7 Tips on Grocery Shopping in Stuttgart, Germany

Operating hours

Grocery stores are open from 7:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.  They are closed on Sundays. We leave at 6:30 from the house and arrive in the parking lot. We wait for about ten minutes. There are about ten customers with their shopping carts lined up in front of the entry way. In order to get a parking spot, you must be there before the store opens. Parking lots are small. We first go to Kaufman to buy bread and some other items. I buy yogurt and some bananas. My hosts don’t seem to eat much fruit nor yogurt. They did have some green grapes.  We finish shopping and drive over to Aldi. According to my hosts Aldi is a better place to get fresh vegetables.

Grocery Carts

In order to use a grocery cart, you must have a token. Slip the token into the slot and unlock the cart. The cart must be returned and locked. The token pops out and you use it again. No shopping carts are stolen from the lots and they are neatly put away in their racks.

Grocery bags

Groceries are rung up by a cashier who has the luxury of sitting in a chair. She won’t greet you. You will get a strange look if you great her. Don’t ever trust the cashier. Check your receipt before leaving the store. Advice from my host. The customer puts the groceries in the cart. Everyone has carriers stored in their cars for packing the groceries. No service provided. There are no plastic bags.

Storage of milk

Milk comes in a box. It is stored on a shelf. Not in a refrigerator. Yogurt is stored in a cold place. It is not eaten by many German hosts. Eggs are also stored on shelves.

Fresh Bread

Bread is freshly baked every morning. It is the first item Germans buy in the morning. I approach the bakery’s bins of bread. Most of them are half empty. People wait around. The bins begin to fill with the fresh smell of bread. Customers the bread grab with the tongs provided and off they go to continue their shopping. Fresh bread is for breakfast.

Two Floors

The grocery store is two floors. There is an escalator for the customer and the cart to go up at the same time. The escalator is flat. It reminds me of the escalators in IKEA.

Organization

The grocery stores are organized in the same design as  in the US. The candy is in one aisle. Cold foods in the refrigerated aisle. The check out aisle includes tobacco products. There are many Germans who smoke. Most restaurants do not allow smoking inside. There are no rules on how far they have stand outside of a building to smoke. Many people smoke at the entrance. The tobacco products are locked up.

 

 

I Have to Stay Home Again

You cannot share your life with a dog, as I had done in Bournemouth, or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings. Jane Goodall

She left me again. When will she come back? One week? Three weeks? I miss her so much. I know she is leaving when I see the black suitcase. I always get nervous when I see it.

She and Anthony, my pet sitter, took me for a walk around the park. Anthony is from New Jersey. He likes to travel around and pet sit. He is tall and has a deep voice. I think I like him. I got my snacks and did my business as usual. Carol is going to Switzerland. She told me how long she would be gone. I can’t remember because I am a cocker spaniel who doesn’t comprehend time very well.
The night before, she secretly took the suitcase out of the closet. It’s the black one with the orange wrap around the handle. That is so mom doesn’t lose her suitcase. She doesn’t like to pack too early.  It makes me sad. I don’t see my blue traveling bag. The one that has all of my snacks, cushion, and dog food. The one Carol throws into the back of the car on a road trip.  I know I am not going. Dogs aren’t allowed to fly.
Anthony is a nice guy. I used to go to Raintree Pet Resort. It was nice. I could swim. I didn’t. I am afraid of water. I made some friends. I didn’t really like the other dogs. I liked the attendants. They took good care of me. I had my own room and bed. No cages. I hate cages. I was happy to go. Mom decided it was too expensive. She came home from Spain and had to pay $800 to get me out. “You are expensive Chloe,” she said. Mom likes to travel. She needed to find a cheaper place to put me. She loves me, she wanted something special. I know she wouldn’t leave me with someone who would treat me badly.
She found Trusted House Sitters on the Internet. It’s free. Now, I don’t feel so bad. She can travel more often. Not good for me. I have to stay home without mom more often.
I have had five sitters in the past 1.5 years. Mom lays down the law before she leaves. Don’t give Chloe people food. Just vanilla Ice Cream. Make Chloe walk every morning at 5:00. The last sitter didn’t do that. I won’t tell mom. Let Chloe sleep in bed with you.
Mom is happy. She doesn’t worry about me now. She knows the sitters are good. I miss mom. Don’t worry mom. Travel as much as you can. I will always be waiting for you to come home.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.

Josh Billings

Sixteen days later
I lay on the bed watching Anthony throw his clothes into his suitcase. He is not very organized. He just got a call from mom. She has landed and will be home in about an hour. Anthony has been running around the house all morning. Washing clothes, the sheets, towels and then making the bed. Mom told him she wanted the house to look just like she left it. He is cleaning the sink and the shower upstairs. He never used the shower downstairs.
He is making his lunch. Anthony is a vegan. Mom left him some things to eat. He ended up going shopping and buying Vegan food. I am not sure what a Vegan is. Mom will explain it to me when she gets home.
The doorbell rings. Anthony locked the door and mom didn’t have her keys in her hands. He opens the door. I am so excited to see mom. She came back. I pee all over the floor. That’s what I do when I get excited. I give her a lot of kisses. She calls me her “baby girl”. “How’s my baby girl?” I kiss her some more and follow her into the kitchen.
Anthony is still trying to clean up. He is in a real hurry. His Uber is coming soon to pick him up. Mom thanks him for taking good care of me. He actually let me eat dinner in the loft. I won’t tell mom. One of her rules is not to eat in the loft. It’s my secret.
I was sad to see Anthony leave. I hope he comes back again. Anthony leaves and mom closes the door. Now, it is just mom and me again. We go to bed at night. Mom puts her hand on my head and says she missed me. Mom, I missed you too. I love you! Goodnight!

A Democracy in Danger

 

July 4, 2018. I am not wearing anything red, white, or blue. No shorts, t-shirts, underwear, bathing suit, or socks that have a picture of the flag of the United States. I am not feeling proud to be a US citizen.

We have Americans trying to find happiness, wealth, and liberty in our country and they are being shut out. Yes, we are not the only Americans. There are three other Americas. North America, South America, and Central America. They are also Americans. That includes Canada, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and many others.

Children as young as four months old are being taken out of the hands of their parents at the borders of Texas and Arizona sent to far away states, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey. Parents are lied to by the authorities. Told their children are going to take a bath.  Mothers are told to put their children in car seats as the cars speed away without telling them where the children were going. Put up for adoption and a chance they will never see their parents again. Fathers are deported back to their home countries. Accused of the crime for seeking asylum. Their children are nowhere to be found. This is exactly the terror that these people are fleeing. How can this happen in the U.S.?

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.

Charles de Gaulle

“This is the best country to live in. You have the freedom of speech, religion, and to be educated.” said my parents, teachers, and others who were in authority. I believed them until I was 18. I went to live in Mexico for five years. Why was the US the best country to live in? Of course, Mexico does have its problems. Most of them are with corruption. I know many Mexicans who were happy, had nice houses, good jobs, and a chance for education. There are not enough jobs for the people living in Mexico who don’t have an education. They come across the border to work for very low paying jobs. Many people go across the border two or three times a day. US citizens retire in Mexico, visit the beaches, and have vacation homes. They drive back and forth across the border.

Many of the border crossers are from poorer and more corrupt countries. Honduras: Political strife, violence, criminals extort money called a “war tax” for their survival. If the person can’t pay, a member of their family is killed. Guatemala: lack of economic stability, political instability, and natural disasters. El Salvador: Criminal gangs, poor economic conditions, and natural disasters. Most of the first immigrants to come to the US suffered from the same problems. Fear of death for their beliefs, economic poverty, and a chance for a better life.

In the US we have always prided ourselves on having the following three freedoms:   Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom to an education. There has been a change. The newspapers and reporters have been labeled fake. They are shut out of summits and meetings with the president. They are told to “shut up” when they ask too many questions. Most of the questions asked, don’t get an answer. The president of our country has asked that news reporters be jailed. Freedom of speech? You are still free to practice your religion as long as it is a Christian religion. Other religions are scrutinized and criticized by the president. Their leaders and some of their followers are killed by others who don’t agree with them. Freedom of religion? An education depends on where you live and how much money you have. The public education system is not supported by the government. Instead of promoting an education for all, it has become an education for the privileged. Those who send their children to private schools or charter schools. We do not have an education for all.

European countries have everything and more than what we have. A health system available to all. Yes, the taxes are much higher. One for all. All for one. Quality education is free to all until 9th grade. Young people choose to study as an apprentice or go to college and the various other higher education schools. In Switzerland, starting salaries for the service industry are $40,000-50,000 dollars.

Our freedom is slowly being taken away from us. The president acting as the only one making decisions. Telling black football players to get out the country because they don’t stand for the flag. Intimidating our long-term European and Canadian allies. Our senators telling the Prime Minister of Canada “You will burn in hell’” . .Cuddling up next to North Korea, China, and Russia. Kim has been given the honor of being “smart” because he took over North Korea when he was 12. He was given the job by his father. He murdered his half-brother. He throws people who oppose him in jail orders them killed. This is smart? He sent an American student who was tortured home in a coma. This is admirable? His people have a great “fervor and respect” for him. They don’t have a choice. He asks the people of the USA to do the same for him.

The US president makes decisions with the stroke of his pen. Not, knowing what he has signed. He doesn’t want to take the time to read it. Without asking the people around him for their input. What happened to democracy?

We have a Congress and a Senate elected by the people to serve the people. They don’t. They serve themselves. They hide like children behind the skirts of their mothers as if being scolded. They don’t want to fall out of favor. Afraid of their jobs.

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

Barack Obama

We are slowly being changed from a democracy to a dictatorship. OK, maybe this is too much of an exaggeration. We are changing and it doesn’t look good. We need to make some drastic action. Democracy will not be here for the future if we don’t put the brakes on now.

Where is the US headed? What are we going to do about it? Someone do something now!

July 4, 2018. I am not a proud patriot of the US. I am embarrassed to be a US citizen. The president of the US does not represent me!

 

 

 

10 Important Cultural Experiences in Switzerland

 

1. No Free Restrooms known as “toiletines”

There are no “free” restrooms in Switzerland. The price depends on which gender you are. Males can piss in the toilet for 1.5 CH ($1.50). Females cannot perform this technique very well. They are charged 2CH ($2). Some places charge up to $3. This is not a place to rush. You pay to go. Stay as long as you can. The Starbucks near the Zurich main train station across from the tour buses has a code. I paid $7 for a cappuccino in order to get the code. I later found out they don’t change the code. Skip the $7 coffee and type in 5555 to get into the restroom. Hopefully, they don’t change it. It worked for four days.

The door of the restroom in Starbucks at the Zurich main train station.

There is more than one way to flush the toilet. There is one side to flush for poop and another side to flush for pee. One is bigger than the other. I couldn’t figure out which one to flush. I chose the bigger size. Do they go down a different pipe? There is plenty of toilet paper. The toilets are very clean. There is an attendant who cleans the bathroom after each use.

The bathroom in Murren. Just flip the switch here. It all goes to the same place.

2. The laundromats

I used a laundromat in Murren near our hotel. The cost for washing was $5 and the cost of drying $5. My roommate and I shared both the washer and dryer. It costs a total of $10 for the dryer. It took longer for the clothes to dry.

3. No tipping

There is no need to tip in Switzerland. Most waiters and waitresses will refuse the tip. There is not a line to add a tip when you use your credit card. Service people in Switzerland start at $50,000. They are paid very well. They stay at their jobs longer and are appreciated by their employers.

4. No AC

There is no AC in Switzerland. A fan did the job at my hotel in Zurich. It was muggy and warm. We left the windows open when possible in Murren. The windows of the hotels in Zurich have windows that can be opened.

5. Free water

Switzerland has water flowing out of fountains everywhere. People fill their water bottles with fresh cool water. The water is safe to drink.

6.The Swiss diet

The Swiss eat a lot of bread, cheese, dried meats, and yogurt. Pretzel sandwiches were the best. You have a choice of Pretzels with cheese, ham, cream cheese, tuna (I don’t think it was tuna). I had a “tuna”. Commuters stop in front of a pretzel shop on the street and order their sandwiches. Some of them stand around and eat before boarding the train. Others carry their order on board. There is no eating or drinking allowed on commuter trains. Street food is everywhere and very safe to eat.

 

The best pretzel stand in Zurich.

7. Public Transportation

The Swiss make good use of public transportation.  Roads are very narrow, it’s expensive to have a car in the city, there is no parking, and many of the narrow streets restrict car traffic during the day. Transportation is very clean and safe. I never worried about someone grabbing me, taking my purse, or being rude.  As an American, I blended in very well. Until I opened my mouth. The people are very friendly. When I was lost, they pointed me in the right direction. When I couldn’t understand, they translated for me. The trains are sometimes confusing. The only list the last station where the train stops. I became confused because I could never find the station I wanted to end up at. Everything was explained to me by a very kind young man who wanted to practice his English.

The Zurich train station is a two-floor shopping mall. It has everything. It is the only place to shop on Sunday. All shops outside of the station are closed on Sundays.

8. The Swiss are very active

The Swiss bike, swim, and hike. They have access to clean air, water, mountains, uncountable trails for hiking and biking.  There are so many lakes, creeks, and streams. The trains have designated cars for bicycles and strollers. Hikers carry backpacks with camping equipment. Switzerland is one wide open camping spot.

Swiss campsite. So clean!

Lake Zurich flows through the city. People swim and boat in it.

9. Swiss dress informally

They don’t wear t-shirts. The people on their way to work dress in appropriate wear. On the weekends they dress down.

Swiss on weekends

10. There are many outdoor cafes

The Swiss like other Europeans eat outside of the restaurants. Most restaurants are very small. They accommodate between 20-30 people. Some more. Some less. The tables spill out onto the closed streets. There are many Swiss who smoke. Smoking is prohibited inside restaurants, some bars, train stations, and places where children hang out. They are allowed to smoke anywhere outside. The butts are disposed of in a special dispenser found all around the city and right before boarding a train.

Outdoor Bar

Switzerland is a clean and safe place to visit. The people are kind and always there to help out.

Good-bye Switzerland. I will miss you!

 

 

 

 

Am I a Failure?

I stand in front of the automatic sliding doors nervously waiting for them to open. I run back and forth because I can’t find the entrance. I am so excited. I am going to the only store that allows me to enter. My feet are sliding all over the freshly mopped linoleum floor. Where’s the snack aisle? That is my favorite. My feet are moving as fast as they can. I am going nowhere. Oh, I forgot. I am attached to a leash.

A middle-aged lady with a blue apron approaches me.

“Hi, are you Chloe?” she asks

How does she know my name? I look at her with my big brown eyes and wiggle my little butt.

Her apron has the name “Petco” printed on the left -hand side.

She leads me to a large blue enclosure at the entrance of the store. I am not alone. There is another dog sitting with its owner. He is bigger than me. I try to be brave. The lady is talking to Carol, my owner. She is going over the commands that I must master. I am here to take the Canine Good Citizenship test. I have been practicing at home for almost one month. Mom didn’t think it was necessary to sign up for the classes. She knows I am naturally smart and always obey the rules. She just gets annoyed when I whine.

Sit. Sit. Stay. Stay. Come. Good Chloe. I practiced these commands every day. I feel ready. I can do this.

The nice lady gives me the commands. “Sit Chloe”. I sit. She makes a checkmark on her clipboard. She leads me around the enclosure. “Sit”. She walks away. She turns around and says “come”. I come. She makes another check mark. Mom and I go out of the enclosure. We go down my favorite aisle. The snack aisle. I smell the food. That is a bad checkmark. We get to the end and Mom tells me to “stay”. I like mom. I do what she tells me. I sit. Mom turns her back on me and walks to the end of the aisle. I don’t like it when she does that. I am scared she will leave me. I sit and wait. The lady says I must wait for two minutes. I can’t wait any longer. I run after Carol. Another checkmark in the no pass column. We try it once more. No, I can’t do it.

We return to the blue enclosure. The lady gives Mom the bad news. I didn’t pass the Canine Good Citizenship test. I feel bad. Mom reaches down and pats my head. Is she disappointed in me? Am I a failure?

We walk out. I jump in the car. Sit in my seat. I didn’t get any treats. I lay my head down on the seat. We drive home. Mom stops the car. Wait this is not home. I jump out. Mom attaches my leash. We walk a few feet. Yes, we are at the ice cream shop. I am so happy. Mom only lets me have vanilla. I have the best mom. Thanks, Mom. I lick the ice cream off the spoon. Mom tells me I am the best. I feel so good inside.

I am not a failure. Mom loves me!

 

The Journey Continues

Day 1

He stands in the corner. Straight, jet, black, short hair, almond shaped brown eyes. He is 5ft. 7.5 inches. Not showing any facial emotion. Surrounded by ten women, 25-45 years old, ten different nationalities, chattering in varies different levels of English. He slices onions, potatoes, and carrots. He applies oil to the frying pan. The oil begins to sizzle. One by one he tosses in the onions, potatoes, carrots, and thinly sliced beef at a very calculated speed. The smell of the food fills the air. Some smoke arises from the pan and dinner is ready. He was invited by one of the women to cook dinner at our weekly Sunday event in our university dorm common area. He never said a word.

Day 2

The phone in my dorm room rings. I answer. I am not sure if I am being invited for a date or speaking to a foreign salesman who wants me to buy a new car. He speaks slowly and carefully. We meet at the fountain in the middle of the university. It is him. He opens the door to his red Toyota convertible and off we go to lunch. He knows exactly what to order, the only menu item that has a picture. He can’t read the menu. Our conversation is limited. We continue to go out every night for two weeks.

Day 3

December 8, 1980. We stand in front of a Christmas tree with two of his good friends and two of mine. We recite our vows. He has memorized them and requires some language support.  “… for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part…” We are now pronounced husband and wife. A quick kiss on the cheek and a celebration with our friends. No family members invited.

Day 4

January 20, 1981. I have been sitting for thirteen hours. A voice announces that we are landing in one hour. I receive a quick Japanese language lesson from the man next to me. I don’t speak any Japanese. We descend from the plane. There is a written message in Japanese on a bulletin board from him. My seat friend translates it for me. He is waiting. The smell of tobacco smoke overwhelms me. I begin to cough. He is standing patiently waiting for me to exit immigration. The doors open. Floods of people pour out at once. Everyone looks alike. He finds me. We have a quick embrace and head to the train station. A four- hour train ride to our destination.

Day 5

I enter the room. His four brothers, mom, and dad sit, legs folded back, and backs straight up. The table is small and only about 1 ft from the floor. The floor is a tatami mat. Sushi which is a ceremonial food served on very special occasions in Japan is in the center of the table. Everyone stares, emotional expressions hidden, and a great sense of embarrassment on my part. Mom gets up, bows, says something in Japanese, and my husband leads me to my seat on the floor.  Mom serves the food, dad makes a toast, and everyone eats. I am good at using chopsticks. Dinner ends and the family leaves.

Day 6

My phone is beeping. I look down and see my husband calling. I answer. We are 1,871 miles from each other. He is in Michigan and I am in Arizona. My job took me away from him after twenty-seven years of living in Michigan. The conversation did not end well. He is diagnosed with lung cancer. Given nine months to live.

Day 7

He moves to Arizona. We go fishing, camping, and travel as much as possible.

March 13, 2015 life ends. He goes to heaven. Five years of cancer, thirty-five years of marriage, one child, and an incredible adventure later, I am alone.

Day 8

The journey continues.

 

101 and Climbing

I get out of bed at 4:45 a.m. Get dressed, brush my teeth, slip Chloe’s harness over her head, slip on my shoes, and don my cap. Chloe, a brown cocker spaniel is taking her time. She does not want to go outside. We must complete our mission in less than two hours. It is now 72 F. The sun will rise and so will the temperature. 20 degrees higher.

Phoenix and its surrounding areas are long sought after places to be in the winter months. People from all over the US come to live in their “winter homes”. As soon as the weather gets warmer, they return to their “native states”. Just like the birds. Snowbirds. The rest of us stay with no other options.

The park is deserted.  Mallards who forgot how to fly home are socializing next to the lake. The lake water looks cool. Warning: Do not swim in this water, It is reclaimed water and dangerous to your health. The signs around the park say. The ducks don’t read. They get in and swim around. There aren’t any babies yet. It’s too hot!

Children play in the water park while their parents seek shade. No late afternoon picnics. Evening walks begin when the sun sets. People wake up from their afternoon naps, come out of their cool habitats, and congregate on the benches.

Phoenix residents go up to cooler areas for the weekends to go camping. No open fires are allowed. Phoenix hasn’t had rain for almost 80 days. There is no rain in the near forecast. The sidewalks are hot, yes you can fry an egg on the sidewalk and you can bake cookies in your car. It is only the beginning of June and it feels like the middle of July.

Chloe likes to roll around in the grass. The grass is dry and crunchy. She comes home with burs in her hair. She is sometimes rewarded with vanilla yogurt ice cream.

The temperatures will only continue to climb past 101F. They have inched up to 110 in the last two days.

More ice tea, cold soups (Japanese somen), and water, please.

 

7 Easy to Use Apps for Boomer Travelers

Traveling is sometimes very frustrating without some useful tools at our fingertips. I am a traveling boomer and find the following apps very useful and easy to use.

Keep track of your trip

Tripit was recommended to me by a fellow traveler I met at the Women in Travel Summit. Tripit will get information from your received emails about your upcoming trips. Hotels, air flights, and conference dates. It alerts you to any changes in gates, flight times, or delayed flights. It will help you find another flight if your plans change. It maps your entire flight on your iPhone. It allows you to share your itinerary with others.  Tripit Pro costs $49 per year.

Both Tripit (free) and Tripit Pro organize your plans and share with others. Tripit Pro will alert you if a better seat becomes available, track your reward programs, and save money with VIP travel benefits. No more carrying around paper copies of your hotel confirmations or your travel documents. Everything is in one place.

Book your hotel

Booking .com  Manages your booking by showing the check in and check out time. You can become a “genius” with Booking.com when you book your hotels and post reviews of hotels and restaurants. Genius status allows you to check in early, check out late, and at many of the hotels outside of the US, you can get a free drink. This status offers rates at a lower price and rewards you with points for stays at other hotels. Becoming a genius is not that hard to do. The app is very easy and convenient to use. No more useless paperwork to carry around. The app is free for iPhones.

 

Connect with your friends and family you left behind

WhatsApp Messenger is free. You don’t have to use your cell phone to make expensive phone calls from outside of the country to home. It’s available for the iPhone and other smartphones. It uses your phone’s internet connection, not your cellular plan’s voice minutes. Data charges may apply. Check with your phone service before using. All messages are saved until you access them.  Make sure that the people you plan on connecting with also have WhatsApp installed on their phones before you leave the country. This free use does not include 911 calls.

Find Culture Activities

Culture Trip app is free. It provides reviews, customer ratings, and so many possibilities of exploring the culture of the city you are visiting. Type in the name of the city and up pops “The 10 Best Day Trips from …. (the name of the city) “, “Top ten things to do and see”, “Best restaurants and coffee houses”, and a lot of pictures. Information on the app is provided by local people and includes background information on the sites to visit. No more bulky travel guides that take up space. You won’t have the appearance of a tourist.

Find your way around town

Use Google Maps for walking around town. Download the directions using the Internet connection in your hotel room. Use the walking directions. It is much easier than using a paper map. Remember those? I could never read one which caused conflict when traveling with my husband. I never knew which was east, west, north or south. No worries with Google Map. It tells me which direction to go.

Know the exchange rate

XE Currency App is free. It is very easy to use. Enter the amount of the currency for the country you are visiting. Enter the rate of the US dollar and it will be converted. You will know exactly how much money you are spending. No guesswork here. It also allows you to make international money transfers “quickly, easily and securely, 24/7”.

Your Personal Translator

Google Translate is free. It is impossible to know the languages of all the countries you visit. I speak Japanese (can’t read Kanji), Spanish and English. I will be in Switzerland for three weeks and don’t know the language. Use Google Translate by speaking or typing in the text of your native language. Click on the language to be translated to and the voice will produce the proper word. No more bilingual pocket dictionaries.

Now you are ready to travel!

 

 

 

 

5 Advantages of Traveling After Retiring

There is so much to do after retiring and traveling is one of them.

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
— Miriam Beard

The freedom to travel at any time of the year

Avoid the summer vacations. This is the only time that families can travel because of school breaks. Parents arrange their vacations around their children. Everywhere you go, there are crowds. Travel in October- May. You can find deals that are not available during the peak months of vacation.

More time to do research on your travel destination

You don’t have to go where your kids want to go. No more Disney. Choose the places you want to go. Remember the museums that you really didn’t get to experience because your kids were bored. Use the computer to find places less traveled. Airfares are cheaper during off-peak times. Sign on to a site that will alert you when the airfare is cheaper. There is no hurry. Remember, you are retired.

Research hotels. Don’t stay in chain hotels. They are more expensive and add extra fees. Most chain hotels are privately owned. Not all of them are clean and well kept. I stayed in a Holiday Inn. The fee was $120. The window was cracked, the curtains and carpet were dirty. The breakfast was donuts, coffee, and cereal. The people cleaning the hotel looked like the parents of the front desk clerk. This was a hotel in the USA. Check out the reviews on Booking.com or Trip Advisor. Some hotels let you make cancellations without a penalty of up to three days before you check in.

Don’t stay in American chain hotels in other countries. They are expensive. Help the locals who privately own their hotels. Do your research. You have plenty of time.

More time to just hang out

You can take the time to sit in a cafe and observe the people. There are no children running around and rushing you to finish. Wander around the city, beach, or town. Take pictures, eat ice cream, and smile. There is no rush.

You can eat when you are hungry. Maybe you don’t want to eat dinner at 6:00. Eat at 9:00 or 3:00. Explore the places you couldn’t when you had the kids with you. Maybe you will make a new friend.

Stay longer at your destination

You are not working. You have more than a one week vacation. What’s the rush? Take a trip to the outside of the city. Walk through the forests, up a hill, or just drive around. Look for things that you would not see if you were with your kids. The flowers, clouds, birds, and other animals.

Discounts for seniors

This is the time to take advantage of the fact that we are old. Pull out that discount card whenever possible. Discounts are offered at museums, national parks, supermarkets, and theater. Many restaurants offer senior discounts. Senior discounts are not as popular countries outside of the USA. If it is important for you, check it out before you buy.

I’ve learned that the secret of growing old gracefully is never to lose your enthusiasm for meeting new people and seeing new places.

— Unknown wise person

 

 

 

 

Am I Too Attached to my Computer?

I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.

Bill Gates

I think I am becoming too attached to my computer. I had to buy a new modem because mine was out of date. This was discovered during an online chat session with my carrier Cox. Where do the real guys hang out? The speed was very slow and I was confronted with the rainbow circle turning it’s colors over and over.

I installed the modem following the instructions on the box. In my next life, I want to be a computer programmer. The modem was still moving at a very slow pace. I was able to get ten minutes of work done and then the dreaded colored circle began to turn the colors of a rainbow, pink, green, blue.

I contacted Cox again. Have you ever tried to call your Internet company? It’s a secret. They hide the number somewhere. I was able to get in touch with them online. We have a “chat”. I answer his questions and he takes over my computer with his magic wand. He tells me that I need to clean out my Mac.

He turns me over to some other guy who doesn’t work for Cox. I find out later that I will have to pay him $100 to clean my Mac. I am desperate. He wants permission to take over my computer

I say yes. I just want the stupid thing to work

Computers can bully us. A slow and unreliable system will bring even the toughest soul to their knees as they find themselves completely defenseless against the erratic whims of their rogue machine.

Lou Ferrigno

He begins to run a package called MacKeeper. This takes about 10-15 minutes

I can’t do any checking of email, news, Facebook, or pretend to write an article.

Am I too attached to my computer?

It can do so many things in such a short period of time. Research libraries, read other blogs, check out writing retreats, reserve hotels, find restaurants, and buy airline tickets

Am I too attached to my computer?

It makes me angry, frustrated and disconnected when it doesn’t work.

Where else can I get information? I was raised at a time when there were no computers. We used encyclopedias, magazines, maps, and libraries. It is so easy to find information with the touch of a few keys on the keyboard, a question to Siri or Google on our smartphones, and a command to take us to the places we need to navigate by car. Apps that gave exchange rates, translate languages, get us transportation, and lead us around  cities we have never been before.

I handwrite while waiting for my computer to run “package scripts”. I realize that my handwriting is unreadable, it is sloppy, and not as clean when typed. I am trapped by my computer.

I stare at my computer waiting for something magical to happen. “Install time remaining: about a minute” Can I speed it up? No, it has control over me.

I sit here waiting and waiting. The screen goes gray. The blue line stops moving.

Everything is at a standstill. Do I go exercise, scream, touch my toes or start all over again? A message appears “Do not turn off your computer”. Nothing moves now. I start clicking everywhere. The annoying rainbow circle begins to spin around again. Turn off the computer. Start over the voice in my head whispers and is now yelling at me. I do what the voice tells me.

The “chat “is over.  Where did that guy go?

He didn’t help. The rainbow circle continues to move. How do I get that guy back?

He sends me a survey asking me if I was satisfied. No, I am not satisfied

I start again. Back to page 1. How do I get that MacKeeper robot icon to come back?

I found it. Now scanning. I wait patiently.

Mac Keeper is downloaded. Waiting for someone to pop up on a chat to help me activate it.

I wish I would have studied computers instead of becoming an ESL teacher. Not really.

I am waiting for the tech to get back online. He says he will return in a minute.

He is busy helping others like me who think computers should just do their thing without all of the problems. My computer is now protected from computer fraud.

Frank, the tech, found 295 sleeping processes. They were sleeping. Frank got rid of them. Thanks, Frank. Frank just charged me $119 dollars for a 3-month warranty. I have to agree.

OK, so Frank is not finished. He must get rid of all those programs that are sleeping.

Frank needs to remotely take over my computer.

I am trapped. If I say no, he won’t fix my computer. Do I know Frank? Is he honest? I don’t know. I wish I could see him. I could tell if he is honest by looking into his eyes. He is hiding behind my computer. I say yes.

Frank has passed me on to another tech. Frank needs to eat lunch.

The next tech will have access to my computer for the next 2-3 hours. I am going shopping.

My computer now flashes before me. Bringing up files I don’t understand. The remote arrow moves around operating on my files. I no longer have control. I hope my computer is not being hijacked

I return home. Turn on my computer. Yeah, my computer is fast. No more circling rainbows.

I change my password immediately.

Now, there is no excuse to write my article.