Aging Well July 26th

How would you like to experience skin rashes with blisters and severe pain that could last for two to four weeks or even years? Sounds like fun? Shingles, I have been told by several folks, is an agonizing experience you want to avoid. And since 2006 there is a vaccine - which is available at Safeway and other local pharmacies - that can help prevent this unwelcome condition.

To learn more about shingles, I went online to a website called Medline Plus recommended by Linda Stahl who works at the Planetree Health Resource Library. Medline Plus offers a wealth of objective health information from the National Library of Medicine - the world’s largest medical library.

In summary I found that 1. Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. 2. Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox . 3. Only someone who has had chickenpox, (or on rare occasions has gotten the chickenpox vaccine) can get shingles. (The virus stays in your body, and can cause shingles many years later.) 4. You can't catch shingles from another person with shingles. (However, a person who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine could get chickenpox from someone with shingles, but it is not very common.) 4. At least 1 million people a year in the United States get shingles and it is far more common in people 50 and older. 5. In clinical trials, the vaccine for shingles reduced the risk of shingles by 50%. And for those who still get shingles after receiving the vaccine, it can reduce the pain. 6. No serious problems have been identified with the shingles vaccine. 7. In certain situations you should not get the vaccine, i.e. if you have a weakened immune system, a severe to moderate illness, or are pregnant.

The vaccine is recommended for adults over 60 and although the vaccine is not inexpensive your Medicare insurance may cover it. Talk to your health care provider and pharmacist for more information.

This week I was going to write in more detail about the push and pull of the budget negotiations occurring in Washington DC. But why should I try to explain it when you can actually can get down and dirty and balance the federal budget yourself. Through a computer simulation game called “Budget Hero” developed by American Media, you can now solve the budget crisis your way - by raising revenue or cutting programs or both. You can find the website at or just google Budget Hero. Like any new game it may take you a while to understand the rules - at least it did for me - but give the game some time and you will gain a better understanding of the challenges facing our elected leaders - and why so often the fiscal can has just been kicked down the gravel road of politics.

There are only a few tickets left for the 1:00 performance of Les Miserables at the Keller Auditorium on Sunday August 7th. Online the few remaining orchestra level seats for that performance are priced at $117. And we are offering you a chance to purchase terrific seats - section orchestra C rows H, J and K - to see this acclaimed musical of revolution and redemption for only $70 - including transportation. Call the Center to purchase your tickets.

It is Tuesday night music at the Center from 7:00 – 9:00 when during the summer you can still drive home before the twilight succumbs to the night’s advances. Tonight the Jazz Generations will be playing in four piece instrumental harmony. And next Tuesday, August 2nd, the musical power of the Strawberry Mountain Band will be pulling you out of your seats for several hours of dancing. Everyone is welcome and donations are graciously accepted.

The comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the middle square of Hollywood Squares and also played Uncle Arthur on Bewitched was Paul Lynde. And the lucky winner of a free third Saturday Breakfast is Herm Neuberger. This week’s “Remember When” question is about a Texas born musician, songwriter and band-leader who in the 1930’s, along with Milton Brown, created a new music genre called Western Swing. Who was the man whose fans called the “King of Western Swing”? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or stick it inside a loaf of bread baked with Light Crust flour by the Doughboys.

Well it has been another week when I’m once again glad I no longer live in the Midwest. Until we meet again, accept what you can’t change and change what you can.

Aging Well July 19th

In the nation’s capital and all across the country there is an ongoing debate about raising the debt limit, the level of federal spending and the broader issue of the role of government. This historical debate will affect adults over 65, now and in the future, and it is important to understand the issues so you can form your own opinions which you will have a chance to express in the 2012 elections. One place to start is to understand where the federal government currently spends taxpayer’s dollars.

I will try to present a short and simple framework. And so you won’t forget - and can impress your friends at late night political discussions - I will use the memory trick of mnemonics - connecting information to pictures. (And in response to my wife, yes, I am using stereotypes but at least I am not using any risque images which some research suggests significantly increases the ability to remember!)

So close your eyes and imagine one big humongous pie – an American cherry pie made of 3.5 trillion cherries. Now also imagine a family of five all wanting a piece of that pie. The strong burly and hairy father – and in this mnemonic represents defense - sits down at the table and devours one fifth or 20% of the pie. The mother, eight months pregnant, represents Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance) and wolfs down another fifth plus a few extra cherries or 21% of the pie. The retired grandmother - strong, active and a volunteer at the local senior center, represents social security and eats a fifth or another 20% of the pie.

The remaining two fifths or 40% is left for the two children. The teenage girl with her own credit card eats 14% of the pie - representing the safety net programs including Social Security Income for seniors and disabled, school meals, low income housing assistance, low income energy assistance and other programs. And then eats another 6% representing the interest on the national debt. Her share of the pie totals another fifth or 20%. And the young boy playing legos in the corner consumes the other 19% - again about a fifth – representing what is left of the pie including benefits for federal retirees and veterans, scientific and medical research, transportation infrastructure, education, and other programs.

So does that help to understand in a very broad sense where your federal tax dollars are spent? Yes? No? Or are you still trying to figure out what is a mnemonic? There are many other pieces to the puzzle including how the money is spent and how to increase revenues. But those pieces I will leave to another day.

Mayor Jim Wilcox and his wife Lyn stopped by for a Cowboy Breakfast – they are becoming regulars these days - but someone should check what Jim is wearing before he leaves the house! And it was a pleasure to have breakfast with Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen Brandy Young before her busy day began. Becky Bailey was the winner of the hand stitched quilt by the Center’s own quilters who already have another quilt hanging in the Center’s lobby. The drawing for that quilt will be at the Center’s December Breakfast – just in time for Christmas.

Tonight at the Center, Truman - the golfing troubadour - will be performing his “Country Gold”. And next Tuesday on the 26th, we will push back the tables and pull up the carpet so you can kick up a storm with the Jazz Generations playing the big band sounds and other favorites. Music starts at 7:00 and donations are appreciated.

The “wide awake American boy” encountered exciting adventures in the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates”. And the winner of a free breakfast is the avid comic strip historian himself - Joe Usatine. Moving from fine literature of the daily comics, and back to something a little more recent, the game show Hollywood Squares first appeared on television in 1968 featuring comedians such as Cliff Arquette as “Charlie Weaver”, Rich Little, George Gobel, Jonathon Winters, and Rose Marie. This week’s “Remember When” question is who was the comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the critical middle square from 1968 to 1981? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a celebrity photo of Uncle Arthur from the TV series Bewitched.

Well it has been another week trying to stay awake in the afternoon. Until we meet again, remember the advice of Carrie Snow “No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.”

“Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with.”
Peter Marshall

Senior Living July 12th

Is there something you always wanted to learn? And wondered if there is anyone else who has a similar interest - because it would be more satisfying to explore the subject with other living souls besides your cat or your disinterested husband! Maybe you want to try algebra again - that beast you were forced to struggle through in high school but now wonder what was it really about? Or maybe the history of the Civil War or the causes of the Great Depression - since we are gradually climbing out of our recent close call.

If there is any topic you would like to explore with a small group, email or call the Center and we will spread the word including posting your interest on the center’s website. Besides connecting you with others, the Center can also provide a space, Internet connection and any video equipment you may need. Hopefully by this fall we can pull together a small study group to delve into the topic. And who knows - there may be someone else interested in Elizabethan eating habits.

And speaking of learning new subjects, I have just started memorizing the 238 most important and useful Mandarin Chinese characters. But you may ask. “For a guy who can’t remember eating a banana - how can that be?” My son shared with me the free website Memrise which uses the latest in cognitive science to teach the basic vocabulary of different languages in an addictive game format - you plant the seed of a new word, grow them in your greenhouse and then transfer them to your garden. It is like mixing Farmville with a language course. And it is much more fun than my high school experience learning German “Ich bin ein dummkopf”. If Mandarin Chinese is not your thing, you can learn French, Spanish, Japanese and many other languages. I haven’t learned to write coherent sentences yet, but, heh, one step at a time. And even if you may never travel to that exotic destination to test your new language competencies, you will be stimulating your brain and gaining the satisfaction of learning a new skill. One of these days you may even hear “Do you know what grandma can say!”

It is Fort Dalles Days with the rodeo galloping into town and the parade starting at 10:00 on Saturday. And what better way to prepare for the parade than a delicious Saturday Cowboy Breakfast at the Center sponsored by The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center. Breakfast will be served from 8:00 - 10:00 and this month’s menu will consist of hotcakes, bacon, fruit and the regular beverages. As Jack always said “Breakfast tastes better when someone else cooks it - especially before a parade!”

If tonight you can’t make the Fort Dalles Rodeo Kick Off party and Habitat for Humanity fundraiser at the Auction Yards, stop by the Center and enjoy the sounds of Martin and Friends. And next week, on the 19th, straight from the Shamrock Club performing for your dancing and listening pleasure will be Truman playing the Country Gold. The music and dancing starts at 7:00 and donations are always appreciated.

Okay now "One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore"? She wore an “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” sung by Brian Hyland in the summer of 1960. And the winner of a Cowboy breakfast is the one and only Jim “The Flash” Gordon.

But this week’s “Remember When” question goes back to 1934 when this action adventure comic strip first appeared in newspapers. Created by Milton Caniff (who left the strip in 1946 to create a competing comic strip - Steve Canyon), this comic strip featured a “wide awake American boy” arriving in China with his mentor journalist Pat Ryan - encountering adventures with friends and foes including the beautiful but cold Dragon Lady. What was the name of the comic strip? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the inside cover of a hardbound collection of this comic strip.

Well it has been another week riding the ebbs and flows on the ocean of life - trying not to hang my head over the side. Until we meet again, sometimes life feels like a one-hour long algebra test: the closer to the end, the faster time seems to fly by.

"Still round the corner there may wait/A new road or a secret gate/And though I oft have passed them by/A day will come at last when I/Shall take the hidden paths that run/West of the Moon, East of the Sun." —
J.R.R. Tolkien

Senior Living July 5th

Senior Living July 5th

Summer – when the days get hot and the nights start getting longer; a time to slow down and work in the yard, read that book you’ve been meaning to read, and travel to see friends and family or old high school classmates. But everyday more than 100 individuals, who have difficulty preparing meals on their own, depend upon Meals-on-Wheels for a daily nutritious and tasty meal.

There are over twenty five dedicated volunteers who help deliver the meals, but during the summer, several take time off for their summer activities and practically every day Ashley, who manages the meal deliveries, is driving a route herself which takes her away from her other duties. Consequently, Ashley is desperately seeking Susans or Barbaras; Roberts or Stanleys to help fill in during the summer and make sure the meals are delivered. Last week Ashley took me along on one of the seven routes – it took a little over an hour - and it was rewarding to know I was providing for some - their only nutritious meal and daily contact. If you are interested in driving once a week or whenever it fits your schedule, call Ashley at Meals-on-Wheels - 541-298-8333 and she will get your started.

The Center’s 2011 Annual Membership meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 19th at 1:30. The agenda will include a review of the past year’s accomplishments, presentation of the goals for next year, a review the 2011-2012 budget, election of new board members and then adjournment for a little dessert. But you do need to be a Center member to vote. So what are you waiting for? Join now and attend the Annual Membership meeting on Tuesday July 19th

Now some good news and some bad. The bad news is that the Center has sold all the tickets for the August 28th matinee performance of Momma Mia. We are taking names for a waiting list in case life happens and plans change and a ticket becomes available. But the good news is we still have plenty of tickets for the Sunday August 7th matinee performance of the musical Les Miserables - a tale of redemption and revolution. Because we bought these tickets last summer, we have very good seats in rows H, J and K on the main floor. Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals with hits including “I Dreamed a Dream” which you may remember Susan Boyle singing on “Britains Got Talent”. The cost is again $70 including to the door – but you will have to walk to your seat – transportation. Call the Center to reserve your ticket.

The Center keeps pumping out the sounds every Tuesday night with Martin and Friends taking their turn on the 12th. Tonight the Strawberry Mountain Band will be strumming their guitars for your listening and dancing pleasure. The foot action and finger picking starts at 7:00 and everyone and their kid sister is invited. Donations of the monetary kind are always appreciated.

Many times I end this column with a quote that either complements the column’s theme, succinctly describes a simple truth or I just find amusing. One of the authors I occasionally use is Robert Brault. And last week I was asked who is this masked man of many quotes. I did some “googling” and learned he is a freelance writer for over forty years and writes a wise and insightful blog “A Robert Brault Reader” at You may want to check it out.

The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question was the solemn Chet Huntley anchoring from New York and the twinkly David Brinkley reporting from Washington DC - who were the hosts of the Texaco Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC from 1956 through 1970. This week’s question is back to a musical theme song for the days of summer. Sung by Brian Hyland this song reached #1 during the summer of 1960 and made this style of bathing suit - which was initially considered too risque - the rage of the beaches and swimming pools to the glee of every young man. What was the name of the song? Or can you "One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore"? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a first class plane ticket to Daytona Beach.

Well it’s been another week watching things go boom in the night. Until we meet again, keep the torch lit, but the water bucket nearby.

"The trick to accomplishing anything is to avoid the obstacles that are not in your way." Robert Brault


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