Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Are Boomers Blogging About?


     Baby Boomers are concerned about momentous events and real news, from the historic to the sociological to the economic.

     It may not surprise you that Baby Boomers, above all, are focused on themselves -- which may explain why I, as a Baby Boomer, write a blog about the comings and goings, the interests and intrigues, of none other than the Baby Boomers. And for those of you who are not Boomers -- and I know there are a few people in America who are not Boomers -- well, maybe you have an older or younger sibling who is a Boomer, and so you can become an honorary member of our exclusive and very special club.

     Okay, I hope you sense a little tongue-in-cheek. But seriously . . .

     Laura Lee Carter, the Midlife Crisis Queen, who, yes, is a bona fide Boomer, says she hopes everyone was able to see "The Boomer List," an interesting and insightful American Masters TV program about growing up Boomer.
   
     American Masters: The Boomer List, which premiered on Sept. 23 on PBS, tells the story of our "influential" (ahem ... see I told you) generation, born between 1946 and 1964, through the lives of 19 iconic boomers—one born each year of the Baby Boom.

     By the way, who did they interview from your birth year? For me it was actor Samuel L. Jackson. So I don't think I'm in bad company.
 
     As if to prove the "exceptionalism" of the Boomers, Modern Senior takes on Ken Jennings, who is decidedly not a Boomer (born 1974). Modern Senior points out that social media (Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, born 1950, was one of those interviewed for the Boomer List) can be a blessing or a curse. Different sites have proven to be powerful platforms that can raise awareness about current events, media censorship and other important issues.

     The trending twitter hashtag #heardwhilstdisabled, exposing society's bias against those with disabilities, was just picking up steam when Ken Jennings, famous for being the champion of the quiz show Jeopardy! sent out a controversial tweet that was offensive to many -- and defended by some. Read his tweet, and weigh in with your thoughts at Is Ken Jennings Not So Smart After All?

View of Flight 93 crash site from the memorial
      Meanwhile, Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting spent a few days visiting friends, and on the way home detoured to a memorial for a seminal event in Boomer (and all American) lives: the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Baer shares her thoughts about the 9/11 Memorial, a simple but moving remembrance to 40 ordinary people suddenly confronted with extraordinary circumstances. Read the account of her visit at Pause to Remember.

 
     Finally, on The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about The Great Recession, and how consumers are finally recovering from that dark economic period and are starting to spend again. She reports on a Survey by Consumer Reports showing that people are now, finally, back in the market for major purchases such as homes, cars, and appliances – and that they plan to spend even more money in the coming year.

     What about you? Are you getting ready to help out the American economy by making a major purchase? I, myself, am not. I still haven't recovered from the 2000 - 2002 recession -- the one brought on by the bursting of the Internet bubble and dealt a second blow by 9/11.

     But B has just stepped into the market for a new car. She's got the bug -- she wants a car big enough to feel safe on the highway, but small and nimble enough to scoot around town. So far she hasn't found just the right thing. But I know B. Like most Baby Boomers (Boomer List interviewed Amy Tan for her year), when she sets her mind on something, she gets the job done!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Conflicted on Energy

     I noticed the windmills on Cape Cod. I counted at least a dozen spread out among the trees, behind the small hills. There's plenty of wind on Cape Cod, and so those practical New Englanders have put it to use.

     I recall reading a book, Cape Wind by Robert Whitcomb, during one of our previous visits to the Cape. A consortium was proposing to build a wind farm out on Nantucket Sound, maybe 10 or 12 miles offshore. It would have produced almost enough electricity to replace the oil-and-natural-gas-burning facility in Sandwich.

     However, the Cape Wind project ran into a lot of opposition. It would interfere with boating traffic; it would endanger migrating birds. But most of all it would spoil the view of waterfront property owners in and around Hyannisport.

     One opponent of Cape Wind was Sen. Ted Kennedy, who of course had a family compound in Hyannisport, and counted among his friends many landowners along the coast of Nantucket Sound.

     Senator Kennedy eventually met his maker. But the Cape Wind project has not. While there is still no sign of a windmill in Nantucket Sound, apparently plans are still going forward for a wind farm sometime in the future.

     Meanwhile, I counted at least a dozen windmills just in my corner of Cape Cod, and there are many more dotting the landscape. So good for the Cape Codders who are progressing along the lines of clean energy, energy independence, and intelligent use of natural resources.

     But of course, it's never so simple. Just take a look at the end-of-summer bonfire held every year at Nauset Beach (see the post below). It's a spectacular sight and lot of fun for the kids. But watching all that smoke from the fire I wondered if this alone could cause global warming.

     According to a Yahoo news item, reporting on a march in New York City last weekend protesting climate change, global greenhouse gas rose 2.9% in 2013 -- and according to the New York Times, global emissions rose 2.3% to record levels.

     I also noticed a conflicted attitude toward automobiles on the Cape. I saw many a Toyota Prius (50 mpg) and Honda Insight (40+ mpg) on the streets of Falmouth, along with other smaller cars that probably get 30 mpg. But there were also plenty of Jeeps (20 mpg), Chevy Tahoes (18 mpg), and Ford Expeditions (16 mpg).

     In other words, a lot of Cape Codders choose to ignore any warnings about air pollution or global warming, and seem unconcerned that we import a lot of our gasoline from the war-torn Middle East, where more than 4500 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq alone. (Do you really believe we'd be sending troop to the Middle East if there was no oil there?)

     I figure, if you drive an SUV, you're kind of a libertarian Republican like Rand Paul, who believes that people should be able to do what they want, without any restrictions on their freedom, despite any consequences to others, and as long as they can afford it.

     But as I found out on the highway on the way home, everybody from libertarians to socialists agrees on one thing. They want to go 70 mph, not 55 mph, and they don't care that it burns up more gas that way. A typical car engine is most efficient at around 50 or 55 mph. If you get 30 mpg at 55 mph, you will be getting about 25 mpg at 70 mph.

     I know, I know, you're in a hurry. And gas in not that expensive. And what difference does one car make? But according to mpg for speed, if the national speed limit were set to 55 (as it was in the 1970s) it would save 1 billion gallons of oil per year.

     Now I'm beginning to sound holier than thou . . . and probably unrealistic. I'm like everybody else. I don't want to live near a nuclear power plant; I don't want anyone to be fracking in my backyard. I don't want them drilling for oil in the Arctic, and I don't want American troops fighting for oil in the Middle East. But I also want to be able to drive wherever I want, whenever I want . . . and not have to pay too much for gasoline.

     It's a complicated process. Convenience often wins out over conscience. But as illustrated by Cape Cod, we keep trying.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Festival Days

     We finally got motivated enough to leave our own backyard and go do something else besides stare out across Buzzards Bay. We went to the Scallop Fest, held every September here on Cape Cod, when -- as you can see below -- the tourists are gone and the retired folks come out in droves.

Bourne Bridge spans Cape Cod Canal
    Actually, we're not quite as lazy as I've made out. We did rent bicycles for the week and rode around the neck where our cottage is located; and we took a ride down to Wood's Hole and we biked along the Cape Cod Canal. We also went out to dinner a couple of times and went shopping in Falmouth. And we . . . well, that's about it. Otherwise, we were sitting on our deck, or in our little backyard, doing what we do best: reading and relaxing.
Tugboat in the Canal

      Anyway, we went to Scallop Fest, held this year at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. (We went last year, too, when it was held in the town of Buzzards Bay, across the Bourne Bridge on the mainland). It's a modest affair, by arts-and-crafts-show standards, but we enjoyed the scallops and the music, and B bought a few little gifts to bring back to her coworkers.

     We also purchased a print of a lobster from a place called Fished Impressions which had a kiosk at the fair. The fellow who makes the impressions is a fisherman, an artist, and seems like an all-around good guy.

     He mentioned that he had wanted to do the ice-bucket challenge. But he thought the idea was getting old. So instead he did the fish-bait challenge. I wanted to show you a clip of the fish-bait challenge, but could not figure out how to forward a Facebook video onto this blog. So if you're interested you'll have to go to see it on Facebook. It's pretty cool, in an eeeew kind of way.

Cape Cod Scallop Fest
     Then, yesterday, we also drove out to Orleans to participate in the "Celebrate the Waters" festival. However, I was not prepared to take any pictures. The battery has run out on my camera, and I neglected to bring my charger with me.

     Does anyone else have problems like this? Maybe it only means that it's almost time to head home.

     So I will not be sharing my photos from Orleans. However, while I did not bring my camera to the "Celebrate the Waters" festival, B did bring hers, and she captured a photo of the end-of-summer bonfire out on Nauset Beach.





Friday, September 19, 2014

Watchin' the Tide

     There isn't a whole lot to do in Pocasset, Mass., other than sit around and watch the tide come in -- which is just the way we like it.

     This is what the little cove in back of our house looked like in the morning when the tide was low . . .



     Then at mid-day, with the tide coming in . . .



     Now it is late afternoon, and the tide is high.



     Isn't life exciting! But the day is not over, not until the sun goes down . . .


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sittin' by the Bay

     Well, I'm no slouch. B and I also have a "cottage" by the water. Maybe it's not The Breakers, and maybe it's not on Belleview Ave., and maybe we don't own it, we're just renting it for the week. But still, we like it . . .




    And here's our own belle view, looking out from Pocasset, Mass., on Cape Cod, across Buzzards Bay to the mainland.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Along the Cliffs

     Yesterday we saw Hammersmith, childhood home of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis -- albeit from a distance, from the water. What we didn't realize was that Hammersmith was on the . . . well, not exactly on the poor side of town, but not on Bellevue Ave., where the biggest, fanciest, most ornate "cottages" were located.

     Jacqueline's father, "Black Jack" Bouvier made a lot of money on Wall Street. But he didn't make anywhere near the kind of money that the Vanderbilts had. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) made his fortune in steamships and railroads (and donated $1 million to found Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.), but it was his grandson Cornelius Vanderbilt II who purchased the property in Newport, RI, in 1885 and built The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo. A number of Vanderbilts (Cornelius Vanderbilt II had seven children) along with many other Who's Who of the 19th century Robber Barons summered on Bellevue Ave., in huge mansions facing out to the sea, the bay and the sound.

     By the way, CNN's Anderson Cooper is one of Gloria Vanderbilt's four sons, and a great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

     Some of the mansions along Belleview Ave. are still privately owned (and I noticed a couple for sale, if you're interested), and some including The Breakers are owned by the Preservation Society of Newport and are open to the public.

     We didn't go in any of the mansions. Instead, we walked the three mile cliff path along the back of the properties, which offers great views of the water and occasional sightings of the mansions. Here's The Breakers, the weekend "cottage" of Cornelius Vanderbilt II.



     And here's the truly belle view he enjoyed.


Monday, September 15, 2014

On the Water

     One guess where we are . . .


     Yes, we're making the scene at the Newport, RI., boat show ... 

 
     There are a lot of boats; but we only came to gawk.


      We did take a sunset cruise out across the harbor:



     We got a view of Hammersmith, the childhood home of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and venue of her wedding reception in 1953 when she married John F. Kennedy. The property is named after the home town (Hammersmith, England) of William Brenton, governor of the colony of Rhode Island, who built the original farm in the 1600s. The smaller building on the left, nearer the water, was Jackie's playhouse.


     May peace be with you.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hitting the Road

     This coming week I'll be joining the great diaspora of retirees and Baby Boomers who travel around the country, visiting relatives, seeing the sites, going to places they've heard about, read about, dreamed about.

     I'm not as ambitious as some people -- Bob Lowry, for example, who as he reports at Satisfying Retirement, just got back from a 5,000-mile trip halfway across the country. B and I are barely going 500 miles roundtrip.

     Still, we will be traveling this week. And still, we'll hit four states. So I thought I'd do a little something different. Instead of my usual verbiage covering one topic or another that (at least in my judgment) affects Baby Boomers one way or another, I'm just posting a photo -- one suggesting where we are, where we're going, what we're doing.

     Well, we're just starting out, so you know what's going on here . . .



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tom's TED Talk

     Last night I opened a twitter account. So first of all, my apologies to any of you who might have received an unwanted, unsolicited e-mail invitation to join my twitter feed.

     Honestly, I'm not at all sure I'm going to do twitter. Over the past year or two I've read maybe two hundred tweets. And I've never seen one -- not one -- that was worth the few seconds of time it took to read it.

     But last night I was reading an article on the New York Times website, and I clicked on the author's name, and it brought me to her twitter page, and up popped an invitation for me to join twitter. It just looked so easy. Why not?

     Well, nothing's as easy as they make it seem. But I powered through the questions, filled out the forms, opened an account, @TomatSightings, and even posted my first tweet. And I may or may not have sent out a mass invitation to everyone on my gmail list.

     But I don't know. Does anyone our age tweet away on twitter? Or it is just for tweens and pop stars trying to build their tween audience? I think the tweetiest tweeters are Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry. And I don't want anything to do with any of them.

     As an aside, and on a more serious note, here's the link to a twitter page for 9/11 -- today is the 13th anniversary.

     So honestly, I don't know if I'll become a real tweeter. But I'm pretty sure I will not be buying a new apple watch. I haven't worn a watch since I stopped going to an office 12 years ago. I don't punch a time clock anymore. I don't need to run on anyone else's timetable. And besides, it's hard not to know what time it is at any moment of the day. The time is registered in the lower right-hand corner of my computer. It's on my cellphone. There's a clock in my car and one on the TV. And another in my kitchen, and in the bedroom, and pretty much in every other room in the house.

     But the main reason I won't get an i-watch is that I couldn't possibly see it. The numbers would be way too small for my aging eyes. Also, my fingers are probably too fat to hit the tiny numbers on a watch -- I can barely manage to manipulate the text message feature on my phone.

     And there's another thing to consider. A lot of older people shake a little bit, for one reason or another. How's that going to work when you try to call up an app on your watch? I don't shake. But I will admit that my hand-eye coordination is not what it used to be. I would have neither the fine motor skills, nor the patience, to work a smart watch.

     I doubt I'll be doing any mobile bill paying either. I don't understand what the big deal is about that. So you can pay your bills while you're driving down the street, or having dinner with friends at a restaurant.

     I don't know about you, but my bills can wait until I get home, and I take a few minutes at my own convenience to sit down and pay my bills.

     But just so you know, I'm no Luddite. I think one of the greatest -- and most unheralded -- advances in modern civilization is the ability to pay your bills online. No more writing checks, no more addressing and licking envelopes. No more stamps -- and at 49 cents a pop, that's not a small thing anymore.

     I also like ATM machines. No more bank lines; and again, no more writing checks. Now I know ATMs are not exactly new -- the first ATM machine was installed in America in 1969, and they came into common use through the 1980s -- but they are yet another convenience of our modern world. In fact, a lot of people hate their banks. I don't exactly love my bank (I've paid off my mortgage so I don't have to worry about that; but I wish I could get a bank CD that paid 5%, like my parents could; it would make my financial life a lot easier and more secure); but I've got to at least give credit to banks for producing (along with one financial disaster) a lot of financial progress.

     Also, I couldn't do my work, couldn't make whatever modest income I make, without a personal computer and Microsoft Word and e-mail and google and amazon -- and I listen to music on youtube, Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM radio.

     So, yeah, technology has made our lives a lot more comfortable and convenient . . . and productive. But you can't do anything if the devices are too small, if you can't read the print or tap the right keys. I wonder if, technologically speaking, we're reaching the law of diminishing returns -- that despite Moore's Law which says processing power for computers doubles every two years, we're just running faster to stay in the same place.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Short Takes for September

     Some small items and news tidbits . . . and follow-up on previous posts.

     1)  I recently did a post called Baby Boomers are the Most Selfish . . . and it turns out I'm not the only one bashing Baby Boomers or Gen Xers or any other generation. Get a load of If Millennials Are Jerks, Blame the Baby Boomers.

     The thing is, to me it seems as if all the narcissistic qualities sometimes attributed to Millennials were once leveled against us Baby Boomers -- that we were overeducated, underachieving, spoiled brats who took our freedoms and our prosperity for granted. I'm beginning to think it's just a case of older people misunderstanding and criticizing the younger generation -- in the vein of "what's the matter with kids today."

     2)  Meanwhile, you've probably heard all the sturm und drang about voting rights, and -- depending on your point of view -- how horrible it is, or how reasonable it is, to ask people to produce some identification before they're allowed to vote. Okay . . . then how does that square with the figure I saw last week:  Only 23 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote in last year's mayor's race in Los Angeles.

     Local officials are disturbed enough about it that they're talking about offering cash prizes to bring more people to the polls. When you vote, you get a lottery ticket for the chance to win megamillions! I'm not sure what to make of all this, but one thing seems obvious:  The people producing all the hot air about voting suppression, or voting fraud, are not the voters themselves, but political operatives on both the left and right who are trying to get us all excited about a relative non-issue in order to gain advantage for their own side.

     3)  In a recent comment, Judy C noticed that I had been quoted in the latest issue of the Kiplinger Retirement Report. The Kiplinger editor, Susan Garland, wanted to get beyond the usual financial aspects of retirement and talk about some of the other issues involved in making retirement a fulfilling time of life. She quotes both me and also Sydney Lagier of Retirement: A Full-Time Job; so if you're interested go over and take a look (my apologies, you have to skip past the ads) at Create a Plan for a Meaningful Retirement.

     4)  Remember when we used to receive a Social Security summary statement in the mail? In a cost-saving effort, the SSA stopped sending out statements a few years ago. However, as Michelle Singletary reminds us in the Washington Post, you can now check your Social Security statement online at the Social Security website where you can create and/or sign in to your account. If you're already receiving benefits, you can check to make sure all the information is correct, and also change your address and phone number, and input or change direct deposit information.

     There's also a reminder that you should contact Social Security three months before your 65th birthday to enroll in Medicare. "If [you] don’t sign up for Medicare Part B (the part for doctor visits and outpatient services), there’s a late penalty," Singletary reminds us.. "And it’s not cheap. You are assessed 10 percent for each year past 65 that you don’t sign up."
    
     5)  On another financial note, have you seen this map showing how much $100 is worth in your state? I'm sorry to say I live in a state where $100 is only worth $86.66. So every time I spend $100, I'm only getting about $86 worth of goods or services.

     B and I were thinking we might like to retire to the Jersey Shore -- Cape May is a beautiful place -- but at $87.64 we wouldn't be improving our financial situation very much. We've thought about Delaware, at $97.75, or Pennsylvania at $101.32 (where we'd finally be getting our money's worth!) or South Carolina at $110.25 (where B's son now lives and where we could live on Easy Street). I guess that's how you give yourself a raise in retirement -- move to a place where the dollar is worth more.

     We were also thinking of spending a year abroad, maybe in London. But it didn't take much research to find out that London is out of our price range. Then we thought, maybe a year in California, which -- at $88.57 -- would be just about all the time we could afford.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remember Her?

     J. D. Bauer was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1927. Her father, Morris, was an attorney. So was her mother, Estelle, and the couple shared a law practice in New York.

     Bauer excelled at Far Rockaway High School, graduated early and headed upstate to Cornell University, where she double-majored in home economics and psychology. She then went on to Columbia University where she earned a Ph.D. in psychology. But that's not how she got famous.

     It was 1955, and the nation was enthralled with the new medium of television, and among the most popular offerings were the quiz shows -- Beat the Clock, Name That Tune, Truth or Consequences.

     And The $64,000 Question. For this show a contestant would select a category, and then answer increasingly difficult questions as the prize money kept doubling, up to $64,000. Once a contestant got past the $4,000 level, they came back to answer only one question per week, and if they missed a question they lost the money but got a Cadillac (which then cost around $4,500) as a consolation prize.

     The $64,000 Question shot to the top of the television ratings, beating out I Love Lucy as the No. 1 TV show in the 1955 - 56 season.

     By this time Bauer was married; her husband was studying to be a doctor (he was an internist with a specialty in diabetes); and the young couple was struggling to make ends meet in New York City. So Bauer decided maybe she could make some extra money going on one of the TV quiz shows.

    She approached The $64,000 Question and selected the category of boxing, a sport she knew nothing about. But she was a good student and a voracious reader, and so she dove into every book about boxing that she could find. She correctly answered all the questions, and after seven weeks she became the second person, and only woman, to win the top prize of $64,000 -- and ended up famous in the process.

     The government later investigated the TV quiz shows, alleging that they were rigged. Several contestants admitted they had been fed answers in advance. But Bauer always insisted she had not cheated, and she was exonerated by the investigators. Her boxing title was for real. And in 1957, she was invited to provide color commentary during the championship boxing match between Carmen Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson.

     By this time Joyce Diane Bauer had become a household name . . . as Dr. Joyce Brothers, the wife of a respected New York internist, Dr. Milton Brothers, and the woman who knew everything there was to know about boxing. But in 1958 she went back to her true field of expertise. She developed a revolutionary new TV show in New York not to talk about sports, but to offer advice on relationships, during which she answered questions from the audience.

     She covered all manner of topics from blind dates to breastfeeding, from divorce to depression. The show was syndicated across America, and was also supported by a radio show with a similar format -- Dr. Brothers issuing advice and answering questions.

     Dr. Brothers also wrote a syndicated newspaper column, a monthly column for Good Housekeeping, and over the years wrote numerous other articles for various magazines. She also appeared in cameo roles in several movies, and was a regular guest on The Tonight Show. She published several books, including How to Get Whatever You Want Out of Life, and in 1991 a book called Widowed which very honestly and forthrightly chronicled her struggles after she lost her husband to cancer.

     Dr. Brothers died in 2013 at the age of 85. But she will always be remembered, for better or worse, as the woman who pioneered the path for media psychologists. But as her Ph.D. proved, was the real deal, and as her frequent guest appearances demonstrated, she also had a sense of humor about herself -- and about the place she carved out for herself in American culture.

   

Monday, September 1, 2014

Boomers on Labor Day

     It's Labor Day, and here's what Baby Boomers are blogging about.

     Since moving to rural southern Colorado in June, the Midlife Crisis Queen, Laura Lee Carter, has enjoyed a number of drives down country roads all over Huerfano County. Last week she decided to take photos to share her world with you . . . . And also, last week on amazon, she lowered the price on her e-books to $4.99, which is just what you might need if your priorities are changing and you wonder what's next for you now.

Country road in Colorado
     Meanwhile, in the wake of recent events. Amy Blitchok at Modern Senior recognizes the lasting contributions of famous black Americans. These icons from our youth were incredibly influential, and the positive repercussions of their achievements continue to be felt by everyone all over America.

     For example, in her piece Blitchok serves up some interesting details about tennis great Althea Gibson. So . . . my son and I went to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center on Saturday to watch the U. S. Open. We got grounds passes which, at much less expense, allows access to all the courts except for the main Arthur Ashe Stadium.

     We footworked our way around the outer courts to see some of the lower ranked players, up close and personal. Then we hit Louis Armstrong Stadium and watched Andy Murray play an ugly match against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. Murray double faulted to lose the third set, before stepping up to win the next set 6-2, and take the match 3-1. Then we stayed around to see the highest ranked American player, John Isner, lose to the German player Philipp Kohlschreiber.

     Now later today, 8th ranked Murray takes on the 9th ranked player Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. And Kohlschreiber goes up against No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic.

     Which is all a warm-up to refer you to another Baby Boomer tennis great. He won the U. S. Open in 1968, then the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975. And now the main stadium at Billie Jean Tennis Center is named after him. Opened in 1997, Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest tennis stadium in the world, and is a fitting commemoration to the only black man to win the U. S. Open and climb the tennis ranks to No. 1 in the world. Bounce over to Remember Him? for more on Arthur Ashe.

     Meanwhile, blogger Meryl Baer spent this past week mourning the loss of her microwave/convection oven. But never one to wallow in grief, she managed to recover and buy a replacement. In her post she confesses that in the process of shopping for a new microwave, she and her husband also bought a second new kitchen appliance. Although her checkbook is depleted, she feels good knowing she helped out a worthy cause -- the U. S. economy. And now, if you go to her post A Patriotic Pair Step Up and Purchase New Stuff, you can find out exactly which second appliance managed to seduce her into parting with her hard-earned cash.

     Finally, to mark the Labor Day holiday, consumer journalist Rita R. Robison identifies the top 10 destinations for Labor Day travel. The list, featured on her blog The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, starts with New York City, Chicago, and Las Vegas.

     You already know that I visited the No. 1 destination on the list. So now you can fly over to Top 10 Places and find out if your Labor Day festivities included a visit to one of the top spots.