Sunday, November 2, 2014

Considering A River Cruise? Advice From Friends Is Priceless.

(Rhone River Cruise Photo by Bill Cook)
If you've never experienced a river cruise in Europe or in the USA, advice from friends who have can be your best guide.

For their second river cruise, Ruthanne and Ted cruised the Danube this summer with Grand Circle Tours(; in 12 days, they visited the capitals of 4 Central European countries and highly recommend the experience.

"River cruising provides a view of the countryside not possible on ocean-going vessels
and not similar to road trips. Civilization’s dependency on waterways for communication and growth is evident in the way villages, towns and cities emerge in various fashion along rivers. Travel from this vantage point makes river cruising fascinating."

Ruthanne points out that many travel companies offer these cruises.  She continues,  "The ships range in size to accommodate the type of travel and geographic region as well as the traveler’s personal preferences for amenities.  One big advantage of cruising is that your cabin is your home for the duration of the trip. No hotel hopping/packing and unpacking necessary! It has been our experience that the ship’s crew and staff become as familiar as your fellow travelers. Every effort is made to make you feel like the ship is your home away from home. Fellow travelers are friendly, ready to see and explore new places. There are daily opportunities at mealtimes, during shipboard activities, and on bus excursions to mingle and interact with folks. "

"Throughout this 12-day tour we had city tours, side trips, and personal experiences with the locals. As first-time travelers to areas which were once dominated by the Soviets and as we heard stories and saw places where political unrest prevailed, we marveled at the resilience of the human spirit.  At all times we were constantly in awe of the culture and history and differences among the four capitals and the towns and villages in between them."

"Our trip began with three days in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Since it escaped WW2 bombing. Prague is a glorious example of a modern city built around the original medieval city. From that location we traveled by bus to Linz, Austria where we boarded our ship to begin the Danube river cruise. A highlight of the river journey was the day we cruised along the Wachau Valley viewing sculpted hills and medieval towns built along the river. Vienna, Austria’s capital, offered many grand architectural examples from the Hapsburg rule as well as a setting for a visit that could have easily focused exclusively on the musical heritage of the city. Slovakia’s capital city of Bratislava provided a very personal experience for us. In addition to seeing the ancient city’s Old Town, we travelers visited an elementary school and were guests for afternoon coffee and cake at a resident’s home. In Hungary, we marveled at the beauty of its capital city, Budapest. Magnificent historical buildings flank both sides of the Danube. We ended our tour with a magical night cruise along Budapest’s portion of the Danube."

Their recommendation to the rest of us?  The unique experience of traveling via riverboat to any destination is one that we feel any traveler would enjoy.

This summer, Jan and Bill chose a Viking cruise on the Rhone River. Jan explains,
(Place St. Nicolas, Auxerre-Photo by Bill Cook)
 We took their cruise on August 23-31 on the Rhone River from Marseilles, France to Chalon sur Soane just beyond Lyon with port calls at all the old  villages, cities and towns along the river. Wonderful guides. Three gourmet meals a day with free  beer and wine. The service was superb. Accommodations new and well thought out for a boat journey. We had a small veranda. The river was calm, serene and beautiful. There were locks and dams to pass through but no disturbance at all. We had excellent weather the whole seven days. We added a three day extension and visited Paris. The cruise arranged all that, hotel, transportation and a tour. We arranged a trip to Giverny to see Monet's home and gardens ourselves. In Paris, we ate at bistros and enjoyed that fare."

Jan gives us excellent advice on booking. "For us, the downside was getting there and back. The airlines were on time but we lacked good connections which resulted in being awake for nearly a day, counting the six hour loss due to time zone. Being seniors, this didn't sit too well. We felt perhaps we could've done better by booking ourselves. We went with the cruise because of being sure to make the boat connection in port etc."

Is this cruise one that the rest of us should consider?  Yes.  Jan comments, "We would highly recommend the cruise otherwise."

Are you interested in river cruising but want to stay stateside?  Carol and Ray have had great experiences on three  US trips with American Cruise Lines. The company boasts that they do "small ship cruising done perfectly," and our friends agree.  The Maine Coast and Harbors Tour was their most recent, just this summer. They enjoyed cruising the Maine coastline with stops in Portland, Bar Harbor, Castine and Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Boothbay Harbor, and Bath.  In addition to great accommodations, wonderful food, and entertainment, the tour provides opportunities to tour  Arcadia National Park, the Maine Maritime Museum, Boothbay's Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and Rockland's "thriving lobster fishing town." The tour included an expert guide on board and also featured experts at each port. Not to be missed is the Lobster Fest on the beach.

Carol and Ray also recommend the Historic South and Golden Isles cruise and the Mississippi tour St. Louis to New Orleans, round trip.
(Arles-Photo by Bill Cook

(View of Old Village and Castle from
 Ship-Photo by Bill Cook)

Our thanks to Ruthanne and Ted,
 to Jan and Bill, to Carol and Ray for their advice, and to
Bill for his great pictures of the Rhone River trip.


Six Strategies for Raising Caring Children (and Grandchildren)

Reading the 6 strategies for raising caring children accomplishes more than one goal.  First, you'll find that you already do most of them. That's nice to know!  Second, one or two could be those we feel we need to emphasize.  And third, we can all help our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and those young friends we meet to evolve into the caring adults we hope they will become.

Six Strategies for Raising Caring Children Submitted by JNJParents on Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:00 
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Raising caring children takes focus and effort on the part of parents. But we’re here to help – with some great tips you can start using today.

If someone were to ask your child what you think is the most important thing for them to be—morally sound or a high achiever—what would your child say in response?

Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd, co-founder of the
Making Caring Common project, has posed this very question to thousands of children, parents, teachers and coaches through his research.

What he discovered: A pretty significant gap exists between what parents say their top priorities are for children, and what their children perceive these priorities to be.

So what can parents do about it? And perhaps even more notable, why is it important that parents and caretakers make caring a priority? Below, Dr. Weissbourd shares six tips that he views as key “guideposts” to raising caring, respectful, and ethical children.

1.  Lead by example: Children learn ethical values and behaviors by watching our actions and the actions of other adults they respect, so it’s critical for parents to be strong role models and mentors. Doing community service with your child, and/or talking with your child when you make a mistake that affects them are just a couple ways to serve as a strong role model to your kids.

2.  Prioritize caring for others, set high ethical expectations: It’s crucial that children hear from you that caring about others is just as important as their happiness. Parents and caretakers can work toward this by holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, doing the right thing even when it is difficult, standing up for important principles of fairness and justice, and insisting that they’re respectful, even if it makes them unhappy.

3.  Practice, practice, practice: Becoming a truly “good” person takes practice. Set the expectation that your child routinely helps, for example, with household chores, and only praise uncommon acts of kindness. When these kinds of routine actions are simply expected and not rewarded, they’re more likely to become ingrained.

4.  Work to expand your child’s “circle of concern:” This is one of the most important principles in raising caring children. It’s no surprise that almost all children empathize with and care about their immediate circle of families and friends. Parents and caretakers need to coach children to have empathy and care about someone outside that circle—such as a new child in class, someone who is unpopular, doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.

5.  Harness your child’s natural inclination to be a force for good: Children are inherently interested in ethical questions and they often want to take leadership to improve their communities—they want to be forces of good. Parents and caretakers have the innate ability and opportunity to help children become ethical thinkers and leaders by, for example, listening to and helping them think through their ethical dilemmas, such as “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”

6.  Teach your child how to manage their feelings: Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. It’s important for parents and caretakers to be in tune with why their child is not being kind, and identify the root of the problem. Practice with your child how to resolve conflicts in a constructive manner.

Why is it so important to prioritize caring?

According to Weissbourd, “We’ve seen a shift in our child raising culture in recent years that puts a huge emphasis on how a child is feeling, rather than providing the child with the right guidance to be ethical. I’m not dismissing feelings, or achievement as being unimportant. However, when children do not prioritize caring and fairness in relation to their self-concerns…there is a lower bar for many forms of harmful behavior, including cruelty, disrespect, dishonesty, and cheating. As parents and caretakers, we have a unique opportunity to work closely with our children to ensure that they are prioritizing and embodying the qualities we most value.”

For more information about Dr. Weissbourd’s research, check out the
Making Caring Common website.

We Know Technology Has Gone Too Far When This Happens!

Most of us have chargers for phones, for ipads, for laptops, and ereaders all over the place.  We are tuned in to technology on many fronts.  However, we might want to back away if technology goes this far.

Enjoy the video and be happy that it's all in fun.

Our thanks to Chris H for sending this very cute-and potentially  a tiny bit scary- video.

Symptoms That We Women Need to Know

(Bing Images)
I thought I had read everything there is to read on the symptoms of heart attack and what to do.  True, I did know that the symptoms for women differ from those experienced by men.

What I didn't know is that we women may be totally fooled by the symptoms we have, so much so that the words 'heart attack' don't occur to us.
FEMALE HEART ATTACKS:  A Nurse Describes Her Experience.

She relates, " I had a heart attack at about 10:30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up

 "A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation--the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m."

"After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight, it was probably my aorta spasms), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR)."

"This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. 'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening -- we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, "Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!"

"I lowered the foot rest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else... but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in a moment."

 "I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to un-bolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in."

"I unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stints to hold open my right coronary artery."

"I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents".

"Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first-hand. 

1 . Be aware that something very different is happening in your body, not the usual men's symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know they were having one and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up... which doesn't happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to have a 'false alarm' visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be! 

2. Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics .' And if you can, take an aspirin. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER - you are a hazard to others on the road.

Do NOT have your panicked husband drive. He will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road.

Do NOT call your doctor -- he doesn't know where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later.  

 3. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the causesystem to sludge things up in there. Pain in the jaw (or back) can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive."

Thanks to Joan H for sending this.  We might add that keeping the cell phone nearby when home alone could be a life saver.

Would Your Doctor Say This? If So, It's Time to Take Your Health Issues Elswhere.

(Bing Images)
It's true that we all watch what we eat...mostly, exercise... somewhat, and follow a healthy lifestyle( Say 'Om').

In fact, the Cleveland Clinic Health Hub gives the 9 ways to best guard our health: 1.  Eat like a champion 2.) Get your cholesterol checked. 3.)  Watch your blood pressure. 4.) Pursue and ideal body mass. 5.)  Keep safe blood sugar levels 6.) Get moving. 7.) Quit smoking. 8.) Sleep well. 9.) Keep pace with health screenings.

But if all of the above is becoming tiresome to think about , you could give in to the very, very wacky advice from a very, very suspect doctor:

Love this Doctor! 

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true? A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?

: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle? A: Oh no! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans...

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

Eat and drink what you like. 

Note:  Wow! And you  paid for this advice? Wait a minute.  I think it's time for this patient and our readers to schedule a second opinion!  
Our thanks to Joan D for the sane advice and to Tom Z for the zanier approach to living well.