Living Well in the Gorge December 27th 2016

In a few days, it will be a new year: the traditional time to make New Year’s resolutions, full of optimism and hope.

But do any of us make New Year’s resolutions anymore? They just seem like a young person’s thing: resolutions to stay fit for the dating game; resolutions to follow some new self-improvement practice.

And then do we really need to? I mean at our age, we’ve experienced enough that we should we have it all figured out, right? And what do we really need to change?  

But resolutions are not just about personal fitness or self-improvement. They are also an opportunity to imagine what new experiences we would like to encounter in the upcoming year: walking unfamiliar trails in the Gorge, finishing that book you’ve been meaning to read, or finding more time to spend with family and friends.

There is much we can’t control: medical emergencies, the size of our social security check, or whether it is going to rain or snow. But there are many aspects of our lives we can influence, if not control.

So here we are, about to start a new year. We can keep doing the same old same old – and there is nothing wrong with that. Or we can branch out; take this opportunity to contemplate the new year and what makes life worth living - so we won’t miss what is truly important.

What is important to you this coming year? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Saturday Night Bingo will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with free pizza and a chance to win $1000. Over $1200 will be paid out during the evening plus if there is a blackout in 58 numbers or less on the last game, the payout will be $1000. Doors open at 4:00, pizza served starting at 4:30, and bingo starts at 6:00 PM. If you are a new player, try to arrive by 5:30. Minimum buy-in is $10.00. Ages 12 and over are welcome (children between 12 and 18 must be accompanied by legal guardian).

It’s a new year for the Center’s Tuesday Night Music with Andre, KC and Joe performing on January 3rd. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are always appreciated.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 11 – Your clothes are in style again – although this time around you’re smart enough to keep them in the closet. (I’m not wearing skinny jeans anymore! - or pegged pants as they were called when I was in High School.)

The toy that consisted of 3-D pictures on a circular disk which could be viewed in a plastic device is called a View-Master. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Maxine Parker, Lana Tepfer, Sandy Haechrel, who was offered a job at View-Master when she first moved to Oregon, and Jerry Phillips who lived about a mile west of the old View-Master site. But the winner of one and a half tickets is Jim Ayers who didn’t send me a Virtual Reality View-Master, but left me the next best thing – a Fred Meyer discount coupon for one.)

The college football bowl season is here again, and although neither OSU or U of O are traveling to a bowl game this year, there have been many highlights over the past 50 years including the 1967 OSU football team known as the “Giant Killers”. That season OSU went undefeated against three #2 ranked teams which included a victory over USC and OJ Simpson at what was then called Parker Stadium in Corvallis. So for this week, here is a “Remember When” question suggested by Ron Sutherland, to see who is really a true orange-and-black OSU football fan. Who was the two-time All-American defensive lineman who caught USC tailback O.J. Simpson from behind to prevent a touchdown and preserve the Beavers' 3-0 win over the top-ranked Trojans? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a big pumpkin.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep the icicles from hanging off my nose. Until we meet again, don’t expect hot water if you only turn on the cold-water tap.

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.” Ellen Goodman

Living Well in the Gorge December 20th 2016

Tis the Christmas Season: a time for memories that stir our senses: cookies baking in the oven, houses sparkling with Christmas lights, and bells ringing at local grocery stores. It’s also a time to remember how we have been blessed at our chronologically advantaged age.

But sometimes it is hard, particularly this time of the year when we would give everything to share again memories of Christmas’s pasts with friends and loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s not always easy to stay upbeat and positive, but Shawn Achor, who researches and teaches positive psychology, describes three steps that can help us recognize the positive instead of mindlessly absorbing the negative.

First, for twenty-one days in a row, take two minutes a day and write down three things you are grateful for.

Second, start a journal and each day write about one positive experience you encountered.

Third, do one positive random act of kindness each day - whether it’s complimenting the salesperson during a hectic Christmas shopping day or buying a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling juice for your local senior center director (and he prefers a red grape to a white apple cider!)

But I would also suggest two more steps.

Fourth, each day give at least one person a big hug - the human touch is an essential nutritional requirement for the spirit.

And last, if there has been something you have been meaning to tell someone, tell them. Don’t wait and regret missing the opportunity.

Whether your glasses are rose colored, broken or you can’t find them, during this season of hope, love and possibilities, consider these five steps to better appreciate all that is good and right - and the bountiful banquet spread before us.

The Christmas season often brings snow and frigid weather - and we saw both these over last two weeks. With the inclement weather, it is often a tough call whether to keep the Center open or to close. I guess I’m just a little more cautious since I broke my hip several years ago. (Although the cause wasn’t snow or ice, but not being bright enough to find the bottom step.).

Consequently, last weekend we played it safe instead of sorry, and postponed the Holiday Breakfast - even though Mary Davis was bringing the Mistletoe! We’ll try again in March when there’s less chance for snowflakes and Santa shouldn’t be as busy.

Also, Saturday night bingo was cancelled, but will return on New Year’s Eve when we’ll welcome in the New Year (east coast time) and there will be a $1000 payout for a blackout in 58 numbers or less on the last game.

If you are making your end-of-the-year donations, and are donating to any of the twenty-two qualifying cultural non-profits in Wasco County, don’t forget to also donate the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust for which you’ll receive a 100% state tax credit and help the cultural arts in Wasco County and the state. You can find more information and a list of the cultural non-profits at

Tuesday night music is back at the Center on December 27th with Country Road performing. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated to feed the band and keep the lights on.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 10 – Grandchildren are great. And great grandchildren are a bonus.

The Christmas classic, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, was first sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Betsy Ayers, Sandy Haechrel and Jerry Phillips.)

This season you may see ads for VR (virtual reality) glasses, which I have tried and admit are pretty cool. But in 1939 there was a Portland company that introduced another cutting-edge technology consisting of stereoscopic 3-D pictures on a circular disk which could be inserted into a plastic device and viewed.

For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this classic toy? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the latest virtual reality edition of this viewer.

Well, it’s been another week, waiting for Santa to poke his beard around the corner. Until we meet again, let the spirit of Christmas light up the new year.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

Aging Well in the Gorge December 13th 2016

Winter is the season when all schoolchildren become weathermen, trying to predict whether there will be enough snow to close school so they can sleep in before going outside to build snow men. (Do kids still play in the snow anymore - or do they just assemble snowmen on their computer screens?)

Well, last Friday was one of those days kids dream about. But at my age, snow days just don’t quite have the same excitement. Certainly, there is still the anticipation, but now it is: How much snow am I going to have to shovel? Will the car make it out of the parking spot? Will I fall flat on my face walking across the parking lot?

But snow is no surprise and we do adjust – often just staying inside and out of trouble. So while snuggled up on the Lazyboy recliner, why not catch up on the best Christmas movies from the 40’s and 50’s. We use to have to check TV Guide to see if our favorite movies were showing on TV - if at all. But now you can watch them anytime over the Internet using streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, or Amazon (although you usually have to pay).

So where do you start? Here are nine movies from the 40’s and 50’s, including their leading actors, ranked in the top 25 best Christmas movies by the movie review website “Rotten Tomatoes”.

#24 - The Bishop’s Wife, 1948 - Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.
#18 – A Christmas Carol, 1951 - Alastair Sim and Kathleen Harrison.
#13 - The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, 1944, -Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, and William Demarest. #6 - The Apartment, 1960 - Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray.
#5 - Stalag 17, 1953 – William Holden, Peter Graves, and Robert Strauss.
#4 - Holiday Inn, 1941 - Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.
#3 - The Shop Around the Corner, 1940 - Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart.
#2 - Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 - Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, and Natalie Wood.
#1 - It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946 – Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore.

If I missed your favorite Christmas movie, email me and I will mention it next week.

Everyone’s invited to the Center’s annual Holiday Breakfast from 8:00 – 9:30 AM on Saturday, December 17th, sponsored by Dennis Morgan - Copper West Realtors and Dean Dollarhide - State Farm Insurance. And this year we’re trying something new: offering all-you-can-eat pancakes. In addition, the menu includes scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit and coffee or juice all for $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for children 12 and under.

Meals-on-Wheels is serving a special Christmas Dinner on December 20th instead of their usual birthday dinner. And to have time to prepare, the dinner will be served at 2:00 instead of noon - so you still have time to drive home before dark. But because there is only room to seat 125 people, you will need to sign up ahead of time. There is a signup sheet at the Center or you can call Meals-on-Wheel at 541-298-8333.

Because of the Meals-on-Wheels Christmas party, there will not be music at the Center Tuesday night, December 20th. But if you can wait til after Christmas, you’ll find Country Road playing on the 27th.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 9 – Telling stories about the “good old days”. Although it is sobering to think that these may be the “good old days” for a future generation.

The name of the television show that featured a boy with a propeller beanie and a Sea-Sick Sea Serpent was Beany and Cecil. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Jerry Phillips and Tina Castanares.)

The Christmas classic, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, is the third most performed Christmas song of this century. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who sang the song when it was introduced in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the 2014 hit version sung by the English singer-songwriter Sam Smith.

Well, it’s been another week, tangled up in all my loose ends. Until we meet again, snow is nature’s reminder to slowdown.

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” Carl Reiner

Aging Well in the Gorge December 6th 2016

“Baby, it’s getting cold outside” may be crossing your mind this week as the temperatures drop below freezing for the first time this season. But it also means those winter goblins may be trolling your neighborhood: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. These are common symptoms for the flu and the common cold - although the cold symptoms are usually milder and more likely to include a runny or stuffy nose, while the flu symptoms are more intense and can lead to serious health problems.

But how do you keep these annoying neighbors from dropping in and ruining your day?

The most effective way, besides getting your flu vaccine or hiding in the closet all winter, is to practice these six tips.

1. Avoid close contact. No more making out in front of the fireplace on those romantic winter evenings! Okay, maybe you can if she doesn’t have a runny nose or cough.
2. Stay home when you are sick. As I use to tell my students, it’s good to share everything, except your germs.
3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow - not your hands. You can also wear a facemask to protect others. How about a left-over Halloween mask? That would get people’s attention.
4. Wash your hands often. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand soap. Just washing my hands every time I use the bathroom, I’ll be washing my hands often enough.
5. Avoid spreading germs by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching something contaminated. My fingernails grow a lot longer during the winter months.
6. Take care of yourself as you should all year long: get plenty of sleep, stay physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

There are over one hundred viruses that can cause the common cold. By following these suggestions, you can help make this winter “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 8 – Sleep late or get up early.  As you get older, you start to enter that third chapter of life when instead having to do what you’re told to do, or what you feel you should do, you can now do what you want to do.   

Because the AARP Smart Driver class has been moved ahead a week to December 12th and 13th, (You still can sign up by calling the Center) there will not be a 11:00 Lecture next Tuesday. 

It’s been a while since I’ve challenged your grey cells by mixing up the Center’s music announcement. So let’s again have a little fun. But I’ll keep it easy – well, as easy as walking backwards.

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It wasn’t Clarabell, the clown who appeared on the Howdy Doody Show, but Bozo the clown that was pictured on the front of a 46-inch-high inflatable punching bag. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Maxine Parker, Tina Castanares, Jerry Phillips, and Sandy and Bob Haechrel.) 

Now that it’s colder, I’ve started wearing a knitted cap to keep my hair depleted head warm. It looks like a stocking cap but doesn’t cover my ears, and several folks commented about my “beanie”. I hadn’t thought of it as a beanie, but it reminded me of a Saturday morning animated cartoon series on ABC. So for this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the television show that featured a boy with a propeller beanie and a Sea-Sick Sea Serpent? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the original "Captain Huffenpuff's Hiding Box".

Well, it’s been another week, when I knew I should have written it down. Until we meet again, there are numerous fancy definitions of successful aging, but it can be as simple as just waking up in the morning and touching your feet to the floor.

“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.” John Foster Hall

Aging Well in the Gorge November 29th 2016

Have you ever looked forward to a holiday vacation with high expectations and a to-do list a mile long - and then it turns out nothing like you expected? That was my Thanksgiving this year and even though everything turned out fine, all those things I wanted to do were replaced by what I had to do. So this week, I’ll just keep it simple and share a few thoughts for this busy first week of December.

Several months ago, Fire Chief Bob Palmer spoke at the Center and explained how the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue can help install smoke alarms in your home. But I have also learned from Marc Berry, there is another source: the American Red Cross. They have launched a national “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign” to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries by 25% over the next five years for three sobering reasons.

1. Fire related deaths and injuries are highest in homes without smoke alarms. 
2. Last year the Red Cross responded to nearly two home fires each day in Oregon and SW Washington. 
3. More than 60% of fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm.

To have a free smoke alarm installed by a trained Red Cross volunteer, call 503-528-5783, send an email to or complete an online form at

It is life-or-death important to have working smoke alarms in your home, but it’s not always easy to install them. But now there are two places you can find help: Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue and the American Red Cross.

There is plenty to do this Saturday besides Christmas shopping, and here are two events I would recommend.

Habitat for Humanity’s annual Holiday Bazaar is Saturday, December 3rd from 10:00 – 2:00 in the UCC Church basement at the corner of 5th and Court Street. There will be vendors, and most important, at least for me, are the delicious baked goods and the soup and pie lunch.

Also, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is hosting their Holiday Open House and Community Appreciation Day on Saturday, from 12 to 5 p.m. There is free admission from 9:00 – 5:00 with music from 12:00 – 5:00 plus much more.

If you missed the Center’s Holiday Bazaar, you still have a chance to purchase a one-of-a-kind lap blanket for only $25 to $35. You can find them in the Nu-2-U Shop which is open from 10:00 – 3:00 Monday through Friday.

The AARP Smart Driver Class is an easy way to catch up on the current rules-of-the-road and save a few bucks on your car insurance. The class is usually held on the third Monday and Tuesday of every month, but for December the class is on the 12th and 13th. The cost for the class is $20 and $15 for AARP members. Call the Center to sign up.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. # 7 - No more kids’ tuition to pay. (Unless you had to take out parent loans - which is a monthly reminder of your wonderful children even if they live thousands of miles away.)

The Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on December 3rd, will be on Healthy Aging - the subject of the second in a series of videotaped panel presentations from the 2016 Oregon Conference on Aging.

At the Center on Tuesday, December 6th, Andre, KC and Joe will be performing for your listening and dancing enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 6:30 and donations are always appreciated.

The anchorman who ended the CBS Evening News with the words “And that's the way it is.” was Walter Cronkite. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Maxine Parker and Ed Anghilante.) 

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have jump started the Christmas buying frenzy, this week’s “Remember When” question is about a toy many of us received for Christmas when we were just a kid in knickers. What is the name of the clown pictured on the front of a 46-inch-high inflatable punching bag with a sand filled base?  Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of Willard Scott when he played the part of this famous clown from 1959–1962 on WRC-TV in Washington D.C.

Well, it’s been another week, adding two and two and still coming up with twenty-two. Until we meet again, everyone looks better wearing a smile.

“Little by little one travels far.” A Spanish saying

Aging Well in the Gorge November 22nd 2016

It won’t be long before many of us are celebrating Thanksgiving by gathering around the dining room table with friends and family, sharing our blessings and stuffing ourselves with delicious home cooked culinary delights prepared by a kitchen saint. (And when we start imitating the animal kingdom by adding an extra layer of body fat to keep us warm during the long, cold winter months.)

But as we enter the winter holiday season, this is also a good time to slow down, take a deep breath, and just offer that simple prayer – “Thank-you”. Thank-you for the many blessings that are visible, but often out of focus as we are distracted by all the daily noise and our own self-absorption.  

Thankful for our friends and family who are still with us or the comforting memories of those we have lost. Thankful for the neighbors who keep an eye on us and offer help even when we think we can do it ourselves. And thankful that we can wake up and get out of bed each morning, and start moving – although it may take a while to loosen up the old joints.

But maybe we should also be thankful for our misfortunes that remind us not to take anything for granted and to cherish each day - one day at a time.  And then we can ask ourselves the question Charlie Brown posed "What if, today, we were grateful for everything?"

Thank-you to the good folks at the Salvation Army for once again taking on the monumental task of organizing the local tradition of the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal. As usual, it will be held at St. Mary’s Academy on Thursday from 12:00 – 3:00. But if you cannot leave the house and need to order a home delivered meal, you can call RaeAnne at 541-705-4656.

As you would expect the Center will be closed Thanksgiving Day and through the weekend. So, for all our loyal bingo players, you will look forward to seeing you on the first Thursday and Saturday in December.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #6 “It’s easier to forgive and forget”. Because why hold a grudge, when everyone else is out dancing.

Last month the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services (GCSS) held it’s one-day
Oregon Conference on Aging. The agenda included four panel sessions discussing the issues of Elder Justice; Long-Term Services and Supports; Healthy Aging; and Retirement Security – issues that will be discussed in the 2017 Oregon Legislative session.
For the Tuesday Lecture on November 29th, I will show the Long-Term Services and Supports panel discussion that includes leaders from Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon, Community Connection of NE Oregon, Northwest Senior Disability Services, Governor’s Commission on Senior Services, Portland State University Institute on Aging and State Representative David Gomberg. As discussed in the book The Age of Dignity, long term services and supports are critical to the well-being and dignity of older adults and will be a much-discussed topic at the legislature this coming session.

Next Tuesday, November 29th, is the fifth Tuesday of the month and I thought I had a band lined up. But life happens and they can’t make it. Don’t worry though. There will be band, I’m just not sure who. But what I do know is that the doors open at 6:00, music and dancing starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated.

Candid Camera, created and hosted by Alan Funt, was the NBC television show that filmed regular people in unusual situations, and then surprised them with “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Pat Wilson, Maxine Parker, Sue Ortega Sandy Haechrel, Joann Scott, Delores Smith, Louise Wooderson, Ed Anghilante and Tina Castanares.)

Back in the days of the three major television stations, and social media was passing notes between friends, television news was respected and not just another form of entertainment. (Okay it might have been a little boring, but it was solid news). For this week’s “Remember When” question, what television newscaster ended his news program with the words “And that's the way it is.” Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a copy of the first episode of The Twentieth Century.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to make it work without the instructions. Until we meet again, have a great Thanksgiving - and make sure you don’t spill the gravy.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward

Aging Well in the Gorge November 15th 2016

What is your picture of a drug addict? A young man on a street corner shooting up heroin? But did you ever think it could it also be the 75-year-old grandmother addicted to OxyContin since recovering from back surgery? It may not be the picture you imagined, but the overuse of prescription painkillers can be just as harmful as heroin sold on the street.

I became aware of this, when Linda Griswold stopped by the Center to drop off flyers for last week’s talk: “When a Good Thing Goes Bad…Prescription Drug Misuse”. She told me that prescription drug misuse is not a problem just for young people - it can happen to older adults as well.

Which makes sense. As we age there are many legitimate reasons to use pain medications: back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and major surgeries - increasing the risk of abusing opioid pain medications such as OxyContin and Percocet. These pain medications are particularly dangerous because they can create a physical dependence in as few as five days for someone taking several daily doses. And the longer the drug is taken, the stronger the dependence grows and the tolerance increases- creating a need for larger and larger doses. Which is not good.

Sadly, the addiction to prescription painkillers among older adults is growing. Between 2006 and 2012, hospital emergency rooms saw a 78 percent increase in the number of visits among older adults with misuse of prescription or illicit drugs - and nearly half of those visits were among adults 75 and older.

Family members, caregivers, all of us, need to be aware of the dangers of opioid medications: the addiction-related problems such as feeling more anxious or depressed; falling more often or seeming more confused at times or even disoriented; and the alternative non-drug treatments such as acupuncture, medical massage, hydrotherapy (soothing warm jets of water) and pool therapy which can all reduce pain.

But the take away is to remember that opioids are for short-term use: acute pain or when prescribed for a few days after major surgery. But NOT for chronic conditions. As many have learned, it can be deceptively easy to turn a good thing into something bad.

Doesn’t it feel as if Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier each year? So why not just throw away all those big stores ads, and visit the local craft fairs and holiday bazaars to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts for your family and friends – and maybe something for yourself.

This coming Saturday, November 19th, you can shop two bazaars with one stop: the St. Peter’s Altar Society’s Annual Bazaar (9:00 – 4:00) at St. Mary’s School, and right across 10th street at the Center’s Holiday Bazaar (9:00 – 3:00). There will be more vendors than you can shake a stick at (haven’t heard that expression for quite a while) including unique handmade lap blankets, pillows and pillow cases. On Saturday, make sure you don’t drive by without stopping.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #6 “Your kids finally see you were right – at least about some things.” Which doesn’t mean they are smart enough to think they can start telling you what to do! For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on November 22nd, Country Road will be playing so you can throw your head back and kick up your heals, Doors open at 6:00, music and dancing starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated. “

"Kids Say the Darndest Things” was a segment of Art Linkletter’s “House Party”. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Sandy Haechrel and Tina Castanares, And Betsy Ayers - just to show her I can remember how to spell her last name correctly.)

This NBC television show aired for its longest run from 1960 through 1967 and featured concealed cameras filming regular people in unusual situations. For this week’s “Remember When” question, complete this show’s famous catchphrase, “Smile, you’re on ______ ______”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a copy of the episode that included former President Harry S. Truman.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to remember, did I just add three scoops or four? Until we meet again, as my old friend Sophocles once said, “Old age and the passage of time teach all things.”

“Worry is like a rockin' horse. It's something to do that gets you nowhere.” Old West Proverb

Aging Well in the Gorge November 8th 2016

This coming Friday is Veterans’ Day - a day set aside to honor those men and women who served our country. (In Oregon, one-fourth of veterans are 65 and older.) You can show your appreciation and support during the Veteran's Day Parade which will follow the usual parade route beginning at 11am - or you can still decorate a float with a patriotic theme and join the parade. Following the parade there will be a community potluck lunch at the Oregon Veterans Home. Bring either a hot dish, a large salad or dessert.  Plates, utensils and beverages will be provided. Thanks to the Mid-Columbia Veterans' Memorial Committee, VFW, VFW Auxiliary, the American Legion and The Dalles Chronicle for making it all possible.

Now if you want to do more, the local Veterans’ Services Office in The Dalles is looking for volunteers for the front desk to make sure our veterans receive the support they deserve. For more information, you can call Jean at 541-296-3478 or email her at

How are we as a community going to prepare for the elder boom in an aging America? Or on a more personal level, who is going to be caring for us as we grow older and need in-home care? Those are some of the vitally important questions presented in the book The Age of Dignity which will be discussed at the Center on Wednesday, November 16th from 10:00 – 12:00. And I still have a few books at the Center for anyone who would like to read it before the discussion group meets.

If you can’t make the discussion group at the Center, the library is also offering a discussion group on Tuesday, November 22 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. This replaces the regular third Tuesday discussion of End-of-Life issues which will return on December 20th at the same time.

Tonight, you are probably thinking, “Boy, am I glad that’s over!” It’s been eighteen months, since Ted Cruz was the first to announce his candidacy for President in March of 2015, and now I feel all battered and bruised as if I’ve been the third person forced into the middle of a prizefight that lasted waaaay too long. Even so, I don’t think many of us would go back to the country’s early days when members of Congress chose the presidential nominees. Or would we?

After I wrote about one of the great things about growing older is that grey hair earns respect, Marilyn Ciranny sent me a page from the Salem Statesmen Journal newspaper of children’s answers to the question, “Why does hair turn gray?” I thought you might enjoy a few of the answers. From two second graders: “My hair turns gray if I get old or if rain clouds get stuck in my hair.” “I don’t know, but maybe when people get old their hair gets tired.”  From a fourth grader: “Hair turns gray because it’s nature’s hair dye.” And the last two from fifth graders: “Because you want to look like you have lots of wisdom.” And my favorite: “The reason why hair turns gray is because you look like silver, but don’t feel like gold.”

Tuesday Night Music at the Center is now starting at 6:30 during the winter months. And on November 15th, the Simcoe Boys will be playing for your dancing and listening enjoyment. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are always appreciated.

What would happen if you stepped on a crack? Why, you would break your mother’s back - although I learned from Betsy Ayres that “If you step on a line, you’ll give your father a hard time.” (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Betsy Ayres, Lynda Peterson, Ed Anghilante, Maxine Parker, Helen Lynch, Marcia Lacock, Tina Castanares, and Virginia McClain – and I hope I didn’t miss anyone.)

Most everyone remembers Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, right? But for this week’s “Remember When” question, those children interviews were a part of what daytime variety show that aired from 1952 through 1969? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with the vintage board game of the same name.

Well, it’s been another week, proving once again there is no such thing as normal. Until we meet again, don’t let the sun catch you snoozing.

“The greatest problem about old age is the fear that it may go on too long.”  A. J. P. Taylor

Aging Well in the Gorge November 1st 2016

What do businessmen Warren Buffett and Bill Marriott; entertainers Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy, plus fourteen US Senators including John McCain and Bernie Sanders have in common? They are all working past the age of 75.

And yet the Oregon Constitution requires all judges to retire at the end of the calendar year in which they turn 75.

We all know as we age we encounter common age-related physical changes. Our hearing and vision may get worse and there is the increasing probability of arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Cognitively there may also be changes - both negative, the speed in which information is processed may decrease, and we may become more distracted; and positive, wisdom and creativity often continue and grow throughout our adult years.

But most importantly, we all age differently. As Elizabeth L. Glisky, University of Arizona professor at the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, states “Although there are clear generalities and common principles that can be demonstrated in cognitive aging, what is perhaps most compelling about age-related cognitive change is its variability. Cognitive decline is not inevitable. Some older adults retain excellent cognitive function well into their 70s and 80s and perform as well or better than younger adults.”

Ballot Measure #94 acknowledges this variability - and the research regarding age and cognitive functioning that has occurred since 1960 when Oregon voters passed the constitutional amendment requiring mandatory retirement for judges.

Age should not be a consideration for employment whether you are old or young. It should be competence and ability. Adults older than 75 can still be mentally sharp and can still contribute. And the wisdom and perspective of older adults is needed now more than ever.

Lisa Gambee, Wasco County Clerk, and her Chief Deputy, David McGaughey, spoke at the Center last Tuesday offering a fascinating look inside our local election process. But next Tuesday all the shouting will be over, thankfully, and to make sure your mail-in ballot arrives at the Courthouse by Tuesday, Lisa suggested you consider mailing it before Thursday (election day postmarks don’t count). You can also drop off your ballot at the Courthouse, or even more conveniently, Lisa and David will return to the Center on Friday between 11:30 and 12:30 with a ballot box to collect your ballots. (And contrary to the rumor circulating, you only need one stamp to mail in your ballot.)

Remember Tuesday Night Music at the Center is now starting at 6:30 during the winter months. And on November 8th, Martin and Friends will be playing their country favorites. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are always appreciated.

And speaking of time, we gain an hour next Sunday, November 6th when local Daylight Savings Time ends. Sunrise and sunset will be one hour earlier which means more light in the morning and less in the evening. So this Sunday at two o’clock in the morning, I expect you to wake up and change the time on all your clocks; and then go back to bed and savior that extra hour of sleep.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #5 “You have time for your favorite hobbies.” Because of family and careers, we usually didn’t have the time to pursue what seemed like selfish interests - whether it was quilting, writing a bestseller, painting, or restoring an old ’63 Buick Skylark convertible. But with fewer responsibilities and more time, these retirement years are a perfect time to discover new interests or rediscover the hobbies we enjoyed when we were younger. (Does anyone want to start a LEGO Club?)

Peter Lawford played Nick Charles in The Thin Man television series that aired on NBC from 1957–1959? (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Tina Castanares.)

While growing up, I learned a children’s rhyme that often forced me to zig-zag down the sidewalks where I lived. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what would happen if you stepped on a crack? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a portrait of your mother.

Well, it’s been another week, watching the river flow. Until we meet again, if you find a dog in the doorway, step over it.

“I love my age. Old enough to know better. Young enough not to care. Experienced enough to do it right.” Anonymous

Aging in the Gorge October 25th 2016

Imagine you are the director of a local non-profit and you want to celebrate your organization’s thirty-year anniversary. What would you do? Invite all the local elected officials to a community party with free cake and ice cream? Take out a full page ad in the newspaper? Good ideas, but One Community Health, a local non-profit health center in The Dalles, stepped outside the box and came up with a unique and positive way to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. They created Gorge Happiness: a month of activities in October each designed to make for a healthier community based on the science of happiness.

It’s not hard to believe that happiness is good for your health. But there is actual evidence to show that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers.

But could we just be born happy? Well, there is some research that shows 50% of our happiness is genetic, and 10% is environmental. But the other 40% we can control by consciously nurturing habits which can improve our happiness.

Those habits begin with gratitude: being grateful for the blessings, both large and small, in our lives. Start by listing three things each day for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as being thankful for a good night’s sleep; or for your neighbor who keeps an eye on you. What’s important is recognizing the many blessings even when life events seem to be careening down the street out of your control; and it’s so easy, and understandable, to start your own “woe is me” pity party.

Another habit to cultivate is expressing acts of kindness: Picking up that piece of trash, visiting a friend in the hospital, or keeping an eye on your neighbor. And if you aren’t already volunteering, find an opportunity even if it is only a few hours a week.

And the last habit I’ll mention is creating moments of silence. You might call it prayer or meditation, but sit silently for as little as five minutes each day. No television or radio. Just sit and observe the thoughts in your head; the different sensations around you – the sounds, the smells. And if your mind wonders, don’t worry. Just acknowledge it and pull your mind back into observing and listening to what is around you.

Gorge Happiness Month will be over soon, but the search for happiness is a lifelong journey. You can start now by incorporating these three habits in your daily routine: the habit of gratitude, acts of kindness and moments of silence - which can improve your health and well-being. You can find out more about Gorge Happiness Month and the benefits of happiness at the website:

Next week we start a new month; and a new time for the Tuesday Night Music at the Center. With the night skies visiting us sooner, music will start at 6:30 - a half hour earlier and end at 8:30 or whenever the last couple leaves the dance floor. And once again we’re back at the top of the dance card with Andre, KC and Joe performing on November 1st. And starting when? 6:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are appreciated.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #4 “You take more things in stride.” After enduring a full life of experiences, we learn to separate what is truly important from all the small stuff cluttering our lives.

The name of the television show starring John Steed and his partner Emma Peel was The Avengers. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Marcia Lacock and Jim Ayres.)

William Powell and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora Charles in the movie version of The Thin Man. But for this week’s “Remember When” question who played Nick Charles in The Thin Man television series that aired Friday evenings on NBC for two seasons from 1957–1959? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a picture of the 1960’s “Rat Pack” performing at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Well, it’s been another week, learning there is a simple wisdom in saying “I don’t know”. Until we meet again, if you point your finger, make sure your hands are clean.

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh

Aging Well in the Gorge October 18th 2016

Last month I mentioned the Aging in the Gorge Alliance (AGA) - a recently formed grass roots association whose goal is to create local communities that promote and foster the well-being of elders through education and advocacy.

One of their first initiatives is the “Community Reads” project. They raised enough local funds to purchase and distribute for free to discussion groups and libraries in the Gorge, four hundred copies of the book Age of Dignity - Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America written by Ai-jen Poo.

In the book, Ai-jen Poo states that more than fourteen percent of Americans are now over sixty-five; and by 2030 that ratio will be one in five. The fastest growing age group is those eighty-five and over which are over 5 million people now, and expected to more than double in the next twenty years.

How do we respond as a community and as a nation to this coming demographic earthquake? Who is going to provide the care? How do we ensure the caregivers, both paid and unpaid, are respected and supported? How do we care for our elders, which are many of us, so they live long and meaningful lives?

In the coming months there will be several conversations about aging, elders and caregiving starting with the World Café Community Conversation on Saturday, October 22nd from 1:30 – 4:30 at the Columbia Gorge College in Hood River on the Heights. If you plan to attend, they ask that you RSVP by going to the website:

You are also invited to attend one of the smaller Age of Dignity discussion groups held in The Dalles at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center on November 16th from 10:00 – 12:00; and The Dalles/Wasco County Library on November 22nd from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. If you don’t have the book Age of Dignity, you can pick one up at the Center to read and then share with others; or stop by the library where they still may have a few copies left.

Thanks to The Springs at Mill Creek and everyone who attended the Baby Back Rib Dinner. If you weren’t able to make it, you missed some literally finger-licking good ribs prepared by the Meals-on-Wheels crew, and some lively bluegrass music performed by Hardshell Harmony (with The Dalles City Councilor, Tim McGlothlin, filling in at his old spot playing the stand-up bass).

There will be a new quilt hanging in the Center’s lobby. The Center quilters sold over $200 worth of raffle tickets - but unfortunately there can only be one winner. And that lucky person was Jean Spee. Congratulations!

In just over a month, we will be entering the holiday craft fair season starting with the granddaddy of them all - the St. Peter's 38th Annual Holiday Bazaar on November 19th. On the same day, right across 10th street, the Center will host its 3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar - and there’s still room for a few more vendors. It you are interested, call the Center at 541-296-4788.

Last week I forgot to mention that the Simcoe Boys will be playing tonight at the Center. And before I forget again, next week for the Center’s Tuesday Night music, Country Road will be strutting their stuff from 7:00 – 9:00. Doors open at 6:00 and donations are appreciated.

Continuing the countdown: #3 of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: “Grey hair earns respect.” And for some reason, I find much more attractive these days.

The comedian that impersonated John F. Kennedy on the 1963 album The First Family was Vaughn Meader. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Tina Castanares.)

Spies and espionage were a common theme on television in the 60’s. This spy-fi British television series was created in 1961 and was the first British series to be aired on prime time in the U.S. when it aired in 1965. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of this show that starred the ever-graceful and gentlemanly John Steed and his partner - the intelligent, quick-witted Emma Peel? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center while wearing a bowler hat made of steel.

Well, it’s been another week, chasing windmills. Until we meet again, as my Aunt Mo once told me, “When you are over a hundred years old, people start asking you the dumbest questions.”

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.” Groucho Marx

Aging Well in the Gorge October 11th 2016

In a few days Medicare Open Enrollment starts. And in preparation you should have received your “Annual Notice of Changes” which describes any changes in your current Medicare plan for 2017 such as cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. It is strongly recommended that you review those changes to make sure your plan will still meet your needs in 2017.

If your current plan won’t, then during Medicare Open Enrollment from October 15 to December 7, you can change your Medicare plans. But as many of you know, it’s not always easy to navigate through all the choices. If you have questions, which most folks do, you can call the Center to make an appointment with a trained SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) volunteer; or visit the website

One significant change for 2017 is Regence will no longer offer a Medicare Advantage Plan in Wasco County forcing over four hundred Regence Medicare Advantage plan recipients to search for another plan. If you are one of the four hundred, don’t panic. There will be a meeting at the Center at 1:00 on October 25th presented by local SHIBA volunteers to describe your options; and if you need further assistance, to schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer.

Last week when I looked out my office window I was reminded that the speed limit in a school zone between 7:00 and 5:00 pm is 20 mph. What was the reminder? A city policeman parked at the corner of 10th and Cherry Heights for two days, with his radar gun, ticketing drivers for speeding in a school zone. Now, there is good reason for the 20 mph limit. Research shows pedestrians have a 90 percent chance of surviving car crashes at 18 mph or below, but less than 50 percent at 28 mph or above. So for the sake of our children - and your pocketbook, remember to slow down to 20 mph in the school zones.

A growing percentage of older adults own smartphones – which you can use to check Facebook, send and receive texts, and even tract your medications. It also is a pretty decent digital camera - right there in your pocket for those unexpected special moments. But what do you need to know to take great pictures? Framing? Lighting? And what do those terms even mean?

The Center is looking for a volunteer knowledgeable about photography and can answer those questions to facilitate a Smartphone Photography class. If you are interested, give me a call at 541-296-4788.

I don’t want you to wake up Saturday morning and realized you missed an opportunity to hear vocalist Nehemiah Brown sing the standards from the 50’s and 60’s. So here is your last reminder that Nehemiah will be performing at the Center on Friday, October 14th, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM sponsored by The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center. You can purchase $3.00 tickets at the door.

Last week I started a new feature: “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: Here is #2. “The longer you live, the smarter you get.” Of course that’s assuming I can remember what I learned last week! (Anyone remember from grade school who was the first to sail around the world? It isn’t who you think.)

The name of the show that aired from 1950–1956 and starred the title character and his sidekick Pancho was the Cisco Kid. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Ed Anghilante, Jim Ayres, Alice Mattox and Virginia McClain.)

Even though this political spoof of President Kennedy was good natured and pales in comparison to the nasty political satire these days, it was still rejected by most music recording executives because it would be “degrading of the Presidency”. But it was released in November, 1962 by Cadence Records and was one of the fastest selling records in history. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the comedian that impersonated John F. Kennedy on the 1963 Grammy “Album of the Year”, The First Family? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it “with great vigah” to the Center.

Well, it’s been another week, enjoying my favorite season of the year. Until we meet again, remember there are only twenty-seven more days.

“I’m not taking any chances and leaving it ‘till the election. When you are 103, you make every minute count.” Ruline Steininger, 103 years old, who voted early in Iowa as reported by CNN.

Aging Well in the Gorge October 4th 2016

According to, 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. Often that care is provided by paid in-home care professionals. To find an in-home caregiver, you can contact one of the home care businesses in the Gorge. Or you can hire your own caregiver which can be a complex and time consuming process.

But now there is Homecare Choice - a new in-home services program offered by the Oregon Home Care Commission for people using their own funds to pay for help at home. If you are enrolled in the program, you have a choice of who you would like to interview and hire as a caregiver (using the Oregon Home Care Commission’s Registry); when and how those services are provided; and the services you would like to purchase such as assistance with personal care, household tasks, companionship, transportation, medication reminding, running errands, and pet care.

Often forgotten or ignored is that if you hire someone, for as little as four hours a week, you could qualify as an employer with all the associated responsibilities. But the Homecare Choice program can help by paying the caregiver on your behalf, paying the withholding and reporting payroll taxes.

I will explain more about the Homecare Choice Program and how to enroll at the next 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on October 11th. If you think you might ever need a paid caregiver, you will find this presentation helpful.

My apologies for this late announcement about the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association’s Living with Alzheimer’s Late Stage class that will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) from 10:00 – 12:30 at the Center. This class is for caregiver’s who are caring for someone in the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, when caregiving typically involves new ways of connecting and interacting with the person with the disease.

For each of the last three years, over 300 folks have enjoyed a delicious finger-licking Baby Back Rib dinner. Now you have a chance to join the fun this Friday, October 7th from 4:30 till 7:00. Because of the generous sponsorship by The Springs at Mill Creek, every penny of your $15 ticket will go to providing healthy nutritious meals and classes and other activities that support older adults. You can purchase tickets at the Center, Klindt’s Booksellers or at the door.

The Center quilters meet every Monday from 10:00 – 3:00 downstairs at the Center where they stitch and sew the large beautiful quilts hanging in the Center’s lobby. But did you know they also make unique smaller quilts that are ideal as gifts? At the Center, you can purchase a small quilt as well as raffle tickets for one of the larger quilts. And if $200 worth of raffle tickets are sold by the end of the Baby Back Rib Dinner, we will draw the winning ticket and someone will be going home draped in a beautiful quilt.

Martin and Friends will be playing at the Center on Tuesday, October 11th. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated. Last spring while attending the annual Gerontology conference at OSU, I picked up a bookmark that identified “40 Great Things about Growing Older”. Email me one of the great things you think makes growing older great, and each week I will mention one. The first one on the list of 40 is “Senior discounts are great” - which includes my favorite, the “young man” (a euphemism for “this old guy”) discount at Subway.

Am I the only one who remembers Donovan, the 60’s British singer and songwriter who was often described as a Bob Dylan clone? Oh, well.

But for this week’s “Remember When” question, I’ll try something a little more familiar – an American Western television series. What was the name of the TV show that aired from 1950–1956; starred the title character and his English mangling sidekick Pancho who traveled the west fighting injustice; and by 1955 was the most popular non-animated television series among American children? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop your answer off at the Center with a copy of the O. Henry’s short story "The Caballero's Way".

Well, it’s been another week, keeping a hand on the banister. Until we meet again, don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra

Aging Well in the Gorge September 27th 2016

Most of us want to stay in our own homes as we age, but we also want to stay safe. And staying safe includes making sure your smoke detectors are installed and working.

I was reminded of the importance of smoke detectors several weeks ago when my wife and daughter drove by the house fire on Fourth Street. When they stopped, they saw flames shooting out the side of the house; could hear someone inside tapping on one of the upstairs windows; and saw several Johnnies-on-the-spot scrambling to get the person out. It was a truly frightening experience knowing it was real - and not a movie.

Now you can guess what I did the next day. I checked all the smoke detectors in my house: replacing the ones older than ten years, which were most of them; and making sure the others were working.

But I found that I am not the young whipper-snapper I once was - or even as strong as I was just ten years ago. And although I was able to get all the smoke detectors installed, it wasn’t easy. I imagined what it would be like if I wasn’t able to climb a ladder or didn’t have the strength to use a screwdriver.  

That is where the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue (MCFR) can help out. If you are unable to install your smoke detectors and do not have a friend who can help, you can call MCFR and make an appointment for someone to come and install them for you.

MCFR wants to save and protect lives. They have been trained to respond to emergencies, but their worst nightmare is retrieving a lifeless body from a structure fire. They know smoke detectors can save lives - but only if they are installed and working.

You can learn more about fire prevention, how to escape a fire and other MCFR services such as FireMed memberships at the Center’s Tuesday Lecture on October 4th at 11:00 when a representative from the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue will be the speaker. Come and learn how to be prepared, so you can avoid the worse.

Tickets are on sale for the Baby Back Rib Dinner on October 7th. You can purchase them at the Center, at Klindt’s Booksellers or this Saturday they’ll be selling tickets at the Farmers’ Market from 9:00 – 1:00. The cost is still only $15. And thanks to the dinner’s sponsor, The Springs at Mill Creek, every dollar raised will go to support The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels and the Center.  

Andre, KC and Joe will be playing at the Center on Tuesday, October 4th. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.

And there’s more music. The popular northwest vocalist Nehemiah Brown is returning to the Center on Friday, October 14th. With his silky smooth voice, he will sing standards from the 50’s and 60’s including pop, country and some gospel tossed in. Thanks to The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center, the ticket prices are only $3.00 per person which you can purchase at the door. Doors open at 6:00, and the music starts at 7:00  

The name of the roller skating rink on the west side of town was the By Golly. (This week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each are Donna Smith and Zelta Wasson.)

It has been a while since I’ve asked a question about pop music during the “peace and love” 1960’s. So for this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the British singer, songwriter and guitarist who emerged from the British folk scene during the 60’s; was often described as a British Dylan clone and had several top ten hits in the US? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop your answer off at the Center with a drawing of a mellow yellow sunshine superman.   

Well, it’s been another week, where if it is out of sight, it is out of mind – which is the reason for all the sticky notes around my house. Until we meet again, an ounce of prevention is worth as much as a good insurance policy.

“We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love. That remains the main problem and paradox for the frail. Many of the things that we want for those we care about are things that we would adamantly oppose for ourselves because they would infringe upon our sense of self.”  Atul Gawande


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