Longevity Part 2

Its funny how the number 120 keeps coming up. Following are two notable occurrences of that number.

In my days as a personal trainer we were taught to estimate a clients maximum heart rate by the formula 220 minus age. I always wondered if we lived to 220 would our heart rate be zero? Of course no one does. Lets take the rate at 120 years old; the estimated maximum heart rate would only be 120. It is quite likely that a person at that age could barely get out of a chair without feeling exhausted. They would just sit and fade away. When you play with these numbers it seems that life, as it is meant to be, would be over at 120, or something close to that.

I noticed an article today on my “Nova Science Now” feed, a Q&A session with Lenny Guarente, a Novartis Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to his Bio, Lenny has researched the molecular mechanisms for aging in various organisms since 1981. I quote; “Analysis of human actuarial tables—statistics showing, among other things, the number of deaths at each age—suggests that maximum lifespan of humans is about 120 years.”

At 60 years young I am pleased to announce I am now officially middle aged.

Humor In Aging

Enjoy these quotes from more famous people than I, although I am pretty well known in my family:

Death doesn’t really worry me that much, I’m not frightened about it… I just don’t want to be there when it happens. Woody Allen.

If you live to be one hundred, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age. George Burns.

If my body were a car, I’d be thinking about trading it in around now. I would like to upgrade. I would be actually on the lot somewhere and some guy with a loud sports jacket would be sizing me up…kinda lookin’ around goin–maybe kickin my knees. Looking behind me going: “That looks a little bashed in back there…Yeah. You mind if I check under the hood?” ‘Well yes I do! Thank you very much.” Ellen Degeneres.

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else. Woody Allen.

By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it. George Burns.

We spend our lives on the run: we get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, get up again, go to work – and then we retire. And what do they give us? A bloody clock. Dave Allen

First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down. Leo Rosenberg

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying. Woody Allen.

I refuse to admit I’m more than fifty-two, even if that does make my sons illegitimate. Lady Nancy Astor

You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there. George Burns.

I prefer old age to the alternative. Maurice Chevalier

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down. Woody Allen.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? Woody Allen.

I am not young enough to know everything. Oscar Wilde.

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred. Woody Allen.

I have everything I had twenty years ago, only it’s all a little bit lower. Gypsy Rose Lee

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. Kurt Vonnegut

Love Limerick

Valentines Day is the day to proclaim your love. Many will say it with flowers, some will say it with gifts and one or two foolhardy individuals will go against conventional wisdom and say it in a Limerick:


There was a young man from England
With roots in a very Scottish clan
Who stole my heart
From the very start
And since then I’ve been his biggest fan

I left love notes in his school locker
Wow, he said what a shocker!
But you’ve no chance
He said with a glance
The love of my life is the great game of soccer!

No matter how many love notes were sent
This young man refused to relent
Until my flat chest
Grew big east & west
Along with all the other female equipment!

He started his career as a police cadet
The strong arm of the law he’d direct
He was strong and tall
With a big night stick and all
He vowed the citizens he would protect

We dated and then he asked me to wed
With a lace gown and veil upon my head
Dad plied him with drink
Gave me a wink
“We don’t want him getting cold feet”, he said

A change of career was in the works
He needed some of those high paying perks
Like food and clothes
And a car that goes
That’s just one of his little quirks!

The babies came with much bottom slapping
And a cigar and plenty of toe tapping
So now what’s the score?
One? Two? Three? Four!
He’d say tell me dear, how did that happen?

He worked hard so we moved us to the USA
Packed our bags without much delay
We won’t stay long
But 1978 has long gone
And we are still here on our two-year stay!

Now I’ll tell you living here was never a hard sell
With a great standard of living you can tell
We learnt to put on weight
And how to load a 48
And you could say our bodies are shot to hell!

The children all did their college courses
And fell in love, tis nature’s forces
Tuition took its toll
Weddings put us in the hole
And short of all our financial resources

The children and their spouses with seeds have sown
Eleven grandkids, my time sure has flown
They now can play
Without any delay
cause they have a soccer team all on their own!

We’ve had enough of work and clocking in
Now let us worry about viruses and logging in
We’ll Digg and Stumble around
For all the new posts to be found
And spend time together surfing and bloggin’

Given the chance to go back and do the same
When that schoolyard game of kiss chase came
Would you now realize
That I’d take the prize
And you’d need to run faster than in a soccer game!

To My Love

Senior Olympics – ready to be inspired?

If you are 50+ and have not lost your competitive edge the Summer National Senior Games/Senior Olympics could be just the outlet you are looking for. The Senior Olympics were designed with today’s more active seniors in mind. The games offer a unique opportunity for seniors to get together, interact socially, and most important of all to compete. No matter where your athletic talents lay, you are sure, to find something among the large variety of individual events and team sports that make up the games. Do not be fooled into thinking that senior in any way means inferior. The competition is fierce!

Participants compete in five year age brackets, beginning with 50-54 and ending with 100+ (yes, thats 100). Medals are awarded for first (gold), second (silver) and third (bronze) place finishes in each age category. Just to give you an idea of the caliber of competition here an example of four first place winners from the 2005 Summer National Senior Games

Women’s 1500 Meter Run 50-54 (age bracket)
1st Ainsley Lovell 6:22:60

Women’s 800 Meter Run 90-94 (age bracket)
1st Estelle Frendberg 7:10:84

Men’s 800 Meter Run 90-94 (age bracket)
1st Frank Levine 5:24:90

Mens’ long Jump 65-70 (age bracket)
1st Emil Pawlik 16-00.50

My hat goes off to not only the winners (and they are incredible) but to all the senior athletes who train and compete in their respective sports. What a great example they set for those of us who need motivating to get up of the couch and do something. For them it is not just about keeping fit and healthy: it is about accepting the challenge and redefining the conventional ideas about growing older.

The Summer National Senior Olympics are governed by the National Senior Games Association .The NSGA supports and sanctions member state organizations which allows the athletically inclined seniors to participate in their state in events year-round . This not only keeps them competition fit but also adds challenge and motivation to their lives.

The first Summer National Senior Olympics were held in California in 1969 The Senior Olympics has become one of the largest recurring multi-sports events in the United States It is , by all accounts, a mini version of the Olympics and the event is held every two years in cities around the country. This year the event will take place in Louisville from June 22 – July 8, 2007 and the hub of the Games will be the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Over 12,000 senior athletes will be competing. It will attract competitors from all over the United States and foreign countries in 18 sports and more than 800 events. There will be an official opening ceremony and parade of Athletes in front of thousands. The athletes will also have their own Athlete Village where they can register, get results, visit booths and socialize. Athletes must pre-qualify in authorized competitions at the state level before moving on to the national games. This means that the competition is tough and the standard in all age groups are extremely high.

The 2009 Summer National Senior Games will be held in San Francisco. Are you ready for the challenge?

Cancun Vacation Review

I should say upfront that I had a good time in Cancun. I had never felt inspired to go but decided to pay a visit because I had never been to Mexico. Cancun surprised me. We arrived after most of the spring break students had gone home. There was a few around but not enough to bother anyone. I can see why it is popular, definitely a party town. The first thing I noticed was the lack of beaches. Waves were crashing against rocks and I liked that.

All the usual resorts were there and plenty of bars and restaurants. It was pretty neat to have the band come visit our table and serenade my wife, for a tip of course. Outside the kids were bungee jumping for fun. One kid asks his pal to hold his beer while he does it. Girls watch and are impressed. The platform wasn’t very high but definitely too much for me.

There were two highlights for me:

The Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza.

chichen-itza.JPGI was really surprised by the pyramid. Of course I had to climb it but discovered the steps were high, not like normal steps. This made the climb more arduous but the view was worth it. The larger steps did accentuate the sense of Vertigo on the way down and did make it much more difficult. I saw people climbing down like children scooting down stairs on their butts. I was not there at the Equinox, but I think I missed something special. Apparently, when the sun is just right, you can see the shadow of serpent Kukulcan sliding down the steps as the sun moves in the sky. I wish I had gone later in March to see that.


xcaret.JPGThis was a fun time. Xcaret is classified as an “eco-archaeological park” but it is definitely more than that. It’s a beautiful spot with a lot to do. I loved sipping orange juice in the tree top caf and snorkeling in a small inlet. Yet my favorite time was from dusk on. There are two tours to Xcaret; one that leaves at dinnertime and one that leaves later. You definitely want the later one. There is a great demonstration of horsemanship and, when nightfalls, take the torchlight tour where Mayan scenes and campsites are sprinkled through the grounds.

Other points of Interest:

My least favorite thing to do is the pirate cruise. It seemed like they made sure we had plenty of rum in us and spent the whole time getting us to make fools of ourselves. It didn’t seem like they actually did much to entertain us.

All in all, we had a great time and it was one of the better vacations. I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Taxes and Social Security

Many people seem to think that Social Security pensions and even IRA withdrawals are not taxable. This is not true. Get that clear in your minds. Any government that is willing to tax unemployment benefits will surely not miss out on the opportunity to nail your Social Security check. This post is purely about the Social Security check and how much is visible to the tax man. There is a line on the 1040 where you enter the amount of the Social Security check that is taxable. That amount will then be added to your other taxable incomes to figure out your overall tax liability. Clearly it would be a good thing for that Social Security number to be zero.

The IRS always makes their publications complicated. There are so many pages you must wade through to get to that one nugget of information you are looking for. Since it is a government publication you may not even recognize it when you see it. Following is the short, easy to understand version of “the rules” that I use:

Is any part of your Social Security check taxable? Add ½ your Social Security annual income to all your other incomes and compare that to something the IRS calls the base number. For a married couple filing jointly the base number is $32k. For a single person it is $25k. If that income number is less than those base numbers then your social security check will not be taxed. In the overall picture of retirement taxes this is really important because it allows you to put a “0” on your tax form for Social Security income. This means your 1040 will only show your other incomes and you still have your standard or itemized deductions to hide behind. If that income number is above your particular base number then some portion of your Social Security check will be taxable.

If so, how much is taxable? When the income number, calculated above, is higher than that base number, then you are in jeopardy of paying taxes on some portion of your social security check. Now the question becomes how much is taxable? The IRS has a bunch of complicated rules which shake out to mean the following:

  • Determine the taxable portion by subtracting that income number above from the base number that applies to you. This is the portion that is in jeopardy. Notice that the calculations are only using half the social security income to calculate this, which means that the maximum that is taxable is 50% unless your income exceeds another key number, which you must know.
  • If your income plus ½ Social Security amount is $44K or higher for a married couple filing jointly or $34K for a single then you could pay taxes of 85% of a part of your Social Security check. There are some special rules applied to people still paying into an IRA but it will be better for understanding to ignore that for the moment. So married people have two important boundary conditions to remember: $32K and $44K.
  • Basically it comes down to this: below 32K SS is not taxable. Between 32K and 44K 50% of a portion is taxable and above 44K 85% of a portion is taxable. The total taxable is the sum of the two pieces.


Married Couple Example. Say the combined annual Social Security income is $20k and the total of all other income is $10k then no part of the social security check is taxable because ½ SS plus income = $20k. That is below the 32k boundary.

Married Couple Example. Say the combined annual Social Security income is $20k and the total of all other income is $30k. 1/2SS plus income = $40k. This is above the $32k boundary, yet below the $44k boundary and $5k of the pension will be taxable income. That is a portion of the amount over $32k

Married Couple Example. Say the combined annual Social Security income is $30k and the total of all other income is $40k. Obviously the $32k boundary is breached and so is the $44k boundary, so we know that the 85% rule is now in play. This calculates out to $15,350 of the pension that is taxable.

What to do with this information

I realized how important it was to understand these rules when I laid them into my Retirement Income Plan spreadsheet. You can see my 3 Steps to Retirement Income Planning here. The next step is to plug the rules into your spreadsheet along with the regular tax rules on income so you can figure out how much money you will have. You can also study the details in IRS Publication 915 where the IRS has some example worksheets. The neat thing about going with a spreadsheet is that when you change one condition or number you can watch the results ripple right through the entire retirement plan. “What if” scenarios are easily played, as are tax changes.

A view from 60

The advantage of age is that you sit high on top of the mountain peering down at all those who come after you. You have wisdom that comes from experience rather than intellect. You have the advantage of knowing what is ahead for most others and so I believe this post will anger some who are younger than me. When they get older they too will share the wisdom.

I have always had a problem with employers using age as a reason for firing people, even though older people are usually the most expensive employees. Employers have always been able to find ways around the age discrimination law to remove them. These practices have always seemed morally bankrupt and, believe me, I have seen it up close and personal. Now I have passed my 60th year I have a different perspective.

It is a basic truth that certain organizations want young, unattached, type A individuals because they are “hungry”, driven and will work day and night. In particular Sales organizations have this preference. To be honest, part of me doesn’t like it but understands it. The real problem becomes what to do as those young stars become older. For sure their priorities shift as they take on new family responsibilities. Change starts and never quits.

By 35 to 40 they are now in management, working longer hours than they did before. Yet family obligations grow as children arrive and grow up. Now those model employees are totally torn between career and family. Now the employer has competition for the employee’s attention, and he is slowly but surely losing.

Now the clock turns to 50 years old and for the first time in his life that employee begins to think seriously about his retirement. Prior to that he saved but he hasn’t had time to really think about retirement. Besides, it has always been something far off in the future that you save for, but that’s about it. Many don’t even do the saving part. 50 is a turning point where employers not only don’t have their employees attention but the employee is actively thinking about the day he leaves. Some figure on an early “out” through disability but those folks are in a class of their own.

Then comes 60. Holy smoke, it’s just around the corner. Now that employee, who once upon a time was 200% committed to career and nothing else, is not even thinking about career path. What career path? The path to the exit? He is dreaming and preparing for the day he leaves for good. It seems to me that employers who don’t want to hire older people have a point. Of course, they give up all that experience to get someone who is more committed. Sometimes that is the wrong tradeoff but, for the first time in my life, I do understand it.

The Inconvenient Convenient Store

The sign declares “ Un_eaded Gas (they lost the “L“years ago ) $2.98, It’s “Pay before Pumping” since the price of gas escalated and I make my way inside to pay. The door is locked but there is a note back in 3 minutes” Well its cold but I need the gas so I wait. Fluffy the cat is apparently still missing because her poster still adorns the window…it is yellowing at the edges. It has been over 2 years. Perhaps they should do a digitally aged photo. Other people arrive and I explain the note. I know the routine. Andy is taking a bathroom break and will be back in three mins (actually, five mins to be exact. Andy says you cannot hurry nature) Thats our Andy. Just a regular guy. At last, the door is opened and people start to jockey for first place.I come in last. I stand next to the half price Halloween candy which is next to the overpriced Valentine candy. Andy refers to himself as Handy Andy cause I’ve only got one arm.” His right arm is a prosthesis, which he will take off if you let him. He will also catch your fingers in his” jaws of death” (his two mechanical fingers) if you are not quick enough getting your change. He has recently been reprimanded for being insensitive to a customer. (Are there other parts he can remove?) He says he thinking of moving back in with his mother, he made more money-growing weed with her anyway. It starts to snow

Customer #1 wants two large Slushies. Ironically, the Slushie machine does not work well in the cold weather and takes forever to splutter the icy mixture into the cones. He leaves and I see him slip and drop one on the step. He doesnt come back.
Customer #2 is an old woman with orange hair who wants her smokes and is gesturing towards the hot dog machine. They have been bathing under the heat of the rotisserie for at least a day and a half and I can feel the crowds’ silent pleas.. No….n….o……n…o. not the hot dogs! However, our warnings go unheeded and she leaves with dinner and an after dinner smoke.
Customer #3 is a black leathered individual with “Born to be Bad” tattooed on the back of his shaved head. He looks uncomfortable as he lays his pepto bismal on the counter. I guess even bad boys get tummy ache.
Customer #4 is a lady asking for a gazillions lottery tickets. I did not realize it was so complicated. Kickers, Power balls, Mega millions. And instant tickets Who knew? She pays, gets out her lucky quarter and steps aside to start scratching.
Customer #5 He is dressed in his “all season” shorts and flip-flops! He looks indignant when he is asked for ID. Andy insists, No ID. No Beer! Things get ugly! Both of Andy’s arms and hands are gesturing frantically and I think he is giving him the bird with one of the mechanical finger. The guy leaves.
Customer #6 I am next! I pay for my gas with a $20 bill, which he holds up to the light to check to see if it is counterfeit. I ask him if I need ID. He is not amused.

As I’m walking out of the store I think I see the angry young man pumping gas from pump #1..That’s my pump and my gas so I run towards him, shouting stop! Stop! However, it is too late and his car speeds off. Defeated I turn back to the store…Inside a minor miracle has happened and we have a lottery instant ticket winner. She is in tears. She explains that she has never won before. She puts the winning hundred dollar bill back into “the jaws of death” and buys more tickets…I have been gone for 45 mins .My husband said that he would have sent out a search party but realized that I must had traveled to Kentucky to buy cheaper gas!

Women Can Have It All – With A Little help!

I think that women can have their cake and eat it. As a grandmother, I feel very lucky to have been able to spend time at home with my children and to have a career. Years ago woman did not work outside the home and most did not think of it as an option. Today we have choices but having these choices also means having to make some tough decisions. There is so much discussion on whether woman should work or stay at home after they have children that it is easy to loose sight of the reality. There is no right or wrong answer. Children thrive on love and attention that both stay at home moms and working moms can provide. For many women today it is a lifestyle choice instead of an economic choice. Therefore, the bigger question is what do you and your partner want to do and what compromises are you prepared to make to it to ensure that it works. You both need to agree and discuss all the repercussions thoroughly before making this decision. Whatever you decide I can guarantee there will be some compromises and you have to know that you are doing the right thing for you and the family .Your decision, like mine, might also include spending time at home and returning to the work force after a few years. No matter which path you take, you will need each other’s support to make it work. It is gratifying to see that, although my daughter and three daughters in law have chosen different solutions, that they all have healthy, happy, well-adjusted children.

Advantages of Staying Home.
You will get to see and hear all the “firsts” (smile, first step,)
You ensure that they are guided by your values and morals early in life.
Feeling of fulfillment.
It can be the most rewarding career you will ever have.
None of the quilt feeling at having to leave your child each day.
Being there for all the important events.

Disadvantages of Staying Home.
You can feel a loss of identity and self esteem when you no longer work.
Changing diapers and continuous loads of laundry can be boring and frustrating.
No time for yourself.
Feeling less appreciated at home than they did at work.
Loss of income.

Advantages of Working.
The additional income.
Children are often more independent.
Self fulfillment.
Having a rewarding job makes a happier person.

Disadvantages of Working.
Missing all your child’s “first”
The emotional stress of leaving a crying child.
Conflicting feelings: wanting to be with the child but not be able to.
Worrying if their child is being adequately cared for.
Missing important events.

No matter what you decide you will need the help and loving support of your spouse to make it work!

Paradise Island Vacation Review

Paradise Island, located near Nassau in the Bahamas, is a very small island with a handful of resorts. Its beach is gorgeous, one of the best around. The resort scene is dominated by the Atlantis, which has, for the most part, the only entertainment on the island. It turns out that you can get in to whatever Atlantis offers no matter which hotel you stay in. We stayed at “Comfort Suites” right next door because it was less expensive and just across the street from Atlantis. Comfort Suites is a hotel that is low on frills but the rooms are decent. If you don’t plan to spend much time there this strategy might work for you to.

nassau1.jpgParadise Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which affords a great view of the yachts moored locally. The bridge has a footpath allowing you to walk to the mainland. Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and is about a mile from Paradise Island. It is a comfortable walking distance if you want to stretch your legs. Nassau is bustling with tourists fresh off the cruise ships. Of course, nassau2.jpgeveryone is trying to sell you something, from t-shirts to gold watches. If you are one of those ladies who love to shop, this is for you. I did get a kick out of the Bahamas Police Force uniforms with those pith helmets from old Tarzan movies. (See pictures on the left) If your feet get sore you can always nassaupolice1.jpgcatch a carriage ride and do it the old fashioned way. But at the end of the day there is only so much of that I can take. If you don’t feel like walking back to your resort there are small boats ready to take you “home”. After walking all day this was a nice way to go.

nassaupolice2.jpgNaturally there are tours you can take or vehicle rentals to be had, and after a few days between the island and Nassau you will definitely be stir crazy. Having said that there are only so many turtle farms I can deal with.

My feeling about Paradise Island is that it is great for a four-day vacation but I would not want to spend a whole lot more time. The beach is top drawer but can get crowded at the Atlantis end. The opposite end will be almost yours alone, with a stretch of beautiful turquoise sea to your self. If you are a beach person this is for you. The Atlantis entertainment was decent and they do have a casino. Nassau was fun….once. Overall, 4 out of 5 stars for a short vacation, 3 for a long one.