, beats having to spell it.

Frequent BOLLI 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.”

 

CONGRATULATIONS! Margie Arons-Barron

MASSACHUSETTS BROADCASTERS HALL OF FAME
Margie Arons-Barron

At a luncheon earlier today, Margie Arons-Barron was one of nine outstanding broadcasters inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.   On the association’s website, this years’ inductees are described:

“Our class of 2019 represents some of the true treasures of broadcasting,” Hall of Fame President and former WBZ-TV News Director Peter Brown said. “This group of outstanding professionals has been recognized for their enduring commitment and deep dedication to their craft. Their body of work is a testament to their talents and their passions for bringing to their audiences the very best in news, information, and entertainment. They are the leaders who set forth the path that future generations will follow. Let us welcome them as they join more than 150 others who can proudly state they have been inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters of Fame.”

The long-time former Editorial Director at WCVB-TV, Channel 5, Boston’s ABC affiliate, Marjorie Arons-Barron has been an award-winning journalist for nearly three decades.  For 20 years, she produced and often hosted WCVB’s Five on Five, at one time the nation’s longest running, locally produced public affairs discussion program. Prior to working at Channel 5, she was an associate producer of PBS Television’s The Advocates, a national political affairs writer for The Boston Phoenix, a reporter for WGBH-TV’s Ten O’Clock News and political editor of The Newton Times.  Arons-Barron has won many awards, including three New England Emmy Awards and, for five consecutive years, the National Award for Excellence in Television Editorials from the National Broadcast Editorial Association.  She has also been honored by, among others, United Press International, Associated Press, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, the Massachusetts National Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the YWCA, and the Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston.

We are so proud to have Margie as a member of the BOLLI community–congratulations, friend!

 

 

MEMOIR FROM LARRY: THE DRAWER OF MISFIT TOYS

THE DRAWER OF MISFIT TOYS

By L. Schwirian

         In the mid 70’s to mid-80’s, when our sons were young, we typically traveled at least twice a year to visit both sets of grandparents–one set in Cleveland and the other set near Pittsburgh.  As the drive was nearly six hundred miles, we (mostly Caroline) had to invent things to do along the way so that the three of them wouldn’t do bodily harm to one another or rip the back seat to shreds.  We always brought plenty of books and a number of tapes, mostly Muppet songs, as we sped along the interstates of Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  I particularly remember all of us singing along with Kermit the Frog, Why are There So Many Songs about Rainbows? On more than one occasion, usually when we were at least a couple of hundred miles out, Caroline would wonder if she had turned the iron off.   After the second or third time, I started packing the iron in the trunk.

When we finally reached my parent’s home after twelve or more hours on the road (there were many pit stops along the way), all three sons would pile out of the car and head for “the drawer of misfit toys” in my mother’s kitchen. The drawer contained bits and pieces of old toys that had long since been lost or abandoned. There was a little ball with jacks, numerous marbles of various sizes and colors, a yoyo, a top, playing cards, toy soldiers, knights on plastic horses, a few Lincoln Logs (but not enough to build anything with), pieces of an erector set, a dart gun, a harmonica, commemorative coins, nuts and bolts, rubber bands, a mouth harp, as well as various and sundry other stuff.

But there were two things that seemed to be favorites. One was a hollow, woven cylindrical shaped object about six inches long and less than a half-inch in diameter with openings at both ends. One son would put his index finger in one end and ask his brother or cousin to put his or her finger in the other end. When he pulled back, the tube would stretch, reducing the diameter and trapping both fingers.

The most intriguing toy, however, was a large horseshoe magnet about five inches long, two inches wide, and about a quarter-inch thick.  It had not originally been a toy but must have been removed from some piece of machinery…it was a very strong magnet. There were also two small magnets in the form of black and white terrier dogs. The oldest son would get under the kitchen table with the big magnet while the other two sons would place the two little magnets on the tabletop; wherever the big magnet moved the little dogs would follow.  It was pure magic.

Many of these trips took place around the Christmas holiday which meant that there would be a tumultuous unwrapping of gifts on Christmas morning and an overabundance of new toys.  But as likely as not, after a couple days, all three sons would be back exploring the “drawer of misfit toys.”

BOLLI Matters feature writer and co-chair of the Writers Guild, Larry Schwirian

 Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and have led BOLLI courses on architecture.  Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal staff.  

A SENIOR MOMENT WITH JOHN RUDY: SHARKS

SHARKS

by John Rudy

We’ve been hearing a lot about sharks lately, especially as sightings on Cape Cod Bay become more frequent.  People in Massachusetts are worrying about it even though hardly anyone is injured or killed by sharks.  We would do well to worry about a much more imminent danger.

It has been estimated that 80,000 people died of flu in the US during the 2017-18 season.  Many others did not die but were much sicker than they might have been if they had been vaccinated.

According to the CDC, the flu vaccine reduces the odds of getting  the flu by about 60%.  But, of course, that total varies from year to year and among different groups of people.  Still, it’s a significant number.  And yet, too few get the flu shot.   Click here for more information from the CDC.

For all adult age groups, flu vaccination coverage estimates in the 2017–18 season were at their lowest levels compared with the seven prior flu seasons. For the 2017-18 season, flu vaccination coverage increased with age, from 26.9% among adults 18-49 years to 59.6% among adults ≥65 years.

I got my flu shot on Friday at CVS, and it cost me nothing (Insurance coverage).  For seniors (I do not recall the definition of “senior”), they give the higher dosage.  I’ve done this every year since the flu shots came out.  In my experience, there is no pain, no soreness, no side effects.

I suggest that, this year, all of you do the same.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

Our Tech Guru and Creative Chef has been branching out into travel writing and now health advice for us Seniors!  Thanks, John–

COMING ATTRACTIONS: REFRACTED VISIONS by Suzanne Hodes

You are Invited to See

REFRACTED VISIONS

    BOLLI member Suzanne Hodes is showing works in oil, mixed media on paper, and watercolors.
Fall Reflections, Oil, 36×50
                              Running Now until Wednesday, October 16                                            Gallery Hours:  Mon-Fri. 11-6;  Sat. 12-5; Sun.  12-3

THREE STONES GALLERY

 115 Commonwealth Avenue, Concord

 

MEDICAL MOMENTS WITH STEVE: WHO KNOWS? SURPRISE ENDING

Some may question the advisability of airing this confessional remembrance to a broad audience, but Steve says that, for him, it is a story of efficiency gone horribly wrong, an inadequate reaction, and a singular event that can haunt one for a lifetime.  

SURPRISE ENDING

by Steve Goldfinger

He was in his mid-forties, comatose, febrile, and near the end. His hemophilia had caused uncontrollable bleeding throughout his body, and bacteria had infected his blood-laden tissues. A young attending, I led my team of house staff and students on rounds in our critical care area, stopping at his bedside only briefly. We had come to recognize that a huge number of transfusions had not made a difference; we could not stop the bleeding; and no new antibiotic was going to reverse the course. His vital signs told us he had entered the final stage. There was no family to contact, no friends we knew of. I commented that death was near and that no new measures made any sense. As we moved on to the next patient, our senior resident left us and went back towards the nurse’s station. We didn’t know why; nor did we ask. There were too many patients to be seen.

About 15 minutes later, he returned. “Well, it’s over,” he announced. When I asked what he meant, he told us. He had loaded a syringe with a lethal dose of potassium chloride and injected it into the dying patient’s vein. Instantaneous death occurred when it reached the heart and stopped it from beating.

Silence.

I was staggered by what he had done, so staggered that I was unable to say a word. We looked at each other. The group looked at me. I could not talk, could not imagine how he could have done such a thing, could not find a way to convert busy patient rounds into an ethics seminar. Could not even reprimand him as much as I felt I needed to.

Why? I continue to ask myself 40 years later.  Was I so intent on getting to all the patients that I failed to take a mandatory time out?  Was I unwilling to chastise him in front of all the others?  Would doing so require an explication of the moral principles he had violated? And was I capable of summoning up those principles and expressing them in an articulate way without time to recall them, reflect on them? Or, perhaps, did a small part of me completely understand what he had done and found it within reasonable, if not ethical, boundaries?

We received his report, and, a moment later, moved on to the next bedside without comment. Nor did I bring up this abhorrent act for discussion the following morning.

To this day, I am ashamed. I wonder how those students and interns regarded my silence.  Did they think this was a routine rite of passing endorsed by me, my colleagues, our profession? I can only hope that, as they moved on in their training, they came to recognize the event as the horrendous anomaly it was.

But in thinking about it now, was that injection of potassium chloride very different from the morphine drip that would some day come to use…ostensibly to reduce suffering…but, so often, in amounts that terminate breathing prematurely?

Who knows?

BOLLI Matters feature writer Steve Goldfinger

After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!

 

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: ARE CELL PHONES SAFE?

ARE CELL PHONES SAFE?

by John Rudy

No.  Cell phones are not safe.

Ever since they were invented, we have heard from supposed “experts” that, because they emit radiation, cell phone use causes cancer, brain damage, or any number of other calamitous conditions.   But that is simply not true.  The FCC has summarized a host of reputable studies which make it clear that there is no conclusive connection between these conditions and mobile phone use.   And when it comes to radiation, what cell phones emit is non-ionizing and low frequency.  Even with the future advent of 5G,  this will still be true.

For those who would like to see material about cell phone emissions, the following two articles are very good.

https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/fcc-ok-with-current-cell-phone-emission-levels and

https://www.fcc.gov/general/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cellular-telephones

No, the safety issues connected with cell phone use have to do with the fact that people continue to use them when walking, crossing the street, biking, driving, sitting in waiting rooms, or even having dinner with friends and family.

BOLLI “Matters” 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 tech items to cover. 

 

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

MEMOIR FROM DENNIS: THE LUNCHEON GROUP

The Luncheon Group

by Dennis Greene

I retired four years ago and now appreciate, more and more each day, how lucky I was to have been part of the “luncheon group.” With no specific plan, this group evolved over the course of ten years at a large Boston law firm and resulted in five of us having lunch together two or three times a week for another 35. Though we spoke mostly about local sports, firm gossip, our respective families, and current events, it was, for me, a continuing opportunity to study how very smart and very decent people behave. It was a lifelong lesson in humility. Here is just one illustration of what I mean.

The group naturally took an interest in each other’s kids, attending their plays and sports events and celebrating their successes. So, when Andy’s son Tim, then in his early 20’s, managed to land a spot on “The Apprentice,” I temporarily waived my boycott of the show and watched it.  Donald Trump, the show’s host and resident ego-maniac, was apparently charmed and impressed by Timmy, often referring to him as “our Harvard Phi Bate.” I didn’t know Tim had achieved Phi Beta Kappa status, so I mentioned it at our next lunch.

“Andy, I didn’t know Tim was Phi Bate,” I said. “I knew he was smart, but my daughter Alex, whom I also consider very smart, told me her Phi Bate friends at Yale were so far above her academically, she could only see the bottoms of their feet. Except for Alex’s friend Adam, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a member of that prestigious group.”

There was an awkward pause, and I noticed that Andy was looking at his feet.

“Actually, I was Phi Beta Kappa at Dartmouth,” he said, almost apologetically.

I was astonished and glanced at Tom to see if he was as surprised as I was. But he also looked uncomfortable.

“Uh, I was a member at Trinity,” he admitted.

I turned to Joel, who also seemed to be ill at ease.

“Yup. Penn,” he acknowledged.

Feeling like a complete idiot, I turned at last to Stan, the fifth and youngest member of our little group. He was grinning at my discomfort.

“Dennis, it appears that you and I are not qualified to participate in these lunchtime discussions,” Stan suggested.  “Our place should be to sit quietly, listen, and soak up the surrounding wisdom.”

Thank goodness for Stan.

Now, the fact that my three close friends were members of Phi Beta Kappa didn’t really surprise me. I knew that they had attended prestigious colleges and graduated from ivy law schools.  I also knew that they were brilliantly accomplished lawyers who had, over the years, demonstrated their extraordinary intelligence again and again.

Joel was kind enough to note that I was the only member of our group who had managed (at a less prestigious college) to be placed on both academic and disciplinary probation in the same year.  We are all unique.

During a recent summer, I was on a safari in Botswana, bouncing through the savannah in an off-road vehicle, and spent several days with a lovely English couple named Charles and Elisabeth.  By day, we shared adventures observing magnificent wildlife.  And each evening, as we dined, we casually discussed science fiction literature, travel, the state of the world, and how to avoid snakes while discretely relieving oneself in the bush.

When we returned to Wellesley, I found several nice pictures of the couple and wanted to send them copies, so I looked Charles up on the internet.  He had failed to mention that he was the financial director of the Bank of England and had been knighted in 2014.

But he had never been a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

“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 saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER LINES FROM LYDIA: I REALLY HATE THAT

I REALLY HATE THAT

by Lydia Bogar

“Leaves of three, let it be.”

It loves the sun and is common by the roadside, spiraling up trees and across trellis grids. Poison ivy, the cousin of oak and sumac, targets my skin from across the yard. After several summers of painful blistering and oozing rashes that travel from the webs of two fingers and spread across my arms, the backs of my hands, and once to my neck, I hire people to do my spring cleanup. A rite of passage, smelling mulch and stretching muscles toned by a snow shovel; those first exquisite days of warm breezes and pink sunsets. Packing tools into the wheelbarrow and unloading bags of mulch and lime from the trunk is as far as my solstice ritual goes. I have become an observer, and I really hate that.

I am not old, but I am fragile. I really hate that.

Even with a strict regimen of double gloves and washing, using Lysol wipes on my hands and arms, the little pink bubbles will greet me the next morning. If I have rubbed at it during the night, it has marched across my forehead or onto a knee. Frequently, the rash appears like a straight line, as my arm has brushed against a leaf, or a squirrel has carried the urushiol into the mulch pile. My skin swells and burns. Wearing my old white church gloves to sleep at night doesn’t help. Somehow, I do manage to keep the plague from my mouth and ears, and other unnamed places.

Medical websites preach that the blister fluid doesn’t spread the rash, but I am not a believer. My forearms are battle scars, stopped only in mid-march by a quick visit to my doctor and five days of steroids. The gels and creams provide only minimal relief.

My dermatologist at Dana Farber exams the remains of this plague. In combination with my family propensity for skin cancers, she writes two scripts that will stop or at least mitigate any cancerous growths. Long sleeves and a higher SPF will help; a second battle that I will wage for the remainder of my days.  And I really hate that.

After several summer battles for which I bear discolorations, a landscaper tells me that I am fighting the wrong plant. I have been overrun with Virginia Creeper with five distinctive leaves. My doctor makes the entry in my electronic medical records as I await a deep freeze that will kill the beautiful red vines climbing the hemlock outside my bathroom window.

“Leaves of five, which I must survive.”

BOLLI Matters feature writer and co-chair of Writers Guild 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.”