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How an Inheritance can Fracture Your Family

12 Nov DaVinciS

After seeing how inheritance issues have left my extended family with hurt feelings and relatives not talking to each other anymore, I concluded that adult children should be treated equally when it comes to an inheritance. I came across an article by Jean Chatzky  a best-selling author and an award-winning personal finance journalist and thought I’d share it with you. Below are excerpts from her article. It opened my eyes. She quotes several experts in the field. I’ve added my own rebuttals below each of her 5 steps. I added a 6th step.

  1. Can you communicate openly? According to Detroit area elder law attorney Mark Accettura. “Estate planning is not a democratic process. It’s really the parent’s wishes,” he says. Parents should give kids a basic sense of where they stand financially — always noting that the situation can change if more money needs to be spent on their own medical care — as well as clear instructions about whom to contact and where important papers are kept.

***

Me: As someone who majored in Communications, I firmly believe it’s a miracle that any of us can understand what anybody says. Seriously. Yes, some of us are better at communicating than others, but you better be prepared for that good old “perspective” not to mention someone’s life experiences to throw you for a loop!

Here’s a test. Picture an apple. In fact, draw an apple and jot down all the details of your apple. Did you do that yet? Good! There are over 400 followers on this blog. Guess how many of you will have the same exact apple details? NOBODY! One of you will have a red apple, one of you will have a green apple, one of you will have a small apple, or a big apple, or a sliced apple, or a baked apple, or applesauce, etc. That test was our communication only about a simple apple.

guitargoa

The Big Apple

Answer this question. How many families have open communication? Aren’t families notorious for having “family secrets”? Don’t get me wrong, open communication is a great idea. If you can accomplish it, you’re way ahead of the game. Also, I might add, do you feel comfortable about telling your children where you stand financially? Sorry, I don’t. I might as well post my assets on my blog. Haven’t we been brought up never to talk about “religion, politics, and money”? Now, nearing our deathbed (or not), we’re supposed to tell our kids about our assets? That’s like telling our kids what sex positions we like. Does my son know my basic financial worth? I think so. Who can remember? A better question is, “Does he give a flying leap?”

  1. Are you treating each child equally? One of the most frequently asked questions by anyone leaving an inheritance is whether they have to treat the kids equally. Experts say it certainly helps.

“If you want to minimize fighting, leave it as equal as you possibly can,” says Accettura. That applies not just to assets but also to responsibilities for settling your affairs. “When parents appoint responsibility they’re making a statement as to who is worthy, capable, who they trust. It’s a final statement and it’s irrevocable, so it’s important to be concerned about people’s feelings.” He suggests that anyone capable should at least have a small role.

***

Me: Ah, this is such a subtle thing, appointing responsibilities but Accettura really nails it on the head when he talks about “a parent’s statement as to who is worthy, capable, and who they trust.” How many parents take this into consideration? It seems minor, but it’s about as minor as a walk across a minefield.

  1. Did you leave the decision making up to one child? Leanna Hamill, a Boston-area estate planning attorney, has seen parents with, say, a $200,000 life insurance policy name their oldest child beneficiary and trust him (or her) to divvy it up among the siblings. Big mistake.

“If you want all siblings to inherit equally, put them all down as beneficiaries,” she says. If you have jewelry, art or other items to bequeath, leave a list of who gets what, along with a method for dividing up whatever is left so that people can take turns calmly.

***

Me: Suppose one of your children is a Financial Advisor. You should have that child be the beneficiary and trust him or her to divvy it up. Right? Big Mistake in my opinion! Put them all down as beneficiaries and follow the rest of the advice of Hamill.

  1. Are you distributing unequally based on what you think you know about your children’s assets? There are reasons parents do this — perhaps one child earns significantly more than another, and therefore needs less — but it can lead to resentment, which is why, Hamill says, many people avoid talking to their kids about inheritances in the first place. At the very least, write a note to go with the will, she says. “Leave something that says, ‘I love you all equally. Here is why I am doing the distributions the way I am.’”

***

Me: This goes back to #1. Communicating AND my two cents about perspective. Does the parent really know the income/savings of each child or are they guestimating? If you distribute unequally, maybe you better get copies of their income tax returns first! You might be surprised! And who’s to say that the child who has more doesn’t lose half of it in the stock market or housing crash, earthquake, flood, or whatever, 10 minutes before you die? All the more reason to distribute equally. The only exception I see to this rule would be if you gave money to one child while you were alive.

  1. A trust might eliminate some uncertainty. If you want to make sure your children use the money wisely, consider putting it in trust with a few strings attached. Many estate planning attorneys recommend distributing the assets in chunks (typically one-third at age 25, one-third at age 30 and one-third at age 35).

The thinking is that with maturity will come better financial decision-making. You can also include a provision that if your child is going through some sort of substance abuse problem at that time, the distribution can be held to a later date.

***

Me: Wow! They surprised me with the mention of a child having a substance abuse problem. What are the chances that the child will be substance-abuse free by age 35 or 40 or 50! Tough decisions, very tough decisions. Fodder for making the decision to have only one child or none! Or, spending it all on yourself or giving it away to charities! That’s not so far-fetched so I added a Step 6.

  1. Don’t leave your children anything. The singer Sting, formerly of The Police who is worth over $300 million, stated he would not be leaving an inheritance to his children. Other wealthy parents who share this point of view are Bill Gates, Warren Oats, and Nigella Lawson, just to mention a few.

Leaving and/or receiving an inheritance should be good for your mental and physical health, but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. Proceed cautiously.

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Happy Halloween!

31 Oct Pie pumpkins are cute!
Pie pumpkins are cute!

Would you like to be the pumpkin in my pumpkin pie?

This little pumpkin is called a pie pumpkin. It is the perfect size to make a pie and I’m going to do just that!

Make my day by not eating too much candy and making sure you eat your fruits and vegetables!

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Knee Pain – One Simple Exercise to Get Rid of It!

25 Oct X-ray of knee

I’ve had knee pain on and off in my life. Many years ago when I began limping because the pain wouldn’t go away, I went to see my doctor who was a Family Practice doctor specializing in Sports Medicine. He told me I was built like a basketball player (I guess he would know) and explained why I was having pain and what was going on in my knee. The patella (kneecap) was out of alignment because muscles on one side of my leg were stronger than on the other side and therefore were pulling the kneecap off its track causing a grinding motion. The exercise he gave me to do was so simple, I doubted it would work.

 

One key to make sure this is the correct exercise for your knee is this: if you have knee pain when you get up from a chair, this is the exercise for you. All other knee pain may not improve with this exercise. In fact, you could make the problem worse so be sure it’s that you have knee pain when you get up from a sitting position. Here is the exercise he gave me. It starts off very mildly with little weight:

 

Get a can of something, soup, kidney beans, corn, whatever you have in the house. Before you lie down or sit on the floor propped up on your elbows, fasten the can to the ankle of your leg with the problem knee. I wish I could remember how he told me to accomplish this but I can’t. Try a dish towel. Then, lift your leg up about 10 inches off the floor. Hold it there to the count of 10. Do three repetitions. You might as well do it on the other foot too since you’ve got the can and you’re already on the floor. Plus, you don’t want to end up with one leg being stronger than the other.

 

Do this exercise every day for one week. You should start to feel some improvement in your knee. You might even feel some improvement by the next day.

 

With me, I don’t think I felt any improvement so I called my doctor and asked him if I could use a heavier weight. He said yes. This is when I bought my first pair of ankle weights. They were 2 lb weights. I worked with them and that’s when my knee improved.

 

Eventually, I joined a health club and used their leg extension machines until I was using 65 lb weights. But I s-l-o-w-l-y built up to this over the years. It didn’t happen overnight!

 

In fact, I can’t stress enough how you need to do things slowly. Whenever I went to a new gym and got the free personal trainer for a day or week or whatever their deal was, if they told me to do such and such an exercise with 10 repetitions, I would only do 3 or 4. I did not want to be sore. If you are just starting a health club membership, you don’t want to be sore starting from your first day. It’s ridiculous that they always push you to do too much. It isn’t a race! You want to get in better shape with a minimum of soreness and/or pain if ANY! So, you go Monday and do 3 reps with the personal trainer. Then you go Wednesday and do 4 or 5 reps of the same exercise or machine and gradually build up on all the machines you like. Or, you may want to stay at 3 reps for a few more visits before you increase your weights. Listen to your body. Just because someone calls themselves a personal trainer doesn’t mean they know what is best for you! I’ve had some terrible, terrible personal trainers! And I can’t think of one who told me something worth remembering! That’s a pretty sad statement, so beware!

 

When I stopped using a health club, my knee pain slowly came back. So, I remembered the exercise that my doctor gave me to do and attached my ankle weight to my ankle. I did some exercises lying down and also the same exercise standing up and the pain left again.

 

My doctor told me not to be surprised if someday someone told me that I would need a new kneecap. It’s been 40 years since that doctor visit and as yet, nobody has told me that I need a new kneecap!

 

If you follow my blog, you know that I do a lot of different exercises: squats, kickboxing, knee-raises, weight lifting, Pilates, pliés (ballet movement), and let’s not forget mowing the lawn not to mention climbing the ladder. These all help to strengthen the legs overall but the weight on the ankle zeroes in on the problem area of your knee.

 

If you have increased pain when you do this exercise, stop. It may be the wrong exercise for you or perhaps you have too much swelling in the area and need to apply ice. The application of ice reduces the swelling and therefore the pain. My doctor told me to get a Dixie cup and fill it with water then put it in the freezer. When it was frozen, I was to gently rub the ice on my knee. This was a fun way to apply ice. You might want to make an extra ice cup just to lick while you are treating your knee!

 

Sometimes a simple exercise can work miracles. I hope this one works for you!

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Lists Help You Not to Forget

22 Oct List

Did you know that pilots learning to fly must always use a checklist to avoid catastrophes each and every time they prepare for a flight? Lists are not just for housewives! Lists have become so popular that now there is even a show called The List. If you thought the grocery list was the only list you needed before leaving home, think again! Doesn’t it seem like these days there are more things we need to remember? Passwords, cell phones, keys, water bottles, “the list” is endless. That is the reason I’ve written this post: to remind us to write lists. Lists help us remember what we need to do.

 

Specifically in this post, I’m writing about an exercise list but this post can help you to write other important lists too. For example, there was nothing more aggravating than when I forgot my lock for a gym locker after I stashed my clothes in a locker at my health club. I’ve forgotten other things too like my flip-flops which I like to wear in the shower. Forgetting these items meant that the change of clothes and the towels, etc. I lugged in my bag were for naught and I had to go home. Once home, I had no intention of going back to the gym that day so it was a waste of time. Don’t you hate when that happens?

 

After I had forgotten items a number of times, I resolved that the last time was going to be THE last time I forgot anything when I headed for the gym.

 

Write a List

For an exercise list it’s so simple. Just write down all the things you need for your workout on a list. Keep the list near your gym bag or at a place where you will see it. It took me several days to write my list because it’s surprising how many things I need to remember to bring with me!

 

My List

Hair dryer

2 bath towels

1 small towel (for when I work out on the strength machines)

Plastic hair cover (for when I don’t want to wash my hair)

Flip-flops

Water bottle

Plastic bag (for wet towels, sweaty clothes)

Clean change of clothes

Tissues

Barrette and bobby pins, comb, hairbrush, lipstick (I keep these in a small zippered purse inside my purse)

Shampoo & cream rinse

Exercise pants

ID tag (I wear it around my neck to check in)

Car keys

 

Where to Keep Your List

I keep my list on the kitchen table. You may want to tape it to the door you use when you leave the house.

 

Tip

The key for this list to work is that you must mentally or out loud check off each item before you go out the door. I find saying it out loud is best. The most likely time you will accidentally skip over an item on your list is when you are in a rush, so be advised!

 

You may want to add or subtract from my list when you write your own list, but trust me, this is a no-fail system to a happy workout at the gym. The goal is to be relaxed after working out at the gym which is beneficial to your health, not frustrated because you forgot something and had to go home!

 

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The Apple Cake That Thinks it’s a Pie

18 Oct Slice of marcellarousseau apple cake.pie

Sometimes even the health conscious crave a sugary treat. The recipe below is not very sugary and it has a lot of healthful ingredients in it. It’s great for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of milk. I would not say it is an easy recipe for a novice baker but if you take your time and read the directions carefully, you may find yourself rewarded with a very delectable cake. Frankly, I have trouble calling this a cake because you slice it like a pie if you bake it in a pie pan. However, the crust is not really like a pie crust. It is like a cake! Whether you call it cake or pie, it’s delicious!

 

The interesting thing about this recipe is that you can put the dough in a cake pan OR a pie pan! I opted for the pie pan. The dough is a “basic” dough that you could also use to make doughnuts or crullers. I won’t be recommending those because you have to fry the dough and that would not be good for your health!

 

What IS good for your health is the milk, eggs, cinnamon, and apples that go into the cake. Butter also goes into this recipe and I’m not one to say butter is bad for your health. You need some fat in your diet! As for the amount of sugar, most cakes call for at least one cup of sugar. There is only ½ cup of sugar in this recipe. You can even feel good about serving your kids a slice.

 

I know your kids will love it but this is a cake fit for company. This is an invite your in-laws for dinner cake. It’s an invite your boss for dinner cake. It’s fancy. If you want to impress someone, this is the cake to do it. It would pass inspection by Julia Child herself. Just so you know!

 

NOTE: The recipe makes enough dough for two cakes. So, only use half of the recipe for the cake, OK?  I missed that point when I made the dough so I ended up freezing the half of the dough that I didn’t use. I’ll be making the cake again with that dough and although my recipe doesn’t say anything about freezing this dough, I think it will be all right.

 

Ingredients for Dough:

 

1/2 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup soft butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten briefly

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

 

Additional ingredients are listed in the directions below.

 

In a bowl, mix the scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. When dissolved, add the beaten egg and vanilla. When ingredients are lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast. Then add the flour a little at a time and form a soft dough. Turn out dough onto counter and knead for several minutes with a little extra flour until it does not stick to hands . Place in a well greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Then, turn the dough out again and knead again one minute. Again, place in a greased bowl and brush top with melted butter and allow to rise until doubled.

Dough rising in my microwave

Basic dough rising

 

Decide if you want to use a 9-inch pie pan or square cake pan and then grease it well. Divide the dough in half, take one half and stretch it to fit the pan bringing it up the sides about 1 inch. Reserve the other half for another pie or save it for another day in the freezer.

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

 

Pare and core about 3 medium-sized apples. Slice them very thin. Arrange as shown in the photo or in a circular pattern. Take special pains to do this because the better you do it, the prettier your finished cake will be. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. See photo.

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

 

Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 slightly beaten egg yolk. Make sure the melted butter is not too hot. You don’t want to scramble the egg yolk! Pour over the apple slices. Let it cake stand about 15 minutes before placing in the oven.

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

 

Bake at 350 degrees 45 – 60 minutes or until crust is brown and apples are soft.

 

You can use apples, peaches, apricots, or plums for this recipe. I think you could also use nectarines or pears. I used Jonamac apples. Jonathan or Winesap would also be good. I used Quick Rise yeast. I bake everything now in my convection toaster oven so I have to adjust the temperature and the time. My cake was browned at 40 minutes but the center was still a little loose. I turned down the oven to 325 degrees. Then at 50 minutes I turned the oven off and left the door ajar. If you know your apples are going to be very juicy, you can sprinkle 3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs on the stretched out dough before you lay in the apple slices. I didn’t because I like a juicy pie.

My baked apple cake/pie

My baked apple cake/pie

 

This cake tastes best warm. I stored it in the refrigerator covered. When I wanted a slice, I put the slice in the microwave for 20 seconds. It was like it just came out of the oven. You could serve it with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream but I wouldn’t. It would detract from the delicate flavor of the cake.

 

The down side of making this cake is that you have to let it rise 2 times. I’ve made other apple pies that were a lot quicker to make but not as delectable as this cake and not as good for you. Good things come to those who wait!

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Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/biscotti-garden-tomatoes-nectarines.jpg

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.

 

Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.

 

These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!

 

We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.

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Roundabout, Not to be Confused with a Roustabout

15 Oct Roundabout

Recently I wrote a post about pedestrians being killed by hit-and-run drivers. This brought up a conversation regarding Roundabouts.  In case you are not familiar with them, they are relatively new ways to divert and direct traffic without stop signs or traffic lights. People seem to be having problems getting used to them.  At night, drivers unfamiliar with the area, tend to drive straight through them instead of circling around them which is what you’re supposed to do.

Drivers are reckless in other ways too on roundabouts. They overtake drivers in 2-lane roundabouts. They enter the roundabout instead of waiting for a driver who is already in the circle and who therefore has the right of way.

I was confused myself about these new, modern wonders  because of what the other drivers were doing and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles doesn’t  require mandatory refresher classes so, I did what I always do when I need information: I google it.

I found a PDF brochure explaining the rules of the roundabout I use. Take time to read the link.  You may find out something you didn’t know about them.  For example, when exiting a roundabout, you should put on your turn signal. I’ve yet to see anyone use their turn signal while exiting a roundabout. I’m the only one I know who does it and I do it to let the other drivers near me know that I’m going to exit so we don’t clip each other!

In fact, after the experience I had yesterday with this particular roundabout, I decided to take the optional right turn lane at the roundabout to avoid the roundabout altogether.  I was running later than usual yesterday so traffic was at a peak and drivers were whizzing around the roundabout without regard for life or limb. So, this morning in taking the optional right turn lane route, I discovered that I can eliminate waiting for one traffic light on the way to my destination. Yay! Who needs a roundabout?! They aren’t any safer than traffic lights or stop signs! They don’t seem to be any less expensive either. At a cost of $1.4 million to build a roundabout, it seems doubtful that it saves energy and resources. http://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/hendricks-county/2014/07/27/quite-carmel-avon-rolls-roundabouts/13192109/ Read on!

Two women in separate car crashes were injured at the roundabout that I use; one seriously. According to an article in the Indianapolis newspaper “Car crashes spike in the first year as people learn to use them.” 

This is the land of the Indy 500 and NASCAR. The word “slow” is not in the Hoosier dictionary. I’d rather have a delay at a signal as I am not in that much of a hurry. In my opinion, we’d be better off with a traffic light instead of a 2-lane roundabout. I’m ok with 1-lane roundabouts but not the 2-lane type. How about you?

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Exercise, the Mood Altering Drug

14 Oct Sports Car

Of all the mood-altering drugs available on and off the market, the one I use is free: exercise. The original reason I began exercising was to lift my mood.  Divorce, living in a new town with no family or friends, raising a son on my own, it’s something I faced years ago as many women still do today. I read an article that exercise was good for depression. The author was right. I’ve exercised to keep depression at bay and I’ve never regretted it. Of course, there are other benefits to exercise.

Exercise Promotes Weight Loss and Stamina

When you’re overweight it’s difficult to feel energetic. Carrying around all that excess weight baggage is tiring. Exercise helps people lose weight and keep it off. I lost over 20 pounds exercising and my original goal as I mentioned above wasn’t weight loss! I don’t want to put that weight back on and that motivates me to continue exercising. Not only that, but I have tremendous energy, even after I work out. I find that the more I do, the more I CAN do!

And speaking of can do, as a homeowner, I can find plenty of things to do. I mow my lawn, wash and wax my car, do housework, shovel snow off my driveway, paint, putty, plant trees, and so on. I like being independent and doing these things myself. Exercising keeps me limber and helps me get these jobs done. When I’ve completed a painting job that includes puttying and or Spackling, my body doesn’t ache all over because my muscles are accustomed to being used – and I’m no spring chicken!

When you compare the benefits of exercising, even on days when you don’t feel up to it, to sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching TV, can you really ignore all the benefits you’d derive from exercising? It doesn’t mean that I never buy a bag of chips to eat when I watch TV. But when I do, I buy tortilla chips that aren’t fried or are made in a healthful way and I don’t buy the biggest bag out there! On the other hand, I enjoy a nice cold, crunchy, juicy, apple with peanut butter just as much and it’s much better for me without the guilt!

Exercise Reduces the Need for Medications and Doctor Visits

They’re saying that the older generation is hell-bent on exercising and following a healthful diet because they want to live “forever.” I don’t want to live forever but I want to live healthfully until I die, even if I die tomorrow. I am motivated to exercise so I can stay off medications, set up only wellness visits to my doctors, and enjoy an active lifestyle until the day I die.

Exercise and Mediterranean Diet Dodge Cancer

Several years ago when my sister went for a checkup, she happened to mention me to her doctor. The doctor said, “If she’s 65 and hasn’t had any cancer, she’s doing very well!” I exercise and follow the Mediterranean diet to avoid getting cancer  and it’s been working for me so far.

Treat Your Body Like a New Car

Think of it this way if it helps, treat yourself like a new car. Would you put inferior gas in your new car? You wouldn’t abuse your car that way. Yet you would abuse your body with junk food! Why would you treat your car, a hunk of metal, plastic, paint, glass, and textiles, better than your body? Would you allow the tires to go flat, skip oil changes, and ignore other maintenance necessary to keep your car running smoothly? Your car can’t take you where you want to go if you ignore the necessary upkeep. The same is true of your body.

Death Becomes Her

When we were kids growing up in the neighborhood, we thought it was cool to say, “Live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse.” Well, my living fast days are over; it’s too late for me to die young, but I think I still have a shot at having a good-looking corpse. Not that I’m in any hurry.

If this and all pep talks don’t motivate you to exercise and watch your diet, see your doctor to find out why.

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How Do They Know When You Are Actually Dead?

13 Oct Biotech

The debate over when life begins hampers research in embryonic stem cell research, but can harvesting cells from a dead body solve this debate or will it start a new one?

 

Scientists in France discovered that some stem cells can lay dormant for more than two weeks in a dead person and then be revived to divide into new, functioning cells. Furthermore, skeletal muscle stem cells can survive for 17 days. It may be ghoulish to think about, but when is dead really dead? If these cells continue to live after a person is pronounced dead, it makes me wonder what else continues to live when one is six feet under.

 

Olga Shustova, a morbid anatomist says there is a hypothesis that cerebellum cells, known as the Purkinje cells, can remain active within four days after a person’s death.

 

When Life Begins vs. When Life Ends

If scientists and researchers are still discovering cells that live on after a body is dead, what might they discover in the future? We’re all familiar with the hot debate over when life begins, but perhaps we need to look more carefully at when life ends.

 

What Else Lives On in a Dead Body?

Tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, HIV and diarrheal diseases can last up to two days in a dead body (except for HIV, which may survive up to six days). I don’t know how long or if Ebola can live on in a dead body but that is certainly an important question considering the current world events.

 

Embryonic Stem Cells

Most of the current methods used to harvest embryonic stem cells destroy the embryo and this poses the moral dilemma for some: do you sacrifice a life to save a life? Harvesting usable cells from a dead body suggests that such cells can help extend the life of patients with, for example, cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

 

The Dead’s Stem Cells

If there is less of a moral dilemma or none at all while using a dead person’s stem cells, it could have enormous potential for repairing damaged organs, or testing new drugs. But how will that be accomplished when there is already a shortage of bodies donated to medical science? Students in medical schools share cadavers among four or more other students because of this shortage.

 

Using stem cells from dead bodies may resolve the issue of using embryonic stem cells but there are still hurdles to overcome. Scientists must tread lightly on the dead assuming they are actually dead when their stem cells are harvested.

 

*This post was originally published on Yahoo but I’ve added some updates.

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Pedestrians Used to Have the Right of Way

11 Oct Pedestrians sign

It seems that there isn’t a day that goes by when a reporter relates how a pedestrian was run over and/or killed by a hit-and-run driver. Just recently a man in Indianapolis was hit by a hit-and-run driver and the man briefly survived. While crawling to the curb he was then hit in succession by three more hit-and-run drivers! He didn’t survive that. It’s unspeakable!

 

More than 5,000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends increased implementation of strategies known to save pedestrians’ lives, including 1) installing and/or upgrading crosswalks, sidewalks, overpasses, underpasses, raised medians, and road signs and signals; 2) slowing vehicle speeds by “calming” streets with speed bumps and rumble strips; 3) enforcing laws against speeding and distracted driving; 4) creating walking streets or pedestrian zones; 5) improving mass transit route design and access; 6) improving lighting around pedestrian crossings; and 7) enhancing the visibility of pedestrians through the use of reflective materials.

 

That is all well and good and money well spent, but ultimately we pedestrians are responsible for our own lives.

 

When I grocery shop at my local Meijer, they have in place four large STOP signs on their parking lot. Yet there are drivers who drive too fast or don’t seem to realize that a pedestrian has the right of way. Drivers can be especially lethal when sharply turning up an aisle to park, forgetting that pedestrians have parked their car and are now walking towards the store entrance. But drivers aren’t always the ones at fault.

 

Several times when I’ve slowed down for the stop sign in front of one of the entrances to Meijer, I’ve witnessed pedestrians walking across the drivers’ lanes and DON’T LOOK LEFT OR RIGHT! This boggles my mind! How can you walk in front of cars without looking either way even if you have the right of way?

 

What is worse than that is parents who don’t hold on to their kids’ hands or are so busy loading groceries into their van that they don’t see their kid jutting out in front of traffic. Please, put your kids in the car first, then load your groceries!

 

Anytime I am walking in a supermarket parking lot, I always make sure I look directly into the oncoming driver’s eyes. I want to be sure they are conscious of seeing me! Usually they stop at the stop sign or the crosswalk of a supermarket. BUT NOT ALWAYS! Just recently I was walking towards the entrance of a major supermarket while a young woman in a car didn’t stop as she looked directly at me and continued driving while I had to wait for her to pass. The driver behind her saw the incident and waved me on. When these incidents happen, I’m tempted to yell out, “Hey, you’re supposed to stop – the pedestrian has the right of way!”

 

I actually did that once while I was on a college campus. I was in my car pulling into the parking lot and another driver in the lot who was supposed to stop at the stop sign at the entrance, didn’t and crossed in front of my car. Boy, he caught me on the wrong day. I was really irritated. As luck would have it, we parked at about the same time so I knew it was the same driver. Although he was walking ahead of me, I yelled out, “Hey, you know you’re supposed to stop at that stop sign!” He turned around and looked at me and RECOGNIZED me and knew he had done wrong but at least had the decency to apologize. In this instance, he may have thought I was a teacher and would get him in hot water. Actually, I WAS a teacher at that time! (How to get a failing grade in your class.) I’m less likely to react like that at the supermarkets because I’d probably get shot. No kidding. The homicides in Indianapolis are going through the roof this year.

 

So, pedestrians, look both ways before you cross please. Let’s not make ourselves easy targets for careless drivers. Parents, keep a better eye on your kids around traffic. And drivers, show some respect for pedestrians. If you hit one and run, you never know who will be jotting down your license plate. No matter how late you are running for your appointment, or how quickly you think you can text or talk on your cell, it won’t be worth it if you hit a pedestrian, or if your kid gets hit. Your insurance rate will go up, there will be medical bills to pay off and/or you’ll be paying your mechanic for the damage to the body of your car. Then you also have to live with the guilt of killing someone or maiming them for life. Think about it.

 

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