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Recently, Governor O’Malley appointed McPherson to a four-year term serving on the Maryland Commission on Aging. “I’m interested in services for the aging because I’m one of them,” he said. He sees “aging in place” — allowing older adults to remain in their own homes and receive needed services in their community rather than having to move to retirement communities or nursing homes — as a growing and crucial issue. One concern is that the current recession and growing federal budget deficits will lead to reduced federal and state funding for senior programs, said McPherson. “The big fight by advocacy groups is to provide more home services to the elderly, not to have them reduced,” he said. “Although Howard County is considered

MARCH 2012

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Proud to be a political activist By Robert Friedman Michael McPherson’s devotion to Democratic politics began with his first job — at the age of 6 — in his home town of St. Louis. “My family’s next door neighbor was the Democratic ward committeeman, and he was arranging for a meeting in his back yard,” McPherson recalled. “He was paying kids 10 cents to distribute hand bills about the meeting. In 1937, for a kid, 10 cents was a lot of money.” But while it may have all started for pay, McPherson has maintained his allegiance to political activism throughout his life as a volunteer. He has worked on numerous presidential campaigns, even earning the dubious distinction of being placed on Richard Nixon’s “enemies list” after campaigning for the McGovern-Shriver ticket. And today, at 80 (though he looks much younger), McPherson heads the Howard County Democratic Party, putting in about 30 hours a week “just for the love of politics,” he said. In addition to his party work, McPherson has chaired the Howard Cable Advisory Committee for the last four years, and has spent the last 10 years as a member of Maryland’s Advisory Council on Prevailing Wage Rates, which mediates the rate of compensation for workers on state construction projects.

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Michael McPherson heads Howard County’s Democratic Party and serves on the Maryland Commission on Aging, among numerous other public service volunteer positions. The Columbia resident’s career also included jobs as a legislative political director with the AFL-CIO and assistant executive director for the national U.S. Conference of Mayors.

wealthy, we have a lot of lower-income seniors who could be affected” by funding reductions. His goal on the aging commission, he said, is “to allow seniors to continue living with the quality of life similar to what they had during their working days, while not having to worry about the basic essentials.” With all these commitments — all done on a volunteer basis — what does McPherson do in his spare time? “I don’t have any!” he said, without rancor. “I’ve had a good life, I’m in good health, and this is my way of giving back.” Ask him about retirement, and he doesn’t hold back. “Keeping active and making a

contribution help me live longer,” McPherson said. “Mandatory retirement is mandatory senility. If I want to work, let me work.”

A life in politics McPherson started his career in government in the mid-1950s at the National Geospacial Intelligence Agency, where he worked as a photo analyst and cartographer in the agency’s St. Louis office. “We dealt with images, analyzed them, and sent the interpretations to the White House.” he said. Overseas photos taken by America’s U-2 spy planes were involved. See ACTIVIST, page 28

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FITNESS & HEALTH k Stem cells fight blindness k Save on healthcare abroad

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How ill are we really? Having good mental health is probably even if such short-term depression was as important as having good physical brought on due to a medical illness or behealth, if not more so. But reavement. when our mental health is According to a report in “not so good,” would most of the Washington Post, other dius call ourselves ill, as in agnosable mental disorders “mentally ill?” that qualified as mental illSuppose you find it diffiness “could include spidercult to sleep or lose your apphobia and staying upset for a petite for a couple of weeks long time after arguing with because you’ve been diagone’s spouse.” nosed with a serious physical One psychiatrist the Post illness or suffered the loss of FROM THE interviewed about the survey a loved one. Would you say PUBLISHER characterized it as “kind of By Stuart P. Rosenthal alarmist.” Another said he you had a mental illness? Apparently, our governwas “skeptical that rates this ment would, and does. high make sense.” I was rather taken aback to see the reTo be fair, the survey also estimated that cently-released “mental health findings” of only 5 percent of U.S. adults suffered from the National Survey on Drug Use and a “serious mental illness,” defined as a Health. mental illness that results in “serious funcBased on interviews and self-adminis- tional impairment, which substantially intered questionnaires from more than terferes with or limits one or more major 68,000 Americans, the annual survey esti- life activities.” mates that 46 million people in 2010 — 20 Certainly when symptoms interfere percent of adults in the United States — with daily life to a significant extent, a perhad a “diagnosable mental, behavioral or son should take it seriously and seek imemotional disorder” sufficient to consider mediate help. them to suffer from a “mental illness.” But what does that say about the 35 milThis included people with “depressed lion Americans whose “mental illness” was mood or loss of interest or pleasure in not considered “serious?” Presumably, daily activities” lasting two weeks or more, their conditions do not interfere in any

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The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of Howard County, and is privately owned. Other editions serve Greater Baltimore and Greater Washington. Subscriptions are available via third-class mail ($12), prepaid with order. Maryland residents add 6 percent for sales tax. Send subscription order to the office listed below. Publication of advertising contained herein does not necessarily constitute endorsement. Signed columns represent the opinions of the writers, and not necessarily the opinion of the publisher. • Publisher/Editor ....................Stuart P. Rosenthal

substantial way with even one major life activity. And if that’s the case, are we doing ourselves a favor by labeling them, even as a group, with a diagnosis of “mental illness?” I’ve gotten to know enough people over the years to recognize that almost everyone has quirks, tics, skeletons and phobias, many of which have labels in the psychiatric profession’s DSM-IV manual of mental disorders. And I understand why psychiatrists would want to catalogue every possible symptom and disorder. That enables more accurate and comprehensive diagnoses, and presumably helps them develop better treatment plans. I also appreciate that, when even relatively minor or temporary conditions cause a person distress, it is valuable and important to seek help. Therapy, behavioral modification and medications can make a world of difference and vastly improve a person’s quality of life. Still, I’m disturbed when our government utilizes the vast expansion of catalogued disorders to declare that one in five Americans has a mental illness. Just because a condition is “diagnosable” doesn’t mean we as a society necessarily want to stigmatize it. Perhaps the intent of those behind this effort is actually to remove the stigma of the term. If most of us could be classified as suffering from mental illness at one

Letters to the editor Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in the Beacon as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915, or e-mail to barbara@thebeaconnewspapers.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification. BEACON BITS

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• Director of Sales ................................Alan Spiegel • Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King • Managing Editor............................Barbara Ruben • Graphic Designer ..............................Kyle Gregory

CELEBRATE PURIM

The 20th annual Jewish Federation of Howard County Purim carnival, called Purim Palooza, featuring games, crafts, family entertainment and local vendors of services and merchandise will be held on Sunday, March 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Rd., Fulton. All proceeds from the event go to youth scholarships, grants and needy Jewish families. For more information, visit www.jewishhowardcounty.org or call (410) 730-4976.

• Associate Publisher..............Judith K. Rosenthal • Vice President, Operations........Gordon Hasenei

time or another, then being (or having been) mentally ill would actually become “normal.” If anyone asked me, however, I’d say let’s do what we can to help everyone overcome their psychological and emotional limitations and issues — but hold back on the labels, please. By the way, I was intrigued to see tables in the government’s report that indicated the older one gets, the less likely one is to exhibit symptoms of mental illness. That applies not only to “any mental illness,” but also to serious mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and major depressive episodes. The highest incidence of all such conditions was found among 18 to 25 year olds, while the lowest incidence was among those 50 and older. At the same time, those 50 and older were the most likely to seek treatment for any such symptoms. The two probably go together. With age comes perspective, experience and a certain wisdom about life that, one hopes, helps keep anxiety, fear and panic at bay. At the same time, older adults have lived long enough to know that taking action to address a problem is the first step in solving it.

Mar. 16

BESTSELLING AUTHOR SPEAKS AT LIBRARY

Friends of Howard County Library will present international bestselling author Jodi Picoult (The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, My Sister’s Keeper) in a program discussing her latest novel Lone Wolf on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Visit www.hclibrary.org for seating arrangements and details of a book signing raffle, or call (410) 313-1950 for more information.

• Advertising Representatives ........Doug Hallock, ...................................................................... Steve Levin

The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915 (410) 248-9101 • Email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com Submissions: The Beacon welcomes reader contributions. Deadline for editorial and advertising is the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. See page 31 for classified advertising details. Please mail or email all submissions.

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OPPORTUNITIES IN THE SCHOOLS

The Howard County Public School System welcomes grandparents, retirees and seniors to take part in school and system activities. “Golden Opportunities” is a free electronic newsletter containing high school performance listings, volunteer opportunities, system-wide news and other features of particular interest to the senior community. The latest issue and registration instructions are available at www.hcpss.org/golden.


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Health Fitness &

NEW PNEUMONIA VACCINE The FDA has approved the vaccine Prevnar for use in those over 50 CLASS FOR STROKE PATIENTS Four county senior centers offer a free exercise class as part of a study HEART HEALTH HELP Harvard doctors answer reader questions on exercise, aspirin HOT TIPS TO REDUCE COLDS Try probiotics, vitamins C and D, zinc and elderberry to support immunity

Stem cells may restore vision in the blind By Alicia Chang Two legally blind women appeared to gain some vision after receiving an experimental treatment using embryonic stem cells, scientists reported in January. While embryonic stem cells were first isolated more than a decade ago, most of the research has been done in lab animals. The new results come from the first tests in humans for a vision problem. Researchers caution the work is still very preliminary. “This study provides reason for encouragement, but plans to now get such a treatment would be premature,” said stem cell expert Paul Knoepfler of the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the research.

“Incurable” conditions improved Last summer, each patient was injected

in one eye with cells derived from embryonic stem cells at the University of California, Los Angeles. One patient had the “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness. The other had a rare disorder known as Stargardt disease that causes serious vision loss. There’s no cure for either eye problem. After four months, both showed some improvement in reading progressively smaller letters on an eye chart. The Stargardt patient, a graphic artist in Los Angeles, went from seeing no letters at all to being able to read five of the largest letters. However, experts said the improvement of the macular degeneration patient might be mostly psychological, because the vision in her untreated eye appeared to get better, too.

Both patients remain legally blind despite their improvements, said experts not connected with the study.

A small safety study only “One must be very careful not to overinterpret the visual benefit,” said Vanderbilt University retina specialist Dr. Paul Sternberg, who is also the president-elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The findings were published online by the journal Lancet. This early test was meant to study whether the stem cell therapy was safe in people and not whether it would improve vision. Scientists at UCLA and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), which funded the work, said they were pleased that there have been no signs of rejection or abnor-

mal growth months after the procedure. Embr yonic stem cells can transform into any cell of the body. Scientists are hoping to harness embr yonic stem cells to create a variety of replacement tissues for transplant, but their use has been controversial because human embr yos have to be destroyed to har vest the cells. The latest news comes two months after Geron Corp. halted its stem cell-based experiment for spinal cord injuries, saying it planned to focus instead on two experimental cancer drugs. Meanwhile, ACT is pushing ahead with its blindness study. The company said that surgeons in London injected stem cells into a patient with Stargardt disease recently. —AP

Medicare debate is all about the boomers By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Baby boomers take note: Medicare as your parents have known it is headed for big changes no matter who wins the White House in 2012. You may not like it, but you might have to accept it. Dial down the partisan rhetoric, and surprising similarities emerge from competing policy prescriptions by President Barack Obama and leading Republicans such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Limit the overall growth of Medicare spending? It’s in both approaches. Squeeze more money from upper-income retirees and some in the middle-class? Ditto. Raise the eligibility age? That too, if the deal is right. With more than 1.5 million baby boomers a year signing up for Medicare, the program’s future is one of the most important economic issues for anyone now 50 or older. Healthcare costs are the most unpredictable part of retirement, and Medicare remains an exceptional deal for retirees, who can reap benefits worth far more than the payroll taxes they paid in during their careers.

Finances will force change “People would like to have what they

used to have. What they don’t seem to understand is that it’s already changed,” said Gail Wilensky, a former Medicare administrator and adviser to Republicans. “Medicare as we have known it is not part of our future.” Two sets of numbers underscore that point. First, Medicare’s giant trust fund for inpatient care is projected to run out of money in 2024. At that point, the program will collect only enough payroll taxes to pay 90 percent of benefits. Second, researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the more than $500 billion that Medicare now spends annually is wasted on treatments and procedures of little or no benefit to patients. Taken together, that means policymakers can’t let Medicare keep running on autopilot, and they’ll look for cuts before any payroll tax increases.

Privatization pros and cons Privatization is the biggest divide between Democrats and Republicans. Currently about 75 percent of Medicare recipients are in the traditional government-run, fee-for-service program, and 25 percent are in private insurance plans known as Medicare Advantage.

Ryan’s original approach, part of a budget plan the House passed last spring, would have put 100 percent of future retirees into private insurance. His latest plan, developed with Sen. Ron Wyden, DOre., would keep traditional Medicare as an option, competing with private plans. Older people would get a fixed payment they could use for private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Proponents call it “premium support.” To foes, it’s a voucher. Under both of Ryan’s versions, people now 55 or older would not have to make any changes. GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich praise his latest plan. How would it work? Would it save taxpayers money? Would it shift costs to retirees as Ryan’s earlier plan did? Would Congress later phase out traditional Medicare? Those and other questions must still be answered. “I’m not sure anybody has come up with a formula on this that makes people comfortable,” said health economist Marilyn Moon, who formerly served as a trustee helping to oversee Medicare finances. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Wyden-Ryan plan “would end Medicare as we know it for millions of seniors,” causing the traditional program to

“wither on the vine.”

Healthcare overhaul’s role But what administration officials don’t say is that Obama’s healthcare law already puts in place one of Ryan’s main goals by limiting future increases in Medicare spending. Ryan would do it with a fixed payment for health insurance, adjusted to allow some growth. In theory that compels consumers and medical providers to be more cost-conscious. Obama does it with a powerful board that can force Medicare cuts to service providers if costs rise beyond certain levels and Congress fails to act. Like several elements of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, the Independent Payment Advisory Board is in limbo for now, but it is on the books. If the board survives Republican repeal attempts, it could become one of the government’s most important domestic agencies. The White House wants to keep the existing structure of Medicare while “twisting the dials” to control spending, said a current Medicare trustee, economist Robert Reischauer of the Urban Institute think tank. Ryan’s latest approach is arguably an evoSee MEDICARE DEBATE, page 5


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How you can save on healthcare abroad

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If you’re considering medical travel, your first stop should be the book Patients Beyond Borders by Josef Woodman, a comprehensive guide to medical travel with information about the best international hospitals and clinics. A newly revised edition is due out in March (about $16 on Amazon.com). The organization (www.patientsbeyondborders.com) also offers one-on-one advice in free 15-minute consultations or

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more in-depth advice for $250. Some medical tourists prefer to arrange a trip with the help of facilitators, or brokers. Many work with networks of hospitals, doctors and clinics with which they’ve negotiated discounted rates. But be careful. The industry is unregulated, and anyone can hang out a shingle. Look for a long track record and satisfied customers, an affiliation with major insurers or employers, or safeguards against bias in recommendations. Brokers should thoroughly inspect the facilities they recommend. For example, David Boucher, the CEO of Companion

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lution of the current Medicare Advantage private insurance program, not a radical change, Reischauer said. That’s particularly so if traditional Medicare remains an option. “In the hot and heavy political debate we are in, participants are exaggerating the difference between the proposals,” he said. During failed budget negotiations with Republicans last summer, Obama indicated a willingness to make more major changes to Medicare, including gradually raising the age of eligibility to 67, increasing premiums for many beneficiaries, revamping co-pay-

ments and deductibles in ways that would raise costs for retirees, and cutting payments to drugmakers and other providers. “I was surprised by how much the president was willing to offer in terms of Medicare changes without a more thorough vetting and discussion,” said Moon. Obama says he will veto any plan to cut Medicare benefits without raising taxes on the wealthy. Democrats are still hoping to use Ryan’s privatization plans as a political weapon against Republicans, but the Medicare debate could cut both ways. For the 76 million baby boomers signing up over the next couple of decades, it will pay to be watching. — AP

Or you can always deduct the cost of qualified procedures that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. It’s rare that U.S. insurance is accepted by overseas care providers.

From page 4

Many hospitals abroad are world-class facilities that roll out the red carpet for medical tourists. Bumrungrad International Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the biggest, boasting more than 400,000 international patient visits per year. Many of its 900 doctors completed fellowships or residencies in the U.S.; some 200 are U.S. board-certified, and nearly all speak English. The hospital’s International Medical Coordination Office will schedule procedures, attend to family logistics and coordinate follow-up care. Bumrungrad will even send someone to pick you up at the airport. Facilities don’t have to be huge to be attractive. The Barbados Fertility Centre is the smallest hospital to receive accreditations by the Joint Commission International, the global arm of the Joint Commission, the major hospital accrediting body in the U.S. The appeal of medical travel is obvious for the uninsured and under-insured. Travel is also appealing to workers with highdeductible health plans. Not only might they save a bundle abroad, but they can use tax-free dollars from a health savings account to pay for care (and some of the travel), provided the procedures meet Internal Revenue Service criteria for qualified medical expenses. (To see what the IRS permits, visit www.irs.gov/publications/p502.)

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By Anne Kates Smith Last year, more than a half-million U.S. residents got medical care abroad, according to Patients Beyond Borders, a consumer advisory service. That number is likely to grow at a 25 to 35 percent annual rate. Some procedures lend themselves to international travel. The five most-popular overseas procedures are cosmetic surgery, dentistry, orthopedics, weight-loss surgery, and in vitro fertilization and other reproductive services. Complex procedures that require lengthy recuperation (think bone-marrow transplants) are problematic. Cancer is a gray area, with travel dictated less often by potential cost savings and more often by the desire to undergo treatment close to friends and family. Even with lower-stakes procedures, costs can add up. It makes more sense to travel for four dental implants than for two because you have to make a second trip to get crowns on the implants. A good rule of thumb, according to experts, is that cost savings should be at least $5,000 to $6,000 to make a trip worthwhile. Medical care overseas is cheaper in many places because the cost of living is lower than in the U.S. Efficiencies are often greater overseas as well. In Singapore, you’ll find few general hospitals, for instance. Most medical procedures are performed in specialized centers.


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Do any supplements really boost energy? Do you feel tired or run-down? Do you lack the energy you used to have? If so, you’re part of a large group. Fatigue is one of the most common problems patients report to their doctors. As many as 14 percent of men and 20 percent of women say they feel “frequently fatigued,” and in a survey of more than 17 million people 51 and older, 31 percent reported the symptom of fatigue. Go to the store, and you’ll see a multitude of vitamins, herbs and other supplements touted as energy boosters. Some are even added to soft drinks and other foods for this purpose. Especially popular are supplements con-

taining ginkgo biloba, ginseng, guarana, chromium picolinate, vitamin B12, DHEA, coenzyme Q10 and creatine. Even ephedra, which was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration several years ago, remains available on the Internet.

Medical tourism

work, staffers have no incentive to recommend one over another. Most patients pay for concierge service that costs $100 per day for the first three days and $75 a day thereafter. Be aware that in some countries, doctors may use products that are of lower quality than ones required in the U.S., such as certain types of silicone implants and cosmetic injections. Infection is a leading cause of complications — as it is in U.S. hospitals.

From page 5 Global Healthcare (www.companionglobalhealthcare.com), said that Companion physically visits every hospital in its network and that his company does not accept referral fees from hospitals. Instead, patients pay a $700 case-management fee, in addition to the cost of travel and medical care. Planet Hospital (www.planethospital.info) typically recommends three or four hospitals for you to choose from, and although the company is paid by the hospitals in its net-

Evidence is slim, conflicting There’s little or no scientific evidence to support the claims for most of these substances. The fact is, the only pill that’ll boost your energy is one containing a stimulant, such as caffeine. And the effects of these stimulants wear off within hours. The same holds true for drinks touted as energy boosters. Most contain a combi-

Do your homework Whether you travel for care on your own

nation of vitamins, as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, and lots of sugar. Furthermore, supplements (including herbs, vitamins, and other substances) aren’t subject to quality control by the U.S. government. The FDA doesn’t regulate their content, purity or effectiveness. It’s up to the individual manufacturers to police the purity and content of their own products. Here’s a look at what studies suggest about some substances commonly touted as energy boosters: 1. Ginkgo biloba. Derived from the maidenhair tree, ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine

and is now a common dietary supplement in Western countries. Its effects on cognition (thinking), mood, alertness and memory have been the subject of many studies, but many of those studies have not been of high quality. A 2007 Cochrane Collaboration review of the better studies found evidence too weak to conclude that ginkgo biloba improved cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies suggest ginkgo biloba may improve some aspects of mood, including alertness and calmness, in healthy subjects. Regarding memory, evidence is conflicting.

or with help, insist on a few things. Accreditation by the Joint Commission International is a must. (More than 400 public and private healthcare organizations in 39 countries are accredited or certified by JCI.) Look for English-speaking patient representatives. And ask your doctor the same questions you’d ask a doctor anywhere: Where were you trained? How many of these procedures have you done? Who makes the implants you’ll use? Ask if you can contact the doctor before, during and after care. Before you go, arrange for the transfer of medical records

and for after-care in the U.S. Insurers, facilitators, and clinics and hospitals may try to reduce or eliminate their liability in case of malpractice, so read the paperwork carefully. Foreign medical arbitration systems often drag out the process, and if you do get compensation, don’t be surprised if it’s much less than what you’d expect in the U.S. Anne Kates Smith is a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. © 2012 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

See ENERGY BOOSTERS, page 7

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — M A R C H 2 0 1 2

Energy boosters From page 6 2. Ginseng. This is a relatively safe and popular herb, said to reduce fatigue and enhance stamina and endurance. Data from human studies are sparse and conflicting. Some studies report that ginseng improves mood, energy and physical and intellectual performance. Other research concludes it doesn’t improve oxygen use or aerobic performance, or influence how quickly you bounce back after exercising. 3. Guarana. This herb induces a feeling of energy because it’s a natural source of caffeine. But consuming a lot of guarana, especially if you also drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages, could ultimately lower your energy by interfering with sleep. 4. Chromium picolinate. This trace mineral is widely marketed to build muscle, burn fat, and increase energy and athletic performance, but research has not supported these claims. 5. Vitamin B12. Some people take vitamin B12 by injection or pills as a way to get a quick energy burst, but most experts

attribute any results to the placebo effect. Unless you have a B12 deficiency, taking shots or supplements is unlikely to make a difference. 6. DHEA. Sometimes marketed as a “fountain of youth,” this naturally occurring hormone is said to boost energy as well as prevent cancer, heart disease, and infectious disease — among other things. The truth is that supplemental DHEA has no proven benefits and some potentially serious health risks, such as lowering levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and increasing levels of testosterone, which can encourage acne and facial hair growth in women. Some research shows DHEA can damage the liver. Because this hormone is related to estrogen and testosterone, there is also concern that it may increase the risk for breast and prostate cancers. It’s wise to avoid taking DHEA until further research clarifies its side effects. 7. Coenzyme Q10. This enzyme is found in mitochondria, the energy factories of our cells. Supplements have been shown to improve exercise capacity in people with heart disease and may do the

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same in people with rare diseases that affect the mitochondria. One small European study in 2009 suggested that people with chronic fatigue syndrome might benefit from supplementation with coenzyme Q10, but more research is needed on this topic. 8. Ephedra. Although this product was banned by the FDA in 2004 because of major safety concerns, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke, it remains available for sale on the Internet. Any effectiveness ephedra may have in terms of boosting energy probably results from two substances it contains —

ephedrine and pseudoephedrine — which may increase alertness. However, there is no safe amount of ephedra you can consume. If you want to boost your energy by stimulating your central nervous system, a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage will work just as well. For information about the supplement creatine, see “Is creatine worth taking?” on page 9. From Harvard Special Report: Boosting Your Energy © 2012 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Want to Prevent Falls in the Elderly? Seeking Men and Women to participate in a research study at the University of Maryland &Veterans Affairs of Baltimore to better understand balance and the prevention of falls in aging individuals. You will receive:

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Health Shorts FDA adds warning to heart rhythm drug Federal health officials have added new safety warnings to the heart rhythm drug Multaq, after a company study by Sanofi linked the tablet to higher rates of heart attack, stroke and death in a subset of patients. The boxed warning highlights the results of a study in which Multaq doubled the risk of heart-related complications in patients with permanent atrial fibrillation — a condition in which the heart’s chambers pump out of sync.

The revised label stresses that Multaq is only approved for the short-term form of the condition and a related ailment known as atrial flutter. Despite such language, doctors routinely prescribe drugs for conditions not listed on the labeling approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The label, written by the FDA in cooperation with drugmaker Sanofi, instructs doctors to check patients’ heart rhythm at least once every three months. If patients appear to have the permanent form of atrial fibrillation, Multaq should be discontinued. The FDA said that Multaq remains a beneficial drug when used appropriately. In the study that triggered the warning, Sanofi recorded 25 deaths in the Multaq group compared with 13 in the placebo group. All 3,200 the patients in the study

Heartlands: a home that touches your heart

Here’s what two of our residents have to say about Heartlands Senior Living Village Father Roman: I don’t think I could find a better place than this one. I am not saying this because somebody’s telling me to; I’m saying it from my heart.” Edna Murray: It’s just a place that has touched me as home.”

At Heartlands Ellicott City, you will find: • Cottages with updated kitchens, walk-in closet and three-season porch • On-site medical services and wellness center • State-of-the-art fitness and rehab center with indoor pool and spa

• Recreational and cultural events, trips and scheduled transportation • Gazebo, patio, pond and fountain • Shopping and medical centers nearby • And more...

For a complimentary lunch and personal tour, please call Hannah Reed at (410) 461-9494

M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

were older than 65 and had permanent atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and a frequent contributor to stroke. The French drugmaker estimates there are 2.5 million atrial fibrillation patients in the U.S., and another 4.5 million in the EU. About 278,000 people in the U.S. have received prescriptions for Multaq as of last October, according to the FDA. Sanofi reported about $224 million in sales for the drug in 2010, with most prescriptions written in the U.S. Since 2010, the FDA has approved two other drugs for atrial fibrillation: Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pradaxa. Both drugs are marketed as alternatives to the hard-to-use warfarin, a 60-year old drug that doctors often prescribe for atrial fibrillation. Too much warfarin can cause dangerous internal bleeding, and too little can result in strokes. — AP

Pneumonia vaccine for those over 50 Federal regulators recently approved for use in adults 50 and over a pneumonia vaccine previously used only for infants and young children. The announcement late last year from the FDA that it has approved Pfizer Inc.’s best-selling Prevnar 13 vaccine for such use was widely anticipated. It came shortly after a panel of federal health experts voted overwhelmingly to recommend Prevnar 13 as a safe and effective vaccine to prevent pneumococcal bacteria infections in adults. Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of the bacteria, which cause meningitis, pneumonia and ear infections. While used mostly in children for the past 10 years, the FDA said 300,000 adults 50 or older are hospitalized every year for pneumococcal pneumonia. “The FDA approval of Prevnar 13 for these adults offers the potential to contribute to the health of millions of aging

Americans,” Ian Read, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. Some 5,000 older adults succumb to the disease annually, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevnar, which was first approved in 2000, is a conjugated vaccine, which means it contains pneumococcal bacteria bound to a protein. The addition of the protein helps the body’s immune system recognize the bacteria, especially in babies. The drug also has received approval for adults 50 and older in the European Union, Australia, Mexico and more than 10 other countries, Pfizer said. — AP

Sugar helps researchers destroy cancer cells It’s a heavy price to pay for a sweet tooth. Researchers have tricked glucose-eating cancer cells into consuming a sugar that essentially poisons them; it leaves a “suicide” switch within the cells open to attack. “Most cancer cells rely almost exclusively on glucose to fuel their growth,” said Guy Perkins of the University of California at San Diego. With Rudy Yamaguchi of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, Perkins found the cells would take up a similar sugar called 2-deoxyglucose. But this sugar physically dislodges a protein within the cell that guards a suicide switch. Once exposed, the switch can be activated by a drug called ABT-263. This kills the cell by liberating proteins that order it to commit suicide, according to the research published in the journal Cancer Research. The approach could ultimately spell doom for several types of cancer, including liver, lung, breast and blood. In mice, the treatment made aggressive human prostate cancer tumors virtually disappear within days. Yamaguchi and Perkins are now hoping to mount a clinical trial at UC San Diego. — New Scientist

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Free exercise class for stroke patients By Barbara Ruben When Cynthia Toney suffered a stroke a day after Christmas in 2006, she lost the use of her right arm and leg. Physical therapy helped get her on her feet, but her insurance paid for only three months of help. The Columbia resident still has a limp and wears a brace on her wrist. So when Toney saw a listing last fall for a free exercise class at Howard County senior centers for those who have had a stroke, she signed up immediately. The class is part of a study sponsored by the Veterans Administration and is offered at four locations — the Bain Center in Columbia, Ellicott City Senior Center, Glenwood Senior Center in Cooksville and Laurel Senior Center.

Two types of exercise studied Researchers conducting the study want to know if a program of “adapted physical activity” (APA) will help stroke patients recover more function than a less vigorous group exercise program called Sittercize. The APA program, which was developed in Italy, is designed specifically for people with walking problems due to a stroke. Exercises are progressive, beginning with a five-minute walk at the beginning and end of each class and gradually progressing to two 15-minute walks. The program also includes work to improve balance and seated exercise. Participants are also expected to exercise at home on their own two to three days a week in addition to the class. The Sittercize class was not developed specifically for stroke patients. It consists of seated exercise, focusing on stretching to improve general range of motion and weight exercises to strengthen the trunk, arms and legs. There is no assigned exercise homework with this group. Both classes meet three days per week for one hour at a time for a six-month period. Participants are randomly assigned to one of the two types of classes. Toney was placed in the Sittercize group, and she said she has seen improvement in her arm function since the class began in October. “The first day, I thought, ‘this isn’t for me,’ that it wouldn’t help me,” said Toney,

BEACON BITS

Feb. 28

HIP REPLACEMENT OPTIONS

Dr. Charles Mess, Jr. will discuss the latest techniques for treating hip arthritis and benefits of the anterior surgical approach on Tuesday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center in the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. The program is free, but registration is required at www.hcgh.org. For more information, call (410) 740-7601.

54. “But now I really love it and I’m able to lift my arm a little higher, and can lift 2 ½ pounds when I could only lift a pound before. We laugh a lot. We talk. I really like the people.” Progress in balance, walking and other ambulatory activities will be measured periodically during the study.

Who can take part? To qualify for the study and the class, participants must have had an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke at least six months before the class begins. They must have already completed all conventional inpatient and outpatient physical therapy, and be able to rise from a chair without an assistive device. Patients are disqualified from the study if they have unstable angina, certain types of congestive heart failure, or have had a

heart attack within the last three months. They also cannot have orthopedic, circulatory or chronic pain conditions that restrict exercise, nor can they have active cancer or poorly controlled hypertension. Those with dementia, non-stroke neurological disorders that impair mobility, such as MS or Parkinson’s, and untreated clinical de-

pression also are not eligible to participate. Enrollment for the next session of classes continues until April 1. The class is free, but no compensation is offered for participation. To learn more about the class or to see if you qualify, call Jessica Hammers at (410) 637-3279.

BEACON BITS

Mar. 14+

HEARING LOSS SUPPORT

The SPRING program will offer strategies to cope with hearing loss as well as information on hearing aids and assistive devices in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Speech and Hearing. There is a fee of $30 for the six-week program. The first session is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia. For more information call Elaine Widom at (410) 313-7283 or email her at ewidom@howardcountymd.gov.

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Inter-Ear Technology Inter-Ear Telephone • Wireless • Wireless – Imagine hearing aids that Use – Imagine placing the communicate wirelessly with each other, instantly and constantly, providing the clearest and most natural sound quality possible.

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telephone to one ear and hearing with both ears. Wireless Inter-Ear Directional • Hearing – Imagine driving or being the passenger in the car and using the directional microphone “pointer” technology, which allows you to focus on the speech you want to hear; such as the conversation behind you or to your side.

– Dr. Ron Kaplan (Doctor of Audiology) Connectivity to • Wireless Cellular Telephones — Imagine hearing aids that allow you to hear your cell phone in both ears and talk without ever touching your cellular telephone. connectivity to TV — • Wireless Imagine your hearing aids becoming the highest quality headphones for listening to TV.

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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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What should I do to reduce risk of colds? Dear Pharmacist: nose and mouth. I also recommend keepEvery winter I worry about catching ing antibacterial lotion or wipes handy. cold and flu. What are With that, here are some of some simple steps I can my top vitamin recommendatake to keep my immune tions to help support immunisystem healthy? ty: — L.F., Alexandria, Va. Probiotics: These are Dear L.F.: beneficial bacteria that natuPreventing the spread of rally help maintain immune germs is job one. If you feel system wellness. They also any symptoms of a cold, aid in proper digestion. please stay home and deleVitamin C: The human gate your errands to a friend body doesn’t make vitamin C, DEAR or relative. Also, keep your PHARMACIST so it’s important that we get it distance from other individu- By Suzy Cohen from other sources such as als home with you, such as supplements, citrus fruits or your husband or child, who vegetables (bell peppers are a could potentially fall ill. good source). It’s a strong antioxidant that Being mindful of this could have lasting does “housekeeping” on your cells and benefits if you consider the fact that anoth- helps support the immune system. er person who catches your cold could end Vitamin D: Getting your Vitamin D up with pneumonia should they have a weak immune system. If you have to cough or sneeze, please do so into the crook of your elbow. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and for at least 30 seconds. To protect yourself, while shopping for bargains at the mall, or waiting in airport security lines, or anywhere for that matter, keep your hands away from your eyes,

from sunlight isn’t always reliable, especially if you use sun block to protect your skin or live in a state with a long winter. Most people don’t realize that Vitamin D is mostly obtained from fortified foods. A Vitamin D supplement can provide added support. Try 1,000 to 5,000 IUs, but ask your doctor first to confirm the amount. You want the bio-active form, “Vitamin D3,” and high-quality supplements say that on the label. Zinc: This mineral is a strong antioxidant best known for supporting prostate health, but it also happens to neutralize free radicals. It may reduce the duration of a cold. Elderberr y extract: This herb has been revered for centuries and is best known for its anti-viral effects. Two separate studies have found that it can inhibit influenza if taken during the first 48 hours

of symptoms. Echinacea: Related to daisies, this herbal supplement is thought to rev up the immune system, thereby lowering risk of infection. Recommended dosage is usually in cycles, not every single day. When choosing dietary supplements, seek out brands that are committed to science-based protocols for product development and testing. Be sure to ask your healthcare professional or pharmacist what supplements are best for you, especially if you take medications. This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit www.dearpharmacist.com.

BEACON BITS

Mar. 30

FREE VASCULAR SCREENING

Baltimore Washington Medical Center is offering free vascular screenings for carotid artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysms and peripheral arterial disease for persons 50 or older. The screenings will be held on Friday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Laurel 50+ Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd., Laurel. Attendance is limited to 50 people. For a reservation, call (410) 787-4367.

Mar. 5

AGE-RELATED EYE CONCERNS

So small and comfortable - just wear and forget.

Wilmer Eye Institute expert Dr. David Baranano will discuss normal and abnormal changes that impact vision as you age and share ways of promoting healthy eyes in a talk on Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center in the Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. The program is free, but registration is required at www.hcgh.org. For more information, call (410) 740-7601.

Join us for a “Nothing to See, Everything to Hear” Event! 3 Days Only! March 13-15, 2012 Dr. Mary Carson, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology

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You’re on top of your medications. But we make a good back up. You know it’s important to stay on your medications exactly as prescribed. However, if you miss a dose, want a lower-cost alternative, or experience any side effects, we can answer any questions. Speak to your local CVS Pharmacist to learn more. Find a store near you at www.cvs.com

M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — M A R C H 2 0 1 2

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Questions and answers on heart health From Harvard Health Letters Q. I’ve read that if you take aspirin every day, stopping it temporarily increases your chance of having a heart attack even higher than it would have been if you had never taken aspirin. Is that true? If I need to stop taking aspirin for some reason, is there a safer way to do it than stopping cold turkey? A. What you are describing is sometimes called the rebound effect or rebound phenomenon. It occurs when a person stops taking a medication and the symptoms or problem that the medication had controlled reappear, but more severely than before the person started taking the medication. Although a rebound effect has been seen with some beta blockers and some sedatives used to treat insomnia, it is unlikely this happens with aspirin. Aspirin helps prevent heart attacks and the most common form of stroke (ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot) by making platelets in the bloodstream less “sticky.” It does this by inactivating an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). Without this enzyme, platelets have a difficult time sticking to each other, a key step in the formation of a blood clot inside an artery. In most people, a single low dose of aspirin (81 milligrams) is enough to inactivate all of the COX in all of the platelets circulating through the bloodstream. The effect of a single dose lasts for several days, as older COX-inactivated platelets are removed from circulation and new COXactive platelets enter circulation. That makes an immediate “withdrawal effect” un-

likely to happen. It isn’t necessary, then, to taper off aspirin, as is recommended for beta blockers. Among individuals who have had a heart attack or ischemic stroke, or who are at high risk for having one, aspirin offers proven protection for the heart and arteries. If you need it, take it every day and don’t stop unless you are experiencing harmful side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, or you are due to have an operation in which excess bleeding would be especially hazardous, such as brain surgery. In that case, your doctor will recommend that you stop taking aspirin a week beforehand — no tapering off needed. —Kenneth A. Bauer, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass. Q. I had a pacemaker implanted a few months ago. I’m planning to join a gym to get back some strength in my arms and upper body, but I’m afraid of damaging the wires with some of the presses and pull-down movements I’d have to do to work out on the gym’s machines. Are there any exercises or movements I should avoid? A. It’s great that you want to exercise and improve your upper-body strength. You just need to be a bit more careful going about it than someone without a pacemaker. Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) have two basic working parts — the generator, which is implanted under the skin between the shoulder and chest, and one or more wires

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that stretch from the generator to the heart. These wires, called leads, are designed and built to flex and move freely when the arm or shoulder nearest the pacemaker or ICD moves. Like all mechanical devices, leads are subject to wear and tear. It is minimal with the routine movements of everyday life, but can be substantial with repetitive arm movements. Using arm-strengthening machines, rowing, lifting weights and the like cause the lead to bend and relax repeatedly at the same spot. Over time, this can damage the lead. Activity that involves excessive extension of the arm nearest the pacemaker or ICD, like using an overhead press machine or doing some yoga positions, poses

a different problem. It can crush the lead between the collarbone and the first rib. I tell my patients that they can and should do upper-arm exercises, but not go crazy with them. A moderate session once a week at the gym should be fine. Ask if a trainer can show you exercises that are suitable for someone with a pacemaker. Weightlifting with repetitive flexing of the chest muscle on the side where the device is implanted is ill-advised. —Peter Zimetbaum, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass. © 2012 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Not hungry but still want to eat? Some tips Q: You’ve talked about tuning in to loneliness or boredom with food. hunger signals to guide my portion Set aside time when you are not in the sizes. But what can I do midst of one of these urges to when I feel like eating even make a list of things other though I’m not hungry? I than food that might meet the think that’s the root of my need. For example, you could excess weight. take a crossword puzzle break A: Great job at tuning in to from challenging work, do hunger signals! People can deep breathing, or phone a feel like eating — despite lack good friend when feeling of hunger — for a variety of stressed. reasons. The next step, when Here’s a little trick: Behavyou realize that you are not ioral therapists often note that hungry, but feel an urge to eat NUTRITION this desire to eat when not WISE anyway, is to tune in again. hungry tends to come in a Can you figure out what’s By Karen Collins, wave. If you aren’t truly hunbehind the urge? Maybe you MS, RD, CDM gry, the urge will usually pass are actually thirsty and simply if you can distract yourself need to drink more water. Or is more sleep with something else for a little while. what you really need? You might be trying So when the urge comes to eat and you to address feelings such as stress, anger, are not hungry, check your pre-planned

distraction ideas list and try one of the possibilities there before you head for food. Q: Is frozen spinach as nutritious as fresh spinach? A: If you will be serving spinach cooked, don’t hesitate to use the frozen product. Fresh spinach that is truly fresh is the form highest in folate, a B vitamin that may help prevent cancer and heart disease. However, a study at Pennsylvania State University shows that when fresh spinach sits in a truck for transportation long distances, or sits in your refrigerator for a week, folate content drops so much that frozen spinach becomes the better source. Research is inconsistent about whether or not content of beta-carotene and other carotenoids drops during storage of fresh spinach, but does suggest that betacarotene stays level when spinach is frozen. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin C.

Cook by steaming, microwaving, stirfrying or sautéing to retain folate and vitamin C, since boiling spinach in a pot of water can cut content in half. When using frozen spinach, you can reduce vitamin C losses by cooking it directly from the freezer without thawing it first. Frozen spinach is easy to keep on hand and provides an easy way to boost nutrition in soup, pasta sauce, eggs and casseroles. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a Nutrition Hotline, 1-800- 843-8114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will return your call, usually within three business days. Courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Questions for this column may be sent to “Nutrition Wise,” 1759 R St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Collins cannot respond to questions personally.

BEACON BITS

Mar. 22

ONE-ON-ONE COMPUTER HELP

High school seniors from the PC Systems Academy will offer one-on-one assistance to older adults to help set up, use and maintain their personal computers. The class will meet on Thursday, March 22 at 11 a.m. at the Longwood Senior Center, 6150 Foreland Garth, Columbia, and transportation will be provided to the classroom at the Applied Research Lab in Ellicott City. Participants will return at 2 p.m. For more information, call (410) 313-7217.

Mar. 31

MONEY MATTERS FAIR

The Friends of Howard County Library is hosting a lineup of activities, including free credit reports, tax advice and information on personal finance and college financial aid in an information fair co-sponsored by a number of county organizations and individuals. The Money Matters fair will be held on Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, in Columbia. For details, visit www.hclibrary.org or call (410) 313-7700.

Feb. 27

ASK THE PHARMACIST

Pharmacist Don Hamilton will answer questions and provide information on medications on Monday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. For more information, call (410) 313-1400.


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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N â&#x20AC;&#x201D; M A R C H 2 0 1 2

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How to slow down a too-fast relationship Dear Solutions: that other people are waiting for taI met a very attractive man at a singles bles, I find that suddenly the waiters resort. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very sophisticator busboys are on top of ed and quite affluent. I had us asking if we finished a no intention of going to bed course while itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obvious with him at that time, and that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still eating. yet thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I did. They also start bringing I really didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel great out the next course while about it and thought he weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still on the first wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t call. He did, though, course. I really got angry and I went out with him. at a waiter the other night. Since I thought I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to have to backward, I went to bed with hurry because they make him again. too many reservations. SOLUTIONS I really hate myself now, By Helen Oxenberg, Part of the pleasure of but I feel that I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just keep MSW, ACSW going to a restaurant is to up a conversation with him have time to visit and even for a whole evening and think I just wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t to overeat once in a while. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the see him again. best way to handle this? What is wrong with me that I end up â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Len doing exactly the opposite of what I think Dear Len: I should? Before the first course, not during it. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Disturbed The best course to take is the manageDear Dis: ment/owner course not the waiter/busboy Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wrong is that you think, â&#x20AC;&#x153;good course. in bed, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nuff said!â&#x20AC;? You obviously think Tell the maitre dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; that you appreciate not your sexual skills are much greater than being rushed and if they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t accommoyour conversational skills. You also think date your desire for a leisurely dinner this man is so superior to you that he wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather go elsewhere. After all, you be interested in boring little you. donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want their overbooking to prevent Take back some power. you from overeating! First, decide that it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter if you Dear Solutions: donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see him again. Then tell him that in Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m writing to you about my mother, spite of what happened, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to just who is a senior. My parents were digo slow and develop a friendship with him. vorced when I was little, and all I reConversation? Get tickets to plays and member is bad things said about my or interesting things that you can talk father by my mother and her family. about afterward. Spend time doing things While I was growing up, and all and getting to know him. Get out of his these years since, I thought he was bed and into his head! dead. Now Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m in my 30s, and I acciDear Solutions: dentally found out that he is alive and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve found this happening a lot late- lives in the state where I am about to ly. When I go to a restaurant and see move for my job.

I really want to contact him but my mother is upset that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m moving away (I live near her now), and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if I should tell her this. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always been honest with her, but I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see me, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m in a dilemma about upsetting her now. Should I tell her my plans? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Marge Dear Marge: Why open up a can of worms if you may not even fish? You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know at this point whether you will get to see your father. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re an adult, and if you can establish a relationship with him, that is strictly between you and him. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re certainly entitled to try.

If you do get to see him, then you can tell your mother that this doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change your feelings for her. You can tell her you know how hurtful her relationship with him was, but heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your father, and you hope sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll understand your need to contact him. Perhaps, since youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always been honest with her, this might open up an honest discussion of why she allowed you to think he was dead all these years. Remember, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not asking for her permission to see him, only her understanding. Š Helen Oxenberg, 2012. Questions to be considered may be sent to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915. You may email the author at helox72@comcast.net. For reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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VOLUME 2,  N  O. 3 â&#x20AC;˘ M  ARCH 2012

1HZVIURPWKH+RZDUG&RXQW\2IILFHRQ$JLQJ

Time to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Get Your Plate in Shapeâ&#x20AC;?

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A Message from the Administrator

By Dayna Brown, Office on Aging Administrator

With the days now getting warmer and longer, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to shake off the winter doldrums, put away the snow shovels (hopefully) and start your spring to-do list! Daylight savings time begins on March 11, so remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour in anticipation of the first day of spring on March 20. Spring cleaning may be #1 on your list, but this is also a great time of year to dust off your sneakers and clean out your pantry, too. Try one or more of Rona Martiyanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s healthy ideas to revamp your diet during National Nutrition Month in March, and watch for the start of Get Active Howard County activities, coming soon. If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still a little chilly for outdoor activities, head on over to the community centers in North Laurel or Glenwood, where fully equipped exercise rooms and indoor walking tracks await you, or check out the March calendar of events at your local senior center. Still have extra time on your hands? Consider volunteering with the Office on Aging. Be a positive role model for others by becoming a Living Well Lay Leader, take your four-legged friends along to visit older adults through our Pets on Wheels program, or lend a hand at one of our upcoming events, like WomenFest on June 16. Visit the volunteering page at www.howardcountyaging.org for many other ways to get involved. Last but not least, take a moment to plan ahead for the future. Now is the time to ask questions about aging in place, caregiver resources, Medicare coverage and more. Our Maryland Access Point (MAP) Specialists are trained to provide information and referrals on a wide range of topics, including long-term care planning, reverse mortgages, and options counseling. Call 410-313-5980 for more information and assistance. I hope to see many of you out and about this spring; if you see me, please stop and say hello!





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By Rona Martiyan, MS, RD, LDN, Office on Aging Nutritionist March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Get Your Plate in Shapeâ&#x20AC;? and jumpstart your health goals. Try these strategies to learn to eat well while eating less, and boost your nutritional values: â&#x20AC;˘ Fill at least ½ of your plate with vegetablesâ&#x20AC;Śfresh or frozen â&#x20AC;˘ Eat fruit for dessert, and keep cut up fruit and veggies handy as snacks â&#x20AC;˘ Use yogurt as a dipâ&#x20AC;Śtry Greek yogurt with salt-free seasoning mixed in â&#x20AC;˘ Vary your protein sourcesâ&#x20AC;Ś meat, fish and poultry, and beans, in palm-size portions â&#x20AC;˘ Make Âź of your plate grainsâ&#x20AC;Śchoose 100% whole grain at least half of the time â&#x20AC;˘ Switch to lower fat dairy productsâ&#x20AC;Śgram for gram, fat contains more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein â&#x20AC;˘ Cut out foods that have added sugars and saltâ&#x20AC;Śif either appears in the top 3 ingredients on the nutrition label, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too much â&#x20AC;˘ Skip that last bite on your plateâ&#x20AC;Śeat

until you are satisfied, not full And donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget, nutrition and exercise go hand in handâ&#x20AC;Śeat less and move more, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll feel like a new person by the time the spring flowers are in full bloom! To schedule a free nutrition counseling appointment with Rona Martiyan in March, call your nearest senior center.

Become a Living Well Lay Leader

The Living Well Chronic Disease Self-Management Program utilizes lay leaders to teach participants how to better manage their own chronic conditions. The Office on Aging is looking for volunteers to lead upcoming sessions of this program. Lay leader training is pro-

vided free of charge, and will be held at 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive in Columbia from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 13, 15, 19 and 22. For more information or to register, please contact Courtney Barkley at 410-313-5957 or email Cbarkley@howardcountymd.gov.


Coming Events

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — M A R C H 2 0 1 2

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The Senior Connection

Thursday, March 1 — COA Achievement Awards Deadline! Nominate someone today to recognize their contributions toward improving the lives of older adults in Howard County. Categories include Civic Engagement, Excellence in the Arts, Leadership in Education, and a Benchmark Award for businesses. Visit www.howardcountyaging.org for forms and full details. Tues., March 6 & 20, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — AARP Tax Aide, N. Laurel 50+ Center IRS-certified counselors will offer free Federal and State tax preparation assistance for seniors and low income individuals. Call 410-313-0380 for an appointment. Wednesday, March 7, 7 p.m. — Medicare 101: What to Expect, The Bain Center Learn how Medicare works, what the benefits are, and how it relates to supplemental health insurance, and get information on Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage; sponsored by SHIP. Free; call 410-313-7391 to register.

Wednesday, March 7, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Shingles Vaccination Clinic, The Bain Center MedStar Health’s Visiting Nurse Association will offer shingles vaccinations by appointment. Call 410-313-7213 for more information.

Wednesday, March 7, 11 a.m. — Long Term Living: Covering the Cost, Kiwanis Wallas Recreation Center Learn about long-term care insurance and consider whether to buy or not. Free discussion led by SHIP representatives; call 410-313-7391 to register. Friday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Native American Spiritual Beliefs, Glenwood 50+ Center Learn about Native American Spiritual Beliefs of the Northeast. To register, call 410-313-5440. Cost: $12, plus lunch donation (or bring your own).

Thursday, March 13, 10 a.m. to noon — Exercise Counseling, North Laurel 50+ Center Exercise Specialist Jennifer Lee offers free exercise advice on getting started, exercising with a chronic condition, choosing the best class for you, and more. Call 410-313-0380 to register.

Wednesday, March 14, 11a.m. to 1 p.m. — Wearing of the Green Party, N. Laurel 50+ Center Celebrate Irish culture and St. Patrick’s Day with entertainment by Ellis Woodward and a corned beef and cabbage lunch. Cost: $3 for program, plus lunch donation. Call 410-313-0380 for reservations by March 7.

Wednesday, March 14, noon — Shamrock Cookie Party, Longwood Senior Center Join us for an Irish-themed lunch this St. Patrick’s Day, featuring shamrock cookies. Lunch donations welcome. Call 410- 313-7217 to register.

Wednesdays, March 14 & 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — AARP Tax Aide, Elkridge Senior Center Volunteers from AARP will be here to help you prepare your taxes. Appointments are necessary; call 410-313-5192 or 410-313-4930.

Thursday, March 22, 10:30 a.m. to noon — SPRING Bereavement Group, North Laurel 50+ Center Join an eight-week group for adults mourning the loss of a loved one; explore the process of mourning, learn coping strategies, and reconnect with life after loss. Cost: $10. Call 410-313-7466 to pre-register.

Thursday, March 22, noon — Spring Luncheon, Ellicott City Senior Center Join us for a catered lunch and be serenaded by the “Joint Venture Quartet” a cappella group. Cost: $10. Space is limited; call 410-313-1400 to reserve your seat!

Friday, March 16, 11 a.m. to noon — Ballet Mobile, Elkridge Senior Center Enjoy a live ballet performance by talented dancers! Free; call 410-313-5192 for details.

Wednesday, April 4, 1 to 3 p.m. — Maryland Senior Idol Finals, Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, 15200 Annapolis Rd., Bowie, Md. Cheer on Howard County Senior Idols Mary Ann Evangelista and Mary Ratcliffe as they compete in the state contest. Cost: $6 at the door or $10 with bus transport from Ellicott City Senior Center. Call 410-313-1421 for info.

Friday, March 16, 11 a.m. — The Mighty Kelltones, Glenwood 50+ Center This local group will perform traditional Celtic and American music. Free; call 410-313-5440 to register.

Monday, March 19, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Charmed by Chocolate, Elkridge Senior Center Learn all about chocolate and sample delicious treats! Cost: $4; call 410-313-5192 for info.

Tuesday, March 20, noon — 1st Day of Spring Luncheon, The Bain Center Chef Jeff creates a special lunch with spring fruits and vegetables, sponsored by Brighton Gardens of Columbia. Free; call 410-313-7213 to RSVP by March 15.

6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 410-313-6410 | www.howardcountyaging.org www.Facebook.com/HoCoCitizen Dayna Brown, Administrator Advertising contained in the Beacon is not endorsed by the Howard County Office on Aging or by the publisher.

Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m. — Medicare 102: Why Medicare Isn’t Enough, The Bain Center Learn about the gaps in Medicare coverage, Medigap policies, Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), and which insurance plan is best for you. Sponsored by SHIP; call 410-313-7391 to register.

Friday, March 16, 10 a.m. — Mt. Hebron High School presents “Annie: The Musical,” N. Laurel 50+ Center Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for this free performance for older adults. To reserve your seat, call 410-313-0389 or email by March 8.

The Senior Connection is published monthly by the Howard County Office on Aging, Department of Citizen Services. We welcome your comments and suggestions. To contact us, or to join our email subscriber list, email seniorconnection@howardcountymd.gov with ‘subscribe’ in the subject box. Howard County Office on Aging

Wednesday, March 21, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — “Get Your Plate in Shape,” Longwood Senior Center Rona Martiyan shares tips on adding healthy food choices to your plate; enjoy tasty samples! Free; call 410-313-7217 to register.

Thursday, March 29, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — SPRING Luncheon at Romano’s Macaroni Grill Menu includes salad, entrée and dessert. Cost: $23; call 410-313-7466 to register by March 20.

Thursday, April 22, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — Rainbow Theater Lunch & Show, Ellicott City Senior Center Travel to the Rainbow Dinner Theater in Paradise, Pa. Cost is $79, and includes bus transportation, “The Dixie Swim Club” comedy show, a buffet lunch and gratuities. Call 410-313-1400 for more information.

Save the Date! Now a weekend event by popular demand!

Saturday, June 16, 2012 9:00 am - 3:00 pm at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, MD 21723

EXHIBITORS SEMINARS SCREENINGS And NEW for 2012... Deanna Bogart in Concert! Howard County’s own award-winning, singer songwriter with her adventurous “Blusion” style of music... it’s Blues and Beyond!

410.313.5440 • www.howardcountyaging.org/womenfest

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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Money Law &

Help teach your grandchildren valuable money lessons by not spoiling them too much. For more tips, see the story below.

Money missteps many grandparents make By David Pitt It’s so tempting to want to give your grandchildren everything, and to put their wants and needs first. However, one of the common money mistakes grandparents make is to put spending on grandkids ahead of their own retirement security. Here are three money missteps grandparents make and ways to avoid them: 1. Excessively spoiling grandchildren Financial advisers and estate planners have all kinds of stories about retirees who insist on spending significant amounts of their savings on grandchildren. Too often they fail to recognize the severity of the risk it poses for their own retirement security. “You really cannot reason with people not to do it,” said Jean A. Dorrell, an estate planner. “They know they shouldn’t be doing it, but they will continue until they don’t want to do it anymore.” Another temptation is for grandparents to set up Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts for children as a way to pay private school expenses or for college costs such as tuition, books, or room and board.

However, many don’t realize that when their grandchild becomes an adult (age 18 or 21 depending on the state where the account was established), the money can be spent on anything the child wants, said Casey Weade, a financial planner. The assets in these accounts are owned by the child. That also means the account can affect the amount of financial aid a college student may be eligible for. Weade said it makes more sense to set up a 529 college-savings plan that offers tax benefits when used for qualified college expenses, including tuition, books and housing. 2. Failing to establish an estate plan Estate planning is essential. The smooth transfer of wealth between generations is an important part of a family’s financial well-being, yet most families don’t have the proper documentation in place. That would include a will, a power of attorney for finances, or a trust. In a 2009 survey of more than 1,000 people 18 and older by Lawyers.com, just 39 percent of respondents reported having a will. Even fewer had a power of attorney and fewer still had set up a trust.

While it may seem daunting to think about all the aspects of estate planning, it’s not impossible to pull together the basics so that last wishes are fulfilled when the time comes. T. Rowe Price offers an estate planning checklist that provides a good start at: http://tinyurl.com/3m2ondx . 3. Leaving retirement funds on autopilot It’s very common to have multiple retirement accounts, said Chuck Cornelio, president of defined contribution for Lincoln Financial Group, which provides retirement and other financial services. It’s not unusual to see workers with as many as six or seven. Frequently workers fail to consolidate accounts in a way that would enable them to manage their money effectively. Consolidating accounts into an IRA, for example, helps ensure the money is adequately diversified across investment options and can help in developing an overall retirement plan. “That’s actually a good idea because then you can get a holistic picture of all your investment opportunities and where you can get your money from in retirement,” Cornelio said.

Workers frequently leave 401(k) money with a previous employer or sometimes roll it over to an IRA and keep it invested in the stock market, said Dorrell. She advises them to evaluate the risk of keeping too much exposed to the volatility of stocks when at or near retirement age. Having both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA account to pull money from can help a retiree control taxable income. With a Roth IRA, deposits are taxed when made to the account, but money can be pulled out in retirement tax-free. For many it would make sense to consider converting to a Roth. Anyone who expects to be in a higher tax bracket at retirement would benefit by paying the taxes on those savings now. And with tax rates widely expected to rise in the future, many retirees may end up in higher brackets than they are currently. The Vanguard Group provides a good review of Roth conversions at www.vanguard.com/pdf/rpd21.pdf. For further help, check this calculator to help determine whether a Roth conversion makes sense: www3.tiaa-cref.org/iracalcs/conversion—calc.jsp. — AP

It pays to pay attention to stock fund fees By Mark Jewell Price-conscious or not, consumers invariably slip from time to time. What’s the big deal if you buy something you want for $1.50 at a convenience store rather than spend $1 at a discounter? It can seem that way with mutual fund expenses, although investments clearly aren’t impulse buys. Many investors give little thought to the impact of choosing a fund that charges 1.5 percent over another charging a 1 percent expense ratio. Given that the stock market frequently moves a few percentage points in a single day, do those seemingly minor pricing differences really amount to much over the long run? They sure can — to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, over decades.

How modest fees add up Take for example, the growth of a $10,000 investment in a stock fund over 30

years, if the market gains an average 10 percent a year. (Although that rate may seem unlikely given recent experience, it’s close to the market’s historical average going back several decades.) An investor paying 1.5 percent of assets in annual expenses ends up with nearly $116,000. That doesn’t factor in inflation or the potential drain of commissions known as loads and taxes. The same investment in a fund charging 1 percent grows to nearly $133,000. Those two expense ratios — the ongoing charges that investors pay for operating costs, expressed as a percentage of a fund’s assets — are about average for managed stock mutual funds. Go to the extremes, and expense differences have a far bigger impact. An investor in a pricey fund charging 2.5 percent ends up with less than $88,000. An ultra low cost index fund charging 0.1 percent comes away with almost twice as

much, nearly $170,000. And while there’s no controlling the market’s direction, individuals can control how much they pay to invest. So take charge. “Cost is the driving force in any investment equation — minimize it,” advised John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group and index mutual fund pioneer who now runs Vanguard’s Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. There are, of course, many examples of fund managers whose investment-picking skills earn their investors bigger returns than their benchmark indexes. But a wealth of research shows the ranks of such star managers are relatively small. And their record of outperformance is typically fleeting, measured against the decades needed to save for retirement. “It’s clear that over longer stretches, costs are a big, big hurdle,” said Karen Dolan, Morningstar’s director of fund

analysis. From 2005 through March 2010, U.S. stock funds charging the lowest fees posted average annualized returns that were nearly two-thirds higher than funds charging the highest fees, according to Morningstar. More often than not, funds charging above-average fees are leaky faucets. Many investors fail to hear the drip-dripdrip that drains their investment returns, when they could be switching to a lowercost option.

Fees matter more in tough times There are times when differences in fund expenses don’t seem to matter much. Stocks surged in the 1980s and `90s, and fee differences were relatively small stacked up against the big market gains. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock See MUTUAL FUND FEES, page 19


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Money Shorts How to collect your unclaimed bonds, funds, refunds Although there are plenty of scam artists who claim to be from the IRS, this announcement is for real: The Internal Revenue Service is holding on to $153.3 million worth in tax refund checks that were returned to the agency because of mailing-address errors. The average check is $1,547, so it could be worthwhile doing a search using the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool (www.irs.gov),

Mutual fund fees From page 18 index is down about 17 percent since January 2000. Fees take on greater importance when returns are measured in single digits, or when stocks are declining. The same is true now for bond funds. Yields are so low for many lower-risk bond categories these days that minor differences in bond fund expenses are magnified — 10-year Treasur ys are yielding about 1.9 percent now, for example. But there’s good news. Fund fees on average have been declining for decades, and the trend is likely to continue. A Morningstar study that gauged what the average fund investor pays came up with an average expense ratio of 0.77 percent in 2010. That reflected a mix of assets in stock funds as well as bond funds. In 1990, the average was 0.94 percent.

particularly if you have moved in the past few years and did not update your address with the IRS. You may also discover unclaimed money by locating old U.S. savings bonds that have been forgotten over the years. Billions of dollars in savings bonds have stopped earning interest but haven’t been cashed. Go to www.treasuryhunt.gov to look up savings bonds issued in 1974 or later. State governments may be holding some of your money, too. State treasuries hold billions of dollars in unclaimed property from uncashed dividend checks, returned utility deposits, uncollected insurance benefits, old savings accounts and other money that may have been returned to a financial institution after being sent to a defunct mailing address. Most states have an unclaimed-property database that makes it easy to see whether

Costs are declining, in part, because index funds are increasingly popular. They now hold about one of every seven dollars invested in stock mutual funds, and the proportion is growing. Low-cost options abound. For example, Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) charges as little as 0.07 percent — $7 a year for every $10,000 invested. Similar offerings from Fidelity and Charles Schwab charge only slightly more. You won’t beat the market — index funds seek to match market performance, minus the fees they charge — but you could end up with a lot more to live on in retirement than from choosing a fund that’s far pricier. “More often than not,” Lipper fund analyst Tom Roseen said, “it’s the investor in the fund with the lowest expenses who ends up the winner.” — AP

any of the money is yours. You can find links to each state’s agency through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (www.unclaimed.org). Most states participate in the large MissingMoney.com database, too. Enter your name and the states where you have lived, and you’ll be able to see whether there is unclaimed property for someone with your name; the last address on file with the financial institution; and whether the unclaimed property is worth more or less than $100. Most states then include links to the forms you’ll need to submit to the state

treasury to verify your identity and claim the money. Despite all this, it’s worth being suspicious of any letters, calls or emails offering to help you locate lost cash. Scam artists and identity thieves use such messages to try to steal your money or personal information. (The IRS never sends personal emails requesting information). Instead of clicking on a link in an email claiming to be from the government, go to agency sites directly to view their databases. See MONEY SHORTS, page 21

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Dividend-paying stocks still looking good By Mark Jewell Stock investors as a group ran in place in last year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended 2011 about where it started. Invest in a stock mutual fund, and you likely ended up losing because of fee expenses. About three-quarters of the U.S. stock fund categories that Morningstar tracks closed out the calendar year with a loss. That’s another knock for investors who are still stinging from their losses in the financial crisis of 2008. Although the market rebounded sharply beginning in March 2009, it’s still about 20 percent shy of its peak in late 2007. Yet even in the gloom, there was a bright spot in 2011 — dividend-paying stocks. Across the board, the top-performing mutual fund categories were those that invested in dividend stocks, led by funds specializing in utilities stocks. Other top categories were funds that primarily invest in real estate investment trusts, the healthcare sector and stocks of consumer goods companies that make necessities. What’s more, large company stocks outperformed small- and mid-cap stocks. It’s the big companies, rather than the smaller ones, that are the most reliable dividend payers. Nearly 80 percent of S&P 500 companies make regular payouts. The results are a complete reversal from

2010, when the top-performing funds specialized in small-cap stocks. Those stocks typically outperform larger ones when economic news turns positive, as it did in 2010, a year when stocks rose 13 percent.

“People are looking to dividends for income, because they can’t get it from the other sources they normally rely on,” Kathman said.

Industry best bets Reaping the dividends But the economic recovery lost momentum in 2011, and investors bid up the prices of dividend stocks, while small-caps fell. “Practically anything paying a dividend was hot,” Morningstar fund analyst David Kathman said. Dividend-payers are typically well-established companies that share profits through quarterly payouts, rather than plowing the cash back into the company to fuel growth. Stocks of smaller companies can offer greater long-term potential, but are more vulnerable when the economy stumbles, or when fears like the European debt crisis send stocks tumbling. Investors have been hard-pressed to find decent sources of investment income, which has made dividends more appealing. Consider that 10-year Treasury bonds yield around 1.9 percent. That’s less than half the yield of more than a dozen S&P 500 stocks. With interest rates low, bank accounts and savings options such as certificates of deposit provide even less income than Treasurys.

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Here’s a look at average returns through the end of 2011 for some notable stock fund categories, starting with top four performers: Utilities (9.7 percent): These stocks tend to be stable performers in both a rising and falling market. It’s an outgrowth of the typically steady demand for electricity and natural gas. The average dividend yield of utilities stocks within the S&P 500 is 4.1 percent, about twice the average yield of the index. A handful of utilities sector funds delivered returns of around 20 percent in 2011, including Franklin Utilities (FKUTX), which earned top-rung gold honors from Morningstar under its new analyst ratings of funds. Some of the strongest-performing utilities, with gains of more than 30 percent including dividends, were big names like Progress Energy Inc. and Consolidated Edison Inc. Real estate (6.9 percent): Real estate investment trusts generate income from properties they own, and often operate. They’re big dividend payers, because they’re required to distribute at least 90 percent of

their taxable income to shareholders. Although the real estate market clearly isn’t back to where it was a few years ago, commercial real estate has fared better than residential real estate. Healthcare (6.6 percent): Uncertainty over President Obama’s healthcare overhaul hurt healthcare stocks in 2009 and 2010, but that cloud lifted a bit in 2011. Drug maker Pfizer returned nearly 28 percent. One attraction was the stock’s dividend yield of 3.7 percent. Biotech stocks were among the year’s biggest winners. Biogen Idec shares jumped 64 percent, and a specialized fund, Fidelity Advisor Biotechnology (FBTAX), returned nearly 17 percent. Consumer staples (4.5 percent): These funds invest in stocks of companies that provide everyday essentials, from food to soap to trash bags, and typically pay dividends. Demand for these products is stable in good times and bad. Two of the standout stocks in 2011 are tobacco companies paying dividends of 3.9 percent or higher. Lorillard returned about 46 percent, and Philip Morris International 39 percent. Financials (16 percent loss): Funds that specialize in stocks of banks and other See DIVIDENDS, page 21

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Money shorts From page 19 Also check the FBI’s New E-Scams & Warnings page for information about recent scams (www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams).

How CDs can work for savers For money you can tie up for a few months or more — say, a portion of your emergency fund that you wouldn’t need for at least three months, or money earmarked for tuition or retirement income — consider certificates of deposit. CDs come with maturities that typically range from

Dividends From page 20 financial services companies were the worst-performing mutual fund category of 2011. It’s familiar territory. Financial sector funds also have the worst results over the past three- and five-year periods. In 2011, these stocks were hurt by the slowdown in the economic recovery; legal liability stemming from the flood of home foreclosures; and fears that debt-burdened European governments would fail to fully

three months to five years, with longer maturities offering higher yields. You can invest in a long-term CD even if you think you may cash out early or if you want to take advantage of rising rates — just be sure to check the interest penalty. For example, a five-year CD from Ally Bank (www.ally.com), which recently yielded 1.82 percent, charges a penalty of only 60 days’ yield if you withdraw the money early. In contrast, a five-year CD from Intervest National Bank, which offered a slightly higher rate of 1.96 percent, takes back half your interest with its early-withdrawal interest penalty of 30 months. Constructing a CD ladder — putting chunks of cash in CDs of varying maturities — allows you to benefit from the best

current yields and stay flexible enough to snag top rates down the road. When interest rates rise, you reinvest cash from shorter-term CDs to take advantage of higher yields. Your longer-term CDs will continue to earn interest at today’s highest rates. If you’d like to put more than $250,000 (the maximum that the FDIC will insure in a single account) in CDs, the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS) offers a convenient way to invest your funds. You deal with one participating bank, which sets the rate and parcels out $250,000 chunks to some of the more than 3,000 participating institutions. U.S. savings bonds are another safe way to invest money you can tie up for a year. EE bonds pay low rates (0.6 percent), but

I-bonds, which pay based in part on the inflation rate, are currently paying an attractive 3.06 percent. You can cash in savings bonds after 12 months, but if you redeem them before five years have passed, you forfeit the last three months’ worth of interest. The I-bond’s rate is composed of a fixed rate, currently 0 percent, that lasts for the life of the bond, plus a semiannual inflation rate that changes every six months. If you bought a $1,000 I-bond and redeemed it after a year, you’d still earn about 3 percent interest after the penalty at present inflation rates. You must purchase savings bonds in an online Treasury Direct account, which you can set up at www.treasurydirect.gov. — Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

pay their debts, potentially hurting European and U.S. banks. Shares of Bank of America tumbled 60 percent. Technology (8 percent loss): These stocks are among the top performers over the past three years, but the slowdown in the economic recovery hurt their 2011 results. There were exceptions, like Apple, whose shares gained nearly 25 percent as consumers continued to demand the latest versions of the iPhone and iPad. As for dividends, the outlook remains strong. The cash coffers of companies in

the S&P 500 are at a record $1 trillion, putting them in good position to keep increasing dividends. Payments rose about 16 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year, and more than half of S&P 500 companies increased their dividends.

S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt is quite confident about the outlook for dividends: “You can write the copy for [the] year now: Dividends continue to increase for 2012.” — AP

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Setting sail with silver screen stars. See story on page 25.

Las Vegas through the eyes of a first-timer the-clock party scene in casinos, bars and spas, and over-the-top architectural re-creations of modern and historic wonders, it doesn’t get more fantastic than Las Vegas.

Giving in to temptation

© ROBWILSON39/DREAMSTIME.COM

More than 35 million people have visited Las Vegas every year for the past 10 years, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVA), but until last summer, I was a Vegas virgin — intrigued, yet worried I’d feel awkward and uncomfortable. I decided it was time to give in to the temptations of Sin City when Derk, my husband, registered for a conference there. For help with planning, I turned to some trusty sources, who not only are upstanding citizens, spouses and parents, but also are highly experienced, shall we say, in Vegas ways. They helped me shape a getaway that made my first time so special, I’m eager to do it again. Las Vegas is “wild, wacky and sometimes bizarre,” said my friend Bob, a retired military officer and engineer who works for a large defense contractor in Northern Virginia, and who has visited Vegas at least 10 times for his job or to see family. “You will see all types there. But it’s also clean and friendly, and you will have a blast.” Here are some tips for planning your own trip.

The four-mile-long Las Vegas Strip is home to more than 67,000 hotel rooms, as well as half-scale replicas of the Eiffel Tower and other icons from Paris and New York.

Lay of the land “The Strip” refers to a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard more than four miles long that is dotted with a couple dozen hotel-casino properties and the relatively new mixed-use development called CityCenter, among other amenities. Mandalay Bay anchors the south end of the Strip. The Sahara, which operated for almost 60 years before shutting down in mid-2011, anchors the north end. Generally, the properties toward the north end are older and less opulent, and thus room rates are cheaper. Each hotel-casino property

© ROBERT CRAVENS/DREAMSTIME.COM

By Laura Stassi Jeffrey It feels like I’ve walked out of an icebox and into an oven as I exit the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, but I won’t let the summertime heat derail my exploration of the Las Vegas Strip on foot. Adjacent to the golden-hued Mandalay Bay is the dark, imposing, pyramid-shaped Luxor hotel and casino, and beyond that stands the multi-turreted, castle-like property called Excalibur. I haven’t even reached the halfway mark of my stroll before scoring my first Elvis sighting — a slightly built impersonator standing on the walkway that connects the Excalibur with the Big Apple-themed property named New York-New York, counting a wad of bills he’s pulled from the pocket of his white jumpsuit. For me, February is fantasy month — the time to daydream about a vacation getaway and perhaps even put some plans into motion. With live entertainment that ranges from bawdy to spectacularly breathtaking, lush exterior as well as interior landscaping that defies the desert locale, a ‘round-

At Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel and casino, built for a reported $1.6 billion, dancing fountains offer a show several times an hour, using synchronized light and music.

has its own personality and theme, and room rates can fluctuate widely. When mulling over the options, think about your budget as well as your tolerance for a high-energy atmosphere. Keep in mind that anyone 21 years or older is welcome inside any Strip property for gambling, shopping, eating, attending a show or even limited wandering around. However, pools and other features may be available only for registered hotel guests. Sidewalks and elevated walkways enable strolling along the Strip. Monorail and tram service are also available among some properties, or you can hop on a bus or hail a taxi. For our stay, we booked a room at the impressive Four Seasons, which comprises the top five floors of the 39-story Mandalay Bay tower. This was the conference host site, so the rate discount was decent, but we also were mindful that the setting was blissfully removed from most of the hubbub. While the Four Seasons rooms are in the $200 to $300 range, rooms in the rest of Mandalay Bay start at a more reasonable $90. Bob, a methodical trip planner, grouped his hotel recommendations into three tiers before he gave them to me, and Mandalay Bay was in his top tier. But the Bellagio is Bob’s first choice.

This massive and elegant structure, modeled after the Lake Como resort in Italy, rose from the rubble of the Dunes hotel and casino. Outside the Bellagio is a manmade lake — the water-fountain show, set to lights and music, is a must-see — and the interior features include a lush botanical garden, art galleries, and a candy shop complete with chocolate fountains. Hotel rooms are well worth the splurge, according to Bob. Rates range from $159 to $349 in February. My cousin Sam, technical director for a global marketing agency headquartered outside of Chicago, wholeheartedly agrees. Sam has visited Vegas about a dozen times for work or pleasure. He stays at the Bellagio whenever he can and has even planned getaways during off-times, to take advantage of drastically slashed rates. “If you can take the heat, summer is the best bargain,” he said. Off the Strip, Sam has stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and utilized the free shuttle to and from the Strip’s south end. Two off-Strip properties Bob offers as word-of-mouth recommendations are the Rio — which Sam confirms has a terrific wine cellar and tasting room — and Hard See LAS VEGAS, page 24


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Las Vegas From page 23 Rock Hotel and Casino.

Gambling for food, dollars When I told Claire, my booking agent and a Vegas aficionado, about my upcoming trip, she was emphatic. “You must eat at a buffet,” she said. I hesitated to follow her advice. Derk and I have long said that the day we found ourselves standing in line for an all-youcan-eat buffet was the day we officially became old. But after enjoying a huge break-

fast buffet spread solo one day at Cravings in the Mirage (cost: $16.95), I talked Derk into joining me at the Bellagio buffet for the next day’s lunch. Derk grumbled a bit as we — yep — stood in a long line, but he later agreed the wait had been worthwhile for the huge spread including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and American food, seafood and an incredible desert assortment. If you time it right, the lunch buffet ($19.95) can suffice as your meal for the day. Buffet prices vary by season, but discount coupons are sometimes available, and room packages often include a meal or

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two at the hotel where you’re staying. Craps, blackjack, poker, roulette — as first-timers, we were too intimidated to even try. We happily settled for feeding coins into a slot machine, and reveled in a $25 profit on our $5 investment. Derk and I have already decided that on our return trip we’d like to be joined by companions who know their way around the tables and can guide us. Spending a lot of money? You might want to join a “players club,” offered by one of the casinos you’ll be frequenting. You don’t have to be a high roller, and you’ll accumulate points toward promotions, including free meals and hotel rooms. You can do this once you’re in a casino. Follow the signs pointing you to the players club or ask a casino employee where to go to apply for the card. You’ll be issued one on the spot. Sam also usually sticks to spending money primarily at one property, and he charges everything to his room. “I don’t gamble a lot, but I do spend a lot of money in the restaurants, bars, shops and shows,” he said. “I am pretty sure the hotels track that info when sending offers.”

Beyond gambling The live entertainment choices seem endless — concerts, comedy acts, stage plays, even a burlesque show featuring former Hugh Hefner girlfriend Holly Madison. Bob gave high recommendations to ‘”Mystere,” the Cirque de Soleil show at Treasure Island. But we emboldened ourselves and bought tickets to the adultthemed “Zumanity.” The cabaret-style

show is billed as the sensual side of Cirque de Soleil, and the acrobatics were incredible. Don’t take a front seat, though, unless you’re game to be included in some risqué antics with cast members. You can also buy a ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris property and watch the Bellagio’s water-fountain show from there. For more faux-European fun, take a gondola ride at the Venetian. If the artificiality of the Strip starts to wear on you, rent a car and head about 20 miles west to Red Rock Canyon to hike or jog amid the rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert. Hoover Dam, a National Historic Landmark, is about 25 miles southeast of Vegas. Check out the hotel-casino property websites or go to www.LasVegas.com for a full list of promotional packages and discounts on hotel rooms, show tickets and other offerings. Don’t buy a package deal unless you’ve vetted all the different parts of it to ensure it really is a good deal. You also may want to cross-reference rates with results from www.hotwire.com, which offers a compilation of the lowest published rates for airfare, hotel and ticket packages on discount travel sites such as Expedia and Orbitz. The best roundtrip airfare deal to Las Vegas in mid-March starts at $454 roundtrip from BWI on United or Continental Airlines. However, driving to Dulles will save you money. Flights there start at $317 on Virgin America and Delta. Also check the travel websites that include airfare and hotel for potentially better deals. Laura Stassi Jeffrey is a freelance writer living in Chantilly, Va.

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Ongoing Even though you may be able to carry on a conversation with someone in person, you may have difficulty communicating by standard telephone. The Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program, a service of Maryland Relay, provides assistive telecommunications equipment — free of charge — to people who qualify. Training on how to use the equipment is available. To learn more about the free equipment, including hands-free phones, amplified phones, voice activated phones and more, simply call Maryland Relay Customer Service at 1-800-552-7724. You may also visit our website, www.mdrelay.org. Click on Free Equipment for more information on how to apply

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25

Taking a cruise with Hollywood legends guests being around 87, this was a vacation that appealed to seniors, and many passengers recalled attending film premieres by the stars in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Star power After boarding, there was the compulsory lifeboat drill. At the time, the crew demonstrating safety procedures was forced to compete for the crowd’s attention when Ernest Borgnine appeared and was mobbed by well-wishers trying to shake his hand. (In the wake of the Concordia incident, I imagine people will be listening more closely to safety instructions going forward.) Borgnine himself was overwhelmed by the response of the passengers. “Oh my goodness, I couldn’t have been treated better by the TCM folks or fans,” said a humble 95-year-old Borgnine, when I spoke with him later during the cruise. “I don’t know why, because I certainly don’t deserve it. “It’s one thing to like an actor, but the kind of love people have shown me is amazing. I just want to be one of the gang on the ship,” said Borgnine, an Academy Award-winning movie actor who is perhaps most widely known for the TV series McHale’s Navy. (By the way, he knows his way around a ship, having served for 10

PHOTO BY DEBBIE THOMAS

By Nick Thomas The tragic Jan. 13 capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Tuscan island of Giglio in Italy probably has some potential passengers thinking twice about embarking on a future cruise. But these floating luxury “hotels” make thousands of trips each year without incident, and the cruise ship industry has an excellent safety record. This is one of the reasons why some 2,000 people from across the U.S., Canada and Europe made their way to Miami on Dec. 8 in order to take a four-day, roundtrip cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. But it wasn’t the golden beaches or sparkling blue waters that united this dedicated band of travelers. It was the onboard events and list of eminent guests. While celebrity cruises are nothing new, this one truly was a classic: the inaugural Classic Cruise hosted by the cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which brought film fans together with their favorite Hollywood legends on the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship. Celebrity shipmates included Ernest Borgnine, Eva Marie Saint, Tippi Hedren and director Norman Jewison, as well as TCM hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz. With the average age of the four special

Actor Ernest Borgnine greets passengers aboard a cruise hosted by Turner Classic Movies, which included several other screen stars who mingled with the passengers. Borgnine celebrated his 95th birthday in January.

years in the Navy prior to taking up acting.) Borgnine was typical of the celebrities on board. Far from retiring to their cabins and emerging only to fulfill their obligations, they regularly roamed the decks — mingling with the passengers, eating at

the buffet, chatting and posing for photographs. In addition to snagging a much sought after celebrity snapshot, serious film enthusiSee MOVIE CRUISE, page 26

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Movie cruise From page 25 asts were able to enjoy a selection of scheduled events that TCM had planned: movie screenings, often preceded by introductions from the stars who were in the films, Q & A

M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

sessions with the stars, and panel discussions with Osborne and Mankiewicz. Surprise guests included veteran game show host Wink Martindale, who hosted movie trivia contests, and Chelsie Hightower and Louis Van Amstel from “Dancing with the Stars.”

Behind the scenes stories

BEACON BITS

Feb. 27

VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES MEETING

Veterans or members of the military and their families are invited to meet with members of the Howard County Commission for Veterans and Military Families on Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Howard County Library Central Branch, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. For additional information, call Kent Menser at (410) 313-6521 or email kmenser@howardcountymd.gov.

Mar. 3

OK, so they weren’t Fred and Ginger, but they did put on a dazzling dance display. And when Ernie and Eva Marie came out on stage for a whirl around the dance floor with the youngsters, the crowd went wild.

FLEA MARKET BENEFITS MUSIC PROGRAM

The fourth annual Marriotts Ridge Mustangs Flea Market will be held on Saturday, March 3 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Marriotts Ridge High School, 12100 Woodford Dr., Marriottsville. There is a $1 donation at the door to benefit the Marriotts Ridge Music Foundation. For further information, call (410) 531-5799.

Although the ship docked at Key West and Cozumel for passengers to go ashore and see the standard tourist attractions, these were merely an added bonus. Probably the most anticipated events were the celebrity presentations prior to film screenings. Eva Marie Saint talked about the making of North by Northwest. Ernest Borgnine discussed The Poseidon Adventure (an odd film to show on a cruise ship, yes). Tippi Hedren spoke about The Birds, and Norman Jewison featured his film The Thomas Crown Affair. While some of their stories had been told before in autobiographies or previous

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interviews, it hardly mattered to the devoted throngs of admirers who hung on every word and were thrilled just to be seated a few feet from some of their favorite film personalities. A much-anticipated event was the appearance of both Saint, 89, and Hedren, 83, as the “Hitchcock blondes” in a discussion with Osborne. Saint was in good form, as evident by her playful sense of humor. “If you look at the Hitchcock catalog,” Osborne began, “Ingrid Bergman was not a blonde, Teresa Wright [Shadow of a Doubt] was not a blonde, Tallulah Bankhead was not a blonde.” “So why are we here?” quipped Saint to the laughter of the audience. Appreciating the humor, Osborne wondered if the general belief that Hitchcock favored blondes was just a myth. Saint wasn’t sure, but Hedren suggested that blondes have both an innocence and a sense of mystery about them, which she thought might have appealed to Hitchcock. Saint’s sense of humor was also apparent when I interviewed her and she talked about Osborne, 79, who has been primetime host and anchor since TCM made its on-air debut in 1994. “I call him the rock star of the classic movie world. I love my husband of 60 years, then Robert Osborne!” For his part, Osborne said, “I’ve only been on one other cruise in my life, and that was years ago to Acapulco, so I’m really enjoying this trip and being around so many film fans.” Osborne added that TCM is seriously looking at having another movie star cruise later this year. Cabins (which went for around $800 to $2,500 per person) sold out within about two months for the inaugural cruise. Announcements of any future cruises will be made on its website, www.tcm.com. Nick Thomas is author of the recently released book, Raised by the Stars: Interviews with 29 Children of Hollywood Actors, and can be reached through his website, www.raisedbythestars.com.

BEACON BITS

Mar. 8

A MUSICAL INTERLUDE

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — M A R C H 2 0 1 2

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Arts &

Numerous local children play the King’s offspring in The King and I at Toby’s.

King and I at Toby’s is like an old friend

Well-known, well-worn story The King and I first roared onto Broadway in 1951, and won the Tony for Best Musical. The story is as well-known as anything that has ever played on Broadway. The material comes from Margaret Langdon’s 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which she loosely based on the experience of a somewhat mysterious figure named Anna Leonowens, who served as governess to the children of King

Mongkut of Siam (Thailand) in the 1860s. The king is credited with modernizing his kingdom and adapting enough Western ways to successfully fend off European colonial powers as they pushed their way through Asia. Langdon gives Anna much of the credit for that, overstating her actual contribution. The musical was put on film in a landmark vehicle for Yul Brynner and nonsinging Deborah Kerr (who lip-synced the songs) in 1956. There have been several non-musical films under the novel’s title Anna and the King of Siam. Since then, The King and I has had numerous revivals on Broadway, spawned countless international tours, and, of course, thousands of local productions such as this one.

See THE KING AND I, page 29

Celebrated songs The score is even more famous, with at least five major hits that have become standards across the entertainment spectrum: the Disney-like “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” the jaunty “Hello Young Lovers,” the archetypical show tune “Getting to Know You,” the anthem “I Have Dreamed,” and the energizing “Shall We Dance.” One thing these songs have in common is that they could have been written for any musical, and seem to have just been dropped into place. There are no specific Asian themes or lyrics organic to the story line. Rodgers colored in a few exotic, but not strongly Asian, tones, but mostly in the sec-

Jason Love, Music Director

Symphonic Pops Saturday, March 17, 2012 • 7:30 .. Cap off your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in a concert with Irish folk music, highlights from Finian’s Rainbow, and selections from Lord of the Dance featuring the Teelin Irish Dance Company. Hits by Andrew Lloyd Webber, film music from Jurassic Park and Somewhere In Time, and classical favorites round out this evening to remember!

(410) 465-8777

ondary songs such as “A Puzzlement,” sung by the King. There is a haunting flute in the love ballad “We Kiss in a Shadow,” and some unusual chords in “My Lord and Master.” Also unusual is that the story line precludes any kind of overt love story between the prim Christian widow and the polygamous king. Their relationship focuses on their disparate expectations of each other and a gradual acceptance of their differences. This results in the odd

PHOTO © KIRSTINE CHRISTIANSEN

By Michael Toscano When attending the production of an oldtime classic — especially an enduring show such as The King and I, which has longsince blossomed beyond Broadway into popular culture — a reviewer can be forgiven for hoping to see the director tweak familiar material to bring out some new facet or to make the show speak with a new voice. But what director Shawn Kettering and his fully engaged cast at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia have done instead is to demonstrate that there’s still plenty of life in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s material in its standard form. There’s good reason The King and I is one of the most frequently performed and best-loved musicals ever. It’s a swirl of lilting melody, colorful costumes and soaring voices. There are laughs, crackling drama and moments of suspense, all held together by uncomplicated, old-time emotion. And a clutch of cute kids, too.

www.columbiaorchestra.org

David Bosley-Reynolds stars as the King of Siam in a rousing production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I at Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Also shown: Rachel Sabenorio as Princess Ying Yaowalak.

NOW PLAYING


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Activist

Shriver saying, ‘See, I made you famous after all.’ That was typical Sarge Shriver.”

From page 1 Some of the photos, he said, were used back in the Cold War days to draw up “target charts for fighter pilots against potential enemies.” During the civil rights protests, McPherson marched and sat-in like many others. But as a member of the St. Louis Human Relations Commission he helped keep the lid on violence in that city after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. “We were actively working to prevent any riots,” McPherson said. “We got job opportunities for blacks and we did what I would call ‘rumor control,’ shooting down all the crazy stories that spread in such times. We didn’t have the kind of upheaval in St. Louis that was going around in other cities,” he said. In the late 1960s he became a congressional aide. For seven years, he administered offices for Democratic congressmen from St. Louis. That work brought him to the Washington area. He moved to Columbia in 1969, just a couple of years after developer Jim Rouse created the planned city. He and wife, Patricia, now say they would reside nowhere else. “As far as I’m concerned, this is the greatest place to live,” he said. In 1972, he worked on the campaigns of McGovern and his vice presidential running mate, Sargent Shriver. “After I made the [Nixon enemies] list, I got a note from Sarge

A people person McPherson then took on the job of assistant executive director for the national U.S. Conference of Mayors. “I became a lobbyist for the mayors on human resources programs, which means programs that directly impacted people,” he said. “People” is a word that keeps coming up when McPherson is asked about his various jobs, why he was allied to this or that cause, and who he wanted to see benefit from his work over the years. “I became a Democrat because I think as a party they try to help people…I worked in Congress on programs for people…I believe in unions because people who are organized are in a better position to try to improve their lives,” he said. McPherson spent some 15 years, from the mid-1980s to 1999, as the AFL-CIO’s legislative political director for the metro D.C.-area. That area extended from Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland, down through northern Virginia to Fredericksburg. Mostly, he said, he appeared at hearings and county and city council meetings to oppose anti-labor laws, while promoting pro-labor candidates for office. He realizes that many in the public have turned against unions, but insists that, over

M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

time, organized labor has accomplished far more for workers than any harm unions may have caused to the economy. If unions are to be faulted, it should be because they have “failed to show the American people what they have really contributed to the quality of life, to what workers take for granted — a decent wage, a five-day, 40-hour week,” McPherson said. ”This was not given because of the benevolence of the employer, but it was earned through a lot of blood, sweat and tears of organized workers over the years.” He added: “Unions have brought about the prosperity we enjoyed for many years. You need working people to organize. Look what recently happened with Verizon, which wanted to add $2 to the bills of people paying online. People organized and they let Verizon know [how they felt], and the company pulled back on the extra fee.”

Election year excitement What moves McPherson to action is politics, especially in an election year like this one, when he expects his Democratic Party activities to extend even further into the days and nights. He will be doing more or less what he did when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960 and George McGovern went for the White House in 1972 — work full time to convince voters to contribute their

money and cast their ballots for the Democratic Party nominee. But the type of work that entails has changed over the years. While there’s still much door-to-door, person-to-person contact, the Internet and social media are playing a bigger and bigger role in getting out the vote, he said. “We still canvas neighborhoods and pass out flyers,” said McPherson. “But today I could sit here at the computer and reach many more people in much less time than could be done back in the 1940s, or even in the 1980s.” At present, the status of politicians seems at an all-time low in the eyes of many Americans. But don’t blame the system, McPherson said. Blame those who are entering politics at this time, and “the voters who don’t pay attention and put them in office.” McPherson, who takes the long view, believes things will change for the better over time. “I’m happy to say I’m involved in politics” he said, adding he still believes that political action remains the best way to improve life for oneself and one’s fellow citizens. “I realized long ago that almost everything is controlled by politics to some degree, and that by going into politics I could do the most good in terms of my community,” he said. “Politics has the power to affect the well-being of every man, woman and child in this world.”

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — M A R C H 2 0 1 2

The King and I From page 27 placement of the very contemporary sounding ballad “Hello Young Lovers,” which Anna sings the first time around to a room of children and enslaved wives. The show’s sole love story is relegated to a secret, doomed affair between a new member of the king’s harem and a young man in the palace. Rodgers and Hammerstein seemed to have run out of ideas after penning such memorable songs as mentioned above, as the second act is full of reprises. A lot of “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,” to quote the king. Despite the various themes that might be explored more fully, the story doesn’t go much into depth, leaving time for an extended ballet sequence in Act Two that inexplicably focuses on the American book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. There’s also enough breathing room left over to showcase the adorable children, especially in their delightful introduction to Anna in Act One. Considering all this, The King and I is like a helicopter or a bumblebee: it shouldn’t fly, but fly...soar...it does.

Stellar cast Director Kettering generally keeps the energy level high, slowing down occasionally to let us take our time with the children. He’s aided by a first-rate cast. David Bosley-Reynolds is a magnificent bear of a king, able to menace and charm almost simultaneously. He rumbles through “A Puzzlement” with a powerful bass, if not much grace, fitting for this rough-hewn monarch. Willowy understudy Elizabeth Rayca filled in as Anna the night the show was reviewed, and it’s hard to imagine anyone anywhere doing a better job. Her voice is

crystalline, and she expertly fulfills our expectations of this original British Iron Lady. Bosley-Reynolds and Rayca allowed us glimpses at gradual tenderness developing between this unlikely pairing, piquing our interest just enough to hold the unwieldy plot together. As the young lovers who sing “We Kiss in the Shadow,” Julia Lancione and understudy Chris Rudy took the audience through layers of emotion — particularly Lancione, whose soprano soared to operatic highlights. Crystal Freeman added a welcome dose of earthiness as top wife, Lady Thiang. Freeman, with a strong voice and a low-key but commanding presence, displays another facet of female power as she helps Anna understand how to deal with a headstrong king.

Minor weaknesses Tina DeSimone’s choreography is basic and occasionally clunky. The large ensemble doesn’t seem to have been rigorously drilled for precision, but their energy makes up for some of the clumsiness. As usual, there is a small orchestra augmented by terrible-sounding synthesized strings. Musical Director Ross Scott Rawlings might want to put a little swing, a bit of life, into a rather sluggish “Hello Young Lovers,” but the music overall is serviceable. Florence Arnold’s colorful and intricately detailed costumes add a welcome dash of color to a production mostly played in a barren space with a few props, under a drab lighting design. But production weaknesses will not diminish your enjoyment of this wonderful old show, expertly performed. Act Two, especially, allows emotion to inexorably build until the final scenes, and it’s a satisfying visit with an old friend. By the way, Toby’s chefs have gotten into the Asian mood for this production, too. They’ve added some popularized

ANSWERS TO SCRABBLE

Asian fare to the standard buffet menu, including sesame noodles, vegetable-fried rice, orange ginger carrots, broccoli in garlic sauce, and stir-fried vegetables. Of course, the menu also includes Toby’s signature carved-to-order entrees, steamship round, baked Virginia ham and roast turkey, along with salad and dessert bars. The King & I continues through March 25 at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, Columbia, running seven days a week with evening and matinee performances. The doors open for dinner at 6 p.m. for the 8 p.m. evening shows Monday through

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Saturday, and at 5 p.m. for the Sunday evening 7 p.m. performance. Doors open for brunch at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Sundays for matinee performances that start at 12:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Ticket prices range from $32.50 to $53, depending on which performance is selected. Ticket prices include the all-you-can-eat buffet. There is ample free parking on the premises. For reservations and information, call (410) 730-8311 or 1-800-88TOBYS (8886297). You may also visit www.tobysdinnertheatre.com and purchase tickets via Ticketmaster.

Columbia Pro Cantare COLUMBIA PRO CANTARE 35th ANNIVERSARY SEASON “REMEMBRANCES” Sunday, March 18, 3 PM, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ellicott City DEBUSSY: Trois Chansons, Chamber Singers La puerta del Vino; La fille aux cheveux de lin, Alison Gatwood, piano

DELIUS: Midsummer Song; Song to be Sung on the Water on a Summer Night, Columbia Pro Cantare Chorus, Serenade from Hassan, Ronald Mutchnik, violin

MASSENET: Meditation of Thaïs, Ronald Mutchnik, violin HAYDN: Little Organ Mass, Columbia Pro Cantare Chorus, Chamber Orchestra of St. John’s Strings HOVHANNES: I Have Seen the Lord, Columbia Pro Cantare Chorus TORELLI: Trumpet Concerto in D, Susan Rider, trumpet MOURET: Rondeau from Sinfonie de Fanfares, (“Masterpiece Theater” theme) Susan Rider, trumpet; Donald Fries, organ

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From page 30. BEACON BITS

Feb. 25

FUN WITH CLASSICAL MUSIC

The Kinetics Dance Theatre joins the Columbia Orchestra for a lively program including Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals”, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Dance of the Tumblers” and Russell Peck’s “The Thrill of the Orchestra” in performances on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpet Rd., Columbia. The program’s musical instrument “petting zoo” offers an opportunity to introduce grandchildren to classical music. Admission is free for children age 11 and under, $15 for ages 12 and up. For further information, call (410) 465-8777 or visit www.columbiaorchestra.org.

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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Crossword Puzzle Daily crosswords can be found on our website: www.TheBeaconNewspapers.com Click on Puzzles Plus This Puzzle Lacks Nothing 1

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Wanted

Wanted

COLUMBIA MEMORIAL PARK 1 cremation space for two remains burial/cremation rights and two interment fees included as paid. Sellers will pay transfer fees. Section 1, lot 249A, space 2A. Value $2608, Asking $1800. Call Sue 410-963-2045.

WANTED DIABETES TEST STRIPS Any kind/brand. Unexpired up to $22.00. Shipping Paid Hablamos espanol 1-800-267-9895 www.selldiabeticstrips.com.

YEARBOOKS “Up to $15 paid for high school yearbooks1900-1988. yearbookusa@yahoo.com or 972-768-1338.”

WANTS TO PURCHASE MINERALS and other oil and gas interests. Send details to P.O. Box 13557 Denver, Co. 80201.

Thanks for reading!

DISH NETWORK lowest nationwide price $19.99/Mo FREE HBO/Cinemax/Starz FREE Blockbuster FREE HD-DVR and install. Next day install. 1-800-296-5653.

Health ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH for your PRESCRIPTION? SAVE 90% by ordering through our Canadian pharmacy. 25% off and FREE SHIPPING CALL (888) 437-0414.

Miscellaneous ATTEND COLLEGE ONLINE from Home. *Medical, *Business, *Criminal Justice. Job placement assistance. Computer available. Financial Aid if qualified. Call 800-494-3586 www.CenturaOnline.com. PREGNANT? CONSIDERING ADOPTION? You choose from families nationwide. LIVING EXPENSES PAID. Abby’s One True Gift Adoptions. 866-413-6292, 24/7 Void/Illinois.

Financial Services

Wanted

FRUSTRATED WITH YOUR INVESTMENTS? Let’s have coffee and chat at your convenience. 30 years experience. Hourly consulting as well as investment management at reasonable rates. Fee-only, registered advisor. 443-8964123. Blog: http://rwinvesting.blogspot.com.

VINYL RECORDS WANTED from the 20s through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections preferred. Please call John, 301-596-6201.

For Rent/Sale: Real Estate

WE BUY QUALITY BOOKS, CDs, DVDs, Records. We come to you for certain collections. For more info call 443-864-2280. SecondEditionBooks.com.

***FREE FORECLOSURE LISTINGS*** OVER 400,000 properties nationwide. Low down payment. Call now 800-250-2043.

CASH FOR CARS, Any Make or Model! Free Towing. Sell it TODAY. Instant offer: 1-800-8645784.

AVAILABLE NOW!!! 2-4 Bedroom homes Take Over Payments No Money Down/No Credit Check Call 1-888-269-9192.

TOP CASH FOR CARS, Any Car/Truck, Running or Not. Call for INSTANT offer: 1-800-4546951.

BEACON BITS

Mar. 31

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MONEY MATTERS FAIR The Friends of Howard County Library is hosting a lineup of activi-

ties, including free credit reports, tax advice and information on personal finance and college financial aid in an information fair co-sponsored by a number of county organ-

Phrase of the month The curious origins of our words and rituals

Gilding the Lily To ‘gild the lily” means to attempt to improve upon something that is already beautiful or perfect — to take an unnecessary or superfluous action. The original quote from which the term derived comes from Shakespeare’s The Life & Death of King John (Act IV, Scene 2): “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily… is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” The context in the play is King John’s second coronation, which the speaker, the Earl of Salisbury, considered unnecessary and even unwise. Over time, the quotation was condensed so that today it directly conveys the sense of something counterproductive, since coating a lily with melted gold would destroy it. The misquote creates an internal rhyme of sorts — thus the catchier sound overcame the better sense. Prepared for The Beacon Newspapers by Wizard Communications©. All rights reserved. Want to have a word/phrase or ritual/custom researched? Contact jpozga@verizon.net.

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Beacon The

I N

F O C U S

F O R

P E O P L E

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izations and individuals. The Money Matters fair will be held on Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way,

$12.72/year via Third Class Mail plus tax

in Columbia. For details, visit www.hclibrary.org or call (410) 313-7700.

Please send a one-year subscription to:

TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED Deadlines and Payments: Ad text and payment is due by the 5th of each month. Note: Only ads received and prepaid by the deadline will be included in the next month’s issue. Please type or print your ad carefully. Include a number where you can be reached in the event of a question. Payment is due with ad. We do not accept ads by phone or fax, nor do we accept credit cards.

Name:____________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________ City: _____________________State:_____Zip: ___________ HB3/12

Private Party Text Ads: For individuals seeking to buy or sell particular items, or place a personal ad. Each ad is $10 for 25 words, 25 cents for each additional word.

❐ One Year = $12 (Maryland residents add 6% for sales tax = $12.72)

Business Text Ads: For parties engaged in an ongoing business enterprise. Each ad is $25 for 25 words, 50 cents for each additional word.

Write the recipient’s name above. A gift card will be sent in your name:

Note: Each real estate listing counts as one business text ad.

_____________________________________________________________

Send your classified ad with check or money order, payable to the Beacon, to:

The Beacon, Howard County Classified Dept. P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915-2227

❐ Check here if this is a gift subscription.

Return this form with your check, made payable to The Beacon, to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915-2227


32

M A R C H 2 0 1 2 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

What’s so special about Brooke Grove Retirement Village? Just ask our Cottage residents…

“I had qualms about leaving my home of 39 years and my good neighbors. But once I moved to Brooke Grove, I never regretted it. A feeling of peace and contentment comes over me when I drive down Slade School Road to my home.” – Betty Farrell

“Each day we marvel at the comfort afforded by our home. Not only is it spacious and filled with luxurious fixtures, but it is also amenable for the continuation of our hobbies and perfect for us to host frequent visits from our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as lifelong friends.” – Dr. John and Beatrice Nasou

To learn more about how to enjoy life at Brooke Grove, please fill out and return this coupon or call (301) 358-0721. ❒ I would like to know more about Brooke Grove’s ❒

Independent Living Cottages. I would like to know more about Brooke Grove’s Assisted Living, Rehab and other services.

Name:_______________________________________________________ Address:_______________________________________________________ City, State, Zip:________________________________________________ Daytime Phone:________________________________________________ HB3/12

www.bgf.org

Please mail this coupon to: Brooke Grove Retirement Village, Attn: Community Relations, 18100 Slade School Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860.

“Our neighbors are congenial and interesting. Company when you want it; privacy when you don’t. And this is not a subsidiary of a profit-making company. It is owned and conservatively managed by a nonprofit foundation devoted to healthcare and the needs of older adults. We take comfort knowing that Brooke Grove’s other services are available to us should we need them.” – Arnold Palley *All individuals pictured are residents or staff of Brooke Grove. Quotes are also from residents, though not necessarily from those shown.

March 2012 Howard County Beacon Edition  

March 2012 Howard County Beacon Edition

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