BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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Don’t get sick or hurt traveling outside of Canada

Boomers are taking out-of-country vacations in unprecedented numbers.

Now that baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement, many are choosing to escape Canada’s crappy winters and migrate to Florida, Arizona and other sunny climates for a few weeks or months each year. We’re taking boat cruises, visiting Europe and doing all the things we didn’t have the time or money for during our working years. Notwithstanding “pre-existing conditions”, we buy our out-of-country health insurance and off we go. Buyer beware. What happens when we’re in a car accident, develop intestinal problems or suffer a stroke or heart attack? That’s when we learn that insurance companies are in the business of making money for themselves, not serving the needs of policy holders. This realization should come as no surprise but it can make for some frustrating and inconvenient experiences. Not to mention the obstacles presented by health care provided in foreign countries.

Illness is one thing, but car accidents are another matter altogether when you’re travelling, In Florida and many other places, it’s still legal to use hand-held cell phones while driving, and dangerous texting drivers are commonplace. Compounding the bad driver issue is the age of so many of the drivers in the sunshine states as well as the preponderance of impaired drivers. I know more than one person who was run over when someone backed out of a parking spot without looking behind. That reinforces the argument that it’s always safer to back into a parking spot rather than backing out where it’s difficult to see obstacles.

Even minor issues can quickly rack up tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs.

The bottom line is out-of-country insurance is a must but be aware of the hazards inherent in insurance coverage. I once went to “Emergency” on Christmas day in Florida to remove the rubber tip from my hearing device that had become lodged deep inside my ear canal. I couldn’t fish it out. A trip to the hospital involved several hours of waiting before being seen by a doctor (after being triaged by a series of admin staffers). The procedure took five seconds using special forceps and because I had failed to notify my insurance company in advance and get their recommendation for a facility to do the procedure, I was out of pocket $1,750.00. Ouch. After that experience, I found the perfect forceps on Amazon for $25.00 and now take of the problem myself when it happens.

Be well, but more importantly, beware.

Friends were rear-ended in a car accident when they went for a coffee one evening in Florida. A trip to the hospital involving six hours of tests and treatment resulted in a total bill of $37,000.00 as well as a truckload of paperwork and legal followup after they returned to Canada. Fortunately their insurance covered it. Another friend had intestinal issues and a couple of quick trips to Emergency for tests and prescriptions cost $18,000.00. He’s worried this will affect his future insurability and premiums. Someone else had heart issues in Greece and was treated in a hospital that provided no towels or hot water no drinking water to take pills, no toilet paper and minimal care. After moving to a private clinic, he was presented with a bill for thousands of dollars when he checked out two days later. The clinic demanded immediate cash or bank transfer in payment. The clinic would absolutely not deal with the Canadian insurance provider and finally agreed to accept a Visa card payment. Then, he faced a fight with his insurance company for reimbursement when he returned home.

The bottom line is beware, be healthy and bee-line it home to Canada if you can. Even paying for an air ambulance trip at thirty or forty thousand dollars could be cheaper and safer than out-of-country medical care. Call your insurance company before seeking treatment. If possible, get your ass home immediately. The Canadian health care system may not be perfect, but it is relatively hassle-free and we don’t have to mortgage the mobile home to receive care like our American neighbours do. In the meantime, drive very defensively in the United States, assuming, under Trump you qualify for entry. But that’s another subject for another time.

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Help! My scarves are choking me.

The inscription on my tombstone will be simple: 

She finally quit complaining about her hair.

She was organized.

As a young girl and even later as a teenager, I never had a messy bedroom. My bed was made every morning. My single bottle of Evening in Paris and two bottles of Cutex nail polish were neatly lined up on my “roxatoned” dresser. My spartan wardrobe was carefully organized on hooks behind my bedroom door (the house was built in the 1880s and had no closets). In the late sixties when I got my first apartment without a roommate, a bachelor unit in an old walk-up building on Vaughan Road in Toronto, I was immensely household. Furnished carefully with whatever I could carry up the street from the S.S. Kresge store on St. Clair Avenue, my belongings were arranged in an orderly and efficient fashion. I’ve always taken pride in being organized. Still do. Some friends would say, a little too organized.

Walking into a store like Solutions or The Container Store makes me weak-kneed with the pleasure. I could spend hours browsing the cutlery trays, shoe bags, garbage containers and cupboard organizers. My heart skips a beat just thinking about it. My bathroom linen closet contains little plastic baskets labelled Hair Products, Makeup, Meds, Dental, and so on. Those bins are further subdivided with labelled Ziplok baggies containing my overflow items such as Skincare, Eye makeup, Blushers and Lipsticks.  My kitchen pantry is arranged by food group (isn’t everyone’s?). You get the picture. While I’m not compulsive; I definitely like things to be orderly.

So, here some of my organizing tricks that you might help you in your everyday life:

Men’s tie racks (from Solutions) make great necklace holders. They’re visible and don’t get tangled.

Open-ended Umbra paper towels racks mounted on the wall are perfect for managing all your bracelets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too many pair of black pants? These little round metal tags (from Staples) on pant hangers tell me whether the black pants (which are hard to distinguish on the hangers) are leggings, dress pants, jeans, knit, etc. and indicate the size, depending on how fat I am on a particular day.                                                      

These Skubb shoe boxes are a deal at IKEA and only $12.99 for a four-pack.

 

But I do need help in one area

Sadly, one thing that has consistently alluded me and escaped my control is management of my scarves. I’ve tried those special hangers with all the loops, a hanging circular laundry dryer with scarfs draped from its tiny clothes pegs, scarves folded over pant racks and wadded up in a drawer. None of these solutions was satisfactory. If anyone has any ideas on how to remove this last menace from my organized life, I’d be grateful. There could be a reward.

This looped hanger system for scarves should work but unfortunately it doesn’t. I have several of these hangers; they get all bunched up and I have to pull them all out of the closet to find what I’m looking for. And don’t even suggest I get rid of some. That’s not negotiable.

Do you have any organizational tricks you’d like to share in the Comments section?

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Hydro has some ‘splainin’ to do

As if I weren’t confused enough already by Ontario Hydro changing their name to Enersource, OPG, Hydro One or whatever, now they’ve gone and done it again! The geniuses who run What’s-its-name have now decided to call themselves Alectra Utilities. It surely has something to do with trying to escape the negative perception of their brand in the market, otherwise, would someone please explain to me why they’re doing it again. Perhaps it gives them more nefarious channels to use for hiding fiscal mismanagement and reaming their customers. I finally just managed to sort out my gas bill from my hydro bill. In case you have the same problem—my gas bill comes under the name Enercare and my hydro bill is called Enersource. I’m not a stupid person but I’m probably not the only one who had to write that down to keep them straight.

As a retired Marketing Manager for a major corporation ($2 billion in new work annually) I have a working grasp of the concept, practicalities and costs involved in changing a brand’s name and logo. Lard thunderin’ jeasus! What are these people doing? Apparently, it’s to amalgamate several company names under one banner. Could they not have thought of this in the first place? We’re all doing our laundry on Saturdays and Sundays or off-hours in the middle of the night, turning off lights and lowering our thermostats to conserve energy and costs while the fat cats at What’s-its-name spend like drunken sailors.

How many Hydro workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? It’s no joke.

We’ve all seen hydro workers in the field. They’re easily recognizable—one person working in a bucket at the top of a pole while six others stand around on the ground with a cup of Timmie’s double/double in their hands. I’m not suggesting this could be part of the reason our hydro bills are so high, or am I? A friend worked in middle management at What’s-its-name for several years and reaching a point when she could no longer stand to be part of an organization that has no concept of controlling overheads or of management accountability, she left. Her stories were horrifying for those of us who toiled in the private sector.

Then, this morning came the pièce de résistance. I received an email from a company called (in case you’re still following this) Alectra Utilities. It’s a customer survey wanting to know my opinion on their operations. I completed the survey which was interspersed with pages of graphs and charts which 98% of people won’t read. The questions are cleverly skewed to justify their excesses and mismanagement. Here’s an example:

Now? You’re asking ME?

Thinking about Enersource’s forecasted plan for replacing aging infrastructure, which of the following statements best represents your point of view?

  • Enersource should look at the long-term health of the system and proactively spend what is needed to ensure costs are spread out evenly over time – even if that means higher rates.
  • Enersource should spend only what is needed to maintain system reliability – even if that means from year to year there may be fluctuations in the rate of capital investment.
  • Enersource should focus on keeping rates as low as possible in the near-term and only spend the bare minimum on replacing aging infrastructure – even if that means higher replacement costs in the future.
  • Don’t know

Here’s a link to the full survey in case you’re interested: http://surveys.alectracustomerfeedback.com/SE/1/survey01/

Ding dong. This isn’t a customer survey. It’s propaganda—thinly veiled permission to continue feeding the fat cat and justify decisions that What’s-its-name’s managers are being paid the mega-bucks to make on our behalf. I ticked off “Don’t Know” for most of the answers because that’s their job, although if they were doing it in the private sector, they’d be fired. Ticking off those innocuous little boxes could never begin to accurately convey what this customer really thinks. As if anyone listens, or cares.

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Fashion . . . are we in or are we out?

Diane Keaton. My style inspiration.

In my mind’s eye I have the quirky fashion panache of Diane Keaton, the adorable personality of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, the casual savoir faire of the mature Lauren Hutton and the smarts of Samantha Bee. In reality, there’s a significant spread between what I am and what I would like to be. Let’s just say my fashion style is more aspirational than inspirational. In reality, I resemble the hapless middle-aged lady from the television commercial who falls off her exercise ball or crashes down from the pole as she attempts the latest dance moves. In my attempts to remain current and relevant, will I ever get it exactly right?

Perhaps my frequent missteps are the result of fashion magazine overload a.k.a. fake news for gullible boomers. In our efforts to remain au courant, we sometimes misinterpret what works and what doesn’t work. Obviously, no one since Caroline Bisset Kennedy (late wife of the late John Jr.) has been able to successfully pull off a slip dress. And now the fashionistas are telling me all I have to do is pop a saucy little tee shirt under it, pair it up with some strappy sandals and I’m all set to go? Or that a one-shouldered pin-striped blouse with acres of ruffles across the front and on the single sleeve will qualify me for the eternal hall of fashion shame? Both looks are too horrifying to even contemplate and I really don’t want my picture circulating on the internet’s “Seen shopping at Walmart”. . . again!

Some things that may look great on supermodels are not quite as successful on real-life boomers.

I don’t need to paint a picture of what boomer gals would look like in a spaghetti-strapped mini length sun dress or, conversely, an oversized chunky knit boyfriend sweater with a cowl neck the size of a tractor tire. Spare me the embarrassment of trying to wear wasp-waisted sailor pants, a tube dress or the agony of five-inch platform heels. It’ll be a frosty day in hell before I expose my saggy knees in ripped three-hundred dollar designer jeans or my sun-damaged décolletage in sheer, gauzy plunging necklines. Rompers and jumpsuits don’t even warrant discussion. I have a drawer full of fabulous leather belts that will never again see the light of day. But I hang on to them in case I get lucky and acquire a parasite that causes me to lose twenty pounds and the return of my long-departed waistline. Haircuts are predicated on making the most of a losing (literally) game.

Despite the challenges, I keep subscribing to fashion magazines and poring over their ridiculously Photoshopped glossy pages in the vain hope they might feature something boomer women can confidently strut out in. We may not be the chicest or the trendiest nor may we ever be short-listed for the Best Dressed list, but most of us have finally found our groove despite being a demographic that is completely ignored by the fashion industry. It’s more about personal style than wearing what’s the latest fashion.

I think the best we boomer gals can hope for is a little bit “in” and not too much “out” sprinkled with a dash of fun and originality. Walking a balanced line of fashionably stylish and stylishly comfortable suits me just fine. And if I manage to capture even a teeny slice of Diane Keaton’s style, then I’ll count myself “in”. In the meantime, I think I’m talking myself into those weird silver earrings I saw yesterday but didn’t have the nerve to buy. Yes?

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Ivanka Trump. The real deal or deal me out?

Long before Donald Trump’s name rose from the swamp to become a contender for President of the United States, I was wowed by his daughter, Ivanka. Having watched her on a couple of talk shows and read her early book The Trump Card several years ago, I was impressed with the articulate, beautiful daughter of the real estate mogul. She won me over with comments that were critical of the sense of entitlement that was common among her contemporaries. She denounced the expectation of reward without working for it.

Ivanka Trump is a young, beautiful, intelligent working mother of three children. Educated and articulate, she projects sensibility in the midst of mayhem. One could say she moves serenely in the eye of the hurricane. Her vocal support of women’s business development programs and childcare issues is commendable but is our perception representative of the reality? Let’s face it, Ivanka is someone who may have been working for Daddy’s businesses when she was still in a training bra, MC’ing his beauty contests and walking around construction sites in designer jeans and jewelry, but she lives in a parallel universe. Her life is and never has been anything like what we mere mortals experience.

Ivanka Trump was defensive about her father’s track record on women’s issues.

I first experienced doubts about my faith in her when Donald Trump was campaigning. Ivanka appeared immune to the obvious examples of his shortcomings, the blatant lies, the sexism, racism and the incongruities. His cabinet choices of old, white rich guys speaks volumes. Understandably, she knows criticism is part of the package but she didn’t seem to be relaying these concerns to her father. Or, more likely, he wouldn’t listen.

She was invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be a guest panelist at the 2017 W20 Women’s Summit in Berlin recently. When called upon to comment on her father’s disregard for women and minorities, Ivanka understandably defended him by referring to his track record of promoting women within his own organization. The resulting hisses and boos from the audience knocked her off balance for a mere split second. Then, she switched into full-on offensive mode, disregarding the perception of the majority of women.

The truth is self-evident. Trump does not hold women in high regard with the possible exception of his exceptional daughter. Notwithstanding the position of power held by Kelley Anne Conway within his organization, Donald Trump’s track record is dismal and verifiable. My opinion of Ivanka dropped like a rock when I witnessed her reaction to the criticism. When I saw the horror on her face at the suggestion he was a misogynist and how she immediately slipped into her own fantasy-based world of daddy-worship, I was disappointed, to say the least. Perhaps I was naive in hoping she would acknowledge he needs to listen to the criticism and work on improving his attitude and behaviours.

Trump’s statement “no one in the world has more respect for women than I do” is meaningless. His lingo, always delivered in sweeping superlatives is not backed up by fact and affirmative action. I was hoping Ivanka would be the voice of reason whispering sense into the ear of an unreasonable man. What I saw was life viewed by a disillusioned woman on the other side of a gold-plated one-way mirror. And it doesn’t look good for all the other women who are on our side. If we can reach her, we can only hope she will reach him. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Visit Paris with Jojo Moyes

When I read best-selling Me Before You by British author Jojo Moyes last year, I enjoyed it although I can’t say it was one of my favourite books. I thought it was a bit over-rated. When I came across Paris For One and Other Stories by the same author I couldn’t resist—anything with Paris in the title automatically goes on my ‘to read’ list.

The main character Nell is a twenty-something single Londoner with a lost-cause boyfriend and a boring life. Controlled by an overriding sense of caution about everything in her life, she decides to venture outside her comfort zone. With a bonus she earned at work, she impulsively books two tickets on the Eurostar train for a romantic weekend in Paris for her and her boyfriend. When he stands her up, she finds herself for the first time in her life in the city of light, frightened at the prospect of nothing to do for three days. Tempted to return immediately to London, she decides to confront her fears and steps out on her own. As a reluctant single woman eating alone in a Paris café,  she soon eases into the life of food, wine and new experiences.

The story has a happy ending despite bumps along the way. For anyone who likes to read romantic fiction, this book is a winner. Even the number of pages (188 on my e-reader) conforms with the fictional romance novella formula. To be fair though, I’m not a fan of romantic fiction and I didn’t even finish the “Other Stories”. . I’m just glad I read it from the library and didn’t pay good money for it. However, if you enjoy romantic fiction, you’ll enjoy Paris For One & Other Stories.

To order Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes from Amazon.com, click here.

To order Me Before You by Jojo Moyes from Amazon.com, click here.

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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?

It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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