Categories
Humorous

Boomers in La La Land

As I was heading out the door of my home one recent morning, a friend texted me: “Can we talk?” I texted back, on the diabolically small keyboard of my cell phone: “Only a few minutes…about to leave the house.” Then I realized that we may be boomers, but no, this is not the 1960s. I have a cell phone and I have Bluetooth technology in my car. No, I’m not anchored to a landline. We used to have to be home to receive landline calls from people lucky enough to reach us. In the “olden days,” we didn’t even have those message recording machines (with cassette tapes!). So then I corrected myself and told my friend that yes, we could talk. I would simply “take her with me” in the car.

Old pay phone in the boomer age
mariloutrias, from Getty Images, via canva.com
Boomer holding Rolodex
Tsuji, from Getty Images Signature, via canva.com

Boomers and Technology

This is a classic case of my boomer generation still coming to terms with the wave of technology that has washed over us over the past thirty years.  Walking through the airport after getting off the plane after my most recent flight, I caught myself looking for the pay phones I used to use to call the shuttle. For God only knows what reasons, I still have the Rolodex I used to use to store names and contact information of people I knew back in the 70s and 80s. I’m probably waiting to ship it off to the Smithsonian Museum of Ancient Artifacts, along with my slide rule, mechanical calculator and typewriter. 

Glowing vacuum tubes
SimoneN, from Getty Images, via canva.com

Ancient Geeks and Ancient Greeks

I often feel that I live in a sort of La La Land, surrounded by technological delights I don’t even understand half the time. And I’m a geek, for crying out loud! But just as there were ancient Greeks, there are also ancient geeks. All the technology I learned as a young man, extending back to vacuum tubes used in radios and TV at the time, no longer exists. Now there are “apps” to make our lives easier, “clouds” in which to store information, and “emojis” to convey our moods. 

A boomer's granddaughter in social media environment
Urupong, from Getty Images, via canva.com

We boomers have much to learn from our children about modern communications technology, but even more from our grandchildren—the true digital citizens of La La Land.   

The original version of this column was written by me and published in a Ventura County newsletter, Amigos805.com, on March 9, 2017.

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Grandmother with grandson and computer
Categories
Inspiration

Are Those Planets, or Are Those Stars?

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One night back when I was about 7 years old, I was sitting next to my tío (uncle) Salvador. We were looking out through a window in my home at the night sky. He was talking with me about the stars and planets. Something in that night sky caught my attention. It was a bright red object. I pointed toward it and asked him “Tío, is that a planet or is that a star?”

He looked down at me and smiled. He placed his hand on my shoulder in a way that made me feel special. But I looked up and very distinctly noticed a tear in his eye. I was perplexed. I didn’t understand that tear until some thirty-two years later.

Silhouette father and son viewing planets and stars
From Pixabay, via canva.com

The Ignition of Curiosity

But meanwhile, he did answer my question. He explained to me that what we were seeing was the planet Mars; that someday soon, mankind would land on the moon and that possibly in my lifetime we would set foot on distant planets. His answer to my question ignited my curiosity. Little did I realize the tremendous impact of that moment in my life.

As a child, I would spend hours looking up at the night sky learning the names of stars, constellations, and planets with the help of my star maps. I didn’t understand until years later what an intimate relationship we all share with those thousands of points of light.

Silhouette father and daughter viewing planets and stars
From Comstock, Photo Images, via canva.com

Questions Pass Down Through Generations

Fast-forwarding more than two decades, I would often find myself talking with my then-four-year-old daughter about the cosmos. Sometimes we would look up at the moon and sing songs to it. I’ll never forget one particular starry night when I was holding her in my arms as I took her out of the house to walk over to the car on the street. Suddenly, I distinctly felt the hand of my tío Salvador resting reassuringly on my shoulder. I almost looked up to greet him, but then remembered that he was no longer with us. 

Then…I finally understood that tear in his eye some thirty-two years earlier, only now the tear was in my eye. It was a tear of joy—the joy of watching a child take those first, brave, halting steps on their lifetime quest for answers driven by curiosity. I experienced that overwhelming sense of happiness that my uncle must have felt, but this time it was my child thrusting her little finger toward the heavens and asked me in her little-girl voice, “Daddy, are those planets or are those stars?”

The original version of this column was written by me and published in a Ventura County newsletter, Amigos805.com, on March 9, 2017.

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Planets and stars in dark sky
Categories
Nutrition & Health

What is Personalized Nutrition?

Why Personalized Nutrition is Important

By necessity, the standard nutritional support recommendations tend to be generic; there’s nothing “personalized” in their nutrition plans, given your uniqueness even within a particular demographic. It’s true: there’s only one you. You may have a friend of about the same age, the same body type. Maybe you exercise about the same and eat about the same kinds of foods. But you have your own routines, stressors and family history that set you apart and play a role in how healthy you are and how you feel.

Or perhaps you and your friend have somewhat different lifestyles. Maybe you’re a “stress mess” while your friend is rarely stressed and is totally “kick back.” Your friend may be a bit forgetful whereas you are “sharp as a tack.” One of you may have a family history of osteoporosis or cancer, while the other is concerned about blood pressure and heart disease running through the family tree. Suppose you’re a strict vegetarian, while your friend lives for “fast food” (we won’t call it “junk food”). Yet both of you may have been referencing the same standard government diet and nutrition recommendations for people of your age, height and weight.

We can all be so much the same, yet so different. You can be your healthiest self when you have a custom, personalized diet and nutrition plan for you. There are several good sources for obtaining our own plans.

Hospital food vs personalized nutrition plan

A Little Background Information

A report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information published in 2019 details an interesting study of hospital patients. The study evaluated the patients’ nutritional risks. Those who needed it were given “nutritional support” and the results were analyzed. The study then compared the patients’ clinical outcomes (including survival!) with those patients who consumed standard hospital food.

The lessons learned from this study highlight the advisability of assessing patients’ individual nutritional needs. Once their backgrounds are evaluated, doctors or computer algorithms can customize their nutritional support for optimal outcomes.

This would seem to teach us that we all might well be able to improve our health, and how we generally feel, by assessing our own needs, given our history and background. But to where do we turn if we indeed wish to develop an individualized plan for ourselves?

Fruits with stethoscope as part of personal nutritional support

Personalized Nutrition: The State of the Art

Personalized nutrition is not, by any measure, an exact science. As we can read in the website Food Insight, scientists are still learning about the complex relationships among the many aspects that make up our lives. We all have different behaviors, eating patterns, genes, and environments. They all influence our health in one way or another, to one degree or another, and they all interact with each other in unpredictable ways. Add to this the problems of trying to get people to accurately report what they eat, when they eat, and how they eat!

Healthy salad as part of good personal nutrition

Meanwhile…
Let’s Not Wait to Try Improving Our Health!

Until nutritional science evolves enough to provide us with clear answers to our questions about the diet and nutrition plan that’s right for us, those of us who are serious about improving our health can do several things:

  • Get back to basics:
    • Meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables, grains
    • Diets that include lean proteins and avoid “fast foods”
    • Reasonable proportions and varieties of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in our diets
    • Eating with food choices guided by the seasons (for example, strawberries in the summer and squash in the fall, etc.)
  • Consume a reasonable number of calories daily, depending on our age, weight, body type, etc.
  • Exercise daily, without overexertion
  • Include stress-relief measures in our lifestyle, such as:
    • Meditation
    • Relaxation
    • Aerobic exercise
    • Yoga
  • Enjoy a healthy social life that includes good meals, the company of family and friends
  • A healthy dose of “me time” to recharge our batteries and allow us time for reflection
MyPlate from USDA for more personalized nutrition

Where to Get Our Plans

Once we’ve basically gained control of our basic dietary and nutritional needs, we can start looking at fine-tuning our health. Now it’s time to begin finding sources for our individualized plans, despite the uncertainty of their accuracy. But where do we begin to look for those plans?

Beginning in 1992, we all depended on a “food pyramid” to guide our dietary choices. But that one-size-fits-all approach did not address our individuality. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revised the pyramid in 2005. In 2011, the USDA demolished the pyramid and replaced it with “MyPlate.” This graphic representation is from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We can learn all about MyPlate from this USDA/U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

One of the best sources for customizing a food diet for ourselves is the MyPlate widget that you can see here:

MyPlate Plan is not, by any means, a diagnostic tool that pinpoints an individual’s optimal nutritional requirements, but it’s a step in the right direction toward nutritional wellness.

In a subsequent post, I’ll be writing about fine-tuning our nutritional health even further as we seek to improve our “nutritional support.”

But maybe you would like to find out even sooner than that how you can begin optimizing your health beyond prudent diet choices. If so, just fill in the form below. You’ll receive a link to a brief video on my website that explains a program dedicated to creating a customized personal nutritional supplement plan based on a computerized assessment of your diet, background, and history. The nutritional products are manufactured by a world-renown nutrition company that is recognized for its clinical research in the development of its products.

Yes, please email to me the free information for getting my personalized nutrition supplement plan that is 100% money-back guaranteed!


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Vegetables with nutrition list as part of personalized nutrition plan
Categories
Social/Ethnic Issues

Sensitive Male in a Macho World

In past years, being dubbed a “sensitive male” was denigrating, humiliating, and downright insulting to a man. The target of this epithet might as well have been called a “dweeb” or, worse yet, a “sissy.” Largely because of the feminist movement, the term “sensitive male” is now something of a badge of courage, a mark of esteem, something that could be flashed about at a party on a button that is pinned firmly and proudly to a man’s shirt or jacket.

Unfortunately, this is true only in certain strata of society. Whereas the label draws admiration and maybe even envy in groups that concern themselves with political or psychological correctness, it would draw only guffaws and possibly worse at the shipyard, the gun range, or the sports bar.

Let’s face it. We guys who have been made aware of our “sensitivity” are walking a tightrope. If we, especially in the more professional circles, are not quite sensitive enough, then we bring on ourselves the disdain of those men and women who profess to have “seen the light,” and refer to us as an “old male”—referring not to age but to our Neanderthal tendencies. On the other hand if we are too sensitive, we run the risk of having our sexual identity come up for review.

Sensitivity is a double-edged sword. Wait. I shouldn’t say that…that’s an obviously “male” term, such as “going down in flames,” “getting shot out of the water,” “hitting below the belt,” or “it’s Miller time.” In any case, there are two sides to sensitivity. We sensitive males tend to revel in the intricate subtleties in art and music; we want to express our appreciation of beauty in a burst of poetry—even if we know we can’t compose poetry; we’re the ones women want to talk with because we can relate. We even talk about our feelings, forgawdsake!

But then there’s the inevitable “on the other hand…” We sensitive males can’t enjoy a boxing match with our male buddies because it’s hard for us to be entertained by two human beings who are knocking each other’s gonads out (whoops!). We can’t find it in ourselves to hoot and yell with glee over sexist or racist jokes told by our buddies. In fact, we probably don’t even have “buddies”! (Sensitive males have “friends”).

The bad and sad news impacts us more profoundly. We’re the ones who can be watching a poignant movie with someone close, wipe a tear away and complain about the ozone level inside the theater. If we’re “first-generation sensitive,” we tend to not spank our children, and then as they run all over us, ask, “Well, how do we discipline them?”

It’s far easier for a man to grow up with a certain amount of sensitivity inculcated in him from the start, than for a man in his forties, say, to suddenly “decide” to become sensitive. That’s like me deciding at age 45 to learn how to dance, and then finding myself surrounded by all these protégés of Fred and Ginger, who have been dancing since age 4. Believe me, I know (I’ve tried), it’s not easy!

It’s far easier for a man to grow up with a certain amount of sensitivity inculcated in him from the start, than for a man in his forties, say, to suddenly “decide” to become sensitive. That’s like me deciding at age 45 to learn how to dance, and then finding myself surrounded by all these protégés of Fred and Ginger, who have been dancing since age 4. Believe me, I know (I’ve tried), it’s not easy!

In my case, I had a father who was staunchly “male” (World War II combat veteran, judo instructor, blue-collar typesetter), but who also had a sensitive side to him (“don’t step on those flowers or I’ll swat you”). Just kidding, dad. My mother, whose upbringing was strongly influenced by her artist father and brother, is the epitome of sensitive beings on the planet.

How did this parental combo affect me? I grew up learning how to appreciate beauty in all its forms. At the same time, I was raised with the idea that if I had to fight some bully on the schoolyard or on the street, then I would fight honorably, whether I “won” or “lost” a fight. In those days, “losing” a fight didn’t necessarily mean losing your life. I was always surrounded by art and grew keenly aware of the emotions that were conveyed by these works. The emotional side of me didn’t at all prevent me from serving successfully in the armed forces at the height of the Vietnam War. My mother always took the time to share her views with me. Whether or not I agreed with her, I probably acquired insights into the female psyche and thereby became attuned to that frequency, which would serve me in later years.

At this time, for example, I feel confortable in VCPWN. I apparently don’t transmit much, if any, machismo—if the reaction I’m getting in the organization is any indication. That’s probably because of my conscious effort to limit my swagger as I walk between tables at the meetings! I feel secure in my manhood. I strive to serve as a role model for my daughter so that in a few years (not too few, I hope!) she’ll choose a man not necessarily just like her dad (the farthest thing from her conscious mind), but one who, like him, will listen to her and treat her with respect.

If I were giving advice to a young man, I’d tell him that we don’t have to play war games or beat drums or even enjoy football to “be a man,” although there’s nothing at all inappropriate in these activities. I’d make sure he’s aware that being a man is more than occupying a male body and following age-old precepts of traditional manhood, which today can be stultifying, counterproductive and downright deadly. I’d inform him that we’re at a turning point in the evolution of the interface between men and women.

Then I’d punch him in the arm and say, “Hey, let’s go have a beer…”

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Categories
Education

Education Today

Many of us who are successful in our own businesses and professions may be taking for granted one of the most priceless treasures in our possession: our education. Whether it was imparted in the schools we attended or nurtured at home by at least one loving parent or some other mentor, we have the tools and wherewithal to deal effectively with the world, to challenge it, to call upon its resources, to contribute to this society in which we live. Our education is one of those few cherished items that no one can take from us. And, who knows, we might even be able to “take it with us”!

I had always taken my education for granted. I attended a parochial elementary school and a no-nonsense high school. I served in the military in a very technical field. I acquired a university degree. I worked for many years in highly technical areas in which practically everyone was highly educated. I thought this was “normal.”

Recently, I changed careers to teach at a local community college. Although I have had many intellectually developed students in my classes of all conceivable backgrounds, I was appalled by the academic deficiencies of most of the high school graduates that attended my classes. I didn’t remember high schools graduating students who still counted on their fingers, who could not properly form numbers on the page, or who could not assemble a complete sentence.

The challenge of educators today to prepare these young minds for the intricacies of the vast technical world of work that stretches before them, and that would accept them with relatively open arms—if they carry the tools of preparation bestowed on them by their schools. To function and succeed in this brave new technological world requires a relatively firm understanding of computers and of some mathematics. And the sooner we can start turning out reasonably good writers and presenters, the more we as a society will benefit from improved communication at all levels.

The reasons for this unsettling academic degeneration are many. We all know that families are fragmenting at an unprecedented rate. In Southern California in particular, we are forced to deal with an enormous cultural diversity that was unknown to some of us in our childhood. A sizable portion of our young people are trying just to master the English language. Also, many of the students in our area are from poor in which the urge to survive far outweighs the urge to receive an education, to plan one’s life, to contribute, to prosper. It is hard to motivate a student to learn algebra or calculus when he is worried about making it home that evening without being attacked or even killed.

I had a conversation with VCPWN member Arlene Goldberg, an instructor/counselor with a local skills training and retention program. She upheld my belief that in education, we must teach our young adult students not just the academic and technical skills that they must acquire, but also success “secrets,” such as personal responsibility, interpersonal skills, interview tactics, the importance of punctuality and appearance, how to shake hands, how to use eye contact, etc. Many students also require instruction in basic topics such as finances, taxes, stress management, time management.

Without a proper education, the multitudes will become dependent rather than contributory.

In our community, the local colleges have evolved into academic “halfway houses”—serving as an emotional as well as scholastic transition from high school to the university, or as a bridge to the array of vocational opportunities afforded us in this area, or as a step toward personal enrichment.

A less familiar role of the community college is to train, to one degree or another, the vast population with limited English-speaking skills. Although many of these recent immigrants have not had the privilege of 12 years of formal education, they are nonetheless intelligent and anxious to become productive, tax-paying members of the community in which they live.

Some are too old to go to high school, and they know they would not yet survive in a university setting. They want more than adult night school twice a week. They are very serious about mastering English and obtaining an education. There also are those immigrants who, because of the language or culture barriers, appear to us as poor or uneducated, but who were in fact highly trained professionals in their homeland. The community college is an essential training ground for these former doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers who find themselves toiling in the fields and factories alongside their compatriots. Their stories are fascinating and should make us long-time citizens appreciate more profoundly the opportunities that are available to us in this country.

Immigration and education are two very interdependent issues that must be addressed together, whether or not some of us would rather sweep the entire immigration controversy under the “melting pot” rug. Here in California, we must find ways to educate this immigrant and minority groundswell, regardless of how we feel about immigration or issues dealing with minorities. In fact, the term “minorities” will in a very few years become an anachronism when applied to Latinos/Hispanics. They will become a state majority before the end of this century, and in fact already are the majority in many of our communities, including Oxnard.

Those of us in education have to effectively deal with the rapid growth in the number of students from diverse cultures. Without a proper education, the multitudes will become dependent rather than contributory. This has a direct effect on the lives of us who are just starting to think, “Hey, I’m going to be retiring in the next decade or two…” We will not be supported in the manner that we expect if those who follow us are uneducated and not prepared to succeed in this highly technical age.

It is therefore incumbent upon us, whether for humanitarian, financial or selfish reasons, to help ensure that our young people, and those of any age who immigrate to the United States, regardless of color or current dominant language or culture or national origin, receive the training and education required to keep our society vibrant, enriched, productive, enlightened, and by all means possible—by all means possible—compassionate and understanding.

—David Magallanes
Ventura County Professional Women’s Network Focal Points Newsletter
September/October, 1994

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