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THE RIGHT WAY TO END YOUR LIFE?

Drawing A Clear Map For End-Of-Life Choices!

Robert H. Laws, a retired judge in San Francisco, and his wife Beatrice, knew it was important to have health care directives in place to help their doctors and their two sons make wise medical decisions should they ever be unable to speak for themselves. With forms from their lawyer, they completed living wills and assigned each other as health care agents.

They dutifully checked off various boxes about not wanting artificial ventilation, feeding tubes and the like. But what they did not know was how limiting and confusing those directions could be. For example, Judge Laws said in an interview, he’d want to be put on a ventilator temporarily if he had pneumonia and the procedure would keep him alive until antibiotics kicked in and he could breathe will enough on his own.

What he would not want is to be on a ventilator indefinitely, or to have his heart restarted if he had a terminal illness or would end up impaired. Nuances like these, unfortunately, escape the attention of a vast majority of people who have completed advance directives, and may also discourage others from creating directives in the first place.

Enter two doctors and a nurse who are acutely aware of the limitations of most of such directives. In 2008, they created a service to help poeple through the process, no matter what their end-of-life choices may be. The San Francisco based srvice, called Good Medicine Consult & Advocacy, is the brainchild of Dr. Jennifer Brokaw, 46 who was an emergency room physician for 14 years and saw firsthand that the needs and wishes of most patients were not being met by the doctors who cared for them in crisis situations.

The communications gap was huge,” she said in an interview. “The emergency room doctor has to advocate for patients. I felt I could do that and head things off at the pass by communicating both with patients and physicians.” Sara C. Stephens, a nurse and Dr. Lael Conway Duncan, an internist, joined her in the project. Ms Stephens flew to LaCrosse, Wis., to be trained in health care advocacy at Gunderson Lutheran Health System. Through its trainees, tens and thousands of nurses, social workers and chaplains have been taught how to help patients plan for future care decisions.

 

A Necessary Decison Process

People often need help in thinking about these issues and creating a good plan, but most doctors don’t have the time to provide  this service,” said Bernard Hammes, who runs the training program at Gunderson Lutheran. “Conversation is very important for an advance care plan to be successful. But it isn’t just a conversation; it’s at least three conversations.” Dr. Hammes,editor of a book, “Having Your Own Say: Getting the Right Care When It Means the Most,” said that while he is especially concerned that people 60 and older make their wishes known  to family members and develop a cohesive plan, the same steps should be taken by someone who develops a serious illness at any age.

People need to sit down and decide what kind of care makes sense to them and what doesn’t make sense, and who would be the best person to represent them if they became very ill and couldn’t make medical decisions for themselves,” Dr. Hammes said. “If for example, you had a sudden and permanent brain injury, how bad would that injury have to be for you to say that you would not want to be kept alive?” he continued. “What strongly held beliefs and values would influence your choice of medical treatment?’

Divisive family conflicts and unwanted medical interventions can be avoided when people specify their wishes, he said. His own mother “told us that if she had severe dementia, it would be a total waste of her life savings to keep her alive. She would rather that her children got the money. We help people work through the decision process and involve those close to them so that the family shares in their goals,” Dr Hammes said. “When patients have a care plan, the moral dilemmas doctors face can be prevented.”

At Good Medicine in San Francisco, Dr. Brokaw and her colleagues have thus far helped about two dozen people explain their goals and preferences, at a cost of $1,500 for each person. “In  today’s health care systems, families will be asked when patients can’t speak for themselves, and many families are very unprepared to make these decisions,” she said. Her colleague Ms Stephens pointed out that only about a quarter of American adults have advance care directives of any kind, and only half of them have them in hand or know where they are should they be needed.

 

Furthermore, only 12 percent had any input from a physician when filling out forms which are often alone or with a lawyer. “Our lawyer shouldn’t be writing a medical contract any more than you’d want your doctor to write a legal contract,” Dr. Brokaw said. The kinds of questions she said people should consider: What was your state of health at the start of the illness? What state are you likely to be in at the end of the illness? What, if anything, can provide a soft landing?

 

Proper Planning Helps Avoid Troubles

 

Judge Laws writes in the directive he is preparing,” After family, I value clarity of mind and the capacity to make decisions. To live well is to continue to possess  the ability to converse, to read, to retain what I learn and to coherently reflect and understand. I do not want my life prolonged if I undergo a marked lessening of my cognitive powers.” Judge Laws also does not want “to live with severe distracting pain.”

 

His directive will request that any treatment he receive be compatible with these goals. He also writes that he expects his sons and wife to support his decisions even if they disagree with them and  not let any quarrels over his care cause a rift in the family. Studies have shown that advance care planning reduces stress on patients, their families and health care providers. It also results in 30 percent fewer malpractice suits, greater patient and family satisfaction and a lower incidence of depression, drinking problems and other signs of complicated grief among survivors.

 

Ms. Stephens said that advance directives are “organic documents that can be changed at any time if circumstances or a person’s wishes change.” They should be reviewed at least once every 10 years”, she added.

This Personal Health column written by Jane E. Brody appeared in the New York Times last year.

 

Good advice here and the best time to plan for this is while you’re still in good health.

 

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE

A Complete Guide To Starting Your Own Home Base Busine

 

Long time Mail order expert, Fred Broitman has written the definitive guide to success in a business of your own. If you would like to start a business you can operate from your home no matter where you live and sell to men and women all over the world this book on MAIL ORDER is all you need to get started.

 

You’ll Learn:

  • HOW TO GET STARTED
  • HOW TO FIND GREAT PRODUCTS
  • HOW TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS PROFITABLE RIGHT FROM THE START
  • HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCT FOR BIGGEST PROFITS
  • SECRETS OF CREATING WINNING MAIL ORDER ADS
  • 14 SURE FIRE CHECK OFF LISTS THAT GUARANTEE HUGE PROFITS

and included in  this newly revised edition is: COMPLETE UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ON HOW TO USE THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA TO SUPER-CHARGE YOUR NEW BUSINESS.

 

How to Become A Mail Order Millionaire is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 and shipping is FREE. Send check or money order along with your name and address to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. MICHIGAN AVENUE SUITE 1032 CHICAGO IL 60601. The book is sold on a 100% money back guarantee of satisfaction or return it for a complete no questions asked refund.

George Lauer — The Man Who Changed The Way Everyone Shops!

The Biggest Surprise is That Neither He or His Company Patented It

 

On a Sunday afternoon in 1971, an I.B.M. engineer stepped out of his house in Raleigh, N.C., to consult his boss, who lived across the street. “I didn’t do what you asked,” George Lauer confessed.

 

Lauer had been instructed to design a code that could be printed on food labels and that would be compatible with the scanners then in development for supermarket checkout counters. He was told to model it on the bull’s-eye-shaped optical scanning code designed in the 1940’s by N. Joseph Woodland, who died in December. But Laurer saw a problem with the shape: “When you run a circle  through a high-speed press, there are parts that are going to get smeared,” he says “so I came up with my own code.” His system, a pattern of stripes, would be readable even it was poorly printed.

 

That pattern became the basis for the U.P.C., the Universal Product Code, which was adopted by a consortium of grocery companies in 1973, when cashiers were still punching in all prices by hand. Within a decade, the U.P.C. — and optical scanners — brought supermarkets into the digital age. Now an employee could ring up a cereal box with a flick of the wrist. “When people find out  that I invented the U.P.C., they think I’m rich,” Laurer says. But he received no royalities for this invention, and I.B.M did not patent it.

 

As the U.P.C. symbol proliferated, so, too, did paranoia  about it. For decades, Laurer has been hounded by people convinced that he has hidden the number 666 inside the lines of his code. “I didn’t get the meat,” Laurer said ruefully, “but I did get the nuts.”.

 

This article first appeared in the New York Times Magazine January 6, 2013 under the byline of Pagan Kennedy.

 

Did you know there’s a Museum dedicated  to the bar code? The ID History Museum is run by Bill Selmeier who was interviewed for this story:

You worked at I.B.M. in the 1970’s and then helped promote the U.P.C? Yes, I started the seminars where we invited people from the grocery and labeling industry into I.B.M. We were there to reduce their fear.

 

What were they afraid of? They were afraid that anything that didn’t work right would reflect badly on them — particularly if it was only their own package that wouldn’t scan. The guy from Birds Eye said “My stuff always has ice on it when it goes through the checkout.” So we put his package in the freezer and took it out and showed him how it scanned perfectly.

 

Why are you still so interested in the history of the U.P.C. code? Let me put it this way: What bigger impact can you have on the world than to change the way everyone shops?

 

Even my book How To Become A Mail Order Millionaire has its own unique U.P.C. and as a visitor to my blog I want to offer you a special low price to order the book on a no risk trial. Plus an extra bonus. You can save more than 30% off the price and if you’re not completely satisfied, return it for a full refund. Sold everywhere for $39.95 plus s&h, you can order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 and shipping is FREE.

It has been described by experts in the field as “the definitive guide to success in mail order/direct response

 

How To Become A Mail Order Millionaire is a complete guide to starting your own business, a business you can run from your home with no cost for an outside office or place of business and utilizing the power of the World Wide Websell your product or service all over the world.

 

You’ll learn:

 

How To Get Started
How To Find Great Products
How To Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start
How To Price Your Product or Service For Biggest Profits
Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
14 Seure Fire Check Off Lists That Guarantee Huge Profits
and included in this newly revised edition:
 
Complete Up-To-Date Information on How To Use the Internet To Super-Charge Your Mail Order Business

 

and for all new buyers I’m offering you a huge bonus. Order from this posting and you also receive a full years personal consultation from the author at no cost. Fred Broitman is the founder/CEO of SUNMAN DIRECT Chicago’s largest independently owned direct response advertising agency.  To receive this extra bonus, just send your name and address along with your check or money order for $29.95 to: SUPERIOR PRESS Dept. 8103 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago, IL 60611

HOW TO FAIL… THE KEY TO SUCCESS!

A String of Failures Is Far More Valuable Than A String Of Wins.

Very early in my advertising career, a client taught me a very important lesson.

At the first agency I worked for my boss, the man in charge of recommending which magazines should carry this clients first advertisements asked me to make these recommendations. A little scared and not wanting to make any mistakes, I did my best to do some research. My boss went on vacation and was not available. Not wanting to delay my task, I recommended 5 magazines for their first advertising with our company. Shortly after their ads ran I called the client to find out how their advertising performed and was told that 4 did well but the 5th did so poorly they would never ever place another ad there. I was devestated and apologized for making this mistake.

 

Not a mistake at all, our client said. When this magazine failed to produce sufficient profits from our investment we learned that other similar magazines should also not be used. You probably saved us far more dollars than the cost of this one magazine. How To Fail… The Self-Hurt Guide Augusten Burroughs #1 New York Times Author of Running With Scissors newest book THIS IS HOW explores age old questions in his delightful easy to read book. From his cover blurb. “If you’re fat and fail every diet, if you’re thin but can’t get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can’t get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it’s your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse and don’t know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you’re lost in your life.  If You Have Ever Wondered HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE THIS? THIS IS HOW Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decreptitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.”

 

One of his chapters is headed HOW TO FAIL. Mr. Burroughs writes: “You will learn much more from failing than from making straight A’s in life. A string of failures is far more valuable than a string of wins. The reason is that our brains were programmed in the factory to look for and pay special attention to novelty. Which is to say the unique.”

 

“So if you’re a straight A student in school or a metaphorical straight-A student in your adult life, that’s a whole lot of same old, same old. One A+ paper blends right into the next. It’s when you get a D that you learn something valuable. It’s when you fall on your ass that you actally make progress. I am a complete and total fuck-up. Which is exactly why I am equipped to write this book and tell you how to live.”

 

“I make rings out of gemstones and bronze and I never went to school for this. I never took a design class and I have no business, actually handling 1,525 degree metal and chrysoberyl cat’s eye gems. But I do it anyway. And when I began, I made one hideous disaster of a ring after another until I had made maybe three hundred. Each time, I tried  to make one nice ring. Each time, I totally failed. Until ring number 301. Which was suddenly, inexplicably cool.”

 

“Now I make more good rings than lousy ones. There are always new mistakes to make. But I never make my old rerun mistakes. Perfectionism is the satin-lined casket of creativity and originality. If you’re a perfectionist, at least stop telling everybody you’re one and try to get over it yourself, alone in your home with the lights off.”

 

Here’s just a few other chapter headings in THIS IS HOW:

 
How To Find Love
How to Be Fat
How To Be Thin
How To Feel Sorry For Yourself
How To Be Confident
How To Get The Job
How To End Your Life
How To Get Over Your Addiction To The Past
How To Finish Your Drink
How To Hold On To Your Dream Or Maybe Not
How To Identify Love By Knowing What It’s Not

 
This is just a small sampling of what this book contains. Mr. Burroughs book is published by St. Martins Press and is available from Amazon as is my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. Lauded by industry experts as “the definitive guide to success in direct response/mail order” If you have always had the desire to start a business of your own there is no better time than now. Using the power of the Worldwide Web you can sell a product or service to anyone no matter where they live and you can start your own business where you live.  In the beginning you can do it without employees or outside office expense… This newly revised edition will help you learn:
 
How To Get Started
How To Find Great Products
How To Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start
How To Price Your Product or Service For Biggest Profits
Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
14 Sure-Fire Check Off Lists That Guarantee Huge Profits
Complete Up-To-Date Information On How To Use The Internet To Make Easy Sales

 

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h…. or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 and shipping is FREE. To order send check or money order along with your name and address to: Superior Press 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago, IL 60601. Sold on a 100% Guarantee of Satisfaction or your money back.

Real vs. Artificial Christmas Tree Debate

Real and artificial trees both have their share of pros and cons.

Here are a few things to consider if your family celebrates Christmas and is choosing between a real and artificial tree:

  • As with the paper industry, Christmas trees are a managed agricultural crop. Farmers replant multiple new trees for every harvested tree to ensure the continued sustainability of this renewable source.
  • Tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. In addition, Christmas trees are often grown in soils that could not support other crops.
  • There are about one million acres dedicated to growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides for the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
  • Real trees are grown in all 50 states, and evergreen tree farms employ more than 100,000 Americans every year. In comparison, more than 85 percent of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from China.
  • Artificial trees don’t need watering, don’t shed pine needles, and aren’t sticky. Transportation from tree farm to home isn’t an issue, and they stay beautiful throughout the entire holiday season.
  • While artificial trees cost more initially, they include a stand, often need no skirt, are available pre-lit, and can be used year after year. However they require yearlong storage space.
  • Both real and artificial trees can trigger allergies — whether from the release of pollen on real trees or accumlated dust on artificial trees.
  • Nearly 90 percent of real trees are recycled for landscaping, playground material, hiking trails, fish and wildlife habitats, and more. Artificial trees are nonrecyclable and nonbiodegradable. However, gently used artificial trees are welcome donations at most charities or resale shops.

Interested to learn more about Christmas trees check out www.ChristmasTree.org

If loss of income during this holiday season due to layoffs or companies outsourcing or even shutting down has left you in a position where you and your family are not in a festive holiday mood, I can understand why bells jingling and carolers carolling make you want to say “Bah Humbug”.

There’s not much I can offer you that will bring a smile back this season but I can help you to make sure that next year will be much different for you and for your family.

About 25 years ago I wrote a book about the mail order business. It’s a business I learned about from working with some of the wisest mail order advertising people in the world. These men and women took me under their wing and taught me everything they knew that made them successful and in many cases wealthier than they ever thought possible

Everything they taught me allowed me to start my own mail order advertising agency that has now grown to become Chicago’s largest independently owned mail order advertising agency and now I want to share these secrets with you.

My book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is now in its third printing. It has been described by experts in the business as the definitive guide to mail order success. If you would like to start a business where there is no need to open an office or a storefront but instead work right from your home with no overhead then this book on MAIL ORDER is for you. In this newest edition there is a complete guide with up-to-date information on how to use the power of the internet to make your new business a success.

You’ll learn:

How To Get Started

How to Find Great Products

How to Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start

How to Price Your Product for Biggest Profits

Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads

14 Sure Fire Check Off Lists that Guarantee Huge Profits

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for $29.95 with no charge for s&h. Send check or money order along with your name and address to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago, IL 60601.

Sold on a 100% guarantee of satisfaction or your money back.

The Best Small towns in America…Where the Living is Truly Easy!

There are lists of the best places to get a job, retire, ski, golf and fall in love, best places lists for almost everything. The editors of SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE have produced  the best list of small towns in America, not only to travel to but to live in or retire to.What makes their list so special is that they focused on towns with populations less than 25,000 that have a high concentration of cultural assests common to big cities such as museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries, good food. Travelers, visitors and residents can experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. There is something encouraging about finding culture in small-town America. These small towns reinforce the truth that big cities and grand institutions per se don’t produce creative works, individuals do. And being reminded of that is fun.

  1. Great Barrington, MA.  Big city smart meets New England natural in an art-rich mountain setting. Great Barrington (pop. 6,800) is like a big city where you can get anything you want, to borrow the chorus from hometown boy Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. He was 18 when he wrote the satirical ballad about true events on Thanksgiving Day 1965, when he got arrested for illegally dumping some of Alice’s trash, ultimately making him ineligible for the Vietnam War draft. Trinity Church, former abod of the celebrated Alice, is now the Guthrie Center, a stage for folk music, starting point of the “Historic Garbage Trail Walk” and a place for interfaith spiritual exchange in a town where there could be something contrarian in the water. Take a walk down Railroad Street and you’re likely  to run into folks carrying yoga mats, bags of farmers market produce, books, CD’s double espressos and all the other stuff it’s hard to find in surrounding Berkshire Mountain villages. Great Barrington is devoted to its family farms, and farmers markets that promote the production of locally grown food. Another local boy is W.E.B. DuBois, the great African-American author and educator. His boyhood home just west of town is a National Historic Landmark. Incorporated in 1761 attracted rich summer people who built Gilded Age mansions like Searles Castle, now a boarding school. About 125 miles from New York City, it attracts a hip crowd from the Big Apple, along with New Englanders and recent immigrants from Asia and Mexico. Among its other attractions is a lovingly restored 1905 vaudeville theater, home to a year-round schedule of jazz, rock, dance, lectures and HD broadcasts from London’s National Theater and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Early summer brings the Berkshire International Film Festival and just a country drive away there’s Tanglewood, Shakespeare and Company, the Norman Rockwell Museum and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. To top it all off there’s the frame that nature put aound the picture, with 1,642-foot Monument Mountain to the east and the rest of the Berkshires to the west. Orchards are sheer walls of pink in the spring, farm fields thick with corn in  the summer. Fall leaf-peepers train cameras on golden oaks and crimson maples. Honking geese pass over ice-coated bogs and ponds in the watershed of the Housa-tonic River. All this and bagel, too. Arlo got it right.
  2. TAOS, NM. Modern art, ancient history and counter-culture in the luminous high desert. Beyond Santa Fe, the high road (Highway 76) and the low road (Highway 68) are both beautiful routes to little Taos in the enchanted upper valley of the Rio Grande. Before the counterculture found it in the 1960’s, before Spanish missionaries and mountain men like Kit Carson arrived, even before the building of the Taos pueblo in the 15th century, the Anasazi were here, leaving their ghosts to walk in the shadow of the Sangre de Christo Mountains.  These days tourists, seekers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts pack the plaza of the old adobe town, dabble in its many galleries and museums, delve into history at the 1804 Spanish Colornial Martinez Hacienda and attend concerts (the Music form Angel Fire is a world-class chamber music festival). But Taos (pop. 5,700) still speaks most compellingly to writers, photographers and artists who like Georgia O’Keeffe and D.H. Lawrence before them, come for the flash of a passing spirit and the quality of the light.
  3. Red Bank, NJWillie Nelson and Basie swings in a riverfront town graced by Victoriana. William Count Basie grew up and got his muscial chops on Mechanic Street in Red Bank. In the early 1920’s he moved to Harlem and the rest is jazz history. His hometown on the south bank of the Navesink River about 25 miles south of Manhattan went through some lean, mean times after that, but has since made an astonishing cultural and economic comeback, linchpinned by the refurbishment of the 1926 Carlton Theater, now the Count Basie performing arts center, a venue for ballet  to rock to Willie Nelson. Cafes, galleries, clubs and shops followed, along with farmers markets and street fairs, attracting people from well-heeled Monmouth County and the Jersey Shore.  Town folk from Red Bank (pop. 12,200) went to work on neglected old homes with good bones, the landmark Victorian train depot was restored and the silver was polished the Molly Pitcher Inn, named for a Revolutionary War heroine who is said to have brought water to thirsy soldiers serving under George Washington during the battle of Monmouth County. The Navesink got a spiffy waterfront park, the setting for jazz concerts in the summer and iceboating when the river freezes, string quartets and youth choruses perform at  the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, while the Two River Theater Company stages new plays and musicals. It all adds up to a model for small town renewal.
  4. Mill Valley, CA. A Bay Area enclave that put mellow on the map keeps its funky vibe. Mill Valley (pop. 13,900) is one of the jewels in a necklace of beautiful towns–along with Sausalito, Marin City and Tiburon–across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It’s tucked into a canyon on the flank of the 2,571-foot Mount Tamalpais, near the giant redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument and marshland surrounding Richardson Bay. The setting and proximity to San Francisco attracted sawmills, dairy farms and resort operators, then Beat poets and hippies who scandalized locals by skinny-dipping and smoking weed. A more recent influx of wealthy commuters has made Mill Valley one of  the nation’s wealthiest ZIP codes. Shops, galleries, organic food restaurants and art festivals cater to the newcomers, threatening to crowd out ratty old landmarks like the beloved Sweetwater Saloon where Bonnie Rait, Ry Cooder, Jerry Garcia and Elvis Costello played. The good news is that, as of this past January, the Sweetwater’s back, occupying new quarters in the town’s old Masonic Hall. The Art Commission sponsors concerts and comedy in the town plaza, and the Throckmorton Theater welcomes music groups like the Kingston Trio and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, along with a June festival deicated to gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
  5. Gig Harbor, WA. Take numerous art  galeries. Add sailboats and local wines. Stir. Enjoy. Come by boat, as so many people do–beginning with a team of surveyors from the Congresionally mandated Wilkes Expedition in 1841–its easy to miss the narrow opening on  the ragged west edge of Puget Sound that marks the entrance to Gig Harbor (pop. 7,200). That would be a pity because it leads to one of the snuggest harbors in the Pacific Northwest, a thicket of sailboat masts rimmed by tall pines on the far side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. When the sun shines you can see Mount Rainier and the snow crusted Cascades on the eastern horizon; in squally weather the sky closes in sp seascape artists paint from memory. Never mind. As local gallery owner Bill Fogarty would say, “Don’t let the drizzle get you down. Think of what it does for the rhododendrons.” The unprepossessing little town has been lately been discovered by outlanders from Tacoma and Seattle insearch of still relatively affordable waterfront property. Chain stores have sprung up out on the highway and old fishing docks have yielded to fancy powerboats and yachts. Daytrippers come for gourmet restaurants with Washington State wines. Don’t miss the gallery walks held on  the first Saturday of the month. Settled in the 19th century by immigrants from the Adriatic Coast of what now is Croatia. Gig Harbor is a little like Maine without the Yankees. The peninsula’s forested hinterlands became home to many Scandinavians, who built dairy farms and planted srawberry patches that send their riches to Puget Sound markets. Gig Harbor was isolated until the building of a bridge across the strait that separates the Olympic Peninsula from Tacoma. On any given summer seekend there’s likely to be a chowder cook-off, a quilt show or a festival celebrating boats, gardens or wine; vendors at the farmers market offer mandolin lessons along with strawberries and grass-fed beef. On open-air film nights folks pile on blankets spread across the lawn to watch Free Willy, Jaws or another maritime classic.
  6. Durango, CO. All aboard for mountain fun, plus classical tunes and–gasp–vaudeville. It would be a bald-faced lie to say that Durango (pop. 16,900) isn’t devoted above all to outdoor recreation, from mountain biking and black-diamond skiing to Ironman triathlons, white-water kayaking and rock climbing. But between adventures in the surrounding San Juan Mountains, people celebrate life Western-style in the old railroad and mining town’s lamppost-lined historic district, among art installations along the Animas River greenway, and at the nearby Music in the Mountains festival come July (heavy on the classical offerings, but a bit of pop, too), the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall, and the Henry Strater Theatre, a.k.a. the “Hank,” a showcase for vintage melodrama and vaudeville. Best of all the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad opened in 1882 and now a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, still carries passengers 45 miles into the heart of the high San Juans, pulled by a coal-fired steam-driven locomotive, with the occasional bluegrass band or cowboy poet onboard for entertainment.
  7. Butler, PA. An old-time rural hub as down-to-earth as its most famous product– the Jeep. Mines and factories come to mind when people think about Western Pennsylvania, but forests and farms stretch across the state, punctutaed by small towns like the seat of Buttler County north of Pittsburgh in the Allegheny River watershed. Butler (pop. 13,800) is an American classic that grew up along a trail blazed by George Washington, sent in 1753 to discourage French settlement along the frontier. Farmers followed, giving the region its country character and prized hand-built barns. The town serves as a business and cultural hub, with its own baseball team, thriving downtown, community symphony, theater and barbershop chorus. The Maridon Museum, founded by local philanthropist Mary Hulton Phillips, houses an excellent collection of Asian art, and the Butler County Historical Society maintains an old settler’s cabin, schoolhouse and the landmark 1828 Lowrie Shaw House. Butler owes its star on the map to the Jeep, invented just before World War II at the town’s American Bantam Car Company and still celebrated in August at the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival.
  8. Marfa, TX. With mock culture, edgy movies and ironic motels, it’s no cow town. It’s just a fly speck in the flat, hot, dusty cattle country of southwest Texas–closer to Chihuahua than Manhattan. But its cooking thanks to an influx of creative types from way downtown: filmmakers like the Coen brothers who shot No Country for Old Men in Marfa (pop. 1,900), indie rock bands and others who have brought such outre’ installations as Prada Marfa, a faux couture shop in the middle of nowhere by the artists, Elmgreen and Dragset. Cultutal camp followers arrived on their heels to open galleries, bookstores, gourmet food trucks and lodgings (in a historic Pueblo-Deco hotel and vintage trailer park called El Cosmico). It may have all started when people noticed the Marfa Mystery Lights, an optical phenomenon popularly attributed to UFOs and celebrated with parades, battling bands and exhibitions every Labor Day weekend. Or in the early 70’s when New York artist Donald Judd landed in Marfa to plant his massive mimimalist sculptures on a decommissioned military camp outside town, the core of the coollection now at the Donald Judd and Chinati foundations. These days–move over Austin–an Our Town grant from the NEA is helping Marfa’s not-for-profit Ballroom Foundation create the Drive-In, an open-air art space designed by the cutting edge New York architect firm MOS.
  9. Naples, FL. World-class music, design to die for and Palm trees: What’s not to like? Even when it’s snowing somewhere up north, around the historic Naples pier they’re catching mackerel, opening beach umbrellas and looking for treasure in the surf. Grandkids are building sand castles, pelicans are squawking and the Gulf of Mexico is smooth as far as the eye can see. Travelers have been coming to this small town (pop. 19,500) on the edge of  the Everglades ever since the  late 19th century when you could reach it only by boat and there was just one place to stay, the steeple-topped Naples Hotel, connected to the pier by a track with a cart for moving steamer trunks. Back then the visitors were chiefly sportsmen drawn to the abundant fish and game of southwest Florida’s cypress swamps. Once the Orange Blossom Express train reached Naples in 1927, followed a year later by the opening of the cross-peninsula hghway system the Tamiami Trail, sun-seekers arrived in boaters and bloomers, many of them Methodists from the Midwest who thought the drinking started too soon after Sunday church service in West Palm Beach. So when the snow flew, say, in Cincinnati, they decamped to winter retreats in Naples with wide sleeping porches, pine plank floors and whirring ceiling fans. Today Naples has malls and high-rise condos. Touristy development has taken over bayside docks where fishermen used to haul in giant grouper and tarpon. Traffic clogs the ritzy Fifth Avenue South shopping and restaurant district but if you’re a first time visitor, check out the Naples Historical Society’s walking tours through the town’s winsome historic district and bougainvillea-lined back alleyways. If most of the folks you meet are over 65, in Naples old age looks pretty golden. Ask a duffer with a fishing pole how he likes his martinis and he’ll tell you the third one’s always beautiful (Methodists not withstanding). A fair percentage of the snowbirds are retired executives with cultural expectations and the means to pursue them. So the town has an astonishing concentration of deeply rooted cultural institutions like the Naples Zoo, located in a tropical garden founded in 1909, the Naples Players, a community  theater now in its 59th season; and the almost- as- venerable Naples Art Association in Cambler Park. Naples also boasts its own Philharmonic Orchestra, born 30 years ago on nearby Marco Island. This renowned group has its own state-of-the-art concert hall visited by the likes of Kathleen Battle and Itzhak Perlman along with Broadway musicals and appearences by the Sarasota Opera and Miami Ballet. Bronze sculpture by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdes’ and massive art glass by Dale Chihuly spill over into the lobby from the galleries in the adjoining Naples Museum of Art. Dozens of Art galleries line Third Street South from the designated Design District. Meanwhile, at the Naples Pier, there’s bound to be someone at an easel, with a palette provided by the Gulf of Mexico–all sky blue, sand white and aquamarine.
  10. Staunton, VA.  A Shenandoah mix of Confederate relics and Elizabethan theater. Drop the U when pronouncing Staunton (pop.  23,700) and you’ll sound like a local. The town looks west to the Appalachians, east to the Blue Ridge at the heart of  the Shenandoah Valley. Staunton played its role on the early frontier and as a staging center for the Confederate Army, bred America’s 28th president (a highlight of the Woodrow Wilson Museum is the 1918 Pierce-Arrow limo he used after negotiating the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I) and nurtured the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind and Mary Baldwin College. More recently it has added such cultural assets as the Dixie Theater movie house, Mockingbird Roots Music Hall, Heifetz International Music Institute, the outdoor Oak Grove Theater and above all, the American Shakespeare Center, housed in a landmark re-creation of London’s Blackfriars Playhouse, where original staging techniques such as role-doubling are replicated and the dramaturge doesn’t shy away from a bit of Elizabethan bawdy now and then. Staunton’s National Historic Register red brick downtown has galleries, a camera museum, an old-fashioned trolley and Tiffany window-lined Trinity Church. Up the hill at  Victorian-era  Thornrose Cemeter, there’s a separate section holding the remains of almost 2,000 Confederate soldiers, while the bandshell in nearby Gypsy Hill Park serves as the summertime home of the 70-piece Stonewall Brigade Band, founded in 1855 to feature the then novel saxophone.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful – Winter’s many Hidden Hazards

Home for me is Chicago and we are having one of the mildest winters I can recall. Very little snow (by Chicago standards) and not even all that cold (again by Chicago standards) but if you are reading this and your winter weather is frightful, here are some helpful tips courtesy of THE INK WELL who publish a monthly printed newsletter sent to their customers.

Depending on where you live, a covering of fluffy snow and the glisten of icicles can be beautiful signs of the season. However, winter can also come with many hidden hazards.

Here are a few must-know tips to keep you safe and healthy.

Did you know indoor radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer? Radon levels can increase at a deadly rate during cool months when windows are closed, so it’s important to test your home for radon. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/radon.

If your furnace or other heat source stops working, avoid frozen water pipes by turning your faucets to a steady drip. If the pipes do freeze, open a faucet near the frozen area to release vapor from melting ice, then direct a heat lamp, space heater, or hair dryer at the frozen section. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame, which can cause a fire or steam explosion.

Hypothermia can happen to anyone when their body temperature reaches 95 degrees or lower. Even mild indoor temps of 60-65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in infants and the elderly.

Signs of Hypothermia include

  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Slow Breathing

Beware of frostbitten skin, which appears whitish and feels numb. Treat frostbite by wrapping the area with blankets, or use body heat to warm it gradually. Do not rub frostbitten areas — friction can damage the skin tissue.

If you are standing on a frozen lake, pond, or outdoor skating rink and hear the ice cracking, lie down immediately to distribute your weight. If you fall in, don’t panic. Focus your energy on getting out as quickly as possible. Once out, use powdery snow to sop up excess water. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, or run in place to get your blood pumping and warm up your body.

For more winter tips, check out: www.epa.gov/region3winter

Wise words:

“Health is like money–we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”

Speaking of money. If you are contemplating going into business for yourself, take advantage of my special offer for HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. It’s available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h, but as a reader of my blog, you can obtain a copy by ordering direct from the publisher. Send a check or money order for $29.95 plus $3.50 (Total $33.45) to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601 Sold on complete money back guarantee of satisfaction.

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

That’s the headline to Matt Taibbi’s article in the current issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. Last week’s post was from a conservative columnist who writes for FORTUNE MAGAZINE. It’s only fair for a progressive view–and there’s few as good as Matt Taibbi. He alone is well worth subscribing to one of my favorite magazines ROLLING STONE. Herein are excerpts:

“I have a confession to make. At first I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street. The first few time I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protestors on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he’s not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want but he and his fellow Franksteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street but EVERYTHING. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it‘s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg’s police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protestors themselves—their hygiene, their ‘envy’ of the rich, their ‘hypocrisy’.

The protestors, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, ‘needed three thing: showers, jobs and a point’. Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protestors hypocrites for having iPhones. ‘OWS’, he said is Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s- clad, iPhone clutching protestors (denouncing) corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over’. Apparently because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protestors can ever consume a corporate product—not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee’—if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker’s bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY AMMUNITION! we counseled. STAY ON MESSAGE! BE SPECIFIC!. We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within the system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all this. They don’t care what we think they’re about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something.

I think I understand now that that’s what the Occupy movement is all about. It’s about dropping out if only for a moment, and trying something new. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is successful for now, just by being something different.”

These are only excerpts from Matt’s excellent article in the November 22nd issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. To read it in its entirety, pickup a copy or better yet become a subscriber. I’ve been hooked on their political reporting for 25 years and with age, year after year, it only gets better.

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