BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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In the search for my perfect computer match, it’s a man’s world.


One size does not fit all. What fits him does not fit me.

Like most people I probably spend far too much time in front of my laptop checking Facebook, reading emails, e-shopping, blogging and otherwise managing my life. And most of the time, my neck, shoulders and back hurt. Did you know that all office furniture is designed for the average male, 5 ft. 11″ tall? Just another example of a male-dominated take on how the world goes round. Despite all the high-tech considerations that go into designing computer desks I have not yet been able to achieve ergonomic nirvana. Let’s back up a little and I’ll explain how this situation came about.

My old typing teacher knew what she was talking about.

When I learned to type in high school in the early sixties, we used manual typewriters. Part of our training required we sit with our forearms parallel to the floor with our feet side by side and flat on the floor. As a result of that being drilled into my head more than fifty years ago, I still cannot veer from my training. Whenever I sit and type with my legs crossed at the ankles or (worse) the knees, the circuits linking my fingers and eyes to my brain become hopelessly scrambled. Unless my feet are flat on the floor and parallel, to this day I cannot type without making errors. When I assume the proper posture, the words fly by error-free. Therefore, like famous speed-typist Mavis Beacon who set records in the fifties for her error-free typing speed (176 wpm on a manual typewriter), I must have ideal conditions to perform at my optimum level. For this, I need optimum ergonomics, which I do not currently have.

There was a reason the typewriter surface was lower but modern office technology seems to have bypassed that consideration.

In the olden days, office desks had slide-out typewriter shelves that were positioned exactly 27 inches from the floor, a full five inches lower than the surface of the desk at 30-32 inches, which as stated above was designed for a 5 ft. 11 inch man. At 27 inches a ‘typist’ (i.e. female) could keep both feet flat on the floor, forearms parallel to the floor and type with minimal discomfort to shoulders, neck and arms.

In a step backwards for feminism, the advent of computers, both desktop and laptop, the typewriter shelf was eliminated from desks and everyone regardless of size or gender is now forced to work on a surface 30-32 inches from the floor. Are you following all this? I’m a right-brainer with zero aptitude in math and even I get it—standard desk surfaces are up to five inches too high for the average female to type comfortably. No amount of adjusting chair heights corrects this anomaly.

Ouch!

  • Raise chair five inches. Feet no longer sit flat on floor and are left to dangle around base prongs. Thighs are crushed against bottom of desk surface or drawer.
  • Leave chair at height that allows feet to sit on floor. We are forced to raise arms and shoulders to reach keyboard. Result: strain and pain.

Is there a solution?

One solution is adjusting the work surface to 27 inches which can be done with some adjustable tables or custom furniture. That accommodates the requirement for feet flat on the floor and forearms parallel to floor which is great for typing/keyboarding. But if you’re working on a laptop, the screen is now too low and has to be tilted to a 45 degree angle to read it square on. More head and neck pain. I’ve never understood how people can actually work on their laptops on their laps. I need a solid surface that doesn’t wobble around while I’m typing. And a sturdy chair that supports my back. Perhaps that’s just because I’m old and conditioned by a sixties typing drill instructor.

Achieving ergonomic heaven

Here’s what this 5 ft. 3 inch old boomer needs to be ergonomically comfortable when working on my computer, starting from the ground up:

  • Chair seat 18 inches from floor
  • Keyboard on surface 27 inches from floor
  • Screen centered 41 inches from floor and 16 inches directly in front of my eyes

In order to achieve my ideal configuration, I need a new work surface, keyboard and telescoping monitor. At least I have the right chair.

If I could achieve this combination I would be a much happier and more comfortable blogger. The only way I can see accomplishing this is with custom millwork. If I had a work surface built at 27  inches, I would need the computer screen/monitor mounted on the wall on a sliding or folding bracket that could be pulled out to the correct distance when I’m working or pushed back when I’m not.

In the meantime, I’m condemned to reach my arms up to a height of 30+ inches to use my keyboard. My shoulders are hunched and my back hurts. Thanks to the geniuses who design office furniture, I don’t see a solution on the market that gives the average woman (fifty percent of the population) the ergonomically correct configuration for using a laptop. Just another example of gender discrimination that men don’t even have to think about. It’s still a man’s world. If you’ve managed to stay awake while reading this, let me know if I’m the only one with this problem or are you uncomfortable too?


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Want to feel better about how you look?


You’re beautiful.

Who among us doesn’t look at magazines or at our own bodies in the privacy of bedroom mirrors or in retail store fitting rooms and wish we were thinner, taller or prettier. The media sets impossibly high standards for appearance and even though we know those pictures are extensively Photoshopped and otherwise altered, we can’t help feeling like we fall short. Well, we’re not short, fat or abnormal. Models are genetic freaks. We’re the normal ones. Here are some statistics that will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself:

  • Average height of Canadian women – 5 ft. 4 inches. Any woman over 5 ft. 10 inches tall is in the 97.6 height percentile. Now who’s the freak?
  • Average waist measurement for Canadian women – 35 inches. For American women it’s 37.5 inches. If you’ve ever seen the portions of nutritionally poor food they dish out in American restaurants you’ll understand why there’s a difference.
  • Average dress size – 14. For American women it’s 16-18. Are you listening retail corporate buyers?
  • Naturally blonde hair and blue eyes are genetically carried by only 17 percent of the population. Most Canadians and Americans carry the dominant brown-eyed gene with recessive blue-eyed genes declining each year.
  • Fully 90 percent of women have cellulite—including models and celebrities. It’s the product of female estrogen and cannot be eradicated. This becomes particularly evident once we are no longer teenagers.

Magazines and other forms of media have finally recognized that no one can relate to the genetic mutants featured in fashion and beauty ads. We’re now seeing mature models like Maye Musk and women with normal-sized bodies being featured in media. While it’s tempting to scream “too little, too late” we have to take whatever we can get in the battle to change perceptions of beauty. We’ve achieved a tiny slice of recognition and if we keep the pressure on advertisers and manufacturers we can turn the tide.

The challenge now is to listen to my own advice. Every time I’m tempted to be critical of some aspect of my appearance, I’ll remind myself of how blessed I really am. I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m happy. That’s more than enough and more than many people can claim to have. You’re beautiful girlfriend and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


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Who cares if it’s swimsuit season . . . again?


Seriously??

Many years ago I read about a magazine editor who quit her job at a high-profile international women’s magazine because she just couldn’t face overseeing another annual swimsuit edition. I know how she must have felt because I can’t face another swimsuit season either. All the current magazines are full of tips on how to match a bathing suit to our individual figure types, how to look our best and feel confident. Pages and pages in the fashion mags have been dedicated to the latest swimsuit styles. The tropical patterns and colours are yummy and some of those scraps of fabric cost hundreds of dollars. The Photoshopped models look gorgeous. The reality is grim.

I’ll admit some styles are infinitely more flattering than others, but let’s face it, we’re never ever going to resemble anything close to those pubescent nymphets modelling the various styles featured in the magazine spreads. In fact, most boomers are even reluctant to go out in public in shorts much less a bathing suit. Those with cottages or winter homes in Florida can’t avoid donning a swimsuit occasionally but they’re usually hidden under diaphanous lightweight cover ups when we’re not actually under water.

I’ll have what she’s wearing!

It is virtually impossible for swimsuit designs to overcome what makes so many boomer broads self-conscious about beach wear. No amount of underpinning, tummy panels, supportive straps or bum tuckers will compensate for what nature has bestowed upon us after many decades of living our lives. By the time we’ve tried on dozens of unflattering designs in cramped fitting rooms with unflattering fluorescent lighting, cried a river, paid our dues at Weight Watchers, spray tanned our cellulite and waxed our lady parts to an unsightly, red rash, we’re fed up with the entire exercise. Sure, they tell us to feel good about ourselves regardless of our body shape—easy to say when you’re in your twenties or thirties. I sympathize with that fed-up magazine editor. This summer you’ll find me sitting in the shade and privacy of my back-yard gazebo, wearing elastic-waist shorts and a tee shirt, reading the latest New York Times’ best seller on my iPad mini. The beach is no longer my thing and even if it were, give me a birkini any day.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.


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The irony of drug marketing


The late Anthony Bourdain.

Last night I watched a series of programs about Anthony Bourdain on Gusto TV. During one episode in particular he spoke honestly about his entry into the world drug abuse, heroin in particular. He sat with a group of recovering addicts in Greenwood, a small town in Massachusetts plagued with the problems associated with opioid abuse. A local doctor explained how doctors freely prescribed Oxycontin and other pain-killers for everyday problems like sports injuries, getting wisdom teeth removed and back pain because the drug companies assured the doctors the meds were not addictive. When patients can no longer get legal pain-killers, they resort to street drugs and heroin. It’s a problem no longer limited to big city slums. Small towns are now victims of big-city drug abuse problems.

Nearly very commercial aired during this hour-long show was by a major pharmaceutical company promoting an assortment of remedies for real or imagined ailments. ‘Just ask your doctor’, followed by an exhaustive list of qualifiers. If you’ve ever watched television in the United States (not U.S. stations in Canada with substituted Canadian commercials) you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve counted up to 13 drug ads in a commercial break with 15 commercials on American television. Just an observation.


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Dinner at my door thanks to a friendly neighbour


One day few years ago, after my husband retired and after consuming several glasses of a lovely Cabernet,  he offered to cook dinner twice a week. “Now that I have time on my hands it’s only fair that I help out around the house a bit more,” he said in a weak moment of benevolence no doubt brought on by the wine. “How about I cook dinner Tuesday and Saturday nights?” Not being a huge fan of the kitchen arts, I was thrilled, ecstatic even. The next morning, in the light of day I thought he might a) conveniently forget his offer, or b) try to weasel out of it. He did neither and a culinary star was born, sort of.

The first week was glorious beyond my wildest imaginings. He cracked open one of my dusty, neglected Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and delivered a meal worthy of a fine restaurant. During preparation when I asked how he was doing, his response “I’m just waiting for my sauce reduction” was not only music to my ears but a phrase I don’t recall having ever used personally in my entire life. We then spent a lovely hour enjoying the meal he had lovingly and carefully prepared. He was an eager and enthusiastic novice who shared with me in minute detail his tips and techniques throughout the entire meal. But I’m not complaining.

As time went on, he did not renege on his twice-weekly cooking adventures although conversations with friends were liberally peppered with “We’re available any Tuesday or Saturday if you want to go out to dinner or invite us over.” More recently I noticed however, his culinary creativity is largely determined by what appeals to him at Longo’s prepared deli counter. The Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients cookbook he got from Santa is growing metaphorical mold. But I’m still not complaining.

Our gourmet Tuscan sausage linguine.

Then, this weekend my lovely neighbour Fauzia rang the doorbell bearing one of those complete meal-in-a-bag kits that are delivered with an ice pack directly to your door. Each kit contains pre-measured fresh ingredients for a complete meal you select from an on-line meal preparation company. This one was for Tuscan sausage linguine made with pork which her family doesn’t eat so she kindly offered it us to try. Coincidently, it was Saturday night, not my night to cook.

While I took a nap on the couch (something I am skilled at), honey took over the kitchen, banging pots and pans to assemble the dinner. The commentary about how much cookware was involved was further complicated by the tab breaking off the can of diced tomatoes requiring an assortment of tools to crack it open. Eventually the dinner was ready. It was tasty, cost effective (we’ll get two meals out of it), amortizing out to about $6.00 per person per meal, although thanks to Fauzia, we got it free.

Happy wife; happy life.

It was a worthwhile adventure but he found the preparation more labour intensive than he would have liked, especially compared with picking something ready-made from Longo’s deli counter. “Only the onion was precut!” I was just thrilled to have a night off. And, as part of our arrangement, the cook also does the cleanup. Sort of. Tomorrow I’ll rewash the kitchen floor, rewash the stove top, the counters, the pots and pans and empty the dishwasher. But as Scarlet O’Hara so eloquently stated, tomorrow’s another day, and a night off is still a night off. Sort of.


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Goat yoga? Save your money


P.T. Barnum had a name for people like this.

You may or may not have heard of goat yoga. There are actual people paying real money to have a live goat walk on their backs. I’m not making this up. Advocates of this new form of therapy go to a farm or designated facility equipped with layers of straw or similar material on the floor (for obvious reasons) and play barnyard for an hour or two. Pictures of this latest exercise craze are popping up on television, in the newspapers and on internet news streams. It’s called goat yoga and is the latest fad in the world of sucking in the stupid consumer. I’m confident that anyone who would spend their hard-earned money to have a goat walk all over them also once owned a pet rock.

Who needs goats?

Proud owners of real pets, which may or may not include a goat, know that goat yoga is totally unnecessary. Dog owners who lie on the floor to do their Pilates or yoga know for a fact that dogs can always be counted on to do the job new-agers are paying goat-owners for. Just try doing the downward dog in your livingroom and see what your Labrador retriever will get up to. It’s called doing what comes naturally. They sniff your privates, try to climb on top of you and as much as possible generally attempt to become part of the game they think you’re playing. They have an entire repertoire of moves aimed at stealing kisses and trying to push you over.

Pets with benefits.

This same propensity for getting in your face and on your back is part of everyday life for pet owners who are generous enough to offer a spot of room on their bed for pets. We all know how it works. When we get a new puppy or kitten, we swear this time we won’t allow it on the bed. Then, during its first night in your home, you’re awakened by whining, whimpering and half-awake spectacles of a little body boinging up and down beside your face on your side of the bed. How can you not let them up for a snuggle?

Pets are engineered for loving. That’s why we get them. They provide it in spades and their way of showing it is by delivering a steady supply. Sleeping with pets is frowned on by many (I used to be one of them) until you experience the warmth and affection radiating from your dog or cat wedged against your spine while you sleep. Smaller pets also have a talent for wrapping themselves fascinator-style around your head which keeps your brains warm and functioning on cold winter nights. Not so much fun on hot summer nights, especially when you wind up with a tail in your mouth or ear. The other night I was a bit cold in the middle of the night and considered snuggling up against my honey to get warm. But the thought of rearranging our three-and-a-half pound Yorkie just seemed like too much trouble so I simply pulled the covers up closer and went back to sleep. Where are those hot flashes when we need them?

Our yoga partner and personal alarm clock.

Owning a pet also means you probably never need an alarm clock. Dogs and cats have built-in circadian clocks that chime at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and demand instant attention. In our house, if we’re a bit slow to respond, our dog climbs on top of my husband, scaling his length like a tiny mountain goat (see . . . I told you goats are unnecessary). If he still doesn’t respond, she starts pulling the covers off, followed by licking his eyelids and cleaning his ears. This is usually enough to generate the desired result, but if not, we’re treated to an escalating symphony of growling followed by urgent barking.

So, if any new-agers are tempted to sign up for goat yoga, save your money. Give me a call and I’ll send my Yorkie over for a session. I also have friends who have cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers and standard poodles if you’re feeling like a more extreme workout. I could even rustle up a Newfie if you’re into hot yoga. Satisfaction guaranteed. We’d be happy to let you experience life as we know it and no goats, long drives to the farm or allergy-inducing straw are involved. The lovin’ is just a bonus.


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Hair today; gone tomorrow


Hair loss is not a problem unique to men.

The other day I read an interesting blog posting on a beauty and lifestyle site for mature women. It outlined different strategies for coping with thinning hair as we age. Many women our age have the added challenge of hair regrowth following chemotherapy when new hair is often quite different from its pre-chemo state. Our once glorious manes are no more and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance thickness, texture, shine and body. Rogaine is one option for thinning hair, although it’s expensive and with limited effectiveness only for as long as you use the product. The science of hair colouring has made tremendous leaps in recent years and for that we’re thankful. Some women use wigs and others clip mini hairpieces into existing hair. Extensions are time-consuming and costly and because they can further damage fragile hair, they’re probably not an option for many boomer women. But they’re de rigueur in the entertainment world.

Hair products today are so plentiful and economical that most of us have such a vast selection in our cupboards we would probably never have to buy more product again as long as we live, if we were to use it all up. I’m totally guilty and my personal stash is embarrassing. Walking the hair care aisle in the drug store or grocery store is an overwhelming experience that can leave us bewildered and confused. All in search of a solution to our hair issues.

In the sixties, we thought our thick, gorgeous, healthy hair would last forever.

Isn’t it ironic that wherever we have hair we don’t want it and where we want to grow hair it’s like trying to cultivate roses in the desert. We spend hours and stupid amounts of money waxing, lasering, threading and otherwise eliminating leg hair, underarm hair and bikini areas. The brunettes and olive-skinned among us may also fight unwanted facial or forearm hair and even blondes aren’t exempt from plucking, waxing or depilatating mustache and chin hairs. The battles never end.

Where we want hair to grow, it stubbornly refuses. Thick, natural eyebrows are now the fashion. Boomers foolishly plucked ours to oblivion in the seventies, not realizing it was a one-way street. Now we’re experimenting with tattooed eyebrows or the new microblading technique. I must say, microblading sounds tempting but I hear it’s not long-lasting which means more maintenance and expense. There’s a resurgence in the use of false eyelashes, whether glue-on strips or professionally applied individual lashes from the salon. I loved wearing false lashes in the sixties, before I wore glasses and before I worried about pulling out my few remaining eyelashes when I ripped off the glued-on strips. We also have the option of getting our eyelashes and brows tinted at the salon to produce the illusion of abundance. Tattooed eyeliner sounds tempting but I’m not confident about the long-term results, and damn, that must hurt. Do I really want to incorporate more expensive, painful maintenance into my already time-consuming and rather tedious repertoire of beauty treatments? What’s a girl to do?

Would you still love me?

Imagine if we were all to rise up in rebellion and let nature take its course—let our body hair flourish wherever it appears and let the hair on our heads fall out, kink, break, go white, whatever. What if it became fashionable for women to have a mustache or a chin like a billy goat. Life would be so much simpler and infinitely cheaper, and if we all looked similarly hirsute, we’d have nothing to feel embarrassed about. Imagine being proud of our mustache? “Oh Lynda, what do you use to get that gorgeous upper lip growing like that? And I’d kill to have a goatee as silky and lustrous as yours!” There are certain cultures that consider it a sign of fertility. What a hairetical idea. I like it.

The downside is that our entire economy could collapse. Imagine the billions upon billions of dollars that presently go into beauty products—advertising, merchandising and manufacturing—suddenly drying up, like our skin or hair on a bad day. Although, as they say, when one door closes, another opens. An entire economy built around leg, face and other body hair grooming products would instantly spring up. Marketers would produce bejewelled, tiny little mustache combs and trimmers (to keep it out of your soup—there are some standards ladies), leg hair conditioners, exotic oils to enhance the shiny bald spots on your scalp, and what about those “natural” dyes that will be needed to make sure the ‘carpet matches the drapes’, as they say.

I’d hate to be responsible for such an apocalypse so I’ll just keep those credit cards ‘a smokin’ in endless attempts to not look how nature intended. When I consider my appearance with hairy legs and pits, chin hairs down to my collarbone and no makeup—well, you get the picture. If I follow up on the microblading thing I’ll let you know how it goes. If you are willing to back me up on the natural hairy look, however, I’ll definitely reconsider. And, once we redirect current social preferences on hair, (depending on where it blooms), I’ll start campaigning about those misplaced standards of beauty regarding weight and preferred amount of body fat. I’m going to be busy and I’ll need your support. Are you in?