Monday, May 28, 2007

A Father's Story; A Pentagon Tribute

We live in extremely difficult times, and we Baby Boomers have seen all of this before.

It is nearly impossible to believe that so many of us have forgotten the lessons learned from - and the pain inflicted by - the Vietnam experience, but clearly we have.

An ill-conceived, disastrously managed war. Our young, and in some cases, not-so-young maimed and killed. Our economy and our serenity and our standing in the world damaged nearly beyond repair.

Our troops richly deserve our support and respect and gratitude, but the cause for which they and their families must sacrifice - while so many of us remain untouched? We must think carefully about this. Yes, our enemies are vicious and tenacious and they must be confronted, fought and defeated, but where were they before we invaded Iraq and where are they now?

Here, on Memorial Day, are two relatively brief pieces worthy of your review.

One is from the Wall Street Journal and reflects the anguish of a father who not only lost a son to the war but must struggle to come to terms with his role in that loss; the other is about a moving weekly ceremony at the Pentagon and is written by - actually relayed by - a friend and colleague, military correspondent Joe Galloway.

Please read them. Please think about them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Crisp Salute... the fallen who died in service to their country.

BoomVista will be away for the holiday weekend, but let's try to keep in mind the purpose of Memorial Day. It is not to shop, picnic or drive to the shore, though there's nothing wrong with any of that.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor soldiers, sailors, Marines, Air Force personnel and Coast Guard men and women who were killed in the line of duty.

As a veteran, I find myself feeling this more keenly as each year passes and as each Memorial Day and Veterans Day pass.

And, for what it's worth, I think this would be a better nation if everyone were compelled to devote two years of service to their nation.

Could be military, could be a form of civilian service. No matter. The country needs it, and many of our young people could use a bit of discipline, a sense of responsibility to something larger than themselves.

End of sermon. Enjoy the holiday, but also...remember.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

R.I.P. And Pass The Buffalo Wings

Hard to know what to think about this one.

An interesting story in the Press-Enterprise, a newspaper that is based...somewhere (its website is amazingly vague about that), is promoted with this irresistible headline:

"Funerals are becoming a personal celebration."

This is how it begins:

"Louise Felicetta threw her husband, Dominic, a big bash on Feb. 24, the day after his 72nd birthday. At the Gourmet restaurant in San Bernardino, 200 friends and family members nibbled on wings and meatballs, danced to a live band, watched the couple's life unfold on videos and sifted through photos and memorabilia.

"But the guest of honor wasn't there. Dominic Felicetta, of Rialto, was dead. After a short bout with pancreatic cancer, he had been cremated. His ashes eventually will be co-mingled with his wife's and buried in the family plot.

" 'He didn't want a funeral or memorial," says Felicetta, 79. "It was a special day. I came home a little sad, but uplifted." '

Yep, that's how I'm hoping Mrs. BoomVista will feel on that somewhat special day. A little sad, but oh-so-uplifted.

Setting that aside for the moment, along with the fact that the piece attributes all of this to self-absorbed Baby Boomers, even though Mr. Felicetta and his slightly melancholy but uplifted widow are Boomer Emeriti, the article does reflect a growing reality.

Many of us are unlikely to do the fill-in-the-blanks funeral routine. As the piece says, without any apparent awareness of the pun, "Blame it on baby boomers for thinking outside the box."

Mrs. BoomVista, for instance, knows that I want to be buried with a portable XM Satellite Radio and a six-pack of batteries. Yes, XM's 60s music is that good. I'm serious (not to be confused with Sirius).

What about you? Given it any thought? Oh, c'mon, you know you have.

The rest of the article is here. (Upon close examination, the Press-Enterprise might cover the Riverside-San Bernadino area of southern California. But it's apparently not the sort of thing they want to say definitively on their web page.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Balancing Post (rimshot)

OK, so most of us remember the days before Black/CrackBerries, before cell phones and, more to the point I'll eventually get to, before pocket calculators. We remember pencils and paper. We remember those damn multiplication tables.

Boy, do we remember those multiplication tables. And, speaking for myself, I want to keep remembering them.

So I balance my checkbook the old-fashioned way. I insist on receiving hard-copy monthly statements in the mail (you have to be careful - banks are developing all sorts of tricks to get you to click the 'electronic delivery' box). And when the statements arrive, I pull out a pen and the checkbook, and I add and substract and curse and whine and so on and so forth.

Now, I'm no Luddite. I have computers, 6.0 DSL service, a wireless home network, satellite TV and XM Satellite Radio (I still have to get to that post), and I know I can go online and pretty much have the bank do it for me or program the computer to do it.

But I don't. And I usually don't use a calculator either, for the same reason I sometime walk stairs when I can ride an elevator. Exercise.

I want to keep this brain - or reasonable facsimile thereof - as sharp as I can. And I'm thinking (rimshot redux) the best way to do that is to keep exercising it.

Whaddya think? Anyone have a similar hard-headed policy about bank statements and checkbooks? Other examples of the same sort of thing?

Friday, May 18, 2007

We Bet They Do

First, the kicker quote from an AP story about nudist colonies seeking to recruit younger members as an offset to the wrinkling maturing crop of Baby Boomer customers:

"Unlike any other place in life, people actually look at you when they talk to you."

Yes, we bet...

Anyway, the rest of the article is here. It, uhm, raises the question: How comfortable would you be on the receiving end of widespread visual attention?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sad News Today

Lauren Terrazzano, the young Newsday reporter who wrote so movingly about her battle with cancer, has died.

She was married for just over a year. She was 39 years old. "What matters is the present moment," she wrote.

Our condolences and best wishes to her husband, other relatives, friends and colleagues at Newsday.

Here is the obituary published by her newspaper.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Standards and Practices, Part 2

Well, I guess some standards still exist and some lines cannot be crossed without consequences.
XM Radio Suspends Opie & Anthony

WASHINGTON and NEW YORK, May 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- XM Radio announced today that the company has suspended Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia, hosts of "The Opie & Anthony Show" and ceased broadcast of the show for 30 days, effective immediately.

XM Radio deplored the comments aired on "The Opie & Anthony Show" last week. At the time, the company strongly expressed its views to Opie and Anthony, and they issued an immediate apology.

Comments made by Opie and Anthony on yesterday's broadcast put into question whether they appreciate the seriousness of the matter. The management of XM Radio decided to suspend Opie and Anthony to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them.

As a company, XM provides customers with tools to control what they listen to on XM. "The Opie & Anthony Show" appears on one of XM's explicit language channels (XL). Whenever a radio is tuned to an explicit language channel, the letters "XL" continuously appear on the screen. XM frequently mentions on its explicit language channels that the content may be inappropriate for certain listeners and tells how to "block" channels that feature this type of content. Channel blocking is available through or by calling 1-800-XMRADIO.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keeping The 'Lights' On

Excellent news was confirmed on Monday.

NBC renewed "Friday Night Lights," one of the best - if not the best - television programs of recent years.

In addition, NBC says that repeats of the first season will begin airing on Sunday, May 27. Pass the word. As previously discussed, this is a high-quality program that Baby Boomers and their children and grandchildren should support.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Standards and Practices

People who know me well are a little surprised that I haven't yet mentioned one of the things that is making this Baby Boomer's journey into the Third Third most enjoyable: XM Satellite Radio.

One day, I will wax poetic about XM and what it delivers. One day...but not today.

Today, in a bit of an echo of the Don Imus situation, I am compelled to speak harshly about something that was broadcast on XM this past week.

This is difficult for me because I am such a fan of XM and such a proponent of free speech, so I think I'll begin with this description of the event, posted on the web by someone else:

"Warning: Extremely Vulgar Language. XM Shock Jocks Opie and Anthony engage in discussion about forced sex with the Secretary of State. A studio guest, Homeless Charlie, begins describing the scenario as the hosts laugh and encourage him. Anthony talks about the horror for Rice as the guest is "holding her down" and assaulting her. They invite Charlie to be a regular guest."

If you want to hear this for yourself, and I don't particularly recommend it, you can access an audio clip here. A full New York Times account of the resulting controversy can be found here.

Some people I know, also XM fans, are shrugging their shoulders about this. Just a skit, they say. You could hear the same thing on HBO or Saturday Night Live. Some other shock jocks are expressing alarm, saying that criticism of O&A shows that it is becoming a "dangerous time" to be on radio.

Let's be clear. This was not a 'skit.' This was not a comedy routine you would see on HBO. It was not a segment of Saturday Night Live. It would have been edited out of any program broadcast on any television network in this or virtually any other country.

This was a detailed, profanity-laced discussion about forcible, violent sex - also known as rape - on someone, a discussion that appeared to approve of that act and made light of it.

If someone were to rationalize this away, what is next?

Is it OK to have a similar, approving discussion about, say, slavery?

The genocide of Armenians, Jewish people or others?

A forcible, violent sex attack on a six-year-old child?

This was an abuse of free speech every bit as much as yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater is an abuse of free speech, and - in my opinion - it should be condemned as such.

Back in the '60s and early '70s, the most popular weatherman in New York City, the largest market in the country, was Tex Antoine. One night, his weather report came on right after a news report about a violent rape of a five-year-old girl.

Antoine said, on the air: "With rape so predominant in the news lately, it is well to remember the words of Confucius: 'If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.' "

He was suspended and ultimately fired. His career essentially ended that night.

I don't remember anyone raising free speech issues or complaining that it was becoming a dangerous time to be on television.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

And The Answers Are

1. The Lone Ranger left behind a silver bullet.
2. The Ed Sullivan Show.
3. On Route 66.
4. To protect the innocent.
5. The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
6. The limbo.
7. Chocolate (Bonus opportunity: Who was pictured along side that question?)
8. Louis Armstrong.
9. The Timex watch.
10. Freddy The Freeloader, and "Good Night and may God Bless."
11. Draft cards (bras also were burned).
12. Beetle or Bug.
13. Buddy Holly.
14. Sputnik.
15. Hoola-hoop.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

There Will Be A Test

And here it is.

Most questions are easy; some not so much.

Click 'Comments' at the bottom of the post to list your guesses/answers or to comment about someone else's comments. The full list of correct answers will be posted later in the week.

(And thanks to Mark, a loyal BoomVista-ista, for the contribution.

------------------ A TEST FOR OLDER KIDS ---------------

1. After the Lone Ranger saved the day and rode off into the sunset, the grateful citizens would ask, "Who was that masked man?" Invariably, someone would answer, "I don't know, but he left this behind..." What did he leave behind?

2. When the Beatles first came to the U.S. in early 1964, we all watched them on The _______ Show.

3. "Get your kicks, ________."

4. "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed __________."

5. "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, ___."

6. After the Twist, The Mashed Potato, and the Watusi, we "danced" under a stick that was lowered as low as we could go in a dance called the "_______."

7. "N_E_S_T_L_E_S", Nestle's makes the very best___."

8. Satchmo was America's "Ambassador of Goodwill." This great jazz trumpeter's name was ___.

9. What takes a licking and keeps on ticking?

10. Red Skelton's hobo character was named _____ and Red always ended his television show by saying, "Good Night, and "___ ___."

11. Some Americans who protested the Vietnam War did so by burning their ______.

12. The cute little car with the engine in the back and the trunk in the front was called the VW ___? What two other names did it go by?

13. In 1971, singer Don MacLean sang a song about, "The day the music died." This was a tribute to _______.

14. We can remember the first satellite placed into orbit. The Russians did it. It was called _____.

15. One of the big fads of the late 50s and 60s was a large plastic ring that we twirled around our waist. It was called the _______.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read All About Us!

Two messages here.

1. We mentioned this awhile back, but this Sunday's New York Times Magazine is entirely devoted to Baby Boomers. More about that in a minute, but first...

2. It seems like advertisers finally get it, and they are warming to us.

For many years, ad agencies made it clear that they weren't interested in us. Too old. Too locked into our ways.

This made so sense, of course, because we tend to have considerable disposable income - not all of us, but many of us - and we have a history of disposing it.

Well, it took 'em awhile, but advertisers are wising up.

The NYTimes calls this Sunday's edition: “The New Middle Ages: A Special Issue.” It says the magazine "will be devoted entirely to topics facing baby-boomers as they hit middle age. It will cover the ways in which our nation’s most talked-about generation addresses lifestyle choices concerning work, money, travel, politics, spirituality, relationships, health and more."

And here's the kicker: The issue has attracted what the magazine calls "significant advertiser interest" - 56 advertising pages, with the largest contribution in ad sales coming from the financial sector.

(The paper says that, an online version of The New Middle Ages issue, will offer exclusive interactive features, including a crossword puzzle with clues created by former President Bill Clinton, an original documentary on boomer sex lives by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Rachel Dretzin, a video Q&A about the new science of longevity and a questionnaire that measures a person’s wisdom.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Inexpensive travel to London

We're always looking for bargains to share. So, here's a travel tip contributed by John, a loyal BoomVista-ista:

Google Maps is awesome for making travel plans ... follow the steps below to find the cheapest route to London.

1. Go to Google
2. Click on "maps"
3. Click on "get directions"
4. Type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. Type "London" in the second box (the "to" box)
6. Hit 'Get Directions'
7. Be sure to see step #24

It's Never Really Enough, Is It?

So, how much money do or will we need to retire comfortably? And what does that mean exactly anyway...comfortably?

I think a reasonable definition is: Will Mrs. BoomVista let me buy a new car when I want to? OK, more seriously, a reasonable definition is: Enjoying your retirement while spending wisely and modestly and, most importantly, without becoming obsessed by your bank account or net worth.

Coop, a loyal BoomVista, sends along some advice that passed through his computer the other day. It comes from a firm called Daniel A. White Associates, which says it "solely serves the financial needs of those nearing retirement and those already retired."

Much of it is pretty obvious, but it never hurts to review the obvious. Here is the material, which some bracketed remarks from BoomVista:

As retirement rolls into view for the Baby Boomer generation, many people are wondering if their nest egg will provide the quality of life they have been dreaming about for so many years.

There is no universally accepted method for calculating how much money is needed to cover retirement expenses. But a comprehensive evaluation of your financial situation will improve the accuracy of whatever planning tool you use to measure your nest egg. Here is a summary of information you will need.

- Retirement expenses. Start by figuring out current living expenses, then determine what will change in retirement. Most retirees spend less on expenses like food [Huh?] and clothing, but many spend more on travel and second homes. Don't forget health care when estimating your annual retirement budget in today's dollars. [That's certainly the biggie, isn't it? BoomVista's plan - Have Mrs. BoomVista continue working for the health insurance...pretty much forever. :) ]

- Cash flow sources. Be conservative on what you expect from Social Security, although President Bush has promised full benefits for everyone born before 1950. [See this previous post.] Pensions, annuities and reverse mortgages will reduce the amount you need to withdraw from investment accounts. [Many other experts advise extreme caution when considering reverse mortgages.]

- Future events. Downsizing to a smaller home or selling property will add to your nest egg. Money you expect to inherit should be included in your calculations.

- Investment return and risk. How much risk you are willing to take will affect how fast your nest egg grows and how safe it is after your retire. While you are still working, you can take more risks to increase investment returns because you will have time to recover from a stock market setback. But once you've retired, it's advisable to reduce investment risk in order to protect your nest egg from sudden declines in value when you need to make withdrawals.

- Retirement date. People who work past 65 will have a bigger nest egg and fewer years of retirement expenses to cover. [They also will get more work-related aggravation.] Some retirees have found they should have kept their jobs for a few more years.

- Expect the unexpected. Don't rely on formulas based on average investment return, inflation and longevity rates, because deviations from the norm can throw off projections. [This is good advice.}

- Keep saving. The best way to improve your odds for a carefree retirement is to keep adding to your nest egg. [Duh.]