Savvy Senior: Beware of Potential Census Scams
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PLUS Issue 86 – April-May 2020
For Active Adults in the Central New York Area
Does the term ‘senior’ bother you? How about ‘elderly’? Credit card debt in retirement? Better think twice Finances: gifting minimum distributions to charity
Two years after two brain-debilitating strokes, musician Todd Hobin is more active than ever. He shares his experience
Bruce Frassinelli: 118 Passwords and PINs. Oh, My!
Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.
Musician Todd Hobin KNOW THE SIGNS • CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY
Central New York music legend Todd Hobin knew nothing about stroke — but he does now. That’s why he’s raising awareness about stroke risk factors and its signs and symptoms.
Fact: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Important to know: Stroke can happen to both men and women — at any age. Good news: Stroke is preventable by managing medical risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices. What to do: Time lost is brain lost. So it’s vital to know the signs of a stroke — F.A.S.T. Four words to live by: Call 911 and say, “Take me to Crouse.“ When it comes to stroke, every moment matters. As one of just 10 hospitals in New York State tohave earned Comprehensive Stroke Center status, and with the region’s newest ER and hybrid ORs, Crouse offers the most advanced technology for rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment
Read Todd’s story and learn more: crouse.org/toddhobin.
TIME TO CALL 911
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CONTENTS 55 PLUS
Savvy Senior: Beware of Potential Census Scams
April / May 2020
PLUS Issue 86 – April-May 2020
For Active Adults in the Central New York Area
Does the term ‘senior’ bother you? How about ‘elderly’? Credit card debt in retirement? Better think twice
Two years after two brain-debilitating strokes, musician Todd Hobin is more active than ever. He shares his experience
Finances: gifting minimum distributions to charity
Bruce Frassinelli: 118 Passwords and PINs. Oh, My!
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Savvy Senior 6 12 ARTHRITIS • Instructor Genoa Wilson blends art, Gardening 8 martial arts at tai chi classes for people Dining Out 10 with arthritis My Turn 22 16 PASSION Financial Health 26 • Betsy and Chuck Copps of Fulton have Aging 28 sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Golden Years 41 several venues, including 88 times at Crunch games Life After 55 42
Scott Roby, 66, helps us better understand the universe as director of SUNY Oswego’s planetarium
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• Does the term ‘senior’ bother you? How about ‘elderly’?
24 HOBBY • Amy Bamerick’s dream of owning a classic car comes true with Miss Daisy
30 MONEY • Going into retirement with credit card debt can pose challenge to boomers
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32 COVER • Life after stroke: musician Todd Hobin is more active than ever
36 WORKFORCE • Baby boomers have become the fastest growing age group in the workforce
40 RECOVERY • Spirituality, support bring Sam Wynn back to living the good life
44 DRUGER’S ZOO • SU professor Marvin Druger takes a memorable trip to India, where his grandson got married. He shares his experience before — and after
48 VISITS • From the Mohawk River to the Adirondack Mountains, Herkimer County has Revolutionary War sites, history, art and several unique sites
“My only concern is going back to work after surgery.” — Miranda
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savvy senior By Jim Miller
Beware of Potential 2020 Census Scams
nfortunately, scams have become a persistent problem when the U.S. Census Bureau does its once-a-decade count of the U.S. population. Here’s what you can expect from the 2020 Census and how you can protect yourself from potential scams. n What to Expect — In mid-March, you and nearly every other U.S. household received an invitation in the mail to respond to the 2020 Census. This year, you will have the option of completing the 2020 census questionnaire either online, by mail or by phone. The invitation included detailed instructions of what you need to do. If you don’t respond to this invitation letter, you will receive several follow-up postcard reminders from the Census Bureau by mail. If you still don’t respond by late April, a census worker will come to your door to collect your response in person. It only takes a few minutes to complete the census questionnaire. While census participation is very important and required by law, you also need to be vigilant of census-linked scams. This is especially important for seniors who tend to be prime targets. The Census Bureau warns against phishing email scams as well as con artist masquerading as census workers who will try to solicit your personal financial information. Here are some tips that can help you protect yourself. n Guard Your Information — Don’t give out your personal or financial information. The Census Bureau or a legitimate census worker will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, money or donations. And they will never contact you on behalf of a political party. If you’re asked for
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any of these, whether it be via phone, mail, email or in person, it’s a scam and should be reported to rumors@ census.gov. n Avoid Online Scams — The Census Bureau will not send you an unsolicited email to request your participation in the 2020 Census. So, ignore any emails you get that may direct you to a census website that looks real but is fake — and may be infected with malware. Also, don’t reply to the email or open any attachment because they could contain viruses that could infect your computer. Forward the email or website address to the Census Bureau at rumors@census. gov. Then delete the message. n Be Safe at Home — If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, make sure you verify their identity. A legitimate census taker must present a field badge that includes a photograph of themselves, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. Census workers will also be carrying a Census Bureau laptop or cellphone, as well as a bag with a Census Bureau logo. Also, remember that a census worker will only ask you the questions that appear on the questionnaire — your name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, phone number, type of residence and number of people living with you. They will not ask for sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security or credit card number. If you have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department. For more information on the 2020 Census, visit 2020census.gov.
55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
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Chuck Wainwright 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: $21 a year; $35 for two years © 2020 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.
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gardening By Jim Sollecito
t the end of every visit, my 95-year-old mother-in-law’s doctor cheerfully reminds her to “keep moving.” I could not agree more. It’s the same with a good tool, a part of your landscape, or simply your own body: if you don’t use it, then you lose it. It’s hard to steer a parked car. This time of year is a good opportunity to assess whether you still even like the way your landscape looks. Sometimes we get stuck in the slow, safe lane and linger there. Wondering if someone in front of us has a better view. Don’t bother wondering. They do. But now is the ideal opportunity to improve yours. I bet there are some home improvements that are fully apparent now before leaves emerge. There is a time for everything, and now is the time to plan before planting. Move ahead mentally and physically. Get outside. Inspect what you own. Decide what might need an upgrade so the current function isn’t lost. Sure, you can leave things alone and hope they still perform as well as when you first purchased them. But hope is not a good strategy for success. I really look forward to spring’s magical sunny days. Sunshine can really shape our moods. True, it’s a bit difficult to get out on days when rain dominates the forecast. But to quote the great Cornell University horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey, “Grumbling at the weather is the most senseless and futile of all expenditures of human effort.” All weather is good weather, for something. Bailey goes on to say, “The person who has never been caught in rain and enjoyed it has missed a privilege and a blessing.” And so I rejoice in the springtime, whether the weather holds sunny or showery days. As days get longer, our outlooks reawaken and our goals refresh. Homeowners used to look forward
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to seed catalogs. Now nobody has the patience to plant impatiens seeds. We specialize in landscape-sized plants because that’s what our customers demand. Contemporary attitudes command instant gratification. I suspect some of our clients don’t even buy green bananas. We have researched hundreds of possibilities and are introducing a number of great new varieties of hardy and deer-resistant plants. Pretty plants that are, as the old Ajax laundry detergent advertised, “stronger than dirt.”
It’s time to move ahead into the new season with energy and enthusiasm, as we are on the cusp of a great and colorful year. I’ll leave you with this: keep moving and keep planting. Make some memories to nourish your body and soul. Don’t stare at the “Oldometer.” Because standing still is not an option. Imagine and dream. Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. If you’re not sure how to begin, give me a call. I can help your dreams come alive. 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 email@example.com.
Keep moving and planting. Don’t stare at the “ Oldometer,” Sollecito says.
Q&A Q: What is the average Social Security retirement payment that a person receives each month?
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A: The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 2020 is $1,503 (up from $1,479 in 2019). The average monthly Social Security benefit for a disabled worker in 2020 is $1, 258 (up from $1,238 in 2019). Eligibility for retirement benefits still requires 40 credits (usually about 10 years of work).
Q: Do Members of Congress have to pay into Social Security?
A: Yes, they do. Members of Congress, the president and vice president, federal judges, and most political appointees, have paid taxes into the Social Security program since January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else, no matter how long they have been in office.
Q: What can I do if my Medicare prescription drug plan says it won’t pay for a drug that my doctor prescribed for me?
A: If your Medicare prescription drug plan decides that it won’t pay for a prescription drug, it must tell you in writing why the drug isn’t covered in a letter called a “Notice of Denial of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage.” Read the notice carefully because it will explain how to ask for an appeal. Your prescribing doctor can ask your Medicare drug plan for an expedited redetermination (first level appeal) for you, if the doctor tells the plan that waiting for a standard appeal decision may seriously harm your health. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov.
April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
DiningOut By Christopher Malone
The vegan bruschetta ($10) at Pastabilities. It is filled with flavor and some of the best roasted cherry tomatoes I’ve had.
All the Pastabilities
Coziness and carbs at the notable restaurant
have a long personal history with Pastabilities, which is located at 311 S. Franklin St. in the Armory Square nook of Syracuse. In terms of age, the 1982 restaurant is a year older than me. I’ve taken meditation classes with owner Karyn Korteling. Taking dates to the restaurant was similar to playing a favorite song on repeat and never getting sick of it. The venue also has always been a go-to, no-fail out-oftown visitor pleaser. The always chic industrial aesthetic accented with glitzy mosaic artwork, hanging Edison lightbulbs, and panels
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with magnetic poetry is one of those all-weather eateries. In the summer, the outdoor seating in front and in back of the restaurant is in high demand. In the winter, the soft glow of the lights wave over cold patrons looking to warm up with a hot meal. There’s always been a promise of consistent quality with Pastabilities’ food. All of the noodles are homemade. The stretch bread could be the best stretch bread in the nation. The hot tomato oil, which is served alongside stretch bread as a complimentary appetizer with every meal, cannot be beat.
Pastabilities’ hot tomato oil did reach a pinnacle of popularity years ago and this achievement was marked by the decision to mass produce the spicy dipping oil. Yes, I did notice a change in flavor after that shift. I probably said a curse word or two about the change. My (selfish) opinion was: This oil should be shared, but only in-house. Is the oil bad? Nope. Despite not being its original self, the tomato oil has maintained the consistency since its stardom. The meal was kicked off with the vegan bruschetta ($10). Served
on toasted everything-style stretch bread, the four-piece dish features sweet peppers, red onion, tomatoes and vegan feta. After consuming bread and oil, it’s the best way to continue a meal with more carbs. The bruschetta is filled with flavor and some of the best roasted cherry tomatoes I’ve had. How many diets can Pastabilities accommodate? The answer lies within the entrees: eggplant parm lasagna ($18), vegan pink vodka cream and “scallops” over vegan campanelle ($17), potato and goat cheese ravioli ($17), and three la carte choices — portobello ($5), blackened chicken strips ($6), and roasted brussels sprouts ($6). Let’s start with the a la carte choices. The blackened chicken strips, despite a flavorful char, were a smidge on the dry side. The sprouts with garlic oil fell in that comfortable roasted middle, boasting a nice char but not burning them to a crisp. The portobello was the best of the three. There was so much flavor to the thick mushroom, thanks to the marinade. It wasn’t slimy but palatable. The eggplant parm lasagna was top-notch. The lightly breaded eggplant sat comfortably between the perfectly cooked slabs of pasta. The bright red marinara sauce spoke for itself and didn’t rely on heavy Italian seasonings The vegan dish was also something to note. The pink vodka cream sauce and Campanelle pasta could easily pass as non-vegan. As a proud omnivore, I would definitely order that. The vegan scallops, however, definitely did not taste like regular scallops. They weren’t horrible, but the fake seafood was heavier than the counterpart and had more of a pork consistency. The potato and goat cheese ravioli came with a sweet, thin sauce and noticeable flavor paid notice to the sausage, pepperoncini and crumbled goat cheese. The filling of the ravioli was a pureed potato and goat cheese (presumably per the description — but I think it was simply potato) and was a delightful savory treat. The ravioli itself was lackluster. It wasn’t cooked well and was hard on the sides, where the pocket pastas were pinched. Dessert came in the form of the banana toffee cheesecake ($8). It’s a cheesecake that doesn’t taste like a typical cheesecake. The two-layer soft treat had a base reminiscent of a
Eggplant parm lasagna ($18): top notch.
Potato and goat cheese ravioli ($17). The sweet, thin sauce and noticeable flavor paid notice to the sausage, pepperoncini and crumbled goat cheese. banana cake. The light toffee drizzle and whipped cream were necessary roles for the production. The lightly salted pecans were the last “fab fourth” component. The Irish cloud specialty coffee ($10) was a concoction of Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, espresso, and — you probably guessed it — steamed milk. It’s one of those coffee beverages that you need to be cognizant of savoring; otherwise, that cloud will dissipate through your gullet as fast as the evaporation of a water droplet hitting a hot stove. The hazelnut of the Frangelico played second fiddle — a noticeable contribution but not overpowering. Before tip, the experience came to $108 on the nose for an appetizer and four entrees, plus an apreś-dinner treat and specialty coffee. That’s not too bad. After about 38 years going strong, congrats still goes to Pastabilities.
Pastabilities Address 311 S. Franklin St., Syracuse, NY 13202 PHONE 315-474-1153 Website/Social pastabilities.com facebook.com/ pastabilitiesarmorysquare instagram.com/pastabilities Hours Sun.: 4- 10 p.m. Mon. – Thurs.: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; 5 – 10 p.m. Fri. – Sat.: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; 4 – 10 p.m. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
55+ arthritis Poetry in Motion Instructor Genoa Wilson incorporates subtle movements as she leads tai chi classes for people with arthritis By Carol Radin
hen many of us think of exercise, activities that come to mind are usually walking, bicycling, running and swimming. For Genoa Wilson, exercise is “waving hands in the clouds” and “pushing the mountain.” These are names of movements in tai chi, a Chinese martial arts practice in which participants engage in slow, graceful movements that enhance physical flexibility and mindfulness. As an area tai chi instructor for 14 years, Syracuse resident Wilson has been guiding her students through a modified style of tai chi for people
with arthritis, a style that allows participants to work within individual limitations and go easy on their joints. In a typical class, which takes place at several Onondaga County locations, adults in comfortable street clothing and rubber-soled shoes pad lightly along the floor in unison with Wilson. “Slow, continuous, flowing,” she will remind them, asking them to pretend they are moving through deep water or wet sand. There are no sudden jarring movements here. In quiet concentration, each person will extend an arm, point a toe, and bend a knee. They become “white cranes flashing wings,” or “higher
Genoa Wilson (left) leads her students in tai chi at the Manlius Senior Center. 12
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horses.” In a more energetic moment, they may “repulse monkeys.” Even the martial arts aspects of the positions, like “parry and punch” or “block and close,” are executed with a restrained deliberateness. That Wilson has many students who have been regulars for years, as well as many new students eager to find out what tai chi is all about, is a testimony to not only the practice itself, but also to Genoa’s easy-going and humble approach. “Do the best you can,” she will say to new students, “and if you mess up, guess who’s coming after you? Nobody!” Or, she will place a new student in the middle of the room to have a better vantage point to the more experienced students and she will say, “Now you’ll have somebody in every direction who is just as qualified to lead you astray as I am.” The words “patient,” “caring,” and “supportive” come up frequently when students are asked to describe Wilson. Joan Supiro, a participant for over five years, appreciates Wilson’s humor and openness, adding, “There is a reciprocal sense of appreciation here that moves from Genoa to the students and back.” Wilson’s one-hour arthritis classes practice a 42-movement series that is adapted from the 73-movement
Sun style. She also teaches the full 73-movement Sun style to her advanced classes. Wilson astutely facilitates learning by taking movements apart, so that students spend time mastering a particular challenge — the footwork in one form, the wrist and palm motion in another. As Wilson explains, “It’s like learning a language and over time you become conversant with that language.” Eventually, participants put all the parts together in a longer reverie of movement. “Every time we do something,“ Wilson remarks, “we lay down layers like silt in a river.” Wilson is a serious writer of poetry and participates in the Syracuse Downtown Writers’ Center select workshop limited to experienced poets preparing works for publication. So it is no surprise that she brings her poetic sensibilities to tai chi, relating the movements of the body to the language of poetry as well as an attunement to nature. “Doing tai chi is like being part of nature,” she says. “Like the ripple on water or the movement of leaves and grasses.” At the end of each class, she quietly narrates her cool-downs by asking participants to relax like a tall blade of grass swaying in the breeze or to stretch “like the biggest starfish.” Donna D’Eredita, who has been in the class for three years, says that such connections help her to internalize the movements of tai chi. “What I love the most,” she says, “is how she can put some kind of fluid visualization in her descriptions. I’m very visual, so it helps me.” While the movements of tai chi are indeed graceful and fluid, they are also precise, so Wilson adds a dose of the practical to the precision. For instance, she will ask people to think about how one position’s curve of the arm and slight bending of the elbow should feel like tenderly holding a baby. Or she will describe a motion where palms are flattened, one on top of the other, and then twisted slowly to reverse them: “You have flattened pie dough in your hands and you’re flipping it around.” By bringing precision and practice down to earth, Wilson can conversely take her students to a higher level. “Movement is both powerful and sacred,” she reflects. “There’s an April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
intuitive aspect to it.” Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Wilson was a dancer with the Eugene Ballet when she was just 18. She also did choreography and acting for the Oregon Shakespeare Company for two seasons, working on the productions of “Measure for Measure” and “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” After a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she continued in another dance company, she found a day job that helped define the path she’s pursued ever since — a position in the office of senior affairs. There, she adapted her interests in movement and the arts to seniors, organizing events like the Senior Olympics and a senior talent show.
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‘Tai Chi for Arthritis’ “The dance thing plus work with seniors was a natural progression for me,” Wilson says. When she moved with her husband and two sons to Syracuse, she became the program coordinator for the Arthritis Foundation, which covers 13 counties. While no longer the coordinator, the programs are obviously dear to her heart. Wilson became fascinated with the martial arts when one of her sons started taking kung fu as a child, and she noticed the tai chi classes in the next studio over. Although at the time, she remained a fascinated observer because the demands of raising a family precluded any extra activities. She eventually took the certification course to become a teacher of “Tai Chi for Arthritis” and has been teaching it in the Syracuse area for 14 years. Her first class was in the Manlius Senior Center in 2007. Currently, Wilson teaches at least eight classes a week, depending on the season or semester, and holds classes at the Manlius YMCA, the East Area YMCA in Fayetteville, Manlius Senior Center, the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse, and Upstate Medical University’s Healthlink. Additionally, through Title III D federal funding of the Older Americans Act, that Upstate Oasis receives, she is also able to offer classes throughout Onondaga County, most recently at Syracuse’s South Side Innovation Center and the Westcott Community Center. It is no surprise that Wilson is a
Genoa Wilson is an area tai chi instructor who guides her students through a modified style of tai chi for people with arthritis. proponent for the practical benefits of tai chi for the body and for mental wellness. She follows the principles of Paul Lam, a world-renowned physician whose book “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Handbook” is an essential reference for her. Overall, the slowness of the movements without sudden jarring or pounding helps to protect joints while the stretching helps strengthen the muscles around the joints. Dean Harrer, who joined the class six months ago, appreciates that opportunity “to lengthen, strengthen, and balance,” he said. Wilson reinforces that in all of her classes “you develop awareness of the balancing challenges and how to meet them,” she says. The almost stealthy creep in the footwork engages the ankles, which over time can develop better ankle strength for balance. Just as the movements are slow, the breathing is slow, which initiates the relaxation response. “We don’t always realize we’re holding our breath during the day!” Wilson exclaims, emphasizing that breathing long and deep is both mentally and physically good for people. Six years ago, Joseph Coppola was recovering from spinal surgery and
began looking for “something I would enjoy and stick to,” he said. Since then, he’s been faithfully attending Wilson’s intermediateadvanced class on Wednesday morning at the Manlius Senior Center. “I regained my strength,” he says, “and noticed other benefits — my lung capacity increased, minor back pain disappeared, and my flexibility improved.” Wilson herself felt she bounced back sooner when recovering from knee surgery a few years ago, because she had maintained good muscle strength through tai chi. The mental benefits are also apparent. Loretta Graceffo, who’s been taking tai chi for over five years, believes tai chi is good for her memory. Movements are learned in a sequence, and interestingly, the right side and left side body movements are not always symmetrical. Students in class can occasionally be heard remarking that such non-intuitive changes are good challenges for the brain. “It makes me think about what I’m doing,” says Georgiana Norton. From the start, the best benefit is one that requires no practice — relaxation. Wilson’s students would certainly agree with her when she says her one-hour class is a like a “minivacation.” No matter what the practice room looks like — old or new, windows or not, dim lights or bright — the rest of the world drops away as Wilson plays a recording of wispy flute music in the background and asks students to warm up and to open up, gradually re-awakening their joints by rolling their shoulders, circling their thumbs, or simply contemplating the curve of their palms as they bend their elbows. The mental absorption in a simple movement wipes away the day’s obligations, and for an hour, a person’s to-do list consists of only “playing the lute” with palms outstretched, or “leisurely trying on a coat” by raising an imaginary billowy sleeve. And as always, with Wilson’s mantra, “slow, continuous, flowing.” Classes for beginners are held at 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the East Area YMCA in Fayetteville and at 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays through Healthlink. Check details and directions online at East Area YMCA Fayetteville and Upstate Healthlink.
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Couple Enjoys Singing at Syracuse Crunch Games Betsy and Chuck Copps have sung “The StarSpangled Banner” at several venues, including 88 times at Crunch games at the Onondaga County War Memorial By Debra J. Groom “I can’t do that — I’m too old.” “I’m getting older, I should be slowing down now.” These are phrases folks sometimes utter when they get in their 50s and 60s. But you will never hear Chuck and Betsy Copps say any of those words. The Fulton couple — both 60 — are busier now than ever. Chuck, who grew up in Oswego, recently retired from his full-time job at Le Moyne College to pastor full time at Lakeside Christian Ministries in Fulton. Betsy, who grew up in Fulton, is the senior director of operations at nonprofit Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) 16
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and plays keyboards and sings at Lakeside Christian Ministries. And on top of all this, the avid hockey fans often kick off Syracuse Crunch games with a rousing vocal tribute to our country by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “I remember as a child a relative saying ‘I’m too old for this,’” Betsy Copps reminisced recently. “I told myself I would never think like that.” At OCO, Copps oversees several teams that provide administrative and support services to the agency, including information technology, safety, compliance, planning and
Chuck and Betsy Copps sing the National Anthem before a Syracuse Crunch hockey game. Courtesy of Scott Thomas Photography. maintenance. She also acts as media liaison and director of public relations, marketing and internet media. In her working past, she has worked in public relations at the now defunct A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton, been a writer for the Valley News, Palladium-Times and the Oswego County Business Magazine and has done PR work at OCO. At Le Moyne, Chuck Copps was a facilities painter, meaning he kept all the rooms and buildings looking spic and span by giving them fresh coats of paint. He did the same job years ago at the James FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba. Before the nuke plant, he worked at Crysteel Manufacturing near Fulton.
Church Work The couple’s turn to Lakeside Christian Ministries came through a life-changing experience in their lives.
Chuck Copps preaches to his congregation at Lakeside Christian Ministries in Fulton. Photo submitted.
Betsy Copps plays keyboards during a church event. Photo submitted.
“I am 29 years sober,” Chuck said. “In that process I learned that indeed, the Lord is keeping me sober.” He was invited to go to Prince of Peace Church in Volney, just outside Fulton. Chuck said he realized after a while of talking to people and preaching at Prince of Peace that “this was a calling.” He said he often relates his travels through addiction to his sobriety to people in his church or during visits to other churches. Betsy also relates her life during this time as she dealt with an addicted spouse. “I share my experience, strength and hope from living with alcoholism whenever the appropriate opportunity arises,” Betsy said. “My sharing typically takes place in one-on-one situations. Both Chuck and I have given each other permission to share the entirety of our story whenever it is appropriate to do so, and to refer people to one another if needed.” Today, they work a lot in the community and at other churches spreading the word and where their faith has taken them. Both raised Roman Catholic, the Copps now are involved in Bible studies, prayer groups, retreats, preaching and even working to help people locally, regionally and internationally. “We have a relationship with about a half dozen other churches where we come to do the preaching,” Chuck said. “And through other connections, we help out in other ways like with clothing and meals when they’re needed. Jesus met with people
and he’s the perfect model.” The Copps also work with the Salvation Army mission in India, Chuck provides pastoral care for those in hospice care and he also does substance abuse counseling part-time at OCO. “It’s important to share my sobriety story,” Chuck said. He said statistics show only one in 33 people with an addiction seek help and of those, only 5% actually achieve “some sort of sobriety.” “This is an integral part of who I am,” he said.
The National Anthem The Copps are both musical folks. Betsy said she learned the piano as a child, then gave it up for a while, took lessons again and then moved away from it a second time. She also has enjoyed singing her whole life. Chuck also loves to sing — belting out songs while at Bishop Cunningham High in Oswego during his junior and senior years. “I have always loved to sing and have been encouraged by people all along to so for they tell me I have a nice voice,” he said. “Once in recovery, I re-discovered my love of singing, joining the choir at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fulton in 1993. From that grew a period of time when I gave concerts of Christian music as well as making various appearances at community events.” Both Betsy and Chuck loved
singing so much that they formed a Christian band titled Unlimited with their two children and friend, Doug DeBarth, on drums and percussion. “We played in various coffee houses around the area and as far away as Watertown. Betsy wrote some two dozen original songs that we played, getting copyrights on three of them, along with other popular Christian tunes of the time,” Chuck said Their story on how they ended up singing at Crunch games at the Onondaga County War Memorial began on Father’s Day in 2001. Chuck said both their dads were huge baseball fans, so he and Betsy planned to take the dads to the Syracuse Chiefs game. To add to their gift, they auditioned for the Chiefs hierarchy and were picked to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But then, the Father’s Day game was rained out. They rescheduled for a few weeks later and surprised the dads with baseball and a singing performance. “Our singing, and the reason for it, had made the local papers. Because of this, folks were aware of the fact that we sang our anthem,” Chuck said. Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorists attacked the United States. Chuck said everything that happened that day and in coming weeks “drove home how blessed we are” to be in the U.S. “After the attacks of 9/11/2001, Fulton held a community service remembering those who died on that awful day. Betsy and I were asked to open the ceremony by singing the April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
anthem,” he said. “The whole idea sort of snowballed from there,” Chuck said. He and Betsy knew people in the Crunch organization and they were looking for people to sing the National Anthem before each home game. Betsy and Chuck were chosen and have started off 88 games since October 2002. And today, they are season ticket holders. They don’t sing for every game but quite often they are out there singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O, Canada” for visiting Canadian opponents.
“I have never been much of a sports fan,” Betsy said. “But now we have a bit of a following. We actually go right out on the ice and get to meet a lot of interesting people.” Chuck said people in the stands seem to enjoy his and Betsy’s rendition of the National Anthem — singing it purely and simply with no embellishments. “During the team’s deep run in the American Hockey League playoffs finals of 2012-13 and 2016-17, we became a kind of ‘Good Luck’ charm,” Chuck said. “The Crunch won a vast
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majority of these playoff games when we sang for them, so they had us keep coming back! It was an exciting time as we both felt a real connection to the whole group, players, staff and management.” Today, the Copps are still singing at sites all over, including many events in Fulton, such as the kickoff to Respect Week and Kiwanis baseball. They also won a Star Search competition at the Oswego Speedway in 2004 and were chosen as the best anthem singers from the Speedway’s entire season, singing both the US anthem and “O Canada.” “Our prize was being invited to sing at all the racing events during the Labor Day Classic Weekend that year. We also presented both anthems for the entire 2006 season at the Oswego Speedway, again having the honor of singing for that year’s International Classic over the Labor Day Holiday as well,” Chuck said. So now, as they begin their 60s, you can be sure the Copps are not at all close to slowing down. They will be singing and ministering throughout the area for years to come. “There’s no end date to this,” Chuck said.
Good Nutrition is the Best Medicine. SNAP Can Help You Stay Healthy! Healthy!HealthyHealthy!You !
Good health and good nutrition go hand in hand. SNAP can help bridge the gap in your monthly food budget, making it possible to buy the food you need to stay healthy and active. Maximum gross (before any deductions) monthly income guidelines – Effective October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020
Under 60/Nondisabled Household
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To find out if you or someone you know may be eligible for SNAP in Herkimer County contact:
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Impacting patient care, education, research, and community health and well-being through charitable giving.
It’s no wonder, then, that Dr. Victoria Meguid – who has been a powerful force for pediatric care at Upstate Medical University since 1992 – has made the Upstate Foundation a beneficiary of her retirement plan. A retired pediatrician, Dr. Meguid continues to instruct medical students and informally mentor women faculty members. “I am grateful to have worked with so many wonderful doctors, nurses, clinicians and other staff here at Upstate. I know firsthand the care and compassion they bring to our work with children and families in the community.
“I want to invest in the lives and health of children.”
“This gift allows me to build on my legacy at Upstate of positively impacting the lives of children and families in Central New York,” she said. “There’s so much more to do!” Creating a legacy like Dr. Meguid’s is easier than you think! Contact our planned giving professionals at 315-464-6490 or email@example.com You can also learn more about Dr. Meguid at www.upstatefoundation.org/legacy. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
55+ language 3 Elderly
Senior Mature Baby Boomer
Are you OK with people referring you as ‘senior’? How about ‘elderly’? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
oes the term “senior” bother you? At times, businesses and individuals need to use a descriptor for the age range of, well, those who are not so young anymore. What term is chosen depends upon many factors, especially context. For Cynthia Scott, chartered financial consultant and founder and president of OMC Financial Services, Ltd. in DeWitt, sticking with “preretiree” and “post-retiree” works, although she has some clients retiring at 55 and some still working at 75. Scott isn’t fond of “senior.” “At age 50, AARP sends you materials that say ‘senior’ and you’re not,” Scott said. Using retirement status as a descriptor is factual, pertinent to her industry and generally inoffensive. That’s a similar tactic taken by Sonnet Loftus, a partner and a certified financial planner with Michael Roberts Associates in East Syracuse with Commonwealth Financial Network as
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the broker dealer. “Age is just a number,” Loftus said. “I work with ‘pre-retirees’ and ‘retirees.’ I am not concerned with segmenting the groups any further. Labels are not productive.” For some industries, segmenting by age may be more important at times, such as healthcare. Joelle Margrey, vice president of skilled nursing at Loretto in Syracuse, said that in general, everyone is referred to as “patient” regardless of age. But when age is pertinent, “We’ve gone back and forth with ‘elders’ and people don’t always like that,” she said. Loretto cares for patients who are in their 20s to more than 100 years of age. Some may be more “clinically complex” but age isn’t always a factor in that. “For a population within the postacute setting, they could be referred to as ‘older adult’ although there’s a much younger population that we care for,” Margrey said. “We try to
use ‘elder’ as it’s more gentle than ‘resident’ or ‘senior.’ But people in their 60s don’t want to be recognized as an ‘elder.’” “Elder” may sound like the wise head of the clan or, to some, like someone who’s frail — not a term enjoyed by those who are definitely not frail at this point. Loretto also sticks with terms that aren’t related to age but focus on care level, which is both accurate and industry appropriate, such as longterm care, acute, sub-acute. Julie Sheedy, chief marketing and engagement officer at Loretto, said the question of the right term is a tough one. “We’ve stopped using many terms like ‘elder’ or ‘senior’ as even our oldest adults don’t like those terms,” Sheedy said. “They prefer simply ‘adults’ and for us, our age range has typically been 80-plus, which originally drove use of ‘elders’ or ‘seniors’ in our marketing. However, our range has changed dramatically, so we use ‘adults.’ The
55-year-old audience for us are the children, coming to us to care for their parents. I would never refer to them as seniors.” Though some physical conditions are age-related, anyone of any age may need extra help. That’s why Adam Ruszkowski, physical therapist at Summit Physical Therapy in Syracuse, tries to avoid age titles. “When people deal with individuals moving through the lifespan, they tend to say you can’t exercise as much, lift as much or be as vigorous,” Ruszkowski said. “Artificially putting limits on them through titles can cause them to think they can’t. People understand they’re getting older and it’s no secret, but using it to define their abilities is doing them a disservice.” That’s why he sticks with milestones such as “retiree” if he needs to qualify by life stage for some reason, since retirement can mean a change of activity level for some people, either going more active or less active, and certainly a change in routine that can affect the body. “There are age-related health concerns, but taking a person who’s sitting in front of you and making sure you’re talking in a way that doesn’t limit their abilities’ impact is important,” he added. He’s also careful about avoiding phrases like “old” and “people your age” and using “as we age, these are normal things.” “We tend to label things that we think are painful with an age bracket,” Ruszkowski said. “It causes people to be more cautious and less active.” Al Oliveras works as a digital services and technology librarian at Onondaga Free Library in Syracuse. He regularly teaches computer classes and calls it “adult programming.” “I get an age range that attends the programs, so I don’t really try to say who should come,” Oliveras said. He said that generally, people who fall into the Generation X through baby boomers tend to take these classes. But when he has to describe the latter, he tends to use “older adults” as it is direct and factual. As with any age, assuming a universal truth about any age group disrespects members of the group, Oliveras said.
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my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
118 Passwords and PINs. Oh, My! ‘How am I supposed to keep 118 passwords and PINs squared away and brought to mind instantaneously when needed?’ By Bruce Frassinelli
admit it: I was brought into our technologically advanced world kicking and screaming, but I quickly realized that if I wanted to be a player in the late -20th and 21st century, I needed to get over it — fast. So thanks to an important intervention by two of my three sons, I was taught how to love and embrace
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the new bells and whistles that would help me navigate the late autumn and winter of my life as a participant and not one watching the passing parade from the sidelines. So, here I am as an octogenarian on Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. I have a small but prolific group of “friends” on each. I tend to be more of a
voyeur (and I don’t mean that in a dirty way) rather than a contributor, but when I feel I have something germane to a conversation or an observation to make, I am not shy about doing so. One of my younger grandchildren asked me recently, “How do you like modern technology compared to the way things were back when you were a kid about my age?” I explained that the transition was difficult at first, but once I got going I am happy to be where I am, although I realize that virtually all of my grandchildren can run rings around me when it comes to a computer’s functionality. I told my grandchild that the toughest thing I have had to deal with is the never-ending number of passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers) we need to operate our computers, do our banking and perform other vital and secure functions of life. Put simply: It is driving me nuts. I even devised a cynical formula for it: Passwords+Pins=PIA. (I am sure you are smart enough to figure out what “PIA” means.) I live in mortal fear of forgetting
some key password, and, of course, the dire warnings don’t help. You are instructed not to carry the password or PIN for your bank and credit cards in your wallet, purse or on your person for fear that some nefarious individual will steal them. Just for fun, I counted all of the passwords and PINs I have to operate the various accounts associated with them. I was dumbfounded as I stared at the final number — 118. How am I supposed to keep 118 codes squared away and brought to mind instantaneously when needed? Well, the sad truth is I can’t, so I have to cheat. I write them down. Wait! I know what you are saying, but here’s the genius of my solution: I write them in code, so only I can decipher a long string of numbers that probably looks innocuous to someone who might stumble upon my list. To make matters worse, my online bank requires me to change my password every few months, so it seems that just as I succeed in memorizing the existing combination, I get a message that it’s time for a change. Several other online providers do the same, so, invariably, for the first couple of attempts after a password change, I absent-mindedly type in the former password and get scolded by the computer. Now, I have tried to memorize my ATM PINs so I don’t have to carry them in my wallet. (I am a customer at three banks.) For awhile I was carrying them in my shoe, figuring it would be the last place a thief would look, but it was kind of awkward to take off my shoe and fish around for the little slip of paper I had squirreled away into a side compartment. I also got strange looks from other ATM patrons behind me when I performed this caper. As I have advanced in age, I am not always the steadiest guy on one foot. I usually need to prop myself up by holding on to something. Once I asked the guy behind me if I could lean on his shoulder. He was nice enough to say “yes,” but I can only imagine what he was thinking, especially after seeing me searching in my shoe. After way too much awkwardness, I scrapped the shoe “solution” and just memorized the PINs. Once or twice, I have gotten the PINs of the various banks confused, and, on one occasion when I entered the wrong number three times in a row without realizing
what I was doing, the ATM ate my card and wouldn’t give it back. I was told I needed to contact the bank to reset my number. What a rigmarole that turned out to be! Password security is definitely top of mind awareness today in our technologically advanced age. Several times a week, we read or hear how important it is to have a secure password, especially since online thieves are so sophisticated. D e s p i t e t h i s , a c c o rd i n g t o Bloomberg Businessweek, the most frequently used passwords are: “123456,” “password,” “12345678,” “qwerty” and “abc123.” I was stunned to find out that it would take just fewer than 10 minutes for a hacker’s computer to randomly guess your all-lower-case six-character password. It would take four hours to solve a seven-character password, four days for one of eight characters and four months for one of nine characters. If you had a combination of six lower- and upper-case characters, it would take 10 hours and as long as 178 years for a nine character lower- andupper-case password. Better yet is a password of upper and lower case characters and a symbol, which would take a hacker anywhere from 18 days to 44,530 years to randomly crack, depending on whether there were six or nine characters. If you use the same login information everywhere, a hack at one website could give people access to all your accounts. If someone gains access to your email account in this way, they could use password-reset links to access other websites, such as your online banking account. To prevent password problems, you need to use unique passwords on every website — super strong — long, unpredictable passwords that contain words, numbers and symbols. Now, some Internet geniuses have come up with an answer to those such as me who have trouble remembering passwords — a password manager service. Since the majority of users have very weak passwords and reuse them on different websites, the way to use strong, unique passwords on all the websites you use is with a password manager, we are now told. Password managers store your login information for all the websites
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you use and help you log into them automatically. They encrypt your password database with a master password – the master password is the only one you have to remember. Sounds simple, right? But here is my problem: I am terrified that if someone successfully hacks into the password manager’s account, all of my passwords to every conceivable facet of my life would be laid bare. I cringe at such an eventuality, so I have been resistant to this proposed solution. And, oh, yes, after I have solved the password dilemmas that afflict and confront me daily, this doesn’t even take into account consideration of the varying usernames I have. There are 39 unique usernames by which I am known, and, sometimes, these are even more difficult to remember than passwords or PINs. I sometimes think my late wife, Marie, had the right idea. She liked the old technology — write out a check by hand and mail it. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
and the cost was outside her limit. However, the day after she ruled out that car, her Corvair connection, Lou, called her about a 1962 Corvair Monza Series 900. It was in Central Square. “I pulled up to it and it was perfect. The interior was like brand new,” Bamerick said. “The only thing I hated was the ugly blue color,” which she eventually had painted red. Bamerick bought it for a bargain — $2,500 — which was $200 less than what the owner was asking. “I can tell you’re going to really love this car,” Bamerick said he told her.
Driving Miss Daisy
Eastwood resident Amy Bamerick next to the car of her dreams: a fourdoor Chevy Corvair Monza 900 model, known as Miss Daisy.
Meet ‘Corvair Amy’ Amy Bamerick’s dream of owning a classic car comes true with Miss Daisy By Tami S. Scott
t wasn’t dolls that made Amy Bamerick’s eyes light up as a little girl — it was cars. And not the kind you find in small packages in a toy aisle. Real cars. Classic cars. As early as 4 years old, Bamerick remembers being in her absolute glory, pretending to drive, shift and steer all the old cars that filled a big field on her mom’s friend’s property in Hannibal. It was love at first sight, and a love she never outgrew. Owning a classic car was
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something Bamerick had always wanted but never expected to happen due to the expense — she was sure that, with her budget, they’d be unaffordable. Yet, something told her to take a picture of the “for sale” sign she saw on a Chevy Corvair she had spotted at the 2017 Syracuse Nationals. The model was early ‘60s. “All they could say is it’s too expensive and I couldn’t get it,” she said. Well, that particular one didn’t work out — it had too many problems
“Everything for this car had come so easily and so cheaply. Everything just fell into my lap,” said Bamerick, who believes her mom, who died in 2007, had a heavenly hand in all of it — from leading her to Miss Daisy (a name her mechanic had given it) to insuring the car in one day’s time — something she was told never happens. Her mom was always supportive of her passion for old cars. “I’ll never get rid of it,” Bamerick said. “Ever.” The Eastwood resident takes her “girl” out for a spin far more than most classic car owners, who rarely drive them at all. In fact, in the three years she’s owned Miss Daisy, she’s 300 miles short of having driven her 10,000 miles. To be clear, Miss Daisy is stored each winter; she’s driven on average five months a year. During its first year with Bamerick, the car was driven only three months — that’s a total of 13 driving months. “All summer, it’s just her and I. We drive everywhere together,” Bamerick said. And when they take to the road, they mean business. Bamerick said over the summer, she took Miss Daisy for a test drive after replacing the carburetor. “She flies! Mind you, when I drive her on the highway — I go 75. She just loves to drive! The car is air cooled, so when she’s sucking in air, it’s making the engine work that much better. The carburetor was working perfectly,” she noted. Bamerick said when Miss Daisy was driven in the 2018 Corvair Recalls Obstacle Course Race, it came in second fastest in the entire history of that event. Speaking of history, one time when
Bamerick was at a NAPA store buying air filters, she learned her car once belonged to an employee’s parents. She explained it originally came from Pennsylvania, to which he agreed. His parents had gone to Palmer Chevy in Fulton. They wanted a black car with red interior, but the dealership didn’t have one. However, there was a dealer in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, that did. The employee said his parents, who are now deceased, drove their VW bug to New York’s neighboring state and traded it in for the Corvair. “I would have loved to show it to them,” Bamerick said.
Knowledge is power
Daisy on the lift and walk away. She herself admits she’s not by any means a mechanic, but she does like to help in whatever capacity she’s able, and always under supervision. Bamerick also likes to tease the 20-somethings when showing them her car: “I always trick them and ask, ‘Do you want to see the engine?’” She then walks them to the front and opens up the trunk to which they’ll ask where it is. “I point to the wiper motor and say, ‘Right there. This car was a prototype for an electric engine.” Jaws drop and they say, ‘No way!’” She laughs, brings them to the back of the car, and shows them the real deal. “They are blown away by how
different a car the Corvair is.” And when Bamerick brings Miss Daisy to car shows, attendees — typically men — approach her male counterparts for information on the Corvair, even when she’s standing right there. Bamerick said: “When my friends say, ‘Don’t ask us, ask the owner, it’s Corvair Amy’s car,’ their jaws drop and they say, ‘You own a classic car?’ Almost like I broke into some secret men’s club.” As American actress Alexandra Paul once said, “The cars we drive say a lot about us.” Bamerick for sure breaks the mold when it comes to conventional classic car ownership.
“Corvair Amy,” as her car guy friends call her, is not one to leave Miss
‘Miss Daisy’ at a Glance — Miss Daisy is a four-door Chevy Corvair Monza 900 model. The 900 was the top of the line in 1962 — she came with “extras” that the 700 and 500 models did not have. — The Corvair Monza Series 900 had all-vinyl interior trim, back-up lights, deluxe steering wheel, glove box light, wheel covers, and folding rear seat. Extras included a push button AM radio, padded dashboard (typically they were metal), carpet, and armrests with ashtrays in the back (the 500 and 700 models had vinyl floors and no armrests). The 900 model also came with bucket seats, which very few 900 series cars had. Instead, they came with bench seats. — The Chevy Corvair Monza 900 cars made between 1960-64 are called EM (early models); those manufactured from 1965-69 are called LM (late models). The LM body style was actually the prototype for the Camaro. — Miss Daisy was the 6,121st car off the assembly line at the Willow Run plant in Detroit. It came off the assembly line the third week of October in 1962. — Miss Daisy has a 6-cylinder 80-horsepower rear engine with an automatic Powerglide transmission. — The Corvair was considered a sports car in 1962, that was also sold as an economical family car. The 900 series cost about $2,400. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
financial health By Pragya Murphy
Gifting Minimum Distributions to Charity
any people spend years looking forward to retirement, but quite often when the time comes to take required distributions from their IRA, they find they are not ready. They usually either do not need the extra income yet or do not want to pay taxes on the additional income. Let’s take the example of a couple, Jack and Diane, who reached this crossroads a few years ago. Not needing the money for themselves at the time, they decided to use their distributions to accomplish their charitable goals while also avoiding taxes. There is a strategy for retired individuals and couples to make this happen. To be eligible, an individual must have an IRA and be at least 70 ½ years old. Once determined to be eligible, an individual can use a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), also known as a charitable IRA rollover, to help worthy causes and organizations. Individuals can direct up to $100,000 per year from their IRA to eligible public charities without, in most cases, counting it as taxable income. For married couples, both spouses can make individual gifts of up to $100,000 from their traditional IRAs, for a total of $200,000. (Please consult your tax adviser regarding your specific situation.) At age 72, annual withdrawals from IRA accounts become mandatory and are referred to as required minimum distributions (RMDs). At this point, the QCD has the added benefit of counting toward their RMD. QCDs from traditional IRAs have become one of the fastest growing types of charitable gift. According to a recent survey, the average use of QCDs increased by 73.8% from 2017 to 2018. This significant spike in popularity is attributed to an aging American demographic — three million to four
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million baby boomers born each year reach the age of 70 ½. Also, since the introduction o f h i g h e r s t a n d a rd d e d u c t i o n requirements in the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, fewer taxpayers are itemizing and are looking to use their RMDs while not affecting their taxable incomes. In 2019, the standard deduction rose to $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly, which is almost double the pre-tax reform standard deduction in 2017. One of the appealing factors of QCDs is that they can be made to any public charity or house of worship across the country, as long as the gifts are made outright. The Pension Protection Act of 2006, which created the charitable IRA rollover, specifically prohibited transfers to donor-advised funds or private foundations. Therefore, when using the charitable IRA rollover to make a gift to a community foundation, the gift must be directed to a permanent fund. Community foundations can work with individuals who want to use a QCD to create a permanent fund that will carry on their charitable wishes for generations. A permanent fund can be structured in several ways: to support the greatest needs of the community each year as a general endowment fund; to support a geographic or topical field of interest such as programs to reduce poverty or care for animal; or designated to support specific nonprofits as indicated by the donors. No matter how it is designed, the fund becomes a permanent source of charitable support in the community. A donor may make additional gifts to the fund both during their lifetime and through their estate. Let’s return to our example of Jack and Diane. For them, this taxadvantaged opportunity was a nobrainer. Having spent more than
40 years living and working in this region, the couple knew they wanted to do something to give back to the community that had given them so much. Giving back through their RMDs was the simplest, most tax efficient and flexible way for them to do so. They both had served on numerous nonprofit boards and remained civically engaged through various volunteer efforts. Diane, a retired teacher, and Jack, an engineer, each had their own list of preferred charities and found it difficult to choose which ones should receive their support. After evaluating their overarching goals for charitable impact and how they wished to be remembered, they opted to establish a field-of-interest fund for literacy and S.T.E.M. education, as well as a named community fund to provide broad support, at their local community foundation. The multipurpose interest areas reflect each of their individual passions, while still allowing for flexibility based on changing community needs. By using a charitable IRA rollover to create these funds, Jack and Diane were able to make a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come. QCDs open the door for new and flexible giving opportunities for people who love this community to support the causes most important to them.
Pragya Murphy is development officer at the Central New York Community Foundation. She assists individuals, families and companies with their charitable planning and provides consultation and assistance to the local professional advisor community. She can be reached at 315-4229538 or email@example.com.
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www.Christopher-community.org April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
Two Stories and an Invitation...
’m going to tell you a story, maybe two, and then ask you to consider doing something a little out of your normal comfort zone. The stories are not so much about who is right or who is wrong, but more about how things are and, are we happy with that or would we like to see change? Background: This past fall I was in Jordan and Lebanon. There were 20 people on the trip, including Middle East expert and New York Times opinion writer, Roger Cohen. Being in small group situations where you have to get along with strangers for many days, there is an effort to minimize friction. For instance, being on time, not complaining about small inconveniences and … not discussing politics. This trip was different in that we did talk politics, but very cautiously. Upon his return to the States, Cohen wrote an opinion piece for the Times about one of the members of our travel group, Chuck Hardwick. Hardwick had been a senior vice-president for corporate affairs worldwide for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company. A lifelong Republican, he had also been speaker of the New Jersey Assembly and is now retired and living in Florida. In an open, honest reflection of his thoughts, Hardwick expressed his feelings about the present political state of affairs. Cohen wrote about him, “I concluded he was an interesting man with an open mind, and [is] a good bellwether for how centrist Americans view the election.” The gist of the article was that here is a lifelong Republican, with a depth of experience in the corporate as well as the political world, in itself an unusual combination, who is unsure how he will vote in the next national election. Furious letters came from what I had assumed were open-minded
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readers of the New York Times, castigating Hardwick for even thinking of voting for Trump. So struck was Cohen by the responses to his article, that he reconnected with Hardwick and interviewed him in depth about his background. He then wrote a second article, including a few quotes from reader’s letters. Among them, Hardwick is “an oligarch, glad to have the world tilted in favor of the ultrarich.” He’s a man who “made big money in Big Pharma.” Like other “old white ex-big pharma executive men” who voted Trump, Hardwick is among those who have “disqualified themselves as either too prejudiced, and/or too incompetent to judge who the next president should be.” Hardwick, in fact, grew up in rural Kentucky in a family with many hardships. After losing his mother at a young age, the family moved to Ohio and his father became a bakery worker for Wonder Bread, walking to work every day as they couldn’t afford a car. When his father got injured on the job and was unable to work for a year, Hardwick, who was in eighth
grade, gave up sports and started delivering the Akron Beacon Journal; he became self-supporting and was able to contribute financially to his family. His avenue to college was as the recipient of a scholarship. Hard work advanced him up the corporate ladder. His was, and should still be, the American Dream: poor boy works hard and makes good. Isn’t that something we should applaud, not attack? The bottom line of Cohen’s followup article, given the labels readers gave to Hardwick without even knowing anything about him was, “what has happened to civility?” And I ask you, as I asked myself, are we avoiding friends and family whose politics differ from ours because it has become increasingly difficult to be civil to each other? If we’re not happy with this situation, no matter what side of the issue we are on, and if we want to be part of the solution and not the problem, what can we do? Hardwick and I met and discussed if we could make any good come from the articles and in answering Cohen’s question, “what has happened to civility?” Our thoughts were to bring people together to just talk about being civil but it really needed a format. We received input from Melvin Sorcher, prominent organizational psychologist and author, who suggested we should be clear that we’re not trying to change political attitudes or opinions, but what we want is to change listening behavior. Toward that end, we’d like you to consider joining us in this effort. The next time you are together
‘I ask you, as I asked myself, are we avoiding friends and family whose politics differ from ours because it has become increasingly difficult to be civil to each other?’ with a few other people, pick a topic or two, perhaps from the lists below, to discuss. The goal would be to have relevant discussions without being defensive and to renew relationships and open the door for ongoing civil discussion. Start with each person stating their personal values and why they are so important to them. According to Sorcher, this is an essential part of any discussion as it “primes” us to listen to each other civilly so we understand where the other person is coming from. For the chosen topic, set a ground rule that each person is allowed up to five minutes to give an opinion without any interruption. Then a person with a contrary view will be given the same opportunity. Some topics Hardwick suggested for discussion: • “Is it time for a major wealth tax?” • “Has the Me Too movement gone too far?” • “Should state driving laws be changed to age 21?” • “Could we take a pledge to support the next president - is this a good idea or bad?”
And I will add: • “How do we get our news from and how do we know it is fact and not opinion?” • “Should wealth be an issue when choosing elected leaders?” • “What are some issues we can all agree on?” If you decide to give this a try, we’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy discussing.
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April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
Credit Card Debt in Retirement Going into retirement with credit card debt can pose challenge to boomers By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
o you owe a balance on a credit card? According to MSN. com, 40% of baby boomer Americans are still paying off credit card debt. This is nearly one out of two boomers with credit card debt. Local experts say that’s a problem because unlike simple interest on loans such as mortgages, credit card debt compounds interests. Debtors pay interest on interest. Sonnet Loftus is a partner and a certified financial planner with Michael Roberts Associates in East Syracuse. She said that people have two things they can control leading up to retirement — how much they earn and how much they spend. “I think it is important to really focus on paying down debt while one is still receiving
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a paycheck. Money spent on accrued interest is money not available to fund one’s lifestyle in retirement,” Loftus said. It’s also vital to realize that paying on debt while you’re at your earning peak won’t be easier when on a fixed income during retirement. Randy Zeigler, private wealth adviser and certified financial planner with Ameriprise in Oswego, is also not a fan of carrying credit card debt. “Why pay a financial institution a substantial interest rate to use your money?” he said. “If credit cards are a way of stretching one’s lifestyle, that always ends up actually costing more in interest payments, so I highly recommend that people use credit cards as a convenient payment mechanism to avoid carrying large
amounts of cash in their wallets and to accumulate points or frequent flyer miles, which is how I use them. Any other purpose is either financially unwise or just plain too expensive in the long run.” Cynthia Scott, chartered financial consultant and founder and president of OMC Financial Services, Ltd. in DeWitt, also advises clients to pay off debt before retirement. “If you’re not maximizing your money in your 401k and you have credit card debt, split it between the two,” she said. “Contribute to your future income and lower your expenses in the future. Stay away from credit card debt. It is not your friend. If you do have to use a credit card, pay it off monthly.” Some retirees-to-be want to help
their adult children but doing so may jeopardy their own retirement. They pay with credit for their day-to-day needs while paying cash for their kids’ needs. But it’s important to note that your adult children have time on their side to pay off school loans or save up for a house. Scott also advises against shuffling debt among various zero percent interest offers. The problem lies in that if you keep using the cards, you won’t pay off the debt. Oftentimes, the interest rate skyrockets after the 12- to 18-month introductory period, which makes paying off debt even harder. The only way to use these offers to conquer debt is if the total debt divided by the number of months of the zero percent interest offer equals a figure you can pay every single month. For example, if it’s $50,000 debt paid over an 18-month offer, you would have to pay at least $2,777 per month to pay it off, all while not charging a dime on the cards. That’s pretty tough for people who are accustomed to charging for their purchases and paying only the minimum of a few hundred per month.
Scott instead advises seeking a reputable debt service agency that can offer counseling and negotiate with the credit card companies to offer you a lower rate and reasonable payment. Refinancing a home may help them use home equity to get out of credit card debt, as can establishing consistent payments with a known end date, all while not using credit cards anymore. Establishing a sensible budget and staying within the monthly income is the only way to avoid carrying an ongoing balance from month to month. Part of that budget should include an emergency fund that’s not part of retirement investments. Buying a huge Christmas present for each grandchild isn’t an emergency, but rather an event such as the car breaking down or the fridge dying. Some rack up debt for luxuries they cannot afford but want immediately, such as springing for a vacation while their children are still teens or young adults, but these types of purchases should be delayed or scaled down to an affordable level to avoid credit card debt.
You’ve prepared for a rewarding retirement. We can help you make the most of it. As an Ameriprise private wealth advisory practice, we can help you grow and preserve your wealth to put your vision of a confident retirement more within reach. Randy L. Zeigler, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU® Private Wealth Advisor CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner 97 W Utica St Oswego, NY 13126 315.342.1227 firstname.lastname@example.org ameripriseadvisors.com/randy.l.zeigler
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Still Rockin’ Two years after two brain-debilitating strokes, musician Todd Hobin is more active than ever. He shares his experience By Margaret McCormick
ecovering from a stroke is a long and challenging journey that can take weeks, months and even years. Musician Todd Hobin suffered two braindebilitating strokes in the spring of 2018 and worked his way back to business and life as usual remarkably quickly. “Had a stroke, back on stage,” says the advertisement for Crouse Health featuring Hobin that appears often in this magazine. It’s not quite that simple, yet it’s true. And when it comes to stroke — the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer — it’s no coincidence that acting FAST is key to treatment and recovery (see sidebar). “I’m one of the lucky ones,’’ Hobin says today. Seeing Hobin in concert, someone sitting in the audience wouldn’t necessarily know what his brain and
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his body have been through. He’s lean and fit, with a full head of silver hair that is no doubt the envy of many men his age. (The musician is 70.) At the Palace Theatre in Syracuse on Jan. 24, Hobin donned a black tux and strapped on a guitar to open “Rockin’ the Opera,’’ a fundraiser for Music for the Mission. He performed his song “One Voice’’ before turning the show over to many voices — 100 singers and musicians from the Syracuse Opera Chorus and Syracuse Pops Chorus. Later, he jumped back on stage to get the audience clapping and stomping to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,’’ and joined singer and friend Letizia (Pinkel) on keyboards and vocals for his composition, “Memories and Dreams.’’ He had just started a new semester as an adjunct professor of music at LeMoyne College and was getting ready to produce and record albums
for several other local musicians at Hobin Studios, near Baldwinsville. A couple weeks later, Hobin was honored by the CNY Brain Aneurysm Awareness Campaign for his advocacy related to stroke awareness. Stroke doesn’t define him, he says, but the experience is very much a part of him. “It’s all about awareness,’’ Hobin says. “People in my age group, 65 plus, are the targets of stroke. I didn’t know anything about stroke before I had one.’’ Now he rattles off statistics like these: • Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. • The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55. • And perhaps most importantly: “Stroke can occur at any age. Anyone can have one,’’ Hobin says.
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Here’s how Hobin remembers the medical incident that changed his life: He arose one morning in May of 2018 and couldn’t move his left arm. It was completely numb. At first, he thought, he had slept on his arm wrong or somehow pinched a nerve. He called his doctor, who told him to call 911 and say, “Take Me to Crouse.’’ At the hospital, Hobin learned he had suffered two strokes, both caused by clots in his carotid artery. He had surgery immediately to clear one of the blockages and had a second operation a couple months later. Hours after surgery, Hobin’s rehab began. He is never far from a guitar and his son brought one to the hospital. The most he could do at first was touch it and gently finger the strings. But musicians are good candidates for physical therapy and rehab because they’re accustomed to practicing every day. For the next several months, Hobin says, he did everything he could with his left hand: eat, drink, write, brush his teeth. He unplugged from technology — no phone, no computer, no TV — and instead read novels. He exercised and meditated. And he played the guitar for hours, every day, to help regain his motor and cognitive skills and improve his memory. “Unfortunately, when we have a stroke we have a brain blow-out,’’ Hobin explains. “Therapy started one hour after surgery and continued for five to 12 hours a day. For the first three months, that’s all I did. I replaced practice with rehab. Over time, I rewired the neurology. It was hard coming back. I was very fortunate.’’ Since that time, Hobin has tirelessly shared his stroke story to help inform and educate others. He sits on the board of directors of Triumph Over Stroke CNY, a nonprofit organization sponsored by Crouse Hospital that offers support, resources, hope and understanding to stroke survivors, family members and caregivers. The group, founded by stroke survivor Katie Weiss, meets 6 to 7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month in the Physicians Lounge (first floor) at 5000 Brittonfield Parkway, East Syracuse. “Todd and I partner a lot to work on trying to get this organization out there,’’ Weiss says, noting that the organization will host a family friendly concert and health-focused event June 34
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27 at Sharkey’s of Liverpool. “Todd does a great job of educating people about the symptoms of stroke and the time-sensitivity of stroke. It’s helpful to have someone like him willing to share his story and it makes other people feel more comfortable sharing their stories.’’ As for his life in music, Hobin continues to rock on, just as he has been doing for the last 50 years. Hobin grew up in the Rochester area, the son of a teacher and an artist. He graduated from RushHenrietta High School, where one of his classmates was Lou Gramm, of the band Foreigner. He studied music composition at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and gravitated to Central New York, “a great halfway place between everywhere,’’ following
graduation. He formed his namesake rock band at Potsdam in 1974. If you’re a Central/Upstate New Yorker “of a certain age,’’ the odds are good you’ve seen the Todd Hobin Band in concert. The band grew a loyal following with energetic performances, hits like “I Hate You’’ and “New York Country Song’’ and non-stop touring. They played colleges, clubs and other venues all over the northeast, opening for headliners like the Beach Boys and the Allman Brothers Band. The original members of the band are still together, minus founding member Doug Moncrief, who died last year. Dave Frisina, disc jockey and program manager at TheRebelRocks. com and host of the long-running local music show “Soundcheck,’’ says he first became aware of the Todd
Hobin Band in the 1970s, when the band played at his alma mater, SUNY Cortland. When he moved to Syracuse for a radio job in 1978, Frisina recalls, the Todd Hobin Band was packing clubs and getting regular airplay. These days, their paths cross now and again because Frisina’s son, Mike, and Hobin’s son, Brett, are members of the band Simplelife — and because Hobin remains such a steady presence in the local music scene. “Over the years I’ve admired his quiet-spoken and reflective personal attitude balanced by his warm, engaging showmanship on stage,’’ Frisina says. “He’s a great ambassador for CNY music.” Hobin says the loss of Doug Moncrief was tough for everyone in the band and they are still mourning his loss and grappling with how to go forward. “He was a founding brother in every way and no one can take his place,’’ Hobin says quietly, during an interview at his recording studio. He says the band will probably play about 10 concert dates this year, including the event at Sharkey’s in June and (hopefully) a show at Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville. “Hometown shows are great,’’
Hobin says. “I get to sleep in my own bed. The older I get I like to be home.’’ Hobin and his wife, Joann, live on Pleasant Lake, near Pennellville. Together, they have six adult children and six grandchildren. In the late 1980s, after years of traveling and touring, Hobin purchased land on the Seneca River in Baldwinsville and built a recording studio. Brett Hobin lives on the property, and father and son can often be found in the studio, writing songs, recording other artists and working on musical arrangements
for audio books and TV and radio commercials. In addition to guitar and piano, Hobin plays saxophone, flute and trumpet and dabbles in art. He eats healthily, takes walks and goes to the gym a couple times a week. He admits to smoking an occasional cigar. At an age when some people can’t wait to put their work life behind them, Hobin says he has no plans to retreat from music and performing. “Retirement?,’’ he says. “No, no, no. Not gonna happen.’’
Acting FAST is Key for Stroke If you think someone may be having a stroke, act FAST and do the following simple test: F — Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? A — Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? S — Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange? T — Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away. Note the time when any s y m p t o m s f i r s t a p p e a r. T h i s information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. -- Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Todd Hobin at his studio on Gaskin Road in Baldwinsville (photo provided). Above, during a Feb. 23 concert at LeMoyne College (photos of Chuck Wainwright).
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Boomers Lead the Workforce They have become the fastest growing age group in the workforce By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
f it seems like you have quite a few peers at your workplace, you’re not imagining things. According to Glassdoor ’s “Jobs and Hiring Trends for 2020,” published in November, the baby boomer generation — those at least 55 in 2020 — will be the fastest growing age group in the workforce in the US. It seems counterintuitive that workers approaching retirement age or at retirement age should be the fastest growing; nonetheless, that’s what area financial planners have also observed.
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But why? “Because they can” is the concise answer offered by Cynthia Scott, chartered financial consultant and founder and president of OMC Financial Services, Ltd. in DeWitt. She touched on a few of the multiple factors causing the phenomenon of working later. Unlike their parents’ or grandparents’ generation, many people today work in careers they truly enjoy, not just employment that brings home a paycheck. Their title and field of work becomes an integral part
of their identity instead of remaining only as a means of survival because their work uses their skills and engages their interests. “People have 20 to 25 years of additional longevity so retiring at 65 isn’t as attractive,” Scott said. “Do you really want nothing going on?” Their employers are eager to keep them, too, as unemployment rates are low and many companies need workers with their skills. “Employers are going out of their way to keep their good employees,”
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April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
Scott said. Some work because they need to support their living expenses. “There are of course many people who have not saved enough and must continue to work,” Scott said. Sonnet Loftus is a partner and a certified financial planner with Michael Roberts Associates in East Syracuse. She said that part of the reason some have not saved enough is because fewer companies offer pensions and because more people are living longer, they have a greater chance of outliving their savings. “Retirements can last well over 30 years,” she added. “This has caused us to change how we think and plan for retirement. Delaying retirement benefits past full retirement age can help with income planning because of the retirement credits. Those credits can make a big difference when it comes to calculating the potential cumulative retirement benefit.” By working to age 70, people can receive 8% per year delayed retirement credit once they begin to draw on their
Social Security funds. Continuing to wait to draw on Social Security after this age doesn’t offer any additional benefit. For those who continue working, Loftus believes they bring both value and also much needed help to many workforces. “Adults working longer has had an impact on the economy,” she said. “They have contributed to economic growth, productivity and they complemented the younger generation that are entering the workforce with a different skill set.” According to the US Census Bureau, “between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages and a significant share of the younger population ages into older adulthood. As a result, the population will naturally grow very slowly.” At the same time, the birth rate is decreasing steadily over the decades and likely will continue to decline. In 2018, the Census reported 11.6 births per 1,000 population compared to 14.7
per 1,000 in 2000 and 16.7 per 1,000in 1990. That’s why older workers are so vital to the economy, experts say. Working past retirement age isn’t always full-time or in the same career field. “Some of my clients are attempting to design a glide path into retirement with a part-time employment or consulting arrangement with their current employer, just because going from full tilt working 40 to 50 hours per week or more to a full stop, can be too sudden, leading to boredom or a lack of purpose in one’s life,” said Randy Zeigler, private wealth adviser and certified financial planner with Ameriprise in Oswego. He added that for some people, working longer ensures they will have health insurance coverage through their employer until Medicare begins at age 65. That’s particularly important in a time when the cost of healthcare grows more quickly than the general inflation rate.
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Craig Buckhout, principal at Rockbridge Investment Management, stands on the rooftop terrace outside his office in downtown Syracuse.
Itâ€™s always been important for me to give back to the community. If you are fortunate enough to have more assets than you absolutely need, it makes sense to figure out how you can help others. My wife Carol and I established a donor-advised fund to facilitate our annual giving. Instead of sending multiple checks to different charities, we only have to write one check to the Community Foundation each year. We can then easily use our fund to support the causes we care about with no hassle. Central New York is where my family and I have grown up and it continues to be our home today. It is vital for us to continue providing funding for local organizations to ensure a prosperous region for generations to come.
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April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
55+ recovery After many ups and downs, Sam Wynn, 63, is back on playing keyboards. He also helps homeless, youths and less-fortunate people around town. Photo courtesy of Rescue Mission.
In Tune with Being Clean Spirituality, support bring Sam Wynn back to living the good life By Debra J. Groom
entral New York is well known for being a hotbed of music performance. And one of the hottest in this Mecca of music is Sam Wynn, a 63-year-old virtuoso of keyboards and vocals who has toured the United States with The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Coasters and even Bo Diddley. Today, he is heavily involved in music throughout the area, performing at Harborfest, Jazz in the City, Jazz Fest in Syracuse and Binghamton, the Pan Am Village at the New York State Fair, Juneteenth and even serving as minister of music at his church — Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Syracuse. But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the love of his life, music, led Wynn down a dark
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road. “When I was 14 years old, I started doing drugs and drinking,” Wynn said. “I was drinking, smoking weed. You want to be part of the scene. I never thought it would take me as far as it did.” Wynn’s musical journey begins at age 5, when his grandmother in Yonkers shipped a piano up to Wynn’s home in Utica. Young Sam had shown a love for the instrument while visiting and his grandmother said she would give him the piano if he was serious about it. “I had about a year of formal lessons, but after that, I pretty much learned on my own,” he said. “I could hear a song, listen to it a few times and then sit down and play it. That is a gift.” From there, Wynn moved away
from music for a bit and was involved in sports at school and at the Boys and Girls Club in Utica. “Sports came and music kind of went,” he said. He ran track and played a lot of basketball. Then as a young teen, a friend asked him to join a band. He loved it. But this is when he also came to know the musician’s lifestyle — lots of late nights at gigs, too much alcohol and dabbling in drugs. “I ended up spending nine months in a juvenile detention center,” he said. “I was pretty rebellious.” It was then he moved to Syracuse. He worked for a time as an auto upholsterer working on car seat covers and interiors, a trade he had learned from his father.
The dark side “But when I was 18, an offer came to travel to Nova Scotia and all through Canada,” he said, working for musicians who were on the James Brown label. This is when alcohol and drug addictions really took hold. “I would buy alcohol and cocaine. It would take over the consciousness of
what I was there for,” he said. “And I was always broke,” said Wynn, noting he would spend money from his gigs on more alcohol and drugs. He began touring the country with The Shirelles and The Coasters and eventually moved to South Carolina. He performed at the large hotels and casinos in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. “I would stay up all night gambling. I really thought I was enjoying myself,” he said. “But I would leave each weekend with no money.” He moved back to Syracuse and performed in and around the city. “It just got worse,” he said of his addictions. “After a while, I couldn’t find any side work. The addictions wouldn’t allow me to work very long. I started not liking who I was.” It was time for a turnaround. Wynn said he went to Narcotics Anonymous and attended programs at the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. “I needed to try for a different path. I started listening to what God was and who Jesus was and what they meant for my life,” he said. And he had to stop playing music. “Music always took me back to using,” he said. “So I had to take some time away from it. I had to stop playing music — stop being around that kind of lifestyle. I had to learn how I was valued as a person. I had to put the drugs down and be accountable. I began giving thanks and helping others.” Today, Wynn is nearly 11 years clean. He is back into music. He helps homeless, youths and less-fortunate people around town. He gives back. He shares what he has learned in his programs about life, God and Jesus Christ. “Everything came together — I learned the goodness of Jesus,” he said. “And then a lot of opportunities opened up.” “I am happy to be clean and alive,” Wynn said. He will continue to attend his programs and giving back to the community. And he will be forever thankful for the help in turning his life around. “I will never be able to give back what he [Jesus] did for me,” Wynn said. “Now, people are starting to see me as a different person. People accept me as Sam.”
golden years By Harold Miller
Americas’ Golden Years The American Dream is alive and well
n the last century our great country suffered through many threats to our way of life, including World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the following Cold War and the horror of 9/11, the deadliest foreign attack on American soil in history. Now it’s time to take a breath, relax and enjoy what promises to be our golden years. The world is undergoing a new industrial evolution (as opposed to revolution) and landscaping materials the likes of which has never been experienced before. The core of todays’ industrial evolution is computer technology: Artificial intelligence (AI), super computers, quantum computing, data mining, cloud computing and 5G. We have also developed a new source of cleaner, low-cost energy from fracking technology. All these developments will radically change how we live our lives and how our manufacturing and financing works. Medical science is on the verge of amazing breakthroughs over the next 10 years, which will dramatically change cancer treatment and survival, ageing, Alzheimer ’s prevention, healthy living and how medical care is delivered. America is the epicenter for most of this new technology — consequently our financial gain and gross domestic product (GDP) will greatly benefit. In fact, it already has. The rest of the world is hardly in the race. America is on the verge of a technological break-out at least for the next decade. The equity markets have lots of room to run over the long run and the big tech companies (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook) will be the new rocks on which our country will be re-built. Be happy you are an American
right now! Beyond the record-breaking achievements in wealth creation for all levels come record levels in economics, finance and science discovery. The U.S. housing market is on fire now. Refinancing is up 90% over last year and new housing is in short supply in many places. New house construction was up 16.5% in the later part of last year. Housing is the biggest contributor of any sector due to all the ancillary purchases (furniture, appliances, lawnmowers and landscaping materials etc). Today the total economy is very solid, and earnings are solid. The greatest problem the U.S. faces today is that there are very few who can qualify to do the work that has been generated by this explosion of technology. We must begin the necessary training programs immediately or lose the goose that has laid the golden egg. The American Dream is alive and well and our gates are still open to those who wish to partake of it. All that is necessary is that they enter legally, become citizens and obey the laws of our land. Our continued democracy and freedom are delicate things that depend on responsible leaders who will stand by the laws that keeps America the hope of the world. You might want to read David McCullough’s book, “The Pioneers” about the remarkable pilgrim New Englanders who insisted from the beginning that there be absolute freedom of religion, that there be a major emphasis on public education, and slavery be against the law. This declaration would become our Constitution and still is the law of the land. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
life after 55 By Michele Reed email@example.com
Public Transit: Leaving a Smaller Footprint on the Earth
t’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and most of us are old enough to remember where we were April 22, 1970. Local readers may recall Oswego State students parading a gas-guzzler through the city streets and (as legend has it) burying it in front of Culkin Hall. Syracuse University students and city residents had a “sludge trudge” through the streets to highlight pollution. N o w, w i t h c l i m a t e c h a n g e issues front and center in our public consciousness, young people are again leading the way. Activists like Swedish teen Greta Sundberg are urging more sustainable travel, and travelers of all
ages are becoming more and more aware of our carbon footprint. But what are those of us who’ve committed to spending time at a second home, whether as snowbirds in the southern United States or abroad, to do? We own a home in France, where we spend six months of every year. Since, unlike Greta, we don’t know a billionaire with an ocean-worthy sailboat (or the fearlessness of youth to cross the Atlantic in one), we must fly to our second home. But once on the ground, we try to be as sustainable as possible. We don’t own a car and get everywhere by foot or on buses or trains.
From the tower of Elne’s Cathedral, we could see from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea. 42
Photos by Bill Reed
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European public transportation is light years ahead of American versions, with high-speed trains available, even in relatively rural areas like ours, and buses linking towns and villages across France. Our local bus company recently switched to natural gas-powered vehicles, and many of the routes were consolidated to serve greater areas with fewer buses. After a survey of bus usage, the company now uses smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles for routes that have fewer riders. We are fortunate that our home is only a block away from the bus stop, and a 10-minute, 50-cent ride to the city of Beziers. From there we can catch the TGV, or Train Grande Vitesse, the high-speed train, which runs to Paris, Milan or Barcelona several times a day. The Intercite lines take us to cities and towns all over France, and regional transport within Occitanie takes us to even smaller towns and villages not served by the major lines. This makes getting around cheap and easy, and can lead to unexpected discoveries. We learned that lesson early on in our French sojourn. We spent three winters in the town of Argeles-surMer, our home base for bus and train adventures. Sometimes we would make a day of it, like a 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. trip to Avignon, where we saw the Palace of the Popes and the famous Christmas market, before a mad dash through snow-covered streets with a Frenchman as our guide, to catch the last train of the day back home. Other days we spent a leisurely morning shopping at the farmers market, enjoying a fresh lunch at home, and hopping the local bus for an afternoon of adventure. We’d take the bus with no real plan in mind, and see what surprise awaited us at a random stop.
One such adventure landed us in the nearby town of Elne, where we wandered a medieval town rich in history, art and intrigue. Our goal was to see Elne’s cathedral and its cloister, renowned for its carvings. Our first stop was a climb up to the ramparts atop the cathedral. The views were amazing! We could see the Catalans’ holy mountain of Canigou, which is covered in snow most of the year. The Pyrenees Mountains were in plain sight on the horizon, so defenders could scan the peaks for invaders from Spain or smugglers bringing over tobacco and other contraband through the mountain passes. The Mediterranean Sea also was clearly visible, so our medieval defenders would have seen any threat coming from land, sea or mountain. The cloister was like a history lesson in architecture. As we proceeded around it, we moved in time from the 600s and their more primitive carvings to the Gothic area, from the 12th and 13th century. Carvings there were finer and featured trailing vines, animals and intricate patterns. While the carvings were amazing, we also marveled — once again — that it was Feb. 13 and we were in shirtsleeves, enjoying roses blooming in the center garden. A tiny history museum amazed us with the depth of history in this tiny village, occupied since Neolithic times. Hannibal pitched his camp there on his way to cross the Alps with his elephants. A mural boasted Elne’s 27 centuries of history, and the items on display were a remarkably eclectic record of nearly three millennia. Deeds, military dispatches, chronicles were all set out in display cases. One document was dated 1492 – Elne had already been around for more than a thousand years when America was discovered. Out in the bright Mediterranean sunlight again, we wandered through the village, marveling at the pink-andgray striped marble for which the area is known, paving some of the streets. A short bus ride back, and we were home in time to enjoy a dinner of the fresh fruits and vegetables we had bought that morning at market, along with a nice glass of the local red. Not a bad way to do our part to lessen our carbon footprint.
Fanciful carvings top the marble columns at Elne Cathedral’s cloister. We enjoyed the columns, cloister and courtyard of Elne Cathedral.
The cloister at Elne Cathedral was a trip through time from the Roman era to the 13th Century.
A door at Elne Cathedral is bordered by the pink marble the area is known for. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
By Marvin Druger Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marvin Druger Goes to India He shares his thoughts before the trip — and after it Before
am writing the first part of this article about a week before I depart for a trip to India. My grandson Keith is marrying an IndianAmerican woman and the wedding celebration is in Bhubaneswar, India. I am very reluctant to make this trip. First, I have traveled to many places in the world, but India was never on my bucket list. I have read about the overcrowding, poverty, disease and pollution in parts of India. Of course, there are also beautiful sights to see. The plane lands in Delhi and I have recently read that the air pollution is three times that of what is considered hazardous. It is said to be like “a gas chamber” and equivalent to “smoking 50 cigarettes a day.” I bought 3M respirator masks, but even this is frightening, since it says on the box, “Misuse may result in sickness or death.” I’ve had so many preventive shots — hepatitis A and B, shingles, typhoid and tetanus — that I feel like a pin cushion. I have a packet of malaria pills to take during the trip. I also am stocked with Peptol Bismol, an antibiotic, aspirin and other medicallyrelated items. My daughter is packing Ensure, crackers and peanut butter, protein bars and other food items for me. I will have to drink and brush my teeth with only bottled water. Even so, I am told that even Indian people who travel to India experience diarrhea and intestinal ailments. I expect to lose some weight on this trip. Second, despite regular exercise and avoidance of unhealthy habits, I realize that I am no longer a young man and the flight to India is long and stressful, and jet lag will be especially difficult to handle. My daughter arranged for me to travel business class (at my expense) and my granddaughter will also be in business class (at my expense) to watch over me.
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(I remember the days when I watched over her). I do not sleep well on plane flights. I usually am too busy worrying about whether or not the wing will fall off in turbulence, and whether or not the plane will run out of fuel. Once, when I was in business class, I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the fancy contraption that I was sitting in. My companion, Victoria, had to assist me. Third, my digestive system does not do well with Indian food. The food is usually spicy and I have an aversion to spicy food. Some people love spicy Indian food, but not me. Fourth, this ceremony in India is one of three major ceremonies related to the wedding. There already was an engagement celebration in Tennessee, where the bride’s parents live. By any standard, this engagement party was like a wedding. Music, dancing, sarees and Indian food were abundant. The second marriage celebration is the one in India. Then, there will be a third celebration in Tennessee for those individuals who could not make the trip to India. I hoped that included me, but no such luck. Fifth, the trip to India is very expensive, especially for someone who has a Great Depression mentality, common to people of my age. My daughter convinced me to take the money for the trip out of a bank account that I usually don’t use. Her view was that I might as well spend the money when I’m alive since “you can’t take it with you.” My response was, “If I can’t take it with me, then I’m not going.” I even called a physician to ask whether or not I should make this trip. I hoped that he would reinforce my negative feelings about the trip. Instead, he said, “Sure you can go. Have a great time.” I told him that I wanted him to prohibit the trip. He said that, if I really didn’t want to go,
he would write a letter to that effect for me. I asked myself, “Who should he send the letter to? My grandson?” I can add more reasons not to go on this trip, but there are reasons why I am going. First, I love my grandson and he really wants me to be there. My wife died several years ago, and I am the surviving grandfather in the family. I should be at this ceremony. Also, I want to see my grandson and his new bride celebrate their lives together. Second, there really are many beautiful things to see in India, and I will take a photo of me standing outside the Taj Mahal. Third, traveling always brings exciting, interesting and memorable adventures. Sharing such adventures with my family should be fun. Life is short, so it is important to do as much as we can while we can. If we live long enough, we are bound to slow down and get some illness that we don’t want. We should try to do more before we have to do less. Also, we never know what fate lies ahead. So, living for the moment is a good theme, especially for the over-55 generation. My daughter said, “This trip to India will be the trip of a lifetime.” I hope not.
After The trip to India was fascinating. I saw ancient treasures, learned about Indian culture, made many new friends and spent quality time with my family at the wedding festivities. Contrary to the “before” segment of this article, I would highly recommend a trip to India for anyone interested in adventurous, international travel. There were many highlights: n 1. I was thrilled when a security guard at the airport asked me, “Are you over 65?” I responded, “Are you kidding?” and let it go at that, without further explanation.
n 2. Temples were interesting to visit, but the Taj Mahal was something special. The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum, made entirely of luminous white marble, inlaid with colorful stones, in the city of Agra. It is the tomb of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife who died giving birth to her 14th child. Shah Jahan is also buried there. The complex took about 21 years to complete and involved about 20,000 workers. In 2001, the Taj Mahal was listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World. n 3. The wedding festivities of my grandson and his bride Sonia lasted three days. There was a different major event each day and each event required a different outfit. The first day in India was spent shopping for sarees for the women and kurtas (long shirts) for the men. The first event was a dance party; the second day there was a family dinner; the third day’s event was the actual marriage ceremony and a reception. The actual wedding had many intricate components and took hours to complete. Many people didn’t even observe the entire proceedings, but were milling about, feasting on Indian food. Hundreds of photographs were taken at the festivities. A smile was frozen on my face. Dancing and music were part of every event. Despite my advanced age, I joined the festivities and danced energetically to loud, ear-piercing music. A parade of guests danced in the street to the wedding site. The parade surrounded my grandson who was dressed in an elegant sherwani (an Indian frock coat) and sat in a carriage pulled by two white horses. This was truly a wedding celebration. n 4 . I was in Delhi and i n B h u b a n e s w a r. P o v e r t y w a s everywhere. Poor people lived in shanties along the streets. Garbage littered the streets. Beggars knocked on the window of our car and many carried babies to attract attention. Stray dogs were everywhere, plus occasional cows and bulls. In contrast, there were many upscale stores and hotels. We were told only to drink bottled water and eat our meals in the hotel or in reputable restaurants. The contrast between wealth and poverty was striking. I felt ashamed and guilty that I was at a luxurious hotel enjoying wedding festivities, while so many people were
Marvin Druger in front of the Taj Mahal covered in morning fog.
Druger reading his book about “Mr. Money and the Lucky Chicken” to several Indian children at his grandson wedding in India. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
Keith Jamieson, Druger’s grandson, and Sonia Chakrabarty at their wedding in India. in the streets outside, struggling to survive, without any hope for future prosperity. It was sad to realize that the poor people in the streets were also humans and had unique talents that would never be contributed to society. It reinforced my basic belief that nobody is better than someone else. It’s just that some are more fortunate than others. The tragedy is that the poverty in India seems beyond repair. n 5. Traffic was horrendous. There were few traffic lights or stop signs and heavy traffic was everywhere. Motorcycles and three-wheel vehicles zigzagged between cars, and vice versa. To my amazement, I didn‘t see any accidents. I mentioned this to our driver and he said, “What you need to survive in traffic are a horn, brakes and good luck.” He said that low incidence of accidents is what they call the “Indian miracle.” Some cars 46
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The Druger family wearing respirator masks on a van in Dehli, India. “The air pollution in Delhi was suffocating. We had to wear masks all the time, and there was a smoggy mist, making buildings look surreal,” Druger says.
have lemons and chili peppers tied to the front bumper to ward off evil and accidents. n 6. Although air quality in Bhubaneswar was acceptable, the air pollution in Delhi was suffocating. We had to wear masks all the time, and there was a smoggy mist, making buildings look surreal. n 7. The Indian people we met were very friendly and hospitable. They have great respect for older people and, on several occasions, individuals touched my feet (a sign of respect) and bowed their heads to receive a blessing from me. I had to convince myself that I was really not some holy minister. I was impressed by the patriotism of all the Indians we met. They are proud of their country and expressed great love for it. n 8. Since we only ate meals in modern hotels, nobody became ill
from the food. Indeed, some family members liked the food so much that they gained several pounds. Being cautious about eating spicy food, I didn’t eat as much as usual. I lost about three pounds on the trip. I returned home with severe jet lag and a cold that came from the plane trip. Above are only a few of the highlights of my trip to India. I shall always remember my experiences there, and I developed insights about the country and its people. My only regret was that my dear wife, Pat, who died in 2014, was not with me to share this adventure and witness the marriage between her grandson, Keith, and Sonia. This was not only a marriage between two individuals. It was a marriage between two families and two cultures. How wonderful!
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McCauley Mountain in Old Forge is famed for skiing but the ski lift to the summit runs year-round offering panoramic views of the beautiful mountains and lakes.
10 Things to Do in Herkimer County Herkimer County: A diversity of things to see and do By Sandra Scott
rom the Mohawk River to the Adirondack Mountains, Herkimer County has Revolutionary War sites, history, art and several unique sites, including diamond mining for Herkimer Diamonds. The county named for Revolutionary War hero General Nicholas Herkimer offers fun, learning and relaxation for the entire family all months of the year including snowmobiling, hiking, and swimming.
General Herkimer Home: Visit the Georgian-style mansion that was home to General Nicholas Herkimer, the Revolutionary War hero who helped rout the invading British and Loyalist allies at the Battle of Oriskany. Repelling the British invasion along the Mohawk River area led to the unsuccessful completion of the British
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plan to conquer New York state and win the war. The State Historic Site is along the Erie Canal with a visitor center, 18th century garden and Herkimer’s final resting place. It is also home to the county’s historical society.
Erie Canal: The Erie Canal made New York state the Empire State and was responsible for settling the Midwest. Part of the 363-mile canal traverses Herkimer County. Mules no longer pull the canal boats but on one of the various canal boat cruises offered in Herkimer visitors will learn about the canal, its construction and how it influenced the history of the area, as you travel through the lock that was based on the design of Michelangelo.
Diamonds: Go diamond hunting for the unique Herkimer
Diamonds. They are rare doubleterminated quartz crystals found in the area that resemble real diamonds. The local Native American group, the Mohawks, were called “The People of the Crystals.” There are several places to go “hunting” and most will supply you with your own hammer and a bag for your treasures, along with a video on the diamonds and how to best find them. Many of the larger Herkimer Diamonds are on display. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has been known to wear a necklace of Herkimer Diamonds. There are campgrounds adjacent to the mines.
Old Forge: The village is a destination unto itself with some people arriving at the historic train station in nearby Thendara. Old Forge is a year-round destination. McCauley Mountain is famed for
skiing but the ski lift to the summit runs year-round offering panoramic views of the beautiful mountains and lakes. Moose River is noted for white water rafting. Shop at the unique Old Forge Hardware Store and other quaint shops. The mail boat has been delivering mail during the summer on the lake for 100 years and also takes passengers.
For art lovers: The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in Little Falls is a nonprofit organization supporting all art forms located. The 401 Art Gallery has several shows a year including juried art shows. They offer a variety of performances including musical presentations, student performances and readings. The center offers a variety of workshops and classes in watercolor, oil, and representational painting.
Good old days: Check out the only “kissing bridge” in Herkimer County. The Salisbury Center covered bridge is where, in days of yore, young lovers would steal a kiss. It was built in 1875 to span Spruce Creek. Today the Yale-Cade Octagon House is a private home but it is worth a drive by. The adjoining site was the factory of Linus Yale, the inventor of the cylinder lock and founders of the Yale Lock company.
Unique: The Fort Herkimer church, built by Palatine settlers in 1753 of native limestone was used as a defensive structure and refuge
during the American Revolution. There was a swivel gun in the tower and a wooden palisade around the building. In June 1775, the people erected a liberty pole, which may have been one of the first in the state or even the country. A Liberty Pole showed the commitment of the people to the Revolutionary cause. Near Jordanville visit the Holy Trinity Monastery, a male stavropegial monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church. Founded in 1930 the monastery is not cloistered so it is open to the public and welcomes pilgrims and visitors to tour the grounds, visit the museum, and attend services. They also have a seminary to train priests.
Remington Arms Museum: The museum in Ilion showcases the 200-plus year history of the Remington Arms Company. The museum, located at the company’s manufacturing plant, tells the history of the gun industry with exhibits that include antique, modern, and custom firearms. Also included are Remington’s other developments including the Remington Standard Typewriter and the Remington Sewing Machine.
For the fun of it: Enchanted Forest Water Safari with more than 50 rides and attractions is New York state’s largest water theme park. The Old Forge park includes 32 heated water rides offering family fun for all ages plus there are storybook characters, a circus, and private cabanas. Let the fun continue at Calypso’s Cove right next to Enchanted Forest where there are go-Karts, rock climbing, miniature golf, and a zip line. There is a campground and a hotel very close by.
Hunting for Herkimer Diamonds is one of the top attractions in Herkimer County.
Out-of-doors: Herkimer County has a variety of day-use and camping parks. West Canada Creek offers campsite hookups, tenting, and cabins. There is hiking, fishing, and tubing on the West Canada Creek. Hinckley Reservoir offers day use for swimming, picnicking and a variety of sports along with hiking and biking trails. The county is part of the Erie Canalways for biking and hiking.
The historic train station in nearby Thendara in Old Forge.
The Holy Trinity Monastery near Jordanville is open for visitation. April / May 2020 - 55 PLUS
By Alexander Plate
Scott Roby, 66 Planetarium director helps us better understand the universe Q: Could you describe your work at the planetarium? A: “I am the director of the planetarium, which means I am the one in charge of a lot of the shows and the programming, along with my two co-hosts, Richard Frieman and John Zielinski. It takes a lot of dedication to create a planetarium show, especially in the new digital age. We have the capacity to land directly on Mars and look at space from a Martian landscape, so even finding a topic can be a difficult task. For the public shows you have to keep whatever topic you have in mind fairly simple and straightforward. Classes allow you to stretch out a little bit and talk about more complex subject matter. We do shows on all types of topics, from the history of the depiction of space to the movements of star systems. Our shows change monthly, and we run a majority of the year, so we cover a lot.”
things so far away, you truly realize the scale of the universe in relation to yourself, you see that you’re dust, anyone who may annoy me or get in my way is dust on the cosmic scale. It changes the context of how you see things, in a way.” Q: How have things changed for your field in the last decade? A: “Something that everyone is dealing with now is the increased digitization of planetariums and the massive amounts of potential that we now have with them. The old style of planetarium, that’s existed from the very start up to about the 1980s
and 1990s as the mainstay, relied on levers, gears, stationary bulbs, projection spheres and was generally limited in capability. Now, with one incredibly powerful computer, a very high-powered projector and advanced software, you can recreate whatever landscape you can think up, and see the stars and the sky from an uncountable number of perspectives. It can be challenging, but it is very exciting.” Q: What is your major focus, going forward, for yourself and the planetarium? A: “I’m spending my time working on new shows with Frieman and Zielinski. That’s really what we focus on now, is new shows, training them to operate the system and build shows. We occasionally take students on to study the operation of the planetarium with us. I challenge myself to try and do one new thing in the planetarium software every show I build, because it is such a detailed and complex program. I’ve been working with the digital planetarium since Shineman opened in 2013, and I still haven’t gotten to everything.”
Q: What got you interested in the field of astrophysics and the study of space? A: “I grew up during the space race, and when I was looking at what I wanted to do, my first thought was to be an astronaut. That wasn’t going to work out, and I knew that early on, so I focused on the science of it instead and I found a home there. I studied stars and their abundances, or the different concentrations of atomic isotopes in relation to one another, for a number of years in 1980s and 1990s. Since the mid-2000’s, I’ve been more and more involved in the planetarium, eventually taking over.” Q: How has studying space and working in the planetarium changed your worldview? A: “I don’t like to blow things out of proportion, I am just a normal person at the end of the day. However, when you spend your time studying 50
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Scott Roby is a professor of astronomy at SUNY Oswego, and the director of the planetarium program housed in the Shineman Science Center on the Oswego campus.
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