55 cny aug sept

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Jim Miller: Deciding What to Do in Retirement Political Correctness: Have We Gone Too Far?


Drones: Baby boomers’ new toy

PLUS Issue 64 August / September 2016

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Is 55 the New 40? Experts in aging say men and women are looking, feeling younger. Any question? Just ask 55-year-old Joe Cortini of Fulton

MARTIAL ARTS LeMoyne emeritus professor earns fourth degree black belt — at 74



In the market for good food in the South of France

Marvin Druger talks about science and religion


10 Free Things to Do in NYC

Superior stroke care. It’s about time.


eceiving the area’s fastest stroke diagnosis and treatment starts even before you arrive at Crouse Hospital. That’s because our EMS

partners start communicating with our team the moment they arrive on the scene. Once here, our stroke specialists immediately assess your condition. And if more advanced care is needed, our boardcertified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons use the most progressive stroke-rescue therapies and technology available. When it’s about time, say “Take me to Crouse.”


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333 Butternut Drive, Suite 100, DeWitt, New York 13214 Embracing Age is affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center and the Franciscan Companies network

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS





August/ Sepetember 2016

24 48

14 18 Savvy Senior 6 Financial Health 8 Gardening 10 Dining Out 12 My Turn 16 Golden Years 38 Aging 42 Druger’s Zoo 46 Last Page 50

LAST PAGE Vihn Dang, 86, was chosen as the “2016 Esteemed Elder” in Onondaga County. 4

55 PLUS - August / September 2016




• Baseball commissioner, a native of CNY, pays a visit

• Buying a home? Hire a real estate agent first



• Emeritus LeMoyne professor gets fourth-degree black belt — at 74


• Boomers’ new trendy toy? High tech drones


• OCC men’s tennis coach John LaRose celebrates 500th win


• Reverse mortgage: should you go for it?

• Is 55 the new 40? No doubt about it, say experts • Joe Cortini Jr., shows how he stays in shape


• Searching for good food in the South of France


• Ten fun things to do in New York City for free

Free Yourself From











(315) 622-0102 August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


savvy senior By Jim Miller


Deciding What to Do in Retirement

any people, when asked what they want to do when they retire, will say they want a mix of travel, play and meaningful work. Specifics, however, tend to be few and far between. But planning how to fill your time in retirement is just as important as the financial planning aspect. Here are some resources that can help. Online Tools A good starting point to figuring out what you want to do in retirement is at LifeReimagined.aarp.org. This is an AARP website that can help you rediscover what truly matters to you and focus on what you really want to do. It offers a variety of online exercises and programs that will hopefully spark some ideas and give you inspiration. Encore.org is another good resource that helps people who are seeking work that matters in the second half of life. Click on “Resources” on the menu bar and download their free Encore Guide, and consider purchasing a copy of their “Encore Career Handbook” (available at Amazon.com or BN.com for $10.50) by Marci Alboher, which is excellent. Also check out the free e-book called “The Age for Change,” which can help answer the question: “What now?” You can download this at ComingOfAge.org. And, if you’ve never taken a personality test before, this too can be a good tool to help you figure out what type of activities or work you’d like to do. A good option for this is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, which you can take online at MBTIcomplete.com for $50. Personalized Guidance If you want personalized help, you can also get one-on-one guidance from a retirement or life planning coach. Some resources that can help you here include LifePlanningForYou. 6

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com, which has a free exercise called EVOKE to help identify a path that might suit you best in later life, and provides a directory to registered life planners to help guide you. Also see: RetirementOptions. com, which will connect you with a retirement coach who will give you an assessment to help reveal your attitudes and opinions about work, family life, relationships, leisure time and more. And the LifePlanningNetwork.org, which is a group of professionals and organizations that help people navigate the second half of life. You can also find life and retirement coaching at the International Coach Federation at CoachFederation.org. Coaching sessions typically range from $75 to $300 or more, and usually require four to six sessions to get the most out of the process. If you’re primarily interested in volunteering, finding a retirement job or even starting a business when you retire, there are lots of resources that can help here too. For volunteering, PointsOfLight. o r g , Vo l u n t e e r M a t c h . o r g a n d SeniorCorps.gov and help you search for opportunities, or even create one on your own. To look for job ideas, sites like RetirementJobs.com, Workforce50.com and RetiredBrains.com list thousands of jobs from companies that seek older workers. FlexJobs.com can help you find good work-at-home jobs. CoolWorks.com and BackDoorJobs. com are great for locating seasonal or summer jobs in great places. Or to search for freelance opportunities in a wide variety of areas, there’s Elance. com and Guru.com. And if you’re interested in starting a new business, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers tips, tools and free online courses to entrepreneurs that are 50 and older at SBA.gov/ content/50-entrepreneurs, as does the nonprofit association Score at Score. org.

55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Sandra Scott Matthew Liptak, Mary Beth Roach Jacob Pucci, Herm Card


Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed .


Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Assistant Michelle Kingsley

Layout and Design Eric J. Stevens

55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2016 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email: editor@CNY55.com Editor@cnyhealth.com

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


financial health

By David J. Zumpano

We’ll Fix It! Pool Covers Shoes & Boots Zippers & Velcro Purses & Bags Leather Goods Birks Resoled Upholstery Motorcycle & ATV Seats

“Where service is a way of life”


Shoe Store

215 Cayuga St., Fulton, NY • 315-593-8914 Daily 8:30 am - 5:00 pm • Sat 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Bennett Manor Apartments Senior Housing (Elderly and/or Disabled) In Residential Section. E. Irving and Dausman Sts East Syracuse

Rent Based on Income Many Outstanding Features • On Bus Line • All One Bedroom Units • 24 Hour Maintenance • Secure Building • Wall to Wall Carpeting • One Pet Welcome • Total Electric w/ Individual Controls Apply Rental Office

100 Bennett Manor Drive, E. Syracuse Mon-Fri 7:30 – 3:30

437-4864 8

55 PLUS - August / September 2016

How Much Should Estate Planning Cost? Would you pick an estate plan that will cost you $950 or $10,000?


s an estate planning attorney who has been delivering workshops to thousands of individuals for more than 25 years, I have found that one of the most common questions participants are afraid to ask (but often do) is, "How much is this going to cost?" While it is a typical question and a good one, it is the wrong question. Let me show you why. If I were to offer two estate plans, one that costs $950 and one that costs $10,000, which one would you choose? Well, for most people that's easy: the $950 plan. But the problem is not with the plan you chose, it's with the question you asked. If you had asked a little more, you would have discovered that the $950 plan costs upward of $50,000 when you die and creates a lot of confusion and frustration for your surviving loved ones. The $10,000 plan, on the other hand, only costs $5,000 when you die, and it provides extensive instructions and authority to your family and eliminates all frustration and complication. Now what would you rather pay? The most important question in your planning is not how much it costs, but rather, how much do I pay

for what I get, and does what I get meet my needs. It's kind of like Paul Harvey’s “The rest of the story.” It's crucial that you know all of the story before you begin estate planning to ensure that you are properly planning now and later in the most efficient and least expensive manner overall. That's why the Estate Planning Law Center offers free workshops to identify all of the potential advantages or pitfalls to wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney, revocable and irrevocable trusts, Medicaid, asset protection, and how to ensure that you plan properly to avoid having to ever go into a nursing home. The Estate Planning Law Center sells nothing at these workshops and, in fact, you cannot even hire anyone at them. Understanding all the costs of estate planning will become clear so you can identify what you want your estate planning to accomplish and do it at the most economical price. So don't be fooled by the gimmicks and low prices. Get clear on what you want and what you need and ensure that what you have will accomplish it. Attorney David Zumpano is the founder of Estate Planning Law Center.

We reach CNY baby boomers. To advertise in 55 PLUS, please call 315-342-1182

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


gardening By Jim Sollecito

What We Can Learn from Trees


e live in a world of wounds. While it’s important to confront this, it’s important to make peace with it. Trees do it well. Most trees have the genetic capacity to construct barriers that seal off wounds, called compartmentalization. It’s a process where wounded cells form a series of four distinct “walls” of protection. This slowly prevents the spread of disease and decay to the rest of the tree. So although trees don’t technically “heal,” this allows the plant to continue growing and not forfeit long-term vigor. This allows the individual to survive after a catastrophic loss. The fourth and last specialized wall, which takes the longest time to construct, is by far the strongest. The cells are thick and contain chemicals that are toxic to decay organisms. It can literally hold a hollow tree together as long as there is no further injury. I wish I had this capacity myself. It’s true that healthy trees are better at this than those already compromised. Not all trees are strong compartmentalizers, and their lifespan may be compressed. Trees simply adjust to surviving after a loss and can still flourish and have value. Adversity empowers us to be our very best. If you have strong roots, you can overcome very serious challenges but not every challenge forever. Everything has a lifespan. The natural cycle of life dictates the recycling of organic matter into the earth so another can benefit from this enrichment. The longer we are on this planet, the more obvious this becomes. Everything is connected. Unfortunately, shrubs lack this ability to compartmentalize. So once a flowering shrub in your landscape is past its prime, feel free to consider something new. Don’t lose sleep over sacrificing a plant that is has served you well and fulfilled its career. It’s a great opportunity to find a replacement


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with better features. Maybe something totally different. And maybe now’s the time. In my 43 years designing and planting landscapes many of the best projects happened during the wonderful fall planting season. The soil is warm and ample autumn rainfall is on schedule. Trees have stopped pushing top growth, changing focus to the roots. And right now is the very best time to choose from the diverse selection of hydrangeas we offer. I checked my inventory and find that we now offer at least 17 different hydrangea varieties: tree form; shrub form; short, medium and large mature heights. If your landscape needs enhancement, put paniculata

hydrangeas at the very top of your list. They are hardy and they bloom. Abundant and reliable flowers of many shapes morph from white to varying shades of pink, red, magenta and wine. August and September are great times to plant. The practice is good for the soul. Don’t wait. We’re just dancing on this earth for a short while anyway. Smell the earth. Taste the breeze. Make your journey more meaningful and connected. Plant until your heart is content. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or jim@sollecito.com.

Social Security


Q: What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive? A: If you’re eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits. A spouse generally receives 50 percent of the retired worker's full benefit, unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse's benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. For example, based on a full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits: • At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker's full benefit; • At age 64, it would be about 42 percent; • At age 63, 37.5 percent; and • At age 62, 35 percent. However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age. Learn more by reading our retirement publication at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs/10035.html. Q: If I call 1-800-7721213, can a Social Security representative take my application for Medicare prescription drug help over the phone? A: If an interviewer is available when you call the 800 number, he or she can take your application over the phone. If an interviewer is not immediately available, we can schedule a telephone appointment for you.

New Location - 5633 West Genesee St., Camillus

Fallis for Planting It’s easier in the fall.

Ornamental Grasses Hardy Perennials Colorful Shrubs

Landscaping Nursery

4094 Howlett Hill Rd • Syracuse, NY 13215 • sollecito.com

468-1142 August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS





By Jacob Pucci The main entrance to the New York Wine and Culinary Center.

New York Wine and Culinary Center


Canandaigua restaurant features some of the best scallops around

ate one of the best scallops of my life at the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. The jumbo sea scallop — deep brown, nutty and sweet — was harvested in Montauk off the tip of Long Island. The scallop, along with the shaved radish and green baby grape clusters served alongside, were sourced in New York, as are more than 90 percent of the menu items. The seared vanilla and rose scented scallop was part of the seasonal tasting menu at the culinary center’s Upstairs Bistro. At $40 for three courses ($50 with wine pairings), or $55 for five courses ($75 with wine pairings),


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the tasting menu was a bargain considering the quality of the ingredients. Dinner on a recent early evening started with the scallop ($14 a la carte, or part of tasting menu) and a charcuterie platter ($15). Canandaigua-based Artisan Meats — formerly known as Hartmann’s Old World Sausage — supplied the meat. The capicola had a strong fennel kick, while the pork rillette had the flavor of rich pork and the texture of fatty butter. A most ideal combination, if ever there was one. The platter included a generous helping of thinly-sliced speck, prosciutto’s slightly smoky cousin,

each bite seemingly evanescing on my tongue, leaving behind a wisp of sweetness and tang. The dried landjager had a firm texture that contrasted well with the other meat. The meats were served with “seasonal accompaniments,” which in this case was Finger Lakes kimchee that provided a welcome acidic bite to cut through the richness. The fiddlehead ferns — in season only in the spring — were lightly pickled, but still retained their firm texture. The dried grapes were large, plump, juicy and far better than anything you’d find in the classic red box. Next came the grilled ramp salad

More than 90 percent of the ingredients are sourced from New York state.

Charcuterie board: Clockwise from top left: dried grapes, landjager, grainy mustard, capicola, pickled fiddlehead ferns, pork rillette, Finger Lakes kimchee, speck (bread in the middle).

($8 a la carte, or part of tasting menu) with shaved daikon radish, cucumber, snow peas and a pickled ramp vinaigrette. On this particular day, five other dishes also featured ramps, a kind of wild onion that, like fiddleheads, have gained something of a cult status due in part to their short season and limited availability. The ramps were grilled, which added pleasant sweetness to the dish and helped round out some of the ramp’s sharper onion and garlic flavors. The rest of the vegetables were sliced paper thin and the greens were light and crisp, making for a flavorful, light salad. Just as the last bite of softened white ramp bulb disappeared into my mouth, our entrees arrived. The salmon filet special ($20), served with an herb butter sauce and asparagus, managed to provide a crisp, salty crust without overcooking the interior. Both the salmon and rib steak ($34 a la carte, or part of tasting menu), were served with asparagus, evidence that only the freshest, in-season produce makes it onto the diner’s plate. In both cases, the asparagus still retained a bit of firmness and did not wilt or shrivel up after cooking, as meager stalks that traveled thousands of miles are wont to do. The steak, sourced from Bedient Farms in Yates County, was seared

to a rosy medium-rare and served with a raspberry rhubarb glace. The sauce was quite a bit savorier than I expected, but in this case, that’s not a bad thing. I wish the steak came with an entire basket of potato and blue cheese croquettes instead of just one. After dinner, we sipped the last of our Gruner Veltliner and watched from our outdoor patio seats as the boats lazily drifted along Canandaigua Lake. The red of the setting sun reflecting off the gentle waves was a reminder that, like the hot dog roasted over the fire on a family camping trip or the otherwise mundane sushi you ate on a great first date, sometimes it’s the setting that makes the meal. Of course, having the best ingredients in the state at your fingertips tends to help.

Vanilla and rose scented Montauk scallop with shaved radish, baby grape cluster salad and chile oil.

Sauteed salmon with herb butter and asparagus.

New York State Wine and Culinary Center

Address: 800 S. Main St, Canandaigua, NY, 14424 Phone: 585-394-7070 Hours: Monday to Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Website: www.nywcc.com

Pan-seared autumn harvest rib steak with charred asparagus spears, potato and blue cheese croquette and raspberry rhubarb glace. August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




Commissioner Manfred, a Rome, N.Y. native, speaks to the media about the importance of baseball to America and its youth. Photo by Herm Card.

Promoting Baseball in Syracuse

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, a CNY native, comes to Syracuse to encourage youngster to play baseball, softball By Herm Card


o, what are the chances that a man born 50 miles down the road in Rome, N.Y., a tennis player in high school and LeMoyne College, and holder of degrees from Cornell University and Harvard Law would become the commissioner of baseball? Well, the answer is 100 percent. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, 56, is that man. In 1987, after a career as a lawyer in the private sector, Manfred began working with Major League Baseball (MLB) in collective bargaining. During the 1994–95 MLB strike, he served as outside counsel for the owners. He joined MLB on 14

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a full-time basis in 1998, serving as the executive vice president of economics and league affairs. He negotiated MLB’s first drug testing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association in 2002, and represented MLB in negotiations with the MLBPA in 2002, 2006 and 2011. In 2013, he was appointed MLB’s CEO, and led the investigation of the Biogenesis scandal. In 2014, he was elected the 10th commissioner of baseball. He came to Burnet Park in Syracuse June 3 to help kick off Play Ball Summer in support of the Play Ball and RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) programs supported

by MLB. He emphasized his (and MLB’s) commitment to cities like Syracuse to help make baseball and softball a more vital part of the athletic opportunity for youngsters. “I have spent the last 18 months or so traveling around the United States telling people I have the best job in the world, and the best part of this job is when I get to spend a day like today, watching kids get to interact with our game. That reminds me how special this game really is.” There is no question that Manfred understands the relationship of baseball to America and his role in that relationship. “When I became commissioner

I thought it was important to put an emphasis on young people playing our game. I think it’s important to the future of our game, and I think it’s also important to our society, our culture, because baseball is uniquely American. That’s why people care so deeply about our sport. I feel that of all the obligations I have to the game, the greatest single one is that the game is passed down to the next generation the same way it was passed on to us.” Manfred is a genuinely friendly man, well spoken, and definitely interested in promoting the programs designed to promote inner city baseball in urban centers like Syracuse. “One of the things we realized when we started to think about participation in youth baseball is that most of us, in our 40s and 50s, that are running the game, didn’t really think about organized play when we were kids. We thought about those games you would make up when you only had a few kids to play. Events like today make kids realize that they can engage in our

game without all those formalities.” Following brief words to the media, he spent a considerable amount of time chatting with the youngsters, mostly Syracuse middle schoolers, who were participating in on-field skill clinics. He was in no hurry to leave and chatted amiably with students, teachers and fans that approached him. If the kids hung back at first, he approached them, and involved them in conversation that usually began “Hi, I’m Rob, what’s your name?” and eagerly spent time autographing the MLB provided PLAY BALL tee shirts they wore. When I told him that I was a little disappointed that he had been a high school and college tennis player which deprived me of the chance to say I had umpired games in which the future MLB commissioner had played, he said that “The fact is, I wasn’t very good. I was probably the worst little leaguer of all time. I was reasonably athletic, but baseball was not easy for me. However, it was a formative experience for me. I have had a special bond with

the game; it taught me values like teamwork and persistence that have stayed with me my entire life.” And when I said I did have one big question for him, I could see the resigned expectation on his face that it would be about Pete Rose, or steroid suspensions or labor problems, or any of the other repetitive and, I’m sure, sometimes irritating questions he is asked. When the question turned out to be whether or not he had played the highly popular baseball board game, Strat-O-Matic Baseball, when he was young, his response, with a big smile, was “What kid didn’t play Strat-O-Matic? I wish I still had the time.” Of course I do care what he does about Pete Rose and steroid suspensions and labor problems and all the other things that need tending, but mostly, I care that he seems to be genuinely interested in kids having the chance to play and enjoy baseball and softball, and that it’s too bad he doesn’t have enough time to play Strat-O-Matic.

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


my turn

By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bruce@cny55.com

Political Correctness: Have We Gone Too Far? Watch what you say or do because the Politically Correct Police Corps may be on duty


ome school districts have banned Halloween because of its being “overtly religious.” Others have banned this wildly popular fall observance as “the devil’s handiwork.” In Seattle, “brownbag lunch” is no longer an expression used in government documents, so as not to appear racist. Some schools have changed “Easter eggs” to “spring spheres” and, in some places, movements exist to change the term “snowman” to “snowperson.” Welcome to PC — the wacky world of political correctness. According to Alex Francis, writing in The Pendulum, “At its worst, the overbearing political correctness is no different from the Orwellian idea of newsspeak — the effort to change the way people think by changing the way they speak. We are at a point in this country where people need to grow up and realize that there are a lot of real problems out there that are more important than whether the word `snowman’ is sexist.” We are a contradiction of double standards. I remember in 1993 when Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s penis with a knife while he was asleep, then drove off with it and threw it into a field. John’s penis was subsequently found and surgically reattached. The late night talk shows went into overdrive yakking it up over this bizarre incident, which occurred in Manassas, Va. One can only imagine what type 16

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of late-night characterizations would have been made against John Bobbitt, a native of Buffalo, had he cut off his wife’s private parts. I guarantee that the laughing would have been nonexistent. African-American comedians can disparage other ethnic groups and those with alternative sexual persuasions with impunity, yet white comedians who do the same are called racist. Comic Sam Kinison was nearly blackballed when he joked insensitively about actor Rock Hudson and other

homosexuals. Scores of phrases have subtlty infiltrated our language to help us be less offensive or to make reality less real, less harsh. People are no longer “heavy,” “overweight” or “fat.” They are now “calorically challenged.” Comedian Arthur Godfrey had a No. 1 hit in 1947 with the “Too Fat Polka” — “I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me…” The lyrics also included: “She’s a twosome, she’s a foursome; if she’d lose some, I would like her

more some.” Can you imagine the firestorm that such a song would trigger today? Don’t call us “bald.” We’re actually “follically disadvantaged.” People don’t “fail” today; they experience “delayed success.” The garbage man of old is now a sanitation engineer. If Elvis were alive today, he wouldn’t be allowed to sing “In the Ghetto;” rather, it would be “In the Disadvantaged Area.” The next time you are stopped by a police officer who thinks you may have been drinking, you can assure him or her that you are just a bit chemically inconvenienced. If you lose your job, you are not unemployed; you are “involuntarily leisured.” The mindset today is to cushion and protect us from life’s harshness. To show you how weird this has become, all you need to do is to pick up a Styrofoam cup of McDonald’s coffee and read “contents are hot.” How’s that for a shocking revelation. Yes, it has come to this — warn us against the obvious. The interior of our automobiles are billboards of warnings about airbags, seatbelts, safety devices, alarm systems and how to strap in our children. The latest rush to judgment is occurring as the result of school shootings throughout the country. So as not to take any chances with a student harboring hostilities, we will pounce on any innocent 8- or 9-yearold who, in a moment of frustration, utters a throwaway threat. I don’t know about you, but if I were locked up every time I made a disparaging remark about school, an administrator, teacher or fellow student, I would not be here to write about it. As youngsters, we routinely bragged that “my father can kill your father.” Today, that remark might cost a kid several days in juvenile detention. (Oh, sorry, I meant to say “under-aged rehabilitation facility.) Make no mistake about it: Even jokes or pranks will not be tolerated in this climate of hysteria. So watch what you say, do or even think, because the Politically Correct Police Corps may be on duty, and I assure you they are not laughing. August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




Antonio Eppolito, 74, recently received his fourth-degree black belt at The Le Moyne College Tae Kwon Do Club. Here he demonstrates his skill before receiving his belt and becoming a master.

Master of the Martial Arts Le Moyne emeritus professor finds meaning in taekwondo By Matthew Liptak


t’s taken over 10 years, but 74-year old Antonio Eppolito of DeWitt earned his fourth-degree black belt this spring. Now he is not only a doctor of education but a master of taekwondo. “I’m going to stay with it, and if I can go further, fine,” Eppolito said. “It’s always been my goal to reach the fourth degree so that you’re considered a master.” Eppolito said starting a journey into a martial art has a beginning, but it never has an ending. You can always learn more about the art. He started his path to master with the taekwondo club at Le Moyne College at the age of 64, after he had been a professor of teacher preparation at the college for 14 years. He dabbled in karate in his younger years, but never really found the time to devote to the martial arts like he had wanted.


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“I didn’t want to do it just piecemeal and show up when I could,” he said. “I did it full throttle.” Eppolito found an able master at the club. Even though he’s a master himself now, the professor has a master who can continue to teach him at Le Moyne. Master Bruno Shirripa, 61, is a sixth-degree taekwondo black belt who founded the club in 1989. “My master, he’s sixth degree,” Eppolito said. “He’s inspiring. Anyone beyond the sixth degree is considered like a grand master. It goes all the way to 10. They’re gurus. These guys are amazing. All you have to do is touch them and — boom — they’ll put you down.” But Eppolito made it clear that the martial arts are not about hurting people. It’s about being able to protect yourself and those you love and keeping active. The art

aspect of taekwondo should not be underemphasized either. It joins the mind, body and spirit in a healthy activity. The new master said tae means foot; kwon means hand; and do means spirit. “The do makes it an art form,” he said. “That’s the spirit —the relationship between the tae and the kwon — The relationship between the hand, foot and the mind. That’s what makes it different from just kicking and punching.” The art had more practical beginnings, Eppolito explained. In ancient Korea, farmers and young military men were low on weapons. They needed to turn their bodies into a form of defense so they developed taekwondo. Eppolito remains a professor emeritus at the college. He said

learning the art has transformed his life in other ways too. “Over the years, you develop self discipline,” he said. “You know that you have to keep your body in shape. You know that you have a responsibility to your body. It’s putting things in balance.”

Setting the bar higher Similarly, his teaching knowledge has impacted his ability to learn the martial arts. You set a bar the student can reach and when the student

reaches that bar you move on to another, he said. He encourages others to give martial arts a try no matter their age. You don’t have to become a black belt to gain something from the experience, he said. “You are going to be able to do certain things,” he said. “Just being active. Not everyone has to reach a black belt. Just getting from white belt to yellow belt is a great thing for some people. That’s a lot of learning, a lot of training, a lot of repetitiveness,

Antonio Eppolito and his wife Nancy. “He's been really focused on this and it's very, very important to him,” Nancy says. “We're all very proud that he pursued it and made this level. He really enjoys being involved with the young people at Le Moyne.

coordination, balance, and increase in stamina. You’re going to live a healthier lifestyle perhaps.” Participants should check with their doctor before undertaking a new activity regimen, he said, but they shouldn’t hold themselves back if they want to try it. The club at Le Moyne teaches faculty, staff and students. The students in particular inspire Eppolito. Some of them come out with both a bachelor’s degree and a black belt after four years. “I really praise these students who take 20 hours of undergraduate work and can juggle their time,” he said. Earning belts takes a lot of time, repetition and commitment. Eppolito did not gain his without some bumps along the way. He broke his toe going for his blue belt, cracked his head open while sparring, has had two operations on his knees and most recently couldn’t move his arm because of tennis elbow. He has been active much of his life. He was into sports as a boy growing up on a Canastota potato farm and loved road running too. As an adult, he ran the first 15 Mountain Goat Run events in Syracuse. Today, when he and his wife Nancy hold their annual family reunion, he gives his four kids and their kids a lesson in taekwondo. “We all go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a week,” he said. “During that time, I teach them taekwondo. They have shirts and belts and all that.” His family has been supportive of his efforts to become a master, Nancy said. “He’s been really focused on this and it’s very, very important to him,” she said. “We’re all very proud that he pursued it and made this level. He really enjoys being involved with the young people at Le Moyne. It keeps him connected even though he retired, because he’s a man that really didn’t want to retire. Having to retire was a hard thing.” The new master plans to stay devoted to the martial arts and to keep active. It’s a lifestyle that has served him well. “All you can ask from yourself is today I’m a little bit better than I was yesterday and tomorrow, I’ll be a little bit better than I am today,” Eppolito said. August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




Boomers’ New Trendy Toy: Drones By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


ommonly known as "drones," unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become popular among baby boomers for both work and play. Now that they have the time to engage in more hobbies as retirees, those interested in radio-controlled aircraft can learn all about piloting a UAV. Though all ages enjoy UAVs, they offer 55-plus people some highly desirable benefits. Many 55-plus people buy UAVs for surveying their property, checking on their hunting sites or finding out if their home's rain gutters are clear, among their many practical uses. UAVs are becoming popular for business owners as well. Farmers,


55 PLUS - August / September 2016

for example, use them for all sorts of reasons. Elson Shields, Cornell University entomologist speaking at New York Corn Congress last January, said UAVs can help farmers plan field drainage, monitor crops, identify plant stress, and time their harvest, as well as keep an eye on livestock, all without taking a step. Garret Wikoff, treasurer of the Central New York Indoor Flying Society in Cicero, has been flying UAVs for 30 years. He recommends beginners to join a club. "They can help you learn how to fly it," he said. "Learning to fly a radio controlled aerial vehicle isn't a simple thing." He also recommends joining the

Academy of Model Aeronautics (www. modelaircraft.org). The organization includes insurance to members as part of the membership and, for those with aircraft over 8 oz., the federally mandated registration. UAVs lighter than 250 grams do not require registration. For those 250 grams and over, the registration is $5 for three years. "If you get on the AMA site, you'll find a listing of most of the clubs in the area," Wikoff said. "Then you'll talk with people with experience who can get you through the initial problems. It appears very simple but it's not." Newer, four-propeller helicopters are easier to fly, but cost more. Read all instructions first and

practice take-off and landing several times while in a wide open area. Don't try any abrupt movements until you become accustomed to the controls. Turn the throttle down if you think you'll crash because the craft will suffer less damage if the propellers aren't turning upon impact with the ground. Don't fly a UAV near pets. Although UAVs look like toys, keep children away and never go near an operating UAV unless you are absolutely certain the propellers cannot engage, since their high speed can cause serious injuries. C o n s i d e r b u y i n g f ro m a n American source, since the instructions in an imported model may be difficult to understand or abrupt.

What to Buy In the market for a UAV? The pricing varies widely. Entry-level hobbyist UAVs can cost less than $30. Commercial-grade UAVs cost up to $100,000. It’s all about size and features. Smaller, lighter craft (some fit in the palm of the hand!) may not include a camera. Some UAVs may be suitable for flying indoors, which can offer beginners a chance to gain experience without fear of losing control and hurting someone else or damaging another’s property. Most enthusiasts want a camera that shoots both still shots and video. Most models stream video to the pilot’s tablet or phone and allow live viewing, but all store the data for downloading later. Consider why you want to use a UAV for photography and videography. Choose from among professional quality video cameras, fisheye lens cameras, high resolution cameras and more. Craft with longer ranges allow pilots to fly their UAVs for greater distances. Smaller UAVs usually offer shorter ranges. Flying time represents another top feature UAV pilots desire. Although purchasing an extra battery can extend flying time, larger craft allow longer flying time than smaller craft. For pilots who really love t e c h n o l o g y, p r o g r a m m a b i l i t y becomes a big priority. UAVs that are programmable allow pilots to better customize their experience.

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55 PLUS - August / September 2016

World’s Older Population Grows Dramatically


he world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Today, 8.5 percent of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. According to a new report, “An Aging World: 2015,” this percentage is projected to jump to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion). “An Aging World: 2015” was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report examines the demographic, health and socioeconomic trends accompanying the growth of the aging population. “Older people are a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes. Some of the report’s highlights: n America’s 65-and-over population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million by 2050. n By 2050, global life expectancy at birth is projected to increase by almost eight years, climbing from 68.6 years in 2015 to 76.2 years in 2050. n The global population of the “oldest old”— people aged 80 and older — is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050, growing from 126.5 million to 446.6 million. The oldest old population in some Asian and Latin American countries is predicted to quadruple by 2050. n Among the older population worldwide, noncommunicable diseases are the main health concern. In low-income countries, many in Africa, the older population faces a considerable burden from both noncommunicable and communicable diseases.

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Coach John LaRose: 500 Wins OCC men’s tennis coach regarded as master teacher, educator. He recently celebrated his 500th career win By Mary Beth Roach


he walls in his office on the Onondaga Community College campus are covered with trophies, plaques and mementos from floor to ceiling — awards the OCC Men’s Tennis Coach John LaRose has garnered over the past few decades. His favorite hangs over his desk — a framed jersey signed by members of his 2008 OCC tennis team that brought home a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tennis Tournament Championship — the only one the college has won. Coach LaRose has revived the tennis program at OCC over the 20-


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plus years he has been there, and last spring he celebrated his 500th career win, as his team beat SUNY Adirondack, 8 to 1. LaRose has been named NJCAA National Coach of the Year, and in the past was honored as the NJCAA Region III Coach of the Year Award four consecutive years. He has been inducted into the National Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, and during his tenure as teacher and coach at Onondaga Central School, his teams won 10 league champions. Coach LaRose estimates about 1,500 to 2,000 adults and juniors go through the camps, clinics, leagues, tournaments and lessons he, his

coaches, and team members organize every year. Not bad for a guy who had never played tennis prior to becoming a coach. But his accomplishments are not just wins and losses and the number of awards hanging on the walls. The success is all borne out of his passion for teaching and for his students. “I love teaching. I love working with kids. I think God just put me here to teach and coach,” he said. During his 30-plus-year career with the Onondaga Central School district, he taught elementary school, middle school and high school. In his last few years with the district, he was also chairman of the science department, supervisor of science for grades K-12, and he spent 20 years overseeing the high school’s drama department. “Anything that the kids needed, I was there for them,” he said. “I had classes on Saturdays for kids that

couldn’t get their work done during the week.” And then one day, while teaching at the Wheeler Middle School in the OCS district, he learned that the high school kids needed a tennis coach. The former coach had quit, and the school board was planning to drop the tennis program. The team members, many of them seniors, were devastated. So, he said, the kids banded together and talked him into coaching them for the rest of the season. LaRose told the students he’d never played before. “I don’t know anything about the sport, but if you’re looking for a teacher to be a supervisor, to be with you at practice because it’s required, and to go with you on bus trips for matches, I will help you out. That’s basically how I started that first year.” LaRose found he really liked the sport. And although he was inexperienced as a coach, he believed his teaching skills could transfer from the classroom to the court. One of the junior students on the team, he said, would go out after practice and would help him. “HE was feeding balls to ME,” he joked. That following summer, Coach LaRose became a student himself, taking lessons to not only learn the game, but to study coaching technique, and followed by an intensive one-week tennis camp at Amherst College. Then the kids needed a teacher to help them with the senior play. Because he had some experience in theater, the school administration approached him to help with the senior play. In true LaRose style, he not only directed that play, but got into it so much, he said, that he would go on to do the annual variety show for years. Because the shows were also in January, he also helped the students to build sets during Christmas vacations. One of his favorite shows, he said, was when he got the senior athletes — both girls and boys — into outrageous costumes and had them dance to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Some of his female students have since told him, that every time they hear that song now, they think of LaRose, he said, laughing. His final production at OCS was

Coach LaRose, center, with tennis players from Onondaga Community College. The coach recently celebrated his 500th career win. the musical, “Fame.” He was also coaching tennis at OCC at the time, and one of his tennis students had danced ballet in San Francisco. He asked her if she would be interested in helping him out on the show, she readily agreed, and she helped to choreograph a lot of the scenes for the production. For some time, his work with the theater program overlapped with his OCC coaching job, and he would shuttle between the OCS rehearsals and the OCC tennis courts. Some of his former students have gone on to find success on larger stages. One student who has distinguished herself is Dena Tyler. LaRose had her in science and in his theater productions. She graduated from high school and went on to study neuroscience. After becoming a neurologist, she returned to Central New York from New York City for a visit and stopped in to see LaRose. Whether on the stage or on the tennis court, LaRose has made a significant impression on his students and his colleagues, according to several sources. “His many years of classroom teaching experience are clear when you watch him on the tennis court and working with his students in his office. He has the ability to connect with students to teach them tennis and life skills and help and push them to improve,” said Michael Borsz, OCC athletic director. “His biggest and best trait, though, is his ability to care for

each student he interacts with. He has truly made a difference in students’ lives. He is a master teacher and coach.” Always an educator, LaRose spends time coaching students not only in the game of tennis but in their studies as well, encouraging them and tutoring them when needed. If a student is not eligible academically, he or she cannot play, LaRose said. He proudly pointed out that the men’s tennis team had the highest GPA last semester compared to other teams at OCC. One of his current students, Eric Day, just finished his freshman year playing for LaRose. “He was always on my case,” Day said, referring to his academic performance. “I did well my first semester,” Day said, “and he wanted to make sure I continued.” Day is helping LaRose with OCC’s College of Kids summer tennis camp, and enjoys relaying what he’s learned from his coach onto the younger kids. A former player who currently helps LaRose with his camp is Brandon Fernandes, who has known the coach for years. While the players have to keep up on their grades in order to play, it’s important to LaRose that they do well for their own good, Fernandes said. “It’s good to know that there are people out there who want to see others do well. He has such a big heart,” he said. August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




Reverse Mortgage. Should You Go For It?


By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant hy should you consider a reverse mortgage? Officially known as the home equity conversion mortgage, the FHA-insured program allows people who qualify to receive monthly payments that draw from equity in their homes to use for ongoing or periodic expenses. For some people, this can offer many advantages. Local experts weighed in on the pros of reverse mortgage. Lynn M. Connors, a reverse mortgage sales manager with Commonfund Mortgage Corp. in Syracuse said she has helped hundreds of people across the state understand reverse mortgages for the past nine years. “I have never had someone say, ‘I wish I’d never done this,’” she said. “There are so many myths and misconceptions. It takes some education to get people to understand how this works.” She said that reverse mortgage 26

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is a form of a home equity loan that home owners can take against their primary residence. But instead of making monthly payments, they receive income from it. Many people think they have to give up their home’s title, but Connors said that’s not true. “This is considered a non-recourse loan,” Connors Connors said. “They won’t have to make any payments back. The way the loan gets repaid is by the sale of the home.” Some people fear that they could end up owing more than the value of the home if they continue to reside in it for an extended period of time. The FHA guarantees that the required repayment will never exceed the value of the home. It must be sold for market value,

and any shortfall is covered by the required mortgage insurance. Connors added that providing both the husband and wife take part in the transaction, the repayment isn’t triggered if one goes to live in a nursing home. (If both leave permanently, the repayment must take place.) There’s no pre-payment penalty if their home becomes unsuitable and no minimum time they must live in the home. The program works for snowbirds as well, as long as their reverse mortgage property remains their primary residence as represented by their driver’s license and other indicators. If the couple decides to move, they can sell the house to pay off the reverse mortgage and keep any money above the loan amount. If they remain in the house until they die, their heirs do the same, or arrange financing if they wish to keep the home. The homeowner must pay off any existing mortgage or home

equity loan as part of the reverse mortgage closing, which eliminates the monthly payment. Until recent years, companies approved reverse mortgages without screening applicants carefully. The home must pass FHA guidelines for maintenance and safety. “It’s not the end of the world if they find issues, but these issues must be addressed before the loan or as part of the loan contract after,” Connors said. Before obtaining a reverse mortgage, applicants are required to undergo counseling by a licensed, third-party reverse mortgage counseling provider. Sherry Tetreault, certified credit counselor and a certified reverse mortgage counselor with Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions in Syracuse, said that the counseling helps clients understand the materials they’ve been given. “We document the session so they know what was discussed,” Tetreault said. “It’s against federal law for the lender to be involved, but their attorney or family may be there. They can help them better understand what’s going on.”

The applicant must pay a $150 fee for the counseling. Unlike in the past, applicants now must pass financial assessment guidelines. “The biggest cause of default is people didn’t pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance,” said Stephen Gargano, statewide manager of the reverse mortgage department at SEFCU Mortgage Services. Now, potential borrowers must qualify and they’re allowed only a certain percentage of the value of the house, based on age, the value of the house, and current interest rates. People who are 62, the youngest qualifying age for a reverse mortgage, may take out only half the value of their home and receive it in monthly installments. Someone who’s 82 may receive close to two-thirds to three-quarters of the home’s value. Amanda Pascall, home ownership center manager at Home Headquarters, Inc. in Syracuse, said that many use reverse mortgage to avoid bankruptcy and as an estate planning tool. “Reverse mortgage can help you

not take your social security ahead of time and let it grow three or four years,” Pascall said. “You’d be surprised at how well that pays off.” People Pascall who don’t fit the ideal profile include those who are not dedicated to remaining in that home. Since there’s a fee involved with obtaining a reverse mortgage, it’s not a short-term solution for obtaining money. “You have to have a lot of equity in the home in order to be able to get a reverse mortgage,” Pascall said. “If that’s not the case, it won’t be a good option.” People who want their children to have their home as a legacy should not consider a reverse mortgage since for most heirs, the only way to keep the home in the family is to pay back the loan after the parents have passed away.

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


real estate By Jeff Forziatti

Buying a Home?



hether you are looking to buy a new home or downsize your existing home, take advantage of hiring a real estate agent to work for you. Buyer’s agents are real estate agents who work specifically with buyers and dedicate their time to find a property perfect for the buyer. And, believe it or not, they are free for you most of the time. The seller of the home usually pays the fees for the agents.


A buyer’s agent will represent you and your best interest. The agent who has the home listed has the interest of the seller in mind. Do yourself a favor and get someone to work on your behalf.


It is best to contact a bank and get yourself a pre-approval letter. This will tell you what you would qualify for in a house. It's great to know this information so you know what price range to look in. Don't forget to consider taxes.


Your agent will then set you on a custom search which will have all your criteria that you are looking for in a home, including location, style, size, number of bedrooms, acreage etc.


55 PLUS - August / September 2016

reasons to hire an agent to search for your perfect home





6. 7.


Choose the homes you'd like to see, the agent will make appointments and will view them in person. It's best to go during the day before it gets dark to get a good feel for the area and of course be able to see everything while it's still light out!

Once you find the house, a good agent will do a market analysis to make sure the home is not overpriced. The agents will do their best to make sure you don't overpay. You will discuss with your agent and make an offer on the home.

A good agent will always recommend a home inspection. This will go into the contract as a contingency, which means the purchase offer is contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. If for any reason there is a major issue found, you have the right to walk away from the offer or renegotiate the offer. In areas where radon is known to be high, a radon test should also be made a contingent part of the offer.

After you are happy with the outcome of the inspection or any issues were addressed and remedied, the agent will send a “removal of contingencies agreement” signed by both parties that says you're both happy and are ready to proceed with the deal. At this point the contract is put into the hands of your attorney. We recommend using an attorney who specializes in real estate. If you do not know any, your agent can recommend a few. This is also the time your bank begins its work and will usually have your bank commitment in about 30 days.

It usually takes about 60 days from accepted purchase offer until the closing date. So keep this in mind with your current living situation and plan accordingly. Then move into your new home!

Jeff Forziati is a buyer specialist with Keller Williams Realty in DeWitt. Contact him at 315-4596616 or jeffforziati@kw.com.

August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




Is 55 the new 40? Experts in aging say yes, men and women are looking, feeling younger By Lou Sorendo


s 55 the new 40? Is it true people don’t look or feel as old as someone the same age a generation or two ago? For Minjung Seo, associate professor at SUNY Oswego’s department of health promotion and wellness, the answer is yes. “First of all, we live longer,” she said. The life expectancy of Americans born in 2012 was 78.9 years, which was the highest it had ever been. “Obviously, the life cycle has been extended. Therefore, people aged 55 today do not feel their age the same as people aged 55 did in 1940,” she said. Seo, who holds a PhD degree in health promotion and gerontology from Purdue University and currently teaches wellness and aging, noted


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people view aging more positively than before. “Positive perceptions of aging are significantly associated with favorable outcomes, such as higher well-being, better health or longevity,” she said. According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, older people typically feel younger than their chronological age and those who feel younger than their actual age have reduced mortality, Seo said. “In other words, how you feel your age affects your mortality,” she added. Also, another study conducted by the National Council of Aging and the Harris National Survey showed 51 percent of older adults aged 65-74 and 33 percent of adults aged 75 and older perceived themselves as middle-aged

or younger. “This certainly is evidence that many older adults are redefining old age as beginning later in the life cycle,” she said. According to Seo, there is tangible evidence indicating people are indeed operating on a younger level — whether it is physically, emotionally or mentally — than their predecessors.

The next level Biotechnological advances bode well for increased longevity in the future. These include pharming, which is the process of genetically modifying plants and animals so that they produce substances that may be used as pharmaceuticals. An example is

genetically modifying bananas or tomatoes to create a vaccine against hepatitis B. Proteomics, which is genetically modifying bacteria, plants and farm animals to produce desired proteins, is also prevalent. With this technology, doctors can determine what protein a patient needs to recover from a given illness and then the proteomics engineers fabricate the needed protein molecules, Seo said. “In addition, there are even more advanced anti-aging medicines such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, nanobiotic red blood cells and nanobiotic white blood cells,” she said. Also, there are non-medical related important factors affecting longevity, beauty and youth, Seo noted. These include proper diet, caloric restriction, adequate exercise, stress management, detoxification and proper care of the brain.

Seo said the best strategy to live up to the maximum attainable age and looking and feeling younger is to “keep our bodies in good health until medical advances such as biotechnology and nanotechnology revolutions find full expression,” she said. People are also engaging in more fulfilling careers as opposed to their predecessors, although not necessarily leading to a healthier and less-stressful lifestyle. According to several studies, members of the younger generation are more focused on career growth opportunities, job satisfaction and work-life balance. This is in addition to more traditional criteria when they search for jobs, such as salary, benefits and job security, and they put more value on achievement and satisfaction from their job, Seo said. “People are engaging in more fulfilling careers compared to their

predecessors,” which ideally, may contribute to a healthier lifestyle, she said. “But in reality, this does not seem to contribute to a healthier lifestyle because of highly competitive job opportunities with an increased population, unstable economic conditions and less physically demanding jobs,” she said. She said the trend of seeking fulfilling careers will discontinue unless economic conditions improve. “Otherwise, people may tend to put more value on salary, benefits and job security than on career fulfillment,” she noted. Seo said a fundamental principle of anti-aging medicine is that aging can be regarded as a disease, an enemy. “As a result, anti-ageists want to fight it with all the tools and weapons at their disposal,” she said. Most commercial anti-aging August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


products such as cosmeceutical interventions (skin treatment), Botox injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, collagen injections and plastic surgery seem to focus on a younger-looking appearance, making people who use them look and feel younger, she said. “However, I don’t think those products actually slow down the biological aging process of the body itself, and as yet there is no scientifically proven commercial product to slow down the aging process,” she said.

Counterpoints apparent Certain societal factors, however, are testing the concept that 55 is the new 40. A longitudinal cohort study comparing younger generations to older generations showed the prevalence of obesity was higher in the younger generation at an earlier age, Seo noted. Members of the baby boomer generation were more obese, and became so at younger ages than their predecessors, she said. “It seems the benefits of increased education and income and healthier lifestyles were almost counterbalanced by the effects of increasing bodymass index,” Seo said. “Obesity is an epidemic in America and childhood obesity is a huge health issue in America as we know.” Also, more than 5 million college students struggle with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A recent study showed the level of anxiety of average high school students is higher compared to the average level of anxiety in psychiatric patients in the early 1950s. “Considering the results of these studies, it is difficult to believe that people are operating on a younger level than their predecessors even though they may perceive differently,” she said.

The education factor There have been a number of studies providing evidence that physically, people are healthier than their parents and grandparents were at the same ages, according to Laura H. Brown, professor and chairwoman of 32

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human development at SUNY Oswego and coordinator of its gerontology minor. This particularly holds true for well-educated people. “People who have graduated from college are more likely to understand health better and get regular exercise,” she said. Also, they tend to be working in occupations that not only challenge them physically, but also mentally, she noted, which is a significant aspect of the staying-young process. In order to stay sharp mentally, people need to challenge themselves, she said. “If you are standing on an assembly line and doing the same exact tasks over and over again, that’s not challenging,” she said. “So having an occupation that taps into different parts of your brain and different skill sets are going to keep those neuro pathways much healthier for much longer.” Brown said a trend is an increase in sunscreen use, a key indicator that people are taking better care of their skin and avoiding skin cancer, regarded as a significant killer in previous generations. “All medical advancements have really improved our health status,” said Brown, including immunizations, better cancer treatment, and better detection of health problems before they get too serious to be able to treat. Medical advancement is led by immunizations, such as the one for pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the top-10 killers of people over 65. “If you have an immunization that prevents you from getting at least some forms of pneumonia, it gives you a fighting chance,” she said. In the past, for someone over the age of 80 who fell and broke his or her hip, “that was the beginning of the end,” Brown said. “If you broke your hip, then you were bed ridden and risked contracting pneumonia, and that is what killed you,” she said. “That’s not the case anymore. People do not go on bed rest and instead have surgical implants of plates and screws and are walking within three days of breaking their hip,” she said.

Minjung Seo is associate professor at SUNY Oswego’s department of health promotion and wellness. “Obviously, the life cycle has been extended. Therefore, people aged 55 today do not feel their age the same as people aged 55 did in 1940,” she says.

How long will you live? Some things experts look for in terms of predicting how long one will live or how well they will age are both physical and mental, she said. “Having work and activity that are meaningful to you is going to keep you motivated to continue,” Brown said. “Another big advancement we’ve seen is people who have positive, supportive relationships and connections that are positive to other people live on average seven years longer than people who don’t have those relationships,” she said. Another key factor to aging is sleep. “Sleep gets a little more difficult as we get older, particularly among women after menopause,” she said. “The symptoms of menopause sometimes mess with your ability to get deep sleep.” However, once those symptoms

are under control, “you should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep ideally,” she noted. She said researchers note if a person gets shorter periods of sleep every night, over time that decreases the length of one’s DNA. “People who get six or fewer hours of sleep a night on a regular basis have shorter telomeres that impact the speed of your physical aging,” she said. A t e l o m e re i s a c o m p o u n d structure at the end of a chromosome. “So shorter telomeres equal shorter life spans and longer sleep times prevent telomeres from getting shorter,” she said. As of 2011, life expectancy for men in the United States was 76 and for women, it was 81. However, in that same year, the obesity rate in the U.S. was 36.5 percent compared to 15 percent in 1978. “Obesity is going to be the tell-tale for the next generation,” she said. “If we can get obesity rates down, that’s going to be a huge factor, particularly since obesity is very strongly connected to poverty rates.” “If you only have a certain amount of money for food, you are not going to be able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. You are going to go for the processed, filling comfort food. That is the stuff that contributes to obesity,” she said. Poverty is quite evident when comparing life expectancies of different ethnic groups. In 2011, the two ethnic groups in the United States that had the highest rates of poverty are Native Americans and African Americans. They also had the lowest life expectancies: 74.6 for African Americans and 76.9 for Native Americans. Meanwhile, Asian Americans had a life expectancy of 86.5 percent. “Asians live longer in the United States than any other ethnic group. But Asian culture emphasizes a balanced diet. They don’t keep eating after they are full, and they have that centered life where they are meditating, managing stress, exercising and have meaningful work activities,” she said. Caucasians, meanwhile, have a life expectancy of 78.9 while Latin Americans are at 82.

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The New 40 Joe Cortini Jr. shows why 55 is the new 40 By Lou Sorendo


n today’s day and age, it’s common to hear the cliché, “55 is the new 40.” Simply put, people don’t look or feel as old as someone of the same age a generation or two ago. A classic example is Fulton’s own Joseph C. Cortini Jr., owner of Cortini Shoe Store, 215 Cayuga St., Fulton. He is a recent newcomer to the 55-plus set, and will turn 56 in late September. Cortini Shoe Store is iconic insofar as the Fulton business community is involved. With its beginnings circa 1910, the store in Fulton is one of the oldest family-owned shoe repair shops in the country. Cortini has been able to stave off the aging process to the point where he is operating on a younger level physically, emotionally and mentally than his peers of preceding generations. “I could remember years ago when someone would be celebrating their 50th birthday and the expression was that person was ‘over the hill,’” Cortini said. H e s a i d g e n e r a l l y, p e o p l e nowadays are making a concerted effort to stay in shape and eat smart. “First and foremost, no matter what you want, the information is there. “In regards to physical fitness, health and clean eating, everything is presented to you. If you don’t take advantage of it, you’re living in a cave.” Cortini said people are emphasizing the need to associate what they eat to how they feel physically. 34

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He referenced physician Barry Sears, author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Zone,” which kickstarted anti-inflammatory nutrition. B a s i c a l l y, S e a r s a d d r e s s e s the importance of balancing out carbohydrates, proteins and fats to put one in “the zone.” “You ever notice how some days you feel great and can accomplish anything, and other days, you are maybe sluggish and lethargic?” he asked. “If you look back through history, a physician was really an experienced chef and would cook you something to make you feel better for whatever was ailing you,” he said. Cortini said he has encountered people he went to school with only to hear, ‘Oh I’m getting old.’ It’s a mindset.” He said there are plenty of activities to enliven life, noting there are more 50-somethings cycling more than ever. “You take care of yourself and you try to look and stay young,” he said. Cortini said his “ace in the hole” is his soon-to-be 9-year-old son, Joseph Patrick. By sharing activities such as cycling and piano lessons, “it helps keep me young,” Cortini said.

Food porn served fresh Cortini is interestingly involved in a trending hobby termed “food porn.” Food porn often takes the form of food photography and styling that presents food provocatively. “Social media has allowed us to

share whatever aspect of our personal or professional lives that we want to share, and some people take it to the nth degree,” said Cortini, noting he has been exploring food porn for the past five years and features his images on Facebook. He said food porn ties in with the healthy and clean eating theme. “Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad or be unpalatable, and it doesn’t have to be unattractive,” he said. “I really enjoy cooking almost every day. When I plate dinner, I do it very carefully and artistically. Sometimes I will even stage a plate for a photo before actually serving it up,” said Cortini, noting he will make sure such factors as lighting are “just right.” “It’s amazing,” Cortini said. “I can be walking through a grocery store and have someone say, ‘That salmon dish looked great’ or ‘hey, can I get that recipe for that pasta dish?’” “It’s just a very interesting phenomenon and it has taken on a life of its own,” he added. Of all the tantalizing foods out there from around the world, Cortini said his favorite is not lobster or steak — it’s pizza. What is Cortini’s “kryptonite?” It’s thin pizza with light sauce. “It has to have a nice, crispy bottom and be almost black and charred,” he said. With diet, it’s all about moderation and bitter, leafy greens, he said. “Everything I cook is from scratch and I avoid processed foods and never eat fast food,” he said.

He and Dice work often as a team and are known as The Italian Scallions, and have won and placed in several cooking contests.

Great escape Cortini loves riding his bicycle, and puts in typically 75 to 100 miles per week. “The bike is a great way to clear your mind and get a fresh start,” he said. Cortini said he rides so he can eat. He said once you attain riding 100 to 150 miles a week, it allows you to “eat pretty much anything you want without any bad consequences.” However, he cautions that it is “not a license to just go crazy” in regards to eating. “When you are out there on the bicycle, it doesn’t matter what kind of day you had. If you can get out on the bike, everything goes away,” Cortini said. “It’s therapy and meditation.” For Cortini, biking is as much about the sights, sounds and smell as it is a method to maintain a healthy weight. “It’s so interesting cruising through the countryside. You say to yourself, ‘This person has pigs, and this person has chickens, or they got something going on the grill, or they are using dryer sheets’.” He rides with his friend, Sam Vono.

The musical side

“I could remember years ago when someone would be celebrating their 50th birthday and the expression was that person was ‘over the hill,’” says Joe Cortini Jr. of Fulton. He will turn 56 this September. In terms of countering stress, Cortini said cooking dinner is “an awesome way to chill out. “I get so wrapped up in balancing flavors that it can make the day’s troubles go away. That and don’t act your age.” Having a sense of humor is essential as well, Cortini noted. “It’s OK to be sophomoric once in a while,” he said. One antic that Cortini and his significant other Beth Ann Dice pulled off was a classic April 1 prank. “I claimed that I was opening a

restaurant,” he said. “It was a great tie-in to my food porn because people would say, ‘That looks amazing. You should open a restaurant.’” Cortini even featured a photo of a Cisco truck parked in front of his shoe store on Facebook, and got many to believe that The Italian Scallion was up and running. “We had people believing it to the degree that other local restaurant owners were wishing me luck,” he said. “Even months later, I had people coming up to me asking how the restaurant was doing.”

Not only does he continue the tradition of running the family business, but Cortini is highly active in the community and its music scene. A drummer, Cortini is a staunch advocate of live entertainment. He and his brother Kimo still share the stage from time to time. Cortini is a member of Dr. Boogie, a popular rock ‘n’ roll band that now only plays one show each January. “Kimo is very busy with the band Billionaires and I have been doing a lot of sub work, mostly in the Syracuse area,” he said. “Sometimes it’s with a trio, while other times it’s with an 18-piece big band. “I like the role of band leader and would like to put together another band in the near future,” he said. The gratification Cortini gets from sharing his musical talents is making August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


people happy. “People love music and everyone can relate to it,” he said. He has been heavily involved in volunteering his time and energy to support community initiatives. “Fulton Jazz Fest is very high on my list. Music brings joy to people and helping create these events can bring the community together,” he said. Cortini’s dad Joseph Sr. was a drummer and his grandfather Joseph N. Cortini was a music teacher who played several instruments. “My dad was a drummer, so I followed in his footsteps. I also studied piano for several years,” he said. Cortini does have his ideal retirement scenario all planned out. “Win the Lottery, and then spend the rest of my life giving it away,” he said. “Seriously, I am working harder now than I ever have,” he said. “I don’t see myself retiring, but maybe working a little less and playing more music.”

Significant to each other Dice said Cortini has qualities that include commitment and dedication to family. “First and foremost, he is definitely dedicated to family, especially his mom, whom he cared for during her last years of her life,” she said. “He sacrificed so much of himself to ensure she always had the best care, whether it was at home with him or in a professional facility,” she said. In terms of Cortini’s commitment to his community, he is “always willing to step up, step in, and lend a hand to those in need, as evidenced by the coat drive he started two years ago,” Dice said.

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Fountain of Youth Lifestyle changes adds years to your life By Lou Sorendo


reventing aging is commonly perceived as something a person does a year or so before retirement. That’s really not the case, according to Laura H. Brown, professor and chairwoman of human development at SUNY Oswego and coordinator of its gerontology minor. “You need to start much earlier,” she said. “It’s really important as we get older to eat a balanced diet,” Brown said. “But the bigger picture for older adults is that our metabolism almost always automatically slows down, so we have to decrease portion size.” She said there are not necessarily any “forbidden foods,” and approaches that include only eating protein, eliminating carbohydrates or not consuming animal products from one’s diet “are really difficult to keep up with on a regular basis.” “When you eliminate those major food groups, you are probably losing out on some nutrients. If you go to a completely vegan diet, it’s hard to find high-quality protein sources. There are some, but how many beans can you eat on a daily basis?” she asked. She said a diet should consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains and lean protein sources. “The key is your portions have to get smaller, and in the United States, portions have got really out of control,” she said. She said consumers are eating things like processed sugar and flour. Even worse, high fructose corn syrup has crept into many foods. “That is a major no-no. It is cheap, so manufacturers put it in all sorts of food, including things that you would never think of having a lot of sugar like catsup,” she said. The recipe for Coke produced today features high fructose corn syrup, believed to be five times worse for consumers in terms of accumulating belly fat. “Belly fat is especially damaging t o i n t e r n a l o rg a n g ro w t h a n d maintenance,” she said.

Time to get moving Obviously, cardiovascular and strength training exercise is vital. “You don’t necessarily have to lift weights, but you do have to do things that have resistance to them,” said Brown, noting swimming is a good example. She said yoga and flexibility exercises that work on balance are important as well. “One of the bigger health problems for older adults are falls, so if you can maintain balance — and yoga is hugely helpful with that — it’s going to give you more flexibility and prevent falls in the future,” she said. “There’s not many 55 year olds falling on a regular basis, but we can do things now like increasing core strength that make those problems later on less likely to happen,” she added. Attending to one’s mental health as they get older is also essential. “We pay much more attention to quadriceps and biceps than we do to our brains in term of exercise,” she said. For someone in early retirement who decides they are going to just play golf for the rest of their life, that is not going to do it, Brown said. “You have to stay in a zone where you are challenging yourself on a regular basis, whether you’re working in the workforce, volunteering or learning a new language,” she said. She said some of the best strategies t o p re v e n t d e t e r i o r a t i o n s t h a t contribute to Alzheimer’s disease are to read, listen to music or write.

Recapturing youth While people are striving to feel better, they are also looking to appear younger. In terms of anti-aging strategies, there’s Botox, which gets rid of “those little lines between your eyebrows” through an injection in the forehead, or plastic surgery in the form of a facelift or to eliminate “turkey neck,” she said. “I think that is a lot less authentic

than things like non-invasive procedures such as laser treatments to tighten sagging skin without any cutting or stitching,” she said. There are also various ways to get rid of belly fat, including the extreme measure of doing gastric bypass surgery. “This limits the amount of food your stomach can actually hold, and therefore you can’t eat as much,” she said. Not as drastic is liposuction, where fat is extracted from the body. Brown noted a new trend is cool sculpting, where doctors super cool fat cells normally located in the abdomen or buttocks. “Over time, that super cooling actually kills off fat cells and they get eliminated from the body. It’s noninvasive and you are not doing any injections or surgical process,” she said. “At a certain point, there is no amount of Botox that will prevent your skin from aging,” she said. “You have to face the fact in your 50s and early 60s that you are not going to look like you did when you were 25,” she said. “Middle-aged spread” is also inevitable, she noted.

Job satisfaction plays role “For the most part, if you’re happy with your job and you’re feeling it’s serving a useful purpose, then you’re going to want to stay in that occupation longer,” Brown said. “People bounce around in jobs a whole lot more than they used to. It used to be that you graduated school, entered a field and might get promoted a few times and didn’t completely reinvest yourself,” she said. However, nowadays people are taking stock in themselves in their 40s and early 50s and saying, ‘I’m really not liking what I am doing,’ so they will go back to school and sort of retool themselves and find something that satisfies them. It’s an increasing trend in the U.S., she said. An example is her husband Scott, who formerly worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep. He decided in his late 40s to become a physician assistant, and was one of the first in his class to obtain a job as a physician’s assistant in Auburn.

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Janice Egan provides “baby boomers” an alternative to downsizing!


Doctor-Assisted Deaths Didn't Soar After Legalization



Janice Egan

Keller Williams Realty Real Estate Agent Listing Specialist Team Leader JaniceEgan@kw.com 315-391-5082


55 PLUS - August / September 2016

Jeff Forziati

Keller Williams Realty Buyer Specialist JeffForziati@kw.com 315-459-6616

ublic support for physicianassisted death has plateaued in the United States, and the practice hasn't soared as some had feared, a new study finds. In places where it's legal, physicianaided death remains rare. It's confined mostly to cancer patients who are white, wealthy and well-educated, researchers found. "The vast majority of dying patients don't use physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia — don't even think about it," said lead researcher Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician who is the chairman of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. "Less than 0.5 percent of deaths in Washington state are from physicianassisted suicide," he said. Washington is one of five U.S. states where physicianaided death is legal. The others are California, Montana, Oregon and Vermont. Physician-aided death happens when a doctor prescribes lethal drugs patients take themselves. Euthanasia — which is illegal in the United States — occurs when a doctor administers the life-ending medication. Twenty states are considering legalizing physician-assisted death, including New York, according to Death with Dignity, a group that advocates for assisted dying. But public support has leveled off since the 1990s to between 47 percent and 69 percent of the U.S. population, the study authors found. If Oregon and Washington are an indication, most patients choosing to hasten their death are in hospice or palliative care. The main motivators? Fear of losing autonomy, no longer enjoying activities, and other psychological concerns, Emanuel said. Pain is usually not the chief driver, he noted. Concerns that doctors would be swamped with requests from desperate patients appear unfounded. Less than 20 percent of U.S. doctors say they've been asked to assist in euthanasia or physician-assisted dying.

Smart Giving to Provide Support

Barbara Genton relaxes at SAGE Upstate, an organization for which she has volunteered many years of board and committee service.

I love helping people, and that type of work makes me feel that I am making some kind of contribution to others. I accepted support from others when I needed it over my lifetime, and it affected me profoundly. I hope that I can do the same for those who find themselves on similar paths. Recently, while working on my financial plan with my financial advisor, I decided to transfer the ownership of a life insurance policy to the Community Foundation. The policy will fund the BWG Rainbow Fund, which provides support to a cause dear to my heart: SAGE Upstate. SAGE is an organization that provides educational and social support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. After serving many years on the board of directors for SAGE, I established this designated fund at the Community Foundation to provide annual operating support to the organization. With the power of endowment on its side, the fund will help SAGE continue to grow and sustain its mission long into the future. My fund at the Community Foundation will see that vital programs of SAGE are carried forward long after I am gone. If everyone considered giving back, even if just a small amount, to the local causes important to them, Central New York communities would be so enriched.

Read more of the Barb’s story at Genton.5forCNY.org

Where the Smart Money Gives. 431 East Fayette Street, Suite 100 Syracuse, NY 13202 (315) 422-9538 www.cnycf.org August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


golden years By Harold Miller hal@cny55.com

Flights of Fancy

November Two Zero Two Four Whisky (N2024W) is hangered in Skaneateles and has served the Miller family for many years. Its main mission 40 years ago was to shuttle the family of the author back and forth to Florida, among other trips.


ovember Two Zero Two Four Whisky (N2024W), hangered at Skaneateles Airdrome, still plies the skies of North America, but it’s been many years since I’ve been at the helm. This rare ‘V’ tailed Bonanza is called “the sports car of the air” due to its nimble handling and high speed. Its main mission 40 years ago was to shuttle my family back and forth to Florida, fly to football games when son Ron played football for Ohio State and son Chris played for Bucknell — as well as to serve our business offices in Upstate New York. Flying this machine was a profound pleasure — and having the playgrounds of America at our beck and call was also wonderful. One of our favorite trips was flying to Martha’s Vineyard for lobster dinner at the Home Port Restaurant on the 40

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inlet of Chappaquiddick Harbor. We loved to sit on the outdoor deck on a beautiful summer evening watching ships plying in and out of the channel as we enjoyed the best lobster dinner anywhere. If we left Skaneateles Airport by 5 p.m. we could be home by midnight. Flying the return trip on a clear night with millions of lights below and billions of stars above is never to be forgotten. Another memorable pleasure trip involved flying friends and neighbors to New York City for breakfast on a sunny Sunday morning. After flying over the George Washington Bridge I would descend to within a few hundred feet above the Hudson River and circle the Statue of liberty before landing. If this maneuver was ever attempted today our trip would be rudely interrupted by a couple of jets from nearby Stewart Air Force Base, followed by a rather thorough interrogation by the authorities.

Another of our sightseeing sorties was a hop, skip, and a jump from Skaneateles to Niagara Falls to circle high over one of the wonders of the world. It was necessary to get clearance from Buffalo Airport’s tower and maintain a fairly high altitude in order to be well clear of the sightseeing helicopters, which buzzed below like a bunch of dragon flies. Certainly, though, the most thrilling and exciting trip we ever made occurred in the summer of 1981 when my three sons and I flew to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This entirely unique and romantic encampment is located at Key Largo in Florida’s Keys and includes approximately 70 nautical square miles of adjacent Atlantic waters. It is the first and only underwater state park in the United States and remains a Mecca for scuba divers and snorkelers from near and far. The first challenge of our trip

was landing 2024W on the short and narrow strip of land adjacent to the park which was connected to land on only one side — it was much like landing on an aircraft carrier. The landing strip was only 1,800 feet long (minimum length for the Bonanza) one slip and we would be in the drink for the sharks to play with. The diving boat that took us to the reef, which is located five miles offshore, anchored well clear of the magnificent reef that lay about 20 feet below the surface of the water. PenneKamp Reef, which is one of the few living reefs left off the American coastline, is awash with flowers of blue, purple and red wafting in the gentle underwater current. The main attraction is a solid bronze statue “Jesus Christ of the Abyss” adjacent to the reef and standing about 12 feet high with his outstretched hands beckoning. When sunbeams play off the gleaming statue it is indeed a sight to be seen. The park employs a team of scuba divers who periodically scrub the statue clean of any algae that forms thereby insuring that the brilliance is never dulled. Then, there was “Charlie,”

Flying the N2024W was a profound pleasure — and having the playgrounds of America at our beck and call was also wonderful. One of our favorite trips was flying to Martha’s Vineyard for lobster dinner at the Home Port Restaurant on the inlet of Chappaquiddick Harbor. the five-foot-long barracuda that that glides among the vegetation. Word has it that he is tame but most divers give him a wide berth. Along with Charlie, Pennekamp Reef is populated by almost every type of sea creature known to mankind. The entire trip took about four hours, including two hours of snorkeling or scuba diving around the reef (no one is allowed to

touch or set foot on the reef itself). Believe me, you will sleep well the night after this adventure. The Miller family had many great flying adventures but the pilot has great responsibility. Learning to be a pilot was perhaps my greatest challenge. Weather is a major factor thus learning meteorology is imperative. You cannot depend on weather forecasts — the pilot has to be his own forecaster. Weather radar (which sees storms) is necessary, particularly in Upstate New York where lake effect snow can turn a bright and sunny day into zero-zero visibility in a matter of minutes. A small aircraft often cannot climb above the weather as commercial aircraft do. Many would-be pilots are not physically or physiologically capable of piloting an airplane. Flying in clouds, without ground reference can be confusing to the point where you don’t know whether you are flying straight and level — or spinning down to the ground. With all this said, many of my fondest memories are wrapped up in flying and I would not have missed it for anything. Home of the Guaranteed Free Same Day Delivery! –For all Orders Called in by 10:00 am


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August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Love Transcends Death


‘Dancing in Two Realms — a Love Story Beyond Death’ explores connecting with afterworld

ometimes after the loss of a loved one we have the feeling that they are still with us but just out of reach. We attribute those feelings either to wishful thinking or to our grieving state of mind. But what if there are signs that seem too real to dismiss? Anne Marie and Judge Thomas (Tim) Higgins had a wonderful love affair that ended much too soon with Tim's death 17 days shy of their 25th wedding anniversary. But did it really end? The name Thomas Higgins, Jr. might sound familiar to Central New Yorkers. The Higgins family was active in local politics for many years and Tim, a Syracuse City Court judge, was a highly respected person in the community. Because he was physically active and healthy, his death from an aggressive form of leukemia just 18 days after diagnosis was a shock. "Soon after Tim died, I started feeling his presence," said his widow, Anne Marie. "For example, the animals in our back yard started acting out of character and my cats would sniff his chair and meow as if he were still in it. I found myself asking out loud, 'Timmy, are you here?' “Given my devastating grief and the fact that I was so desperate for his physical being, I just chalked it up to that. I didn't know anything about an afterlife which could possibly explain what I was experiencing." In her recently published book, "Dancing in Two Realms — A Love Story Beyond Death," Higgins relates the story of her trip to St. Barts two weeks after the funeral. "The day I went to scatter some of Tim's ashes was sunny and beautiful without a cloud in the sky. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a burst of rain. This was the first time I allowed myself to imagine it was possible for him 42

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Higgins said. “Then I found a Reiki master, Patsy Scala, who told me things about my husband that she would have had no reason to know and she also confirmed he was communicating with me." The more things kept happening, the more she sought out alternative healers to continue connecting with her husband, as connecting through other people was validating. “But in the end it was Tim who gave me the most reason to believe that we do not end," she said.

‘Messengers’ appear

Anne Marie Higgins to come to me. After that, I began to believe he was still here in some form, just not in his physical being." "When I got home from my trip, I had to deal with the legal issues that follow a death,” Higgins said. “I found myself searching our file cabinet to find important papers, but when they were not there, I couldn't figure out where Tim had put them. Suddenly I heard him speak clearly in my left ear, 'It's all in the safe in the basement.' Then I asked, ‘Damn, I don't know the combination. Where did you put it?’” “‘Look in the record album of Verdi's opera, La Forza del Destino,’ Tim's voice whispered again in my left ear,” she said. After that correct message, signs of his presence kept occurring over and over, she said. “I didn't know what was happening to me and I thought I was going crazy. I contacted a friend, Alexandra, who is an astrologer and she confirmed Tim was communicating with me,”

Higgins relates that her husband started appearing to her in hawks. "Five months after Timmy died, I needed eye surgery and was very upset about it. A few days before the procedure, as I was driving to Skaneateles on an errand, a huge hawk flew directly by my window, parallel to the car,” she said. “I don't know why, but I asked, 'Timmy?' On my return trip another hawk flew right in front of the car window and stared at me. When I got home and typed 'hawk, animal symbolism' into the computer search engine, it said, 'hawks are messengers from the spirit world; they are protectors and have keen eyesight.'” “From that point forward, I knew I would be fine with Tim watching over me. Happily, he continues to come to me in hawks; it is quite lovely," she added. Other ways of seeing Tim's presence have been in digital photographs that she took after he died. “There were often several round white, misty circles in the picture which I now know as orbs. I was skeptical of giving them meaning until I couldn't deny my senses. Patsy explained that when the soul leaves

the body, the energy concentrates into a round mass that shows up in pictures as orbs," Higgins said. Several of these orbs and other amazing pictures are included in her book. Higgins says getting involved with a widow support organization called Soaring Spirits International was a big step in helping her through the grieving process and in going forward with her life. "They have online support groups, a blog and hold three weekend conferences per year called Camp Widow. I've been to nine camps over five years. When I'm with hundreds of widowed people, I feel like I'm home. These are people that understand me; they don't say, 'Get over it'. It's a place you can just be yourself," she said. “After hearing many of us experienced signs that a loved one is still with us, I started a roundtable discussion that is held on Fridays at camp,” she said. “It helps to know you are not the only one receiving these signs. On Saturday, there are wonderful workshops about topics relevant to widowed life and that evening, we enjoy a semi-formal

Book by Anne Marie Higgins describes her communication with her late husband. dinner dance. It's a real party and you feel like you're alive again. Then on a Sunday, a 5K is held in honor of our loved ones."

Camp Widow West takes place in San Diego in the summer, Camp Widow East in Tampa in the winter and Camp Widow International in the fall in Toronto. In addition to talking about life after death, the book is an honest, raw and wonderful look at the life of a couple that like many have experienced both joy and sadness. In the book, Higgins thanks her therapist, Linda Land, who not only helped her with the loss of Tim, but also helped them cope with the disappointments of multiple infertility treatments and their aftermaths. And after six-and-a-half years without Tim? "His communications are less frequent but there are times when I feel he is here, and it brings much comfort. And also, now that I know there is something beyond physical death, I'm not afraid to die." Editor’s note: More information about the book can be found at www.dancingintworealms.com. Information about Soaring Spirits International and Camp Widow can be found at www.soaringspirits.org.

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life after 55 By Michele Reed michele@cny55.com

In the Market for Good Food


hen we were looking at houses in the South of France, I made a list of must-haves for the village we would settle in. It would have to be on the bus line, preferably on a train line, have a café and restaurants, shops, especially a bakery, and most important on my list: a farmer’s market — or marché as it is known. In Argeles we had two markets a week: Wednesday and Saturday mornings. More than 20 sellers came to every market, and many times we would have 30 or more, many from Spain. They sold everything — there were several vegetable sellers, three olive vendors, two or three cheese sellers, butchers and people selling ready made food. You could get honey, baked goods, fruit, walnuts, spices and artisanal soaps. We had vendors selling everything from boxers and briefs to mattresses to used books.

Sweaters, scarves, purses and PJs were on offer. It was a typical market day when I would come back with avocados from Spain, selling at five for just 2 euros, olives and olive oil, veggies of all kinds, succulent clementines and a jar or two of honey. The honey seller was a favorite of ours. I would try several varieties before making my purchase and by the end of our stay had bought a bottle of every kind he sold, along with a few of his homemade confitures or jams. He loved to practice his English and Bill, my husband, would talk rugby with him during the Six Nations tournament. An English lady who lived in Ceret sold her baked goods, including some of the best brownies ever and during the Christmas season, her mother’s pudding and fruitcake. We had many a Saturday lunch consisting of her pasties or meat-filled pies made popular in Wales.

Well, when we found our home in Corneilhan, I pulled out the checklist and had Bérangère, our Realtor, go through it with me: bus stop? Yes, right at the foot of our street. Check. Café? Ditto, although they sold no food, just drinks. Restaurant? Yes, a gourmet pizza parlor, winner of international awards. Shops? Yes, a butcher, an epicerie or little grocery store with a selection of almost anything you would need, and best of all a boulangerie or bakery three doors down. I roll out of bed and have my daily baguette in five minutes flat. Market? Well… during the summer, we have two garages, where people sell vegetables. I had my doubts about that, but once summer came I was thrilled with the “garage” just one block over. The lady who ran it was very nice and her vegetables were freshly picked at local farms. Her mother made wonderful jam and turned out to be our neighbor down the street and especially cordial. Seeing

Vegetables are arrayed in tempting displays at Les Halles Centrales of Beziers, a huge indoor market. Photo by Bill Reed 44

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The author (at right) shops at a “bio,” or organic, vegetable stall at Les Halles, as the arches of the 19th century iron structure are seen above. my initial doubts, Bérangère hastened to add, “Of course you can always go to Beziers.” I must have looked horrified. Ride the bus to the big city just to buy vegetables? As we would soon discover the “big city” of 70,000 is three miles away, easy to navigate and the bus, which costs 30 cents, is a 10-minute ride in the air-conditioned comfort of a well-appointed Mercedes Benz coach. By contrast, at home, we regularly drive 12 miles to Oswego or 28 miles to Syracuse to shop for groceries and other needs, spending about $60 per week in gas. Before the end of our first week in our new home, we set out to explore Beziers . After exploring the Church of the Madeleine (more about that in another column), we looked across the square and spied a large building, at that time festooned with scenes of bullfighting to advertise the upcoming Feria. It was a huge 19th-century structure of brick, iron and glass, putting us mind of the Bouqueria Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. Bill Reed retired after four decades in social services with the county of Oswego, and now works at travel photography and photojournalism, along with writing book reviews.

and Born markets in Barcelona. We headed over to explore and discovered it was Les Halles Centrales, literally the central halls, a marvelous indoor market. The first stall we encountered was a “bio” (short for biologique or organic) vegetable seller. In addition to fresh lettuces, tomatoes, eggplants and garlic, they had organic honey, spices, rices and even packaged goods like snack chips and cookies. Then we wandered over to a cheese stall, of which there are two.

What would become our favorite, Selvo, is one of the top 100 cheese sellers in France. An unbelievable variety beckoned. Soft cheese, hard cheese, cheeses from the milk of cows, goats and sheep, varieties from France, Spain and Italy. OK, I was officially in cheese-lovers’ heaven. Three butchers were setting out meats including whole rabbits, chickens and geese. Charcuterie like sausages and hams hung in tempting displays. A spice merchant’s wares sat in open barrels ready to be scooped out in whatever quantity you desire, perfuming the air with cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary and thyme. He sold olives and tapenades, as well as dried fruits — bright green slices of kiwi, blazing orange apricots and crisp banana chips. At the opposite end of the Halles was an olive seller with huge bins of olives and tapenades, bottles of fresh pressed olive oils, and local wines, vinegars and mustards. We stocked up on his beautiful tapenades including one made of green olives with paprika from Spain and the beautiful large sweet green olives called luque, our local variety. Les Halles would become a twiceweekly tradition for us, as we loaded our market basket with all the things that make France a haven for gourmets, then hopped the bus for the short ride back home.

Several butchers in the indoor market sell fresh meat and charcuteries, or cold cuts and sausages. Photo by Bill Reed August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS


druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger

A Scientist’s View of Religion


Author questions the rationality of his religious beliefs

his article will deal with an issue that is sensitive for almost everyone — religion. There are many religious beliefs in the world. Each of us is born into a religious culture and we are trained at an early age to follow the precepts of that religion. I was born into the Hebrew culture. As a youngster, I went to special classes after school to learn how to read Hebrew and how to pray to God. Unfortunately, although I learned how to read the words in the Hebrew prayer book, the meanings were never fully explained. My family followed the traditions of Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays. I fasted on Yom Kippur to atone for my sins, but I never really thought about what my sins were. I had a mental image of a bearded old man sitting in heaven who watched over all life on the earth, including me. This was my concept of God. When things went wrong, I prayed to God to help me out. Sometimes He did, and sometimes, not. As I grew older, I began to have doubts about this old man in heaven that monitored all life on earth. I began to question the rationality of my religious beliefs. How can one spiritual figure monitor the tremendous diversity of life? Why did so many bad things happen to good people? Why were some prayers answered and some not? Did God really care if a football player prayed and then scored a touchdown? How could a Bible be truthful for so many centuries? Why did God make it such that every living thing eventually dies? When I asked these questions to religious people, I was told that, “God works in mysterious ways.” As a scientist, I adopted evolutionary views that seemed rational and convincing. Much of


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“God’s” doings could be explained scientifically, but I never saw a conflict between religion and science. I would tell my students that there are different ways of viewing the world. One way we call “science.” Humans invented a logical way of interpreting nature, based upon unbiased observation, experimentation, repetition of results and verification. Another way of viewing the world is religion, based upon the Bible and spiritual beliefs. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Nor can religion prove or disprove the existence of God. Religion is simply another way of viewing the world and I don’t know which view is correct. In fact, nobody really knows. So as a scientist, I can be religious and can believe in a spiritual world as well, and many scientists are very religious.

Beliefs lead to conflict Religious beliefs have been the source of wars for centuries. The basic problem was revealed to me through a conversation with a colleague who was resigning from teaching at Sydney University, Australia, to work full time for his church. I said to him, “There are so many different religious beliefs and so many different gods. Somebody has to be wrong.” He responded, “Yes, but you know who is wrong. They are.” This comment emphasizes the fundamental problem that leads to wars. Some religious groups believe that their religion is the ultimate truth, and they will go to war to defend their religious beliefs. It is almost impossible to win a religious war, especially when believers are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of their beliefs. My own belief is that death is the greatest mystery, and this unsolvable puzzle has led to the development of religions as a coping mechanism. Why

do all living things eventually die? You can live the purist life imaginable, and do many good deeds, but eventually you will die anyhow. Is there an afterlife, or do our atoms and molecules simply continue after death as part of other living things. Who really knows? Religious beliefs help us cope with death, but religion does not explain death. Spiritual beliefs help us deal with the loss of loved ones, but such beliefs don’t explain death. I respect and am even envious of people who have strong religious beliefs. They are equipped to deal with disasters in life that are likely to happen to anyone. Prayers help soothe inner feelings, but they may not change anything external. I think about life and death as natural phenomena that have evolved on our planet. Much scientific activity has been focused on finding life on other planets. Why is the Earth so special? Earth is not in the center of anything. It is in one spiral arm of our galaxy — the Milky Way — that has at least 100 billion stars and many more planets revolving around these stars. Earth is but a tiny dot in one of the multitude of galaxies that make up the universe. Surely, there is another planet the same distance from its sun as we are from our sun, with the proper ingredients to form life. We may never find such life in the universe, but, if we do, does that life also experience death? Has the mystery of death been the foundation for religious beliefs on those planets? I was thinking of how infinitesimally small each human being is in the vastness of the universe. Yet, each human is unique, and, instead of killing each other, every human should have the opportunity to live his or her life fully. Will prayers help? I wish I knew. Whenever I encounter very religious people, I always think, “I hope you’re right.”

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August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS





Fun Things to do for FREE in the Big Apple

The Staten Island Ferry has been carrying passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island since 1905 and has been dubbed “One of the world’s greatest and smallest water voyages.” The ferry runs 24 hours a day, year-round and it’s free of charge.

New York City for Free By Sandra Scott


ew York City is always on the list as one of the most expensive cities in the world and thus one of the most costly places to visit. There are ways to cut cost such as buying theater tickets for half price at TKS, using hotel points (if you have some) to defray the cost of accommodations, and buying reduced ticket packages such a NYC Explorer Pass. However, they are many free things available for tourists. Big Apple Greeters: Take a free tour with a greeter. Big Apple Greeter is a nonprofit organization that matches visitors with New Yorkers who want to share the city they call home. All greeters are volunteers “friends” — they are not paid professional tour guides, and tipping is not allowed. The only requirement is that one must be staying at least two nights within the five boroughs of NYC. A typical tour is a walking tour of an area where the greeter has expertise and usually lasts two to four hours. The greeter does not visit museums but shows visitors the city from

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their perspective. Requests should be made three to four weeks ahead of time. The Big Apple Greeters is part of the Global Greeter Network. Central Park: Most parks are free but most parks are not like Central Park. The Central Park Conservancy offers a variety of inexpensive tours but visitors are free to explore the park on their own. Free downloadable maps are available on the conservancy’s website or one can be picked up at one of their visitor’s centers. Of special interest are places like Strawberry Fields with the “Imagine” mosaic located across the street from the Dakota where John Lennon was killed and the statue of Balto, the sled dog who saved Alaska’s children from a diphtheria epidemic and inspired the yearly Iditarod Race. There are scenic trails, monuments, statues, a dairy, a carousel, and many events from yoga to Shakespeare presentations. Staten Island Ferry: The Staten Island Ferry has been carrying passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island since 1905 and has been dubbed



“One of the world’s greatest and smallest water voyages.” The ferry runs 24 hours a day, year-round. The five-mile, 25-minute ride offers majestic views of the NYC skyline — day and night. It is necessary to get off and then reboard for the return trip. Avoid rush hour. Vehicles are not allowed but bikes are. The ride has been free since 1997. Downtown Connection: The bright red, handicappedaccessible Downtown Connection bus is a free service that connects the South Street Seaport with the Battery and City Hall Park making 37 stops along the way. The driver will also stop upon request. There are electronic “countdown clock” signs along the route that alert passengers of the bus arrival. The stops are convenient to all of Lower Manhattan, subway lines and many attractions. Service is provided seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day, from 10 a.m., and ends with a final run at 7:30 p.m.



9/11 Memorial: The memorial honors the lives of those who were lost in the World Trade Center attack. The names of every person who died in the attacks of on both Feb. 26, 1993 and Sept. 11, 2001 are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. There are informative signboards including one that tells about the "Survivor Tree" discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged. Under the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation it survived and was returned to the site in 2010 as a living reminder of survival. St. Paul’s Chapel, on the edge of Ground Zero, miraculously survived and has free displays but the 9/11 Memorial Museum is not free. High Line: The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. There are sign boards, benches and even bleacher-style seating on a section that crosses above the road where people can watch the traffic go whizzing underneath them. Knowledgeable docents offer twice-a-week walking tours giving visitors an insider’s perspective on the park’s history. It is accessed by elevator and stairs at various points.



National Museum of the American Indian: The museum

is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, arts and diversity of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. There are permanent displays highlighting the various Native American cultures along with changing exhibits and special presentations. It is located in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House with a spectacular lobby. Art: The Chelsea area is home for many free art galleries. Most are between 20th to 29th street between 10th and 11th avenues. There are several museums that are always free such as the American Folk Art Museum while some art museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMa are free Friday evenings. NYC’s sculpture collection is one of the greatest outdoor public art museums


In Central Park, two places of special interest are the Strawberry Fields with the “Imagine” mosaic located across the street from the Dakota where John Lennon was killed, and the statue of Balto, the sled dog who saved Alaska’s

in the United State featuring some of the world’s greatest sculptures such as David Chester French.


African American Burial Ground: One of NYC’s newest

attractions is the open-air African American Burial Ground. A construction project in 1991 uncovered more than 400 caskets of slaves from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside of Charleston, South Carolina. There is a visitor center on the first floor of the nearby Ted Weiss Federal Building. Free ranger-led tours are available but must be


requested two weeks in advance. More freebies: There is an event or parade nearly every weekend somewhere in the city. Street entertainers are everywhere from the Naked Cowboy in Times Square to violin players in the subway. The Juillard School of Music often has free performances. Many of the city’s buildings have amazing interiors and can be entered free including Grand Central Terminal, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Chrysler Building. St. Patrick’s Cathedral and NY Public Library both offer free tours. August / September 2016 - 55 PLUS




By Matthew Liptak

Vinh Dang, 86

‘2016 Esteemed Elder’ winner fought along Americans during the Vietnam War


inh Dang is a 20-year Syracuse resident who was once a captain in the South Vietnam military. He served alongside the American military in the Vietnam War and served time in jail. In the early 1980 he was released and eventually made his way to the U.S. A founding member of the Vietnamese Senior Association, he was recently awarded the 2016 Onondaga County Older American Award under the category of Esteemed Elder. Dang served Neighborhood Advisors in Syracuse for almost seven years and took a volunteer position as adviser at the organization’s community executive committee where he continues to work. He also worked with Onondaga County officials to grant a proclamation to recognize the former South Vietnamese flag as a symbol of freedom for those who fought alongside America in the Vietnam War to be recognized for their service and sacrifice. Q. Tell me about being a soldier for the Republic of Vietnam. A. Yes, I was in the army. I entered in 1965. When the U.S. Army entered Vietnam it was the commencement of the war. I served with the army for 10 years. In 1975, during the collapse of Saigon I was arrested by the communists and for seven and a half years I was in a detention camp. The detention center was horrible. They worked us like the water buffalo [which usually pulled carts]. It was very cruel. Many of my friends died. I was released in 1982 and for 10 years I worked as a farmer in Vietnam. After that I came to the U.S. in 1996. Q. How did you get out? A. After an agreement between Hanoi and Washington they released all the prisoners. Those who spent at least three years in the detention camp went to America. We have at least 300,000 South Vietnamese 50

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veterans in America. There’s some in Australia, Canada and Europe, too. Many escaped Vietnam by boat. Q. Why do you volunteer? A. When I came to America I benefited from social programs. I didn’t have a job because at the time I was older than 65 — both my wife and I. Instead I’ve worked to help the Vietnamese community here in Syracuse. Together we try to protect the freedom of the Vietnamese community overseas, because after the fall of Saigon, the Republic of Vietnam, many peoples — and especially soldiers and officials of the local government — were mistreated and discriminated against. We stand for freedom, equality and human rights. The situation has not changed since then. Q. How do you feel about being named the Esteemed Elder? A. It was a good occasion for a Vietnamese soldier and the community with all the Vietnamese refugees here. As I share with my community I always remind them I was a soldier and our old flag’s motto was “country,” “honor,” and “responsibility.” We lost as a country. We lost as a republic. We lost everything. We practice our country’s freedom right here. We must keep the motto evidently and permanently to serve the people, to help people. I have been volunteering to serve the community 20 years now. I did everything for the betterment of my community. Q. Have you been back to Vietnam? A. One time I went back to Vietnam in 2001. My son had passed away. He was a government official — a very talented young man. He died of lung cancer. I have four sons and three daughters. Now they’re all in their 40s. Half of my family is back in Vietnam. I miss them. I have grandchildren, too. The youngest is 7 years old. My youngest son is in New York City and he has two sons.

Vinh Dang lives in Syracuse. He was recently recognized by the Onondaga County Department of Adult & Long Term Care Services Office for Aging. Q. How did you end up in Syracuse? A. At first when I came to the U. S. A. I didn’t know where to go or where to get a bed. When I found shelter in Syracuse I thought it was good, but very cold. But everything here is very good. When I came to America I spoke very little English, but I had a tutor for 12 years until she moved to Illinois. Over the years I learned from her and she helped me and through experience my understanding of English got better little by little. Q. Is there a big Vietnamese community in Syracuse? A. We were about 3,000 people, but many have moved south because of the weather here — too cold. Now I think there’s about 2,000. On Park Street we have a temple of Buddhism Q. What’s the future for Vietnam and the Vietnamese community? A. I think it’s somber. Sometimes I can’t sleep. I think about my nation’s situation with a possible invasion of the Chinese. I don’t know why the men of the Hanoi government don’t do more to protect the nation. There’s two islands and day-by-day, step-bystep the Chinese are occupying them.

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