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A doctor with animal instincts

5 0 DECEMBER 2013

I N S I D E …

PHOTO COURTESY OF CARL SEGAL

By Anne Ball Treating patients with personality and mental health issues can get a little wild in Columbia psychiatrist Dr. Carl Segal’s office. He helps patients open up and adds a little levity to treatment by using captioned pictures of animals he has photographed to illustrate human traits and foibles. Conversation-starting images of leopards, peacocks, elephants, tortoises and scores of other species — all snapped in zoos around the world — are displayed on his office walls in the Medical Arts Building on the campus of Howard County General Hospital and in his book, Mental Health Care, What a ZOO! A gorilla appears to be pondering the big questions of the universe. A flamingo comically shakes off water after bathing. The affable Segal, 79, dates his interest in animals back to his youth in Philadelphia. He frequently visited the zoo on Saturdays, photographing the animals with an inexpensive camera that was a bar mitzvah gift from his parents.

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Zooming through zoos Fast forward through the years of medical school and relocation to the West Coast to 1987. That’s when Segal made a decision to visit as many American zoos as possible and write a coffee table guidebook to American zoos. “Zoos have always fascinated me; it’s not just the animals and plants that I find intriguing, but also the sense of wilderness in the midst of cities, and the dedicated men and women who care for their charges as labors of love,” Segal writes in his book. Between 1988 and 1990, he toured approximately 160 zoos and took more than 80,000 photos. This included a marathon European zoo trip when he visited 13 zoos in 14 days. “It would have been 14 zoos in 14 days,” Segal said with a chuckle in an interview with the Beacon, “but when I got to Brussels and checked into my hotel, I asked about the zoo. The desk clerk told me there was no zoo in Brussels, even though it was the capital. I couldn’t believe it! “So I went out to the cab stand and asked a cabbie. He confirmed it. So much for spontaneity!”

Dr. Carl Segal, a Columbia psychiatrist, has taken engaging photos of animals at zoos around the world. He uses the images in his practice to help patients express their feelings. He also sells prints of his photos at zoo gift shops throughout the U.S., as well as at Neighbor Care Pharmacy and the Artists Gallery in Columbia.

Promoting progress All this travel and exposure to zoos worldwide has heightened Segal’s interest and commitment to promoting the progress and development of spacious and naturalistic zoo exhibits. “The antiquated days of small and somewhat inhumane enclosures and ‘postage stamp’ collections are ending,” he said. Certainly the animals in his photos look at ease in their habitats, whether snoozing, snuggling with an offspring, or cozying up to a mate. While his coffee table book on zoos never came to fruition, in his self-published Mental Health Care, What a ZOO!, Segal uses the animal photos to illustrate

concepts such as couples therapy (two giraffes touching, but facing opposite directions); love and early courtship (two white swans in the water facing each other, their necks and heads forming a heart shape); and psychophysiological headache (a frowning orangutan with one hand clutching the top of his head).

Posters and note cards, too In 1994 he started a company called ZooTREK to publish note cards, posters and similar products using his animal photos. Segal’s work is carried in a number of zoo gift shops around the U.S. and in the See PHOTOGRAPHER, page 27

ARTS & STYLE

A couple’s love letters from the Korean War inspire a new play; plus, Billy Crystal finds inspiration in turning 65 page 26

FITNESS & HEALTH k Bacteria that may fight fat k Raising a toast to grape juice

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THE SENIOR CONNECTION 16 k Howard County Office on Aging newsletter LAW & MONEY k Finding lost savings bonds k Obamacare scams

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Imperfect harmony You know how it is that sometimes a different gentleman who often attends something very ordinary strikes you as the same service cannot carry a tune. I meaningful in a new way? have learned to tune out his For example, I attend Sabnear misses on those occabath services every week at a sions when he chooses to synagogue near my home. sing along. There are a number of places But this new fellow was difin the service where everyferent. He didn’t have any trouone is expected to sing along ble keeping to his key. He was or sing in response. dead on — just in a different Normally, at these times, I key from everyone else, and it hear mostly my own voice in wasn’t a key that harmonized. my head. But if I stop singing He even had a nice voice. and listen for a moment, I can FROM THE He probably was well aware hear the whole room singing PUBLISHER of that, too, as he continued as if it were a symphony. By Stuart P. Rosenthal to sing quite loudly and clearThere are the lady sopraly in his own personal key, nos (with a diva or two), some altos, the every single note clashing against the othmale tenors and baritones, an occasional ers in the room, grating on my nerves. bass. All blend, usually, into a nice, rich In the sanctuary as a whole, his dissotone, at least when the tune being led is a nance was probably negligible. In fact, I familiar one. may have been the only person aware of it. But the other day, I was aware not of a For some reason, though, it continued symphony, but of a cacophony. A fellow sit- to occupy me long after the song was over. ting near me, apparently a visitor or new- (Yes, I daydream in synagogue. Somecomer, had begun to sing loudly right at times.) the start of the song — but at a note or two So I kept thinking: Why did this fellow, lower than the leader and, to my mind, the who evidently was quite musical, not realize rest of us in the room. that he was out of sync with everyone else? Now, I happen to be used to the fact that Or did he realize it and not care? Was

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he, perhaps, trying to make a statement? Did he think that, somehow, he was singing in the “right key” and everyone else was wrong? Was he listening so intently to his own voice that he remained truly unaware of the dissonance he was causing? Or did he view the clashing notes as a problem created by others, not himself? I have no idea who the fellow was or what, if anything, he was thinking. But I couldn’t help but see the whole experience as a metaphor of sorts — for human differences in personality, political beliefs, lifestyles and the like. Most of us are content to play our role in society and to focus for the most part on ourselves, with some secondary attention to those around us and to society as a whole. We prefer to do the work, or sing the part, that comes most naturally to us. (Perhaps that’s because when we must strain to reach beyond our register, our voices become “falsetto.”) Then there are some whose song/personality/belief is a bit different. It sounds to the rest of us like it’s off-key, or as if those people can’t carry the tune the way most of us can. But they’re singing along just the same, eager to participate in their way, and we generally respect that. But it can be harder to deal with those who, knowingly and unabashedly, insist on singing loudly in a different key altogether

— a key, in fact, that creates dissonance with the song the vast majority of us sing. Now, it’s interesting to realize that, were we to listen to this other song on its own, we might well think it is a perfectly fine song, as melodic as any other. It only produces dissonance when it’s sung a halftone or so differently from the song others sing. (After all, it takes two to make a dissonance.) If yet more people start to pick up the same “off” melody, the resulting “dischord” can grow even more noticeable for awhile. But in some cases, so many others adopt the new melody that it can supercede the first one. We hear a lot nowadays about our diversity in culture, our conflicting political parties, and the split in opinions that deeply divide us. These are not subtle differences, and they can tear apart a family, an institution, even a government. Yet, on some level, we are all just trying to sing our song — sometimes following the notes, sometimes riffing on the melody, other times purposely belting out something completely different. It’s all just part of what it means to be a free human being, a member of the chorus, each with our own unique voice.

The Howard County

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The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of Howard County, Md. and is privately owned. Other editions serve Greater Baltimore, Md., Greater Washington DC, and Greater Palm Springs, Calif. 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 • Associate Publisher..............Judith K. Rosenthal • Vice President, Operations........Gordon Hasenei • Director of Sales ................................Alan Spiegel

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. Dear Editor: The article in the November issue by Giovanna Dell’orto, “Andalusian fusion: Christianity and Islam,” gave a beautiful portrayal of Moorish culture in Spain for over 800 years, a period of time in which Muslims, Jews and Christians flourished harmoniously together. It was only when Catholic monarchs imposed by force their idea of only one supreme religion, by pushing out the Moors and the Jews, that the region became, for a

period of time, intolerant and racist. Fortunately, they did not destroy a lot of the incomparable Moorish architecture, the jewels of which are the Alhambra and the Cordoba. A fact frequently overlooked is that, after the expulsion of Moors and Jews, the Moors welcomed the Jews into their society in North Africa and Turkey. Such a shame that somehow this good will for all did not continue. Doris Rausch Columbia

• Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King • Managing Editor............................Barbara Ruben • Graphic Designer ..............................Kyle Gregory • Advertising Representatives ........Doug Hallock, ................................................ Steve Levin, Jill Joseph • Publishing Assistant ....................Rebekah Sewell

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 35 for classified advertising details. Please mail or email all submissions.

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BEACON BITS

Dec. 15

HISTORIC HOUSE TOUR

The Howard County Historical Society annual holiday tour of historic homes is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 15 from 1 to 6:30 p.m. The five historic properties include the Shrine of St. Anthony and Folly Quarter Manor in Ellicott City, Richland Farm and Dalton in Columbia, and Salopha in Sykesville. Participants will travel to the sites on buses leaving from the Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City at 1 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hchsmd.org or on site the day of the event at the library parking lot. Prices begin at $35 for historical society members, $45 for their guests, and $50 for the general public. More information is available at hchsmd.org or by calling (410) 480-3250.


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SAVE THE DATE! Columbia Association is developing a Comprehensive Plan for Serving the Older Adult community. The work team will be releasing its draft plan recommendations and is seeking your feedback.

Please join us for a Public Meeting on the Draft

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Meeting content will be the same at both sessions. Inclement weather day is Tuesday, January 14 at the same times.

Wilde Lake Village Center

For additional information on the public meeting, the Comprehensive Plan and more, please visit

ColumbiaAssociation.org/OlderAdults.

10400 Cross Fox Ln Columbia, MD 21044

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Health Fitness &

RAISE A TOAST TO GRAPE JUICE In some ways, grape juice may provide more health benefits than red wine A NOVEL CURE Pills full of bacteria may offer a safe new way to cure serious intestinal infections DRUG MUGGERS Many medicines rob your body of essential nutrients. What you can do to counteract their effects

The right bacteria might help fight obesity By Lauran Neergaard Call it a hidden ally: The right germs just might be able to help fight fat. Different kinds of bacteria that live inside the gut can help spur obesity or protect against it, say scientists at Washington University in St. Louis who transplanted intestinal germs from fat or lean people into mice and watched the rodents change. And what they ate determined whether the good germs could move in and do their job. The report in the journal Science raises the possibility of one day turning gut bacteria into personalized fat-fighting therapies, and it may help explain why some people have a harder time losing weight than others do. “It’s an important player,’’ said Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, who also studies how gut bacteria influence health but wasn’t involved in the new research. “This paper says that diet and microbes are necessary companions in all of this. They literally and figuratively feed each other.’’

Our intestines differ We all develop with an essentially sterile digestive tract. Bacteria rapidly move in starting at birth — bugs that we pick up from

mom and dad, the environment, first foods. Ultimately, the intestine teems with hundreds of species, populations that differ in people with varying health. Overweight people harbor different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people, for example. The gut bacteria we pick up as children can stick with us for decades, although their makeup changes when people lose weight, previous studies have shown. Clearly, what you eat and how much you move are key to how much you weigh. But are those bacterial differences a contributing cause of obesity, rather than simply the result of it? If so, which bugs are to blame, and might it be possible to switch out the bad actors? To start finding out, Washington University graduate student Vanessa Ridaura took gut bacteria from eight people — four pairs of twins that each included one obese sibling and one lean sibling. One pair of twins was identical, ruling out an inherited explanation for their different weights. Using twins also guaranteed similar childhood environments and diets. She transplanted the human microbes into the intestines of young mice that had been raised germ-free.

Some surprising findings The mice who received gut bacteria from the obese people gained more weight — and experienced unhealthy metabolic changes — even though they didn’t eat more than the mice who received germs from the lean twins, said study senior author Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University’s Center of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology. Then came what Gordon calls the battle of the microbes. Mice that harbored gut bacteria from a lean person were put in the same cages as mice that harbored the obesity-prone germs. The research team took advantage of an icky fact of rodent life: Mice eat feces, so presumably they could easily swap intestinal bugs. What happened was a surprise. Certain bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines of the fatter mice, and their weight and metabolism improved. But the trade was one-way — the lean mice weren’t adversely affected. However, the fatter mice got the bacterial benefit only when they were fed a lowfat, high-fiber diet. When Ridaura substituted the higher-fat, lower-fiber diet typical of Americans, the protective bug swap didn’t occur.

Why? Gordon already knew from human studies that obese people harbor less diverse gut bacteria. “It was almost as if there were potential job vacancies’’ in their intestines that the lean don’t have, he explained. Sure enough, a closer look at the mice that benefited from the bug swap suggests a specific type of bacteria, from a family named Bacteroidetes, moved into previously unoccupied niches in their colons — if the rodents ate right. How might those findings translate to people? For a particularly hard-to-treat diarrheal infection, doctors sometimes transplant stool from a healthy person into the sick person’s intestine. [See “Pills made from poop cure gut infections,” page 8.] Some scientists wonder if fecal transplants from the lean to the fat might treat obesity, too. But Gordon foresees a less invasive alternative: Determining the best combinations of intestinal bacteria to match a person’s diet, and then growing those bugs in sterile lab dishes — like this study could — and turning them into pills. He estimates such an attempt would take at least five more years of research. — AP

Is it viral or bacterial? New test may tell By Lauran Neergaard It happens too often: A doctor isn’t sure what’s causing someone’s feverish illness but prescribes antibiotics just in case — drugs that won’t work if a virus is the real culprit. Now Duke University researchers are developing a blood test to more easily tell when a respiratory illness is due to a virus and not a bacterial infection, hoping to cut the dangerous overuse of antibiotics and speed the right diagnosis. It works by taking a fingerprint of your immune system — how its genes are revving up to fight the bug. That’s very different from how infections are diagnosed today. And if the experimental test pans out, it also promises to help doctors track brand-new threats, like the next flu pandemic or that mysterious MERS virus that has erupted in the Middle East. That viral “signature could be quite pow-

erful and may be a game-changer,’’ said Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, Duke’s genomic medicine chief. He leads the team that recently reported on a study that provided early evidence the test can work. Today, when symptoms alone aren’t enough for diagnosis, a doctor’s suspicion guides what tests are performed — tests that work by hunting for evidence of a specific pathogen. Fever and cough? If it’s flu season, you might be tested for the flu virus. An awful sore throat? Chances are you’ll get checked for strep bacteria. A negative test can leave the doctor wondering what germ to check for next, or whether to make a best guess. Moreover, rapid in-the-office tests aren’t always accurate and can miss infections. So patients may have blood or other samples sent to labs to try to grow any lurking bacteria and tell if it’s to blame — addition-

al testing that can take days. “This is something we struggle with every day,’’ said Dr. Octavio Ramilo, infectious disease chief at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the new study. Particularly with children, a respiratory virus and a bacterial infection “in the beginning look completely alike,’’ he added.

Hints from our immune systems Hence researchers at a number of universities are trying to harness a fairly recent discovery: As your immune system detects an invading bug, different genes are activated to fend off a viral infection than to fight a bacterial or fungal one. Those subtle molecular changes appear to be occurring even before you feel any symptoms. And they form distinct patterns of RNA and proteins — what’s called a genomic fingerprint.

The Duke team discovered 30 genes that are switched on in different ways during a viral attack. The test essentially is a freeze-frame to show “what those genes are doing at the moment in time that it’s captured,’’ explained Duke lead researcher Dr. Aimee Zaas, an infectious disease specialist. Small studies spotted that viral signature in people who volunteered to be infected with different influenza strains for science. For a more real-world simulation, the researchers then analyzed blood samples stored from 102 feverish people who had come to the emergency room — and who were eventually diagnosed, the old-fashioned way, with either some type of virus or a bacterial infection. The genomic test proved 89 percent acSee VIRUS TEST, page 5


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Why would a doctor want to know merely that a virus is present and not which virus? That’s enough information to rule out antibiotics, Zaas said. Unnecessary antibiotic use is one factor in the growing problem of drug-resistant germs, which the

See HEALTH SHORTS, page 6

Preventing antibiotic resistance

Social Security benefits for nearly 58 million people will increase by only 1.5 percent next year, the government announced in late October. Social Security pays retired workers an average of $1,272 a month. A 1.5 percent raise comes to about $19. The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or

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curate in sorting out who had a virus, and did even better at ruling out those who didn’t, Zaas reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It took 12 hours to get results. The researchers hope to speed that up so that it might work as quickly as some in-office tests. Still, “it’s a promising tool,’’ said Ramilo, an Ohio State University professor who is doing similar research. He called the Duke study an important step toward creating a commercial test, and predicts one might reach the market within five years.

Small 2014 Social Security increase

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From page 4

government blames for more than 23,000 deaths a year. Plus, if a dangerous new virus begins spreading, like MERS, this approach could help avoid quarantining people unnecessarily by telling right away which ones are virus-free, Ginsburg added. In Ohio, Ramilo is exploring a more immediate need: When young infants have high fevers, they’re often hospitalized while doctors run a battery of tests to find the fraction who have a serious bacterial infection. He is leading a study involving 22 pediatric emergency rooms to see if a genomic fingerprint approach could separate which babies really need all that testing. But the virus-or-not question is just the beginning, Ramilo said. His research suggests genomic fingerprints also can distinguish a flu strain from other common viruses. And the Duke team is analyzing a huge study of students living in dormitories, to see if the genomic test detected who was incubating the flu before their first sniffle — and thus might be useful in stemming outbreaks. — AP

Instead, they believe doctors have been holding off until they saw real-world effectiveness studies.

F R E E

Virus test

A new high-dose flu vaccine for seniors works better than the standard shot in that age group, according to a long-awaited study by the vaccine’s manufacturer. Experts say regular flu shots tend to be only about 30 to 40 percent effective in people 65 and older, who generally have weaker immune systems. Sanofi Pasteur’s Fluzone High-Dose vaccine boosted effectiveness to 50 percent. “I wouldn’t call it great,” said Dr. Ed-

U.S. and Canada during the last two flu seasons. Half got a regular flu shot and half got the high-dose version. Researchers called the participants to see if they had flu symptoms or were hospitalized; tests to confirm the flu were done in more than half of the people reporting symptoms. The high-dose shot was 24 percent more effective than the regular shot at preventing flu, against all strains, the company said. Sanofi has the only high-dose flu shot for seniors on the market. It was used last year in 1 in 5 seniors who got vaccinated, according to Sanofi. The $27 per dose cost is more than twice the $12 for the company’s older version. But Medicare pays for both, and Sanofi executives say they don’t think cost is a significant deterrent.

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High-dose flu shot protects better

ward Belongia of the Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, a flu vaccine researcher who was not involved in the Sanofi study. But any improvement is welcome, and the results could mean fewer illnesses — and, hopefully, hospitalizations and deaths — in seniors, he said. For other ages, effectiveness can run 60 percent or higher for the regular vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration licensed the higher-dose Sanofi vaccine in late 2009, based on a study that showed it led to higher levels of flu-fighting antibodies in seniors a month after vaccination. The new study is the first to measure how much protection it actually provides against the flu. The study involved 32,000 seniors in the

F R E E

Health Shorts

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Questions answered on eyes, ears, legs From Harvard Health Letter Q: Can heart or kidney issues cause bags under your eyes? What else might cause them? How do I get rid of those bags? A: Yes, heart or kidney disease can contribute to “bags under the eyes.” And puffy eyes may actually be the first sign of a medical problem. That’s because puffy eyes often become more noticeable with any condition that causes fluid retention. Liver disease, kidney problems or heart

failure are potential culprits. Any medicine that causes you to retain fluid may make puffy eyes get worse, as well. Here are some other causes of bags under the eyes: 1. Normal aging. The skin around the eyes is normally thinner and looser than skin elsewhere on the body. As we age, it becomes even looser and thinner. This allows fluid to collect, causing a puffy appearance. Veins under the skin can create the dark appearance of the skin.

2. Sleep position. Lying horizontal can make it easier for fluid to collect beneath the eyes. It can also dilate the veins under the eyes, which darkens the appearance of the skin even more. 3. Nasal congestion. Veins around the eyelids may drain into the nose. Nasal congestion or seasonal allergies also cause the veins under the eyes to dilate. 4. Genetics. Some people have an inherited tendency toward puffy eyes. Contrary to popular belief, having bags

under your eyes is not a reliable indication of being tired or sleepy. The standard recommendations are to get plenty of rest and seek treatment for any medical condition that may be contributing to the problem. Topical treatments, such as moisturizers and vitamins, may help. Other options include makeup, laser treatments and cosmetic surgery. Placing cucumbers over

Health shorts

Security withholding is also rising. Social Security is funded by a 12.4 percent tax on the first $113,700 in wages earned by a worker, with half paid by employers and the other half withheld from workers’ pay. The wage threshold will increase to $117,000 next year, the Social Security Administration said. Wages above the threshold are not subject to Social Security taxes. In some years, part of the COLA has been erased by an increase in Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted automatically from Social Security payments. But Medicare announced in October that Part B premiums, which cover doctor visits, will stay the same in 2014, at $104.90 a month for most seniors. (Premiums are much higher for those with high incomes.) — AP

From page 5 COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation. It is small because consumer prices haven’t gone up much in the past year. The increase is among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. This year’s increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low. The COLA affects benefits for more than one-fifth of the country. In addition to Social Security payments, it affects benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees, and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor. The amount of wages subject to Social

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Qs & As From page 6 the eyes is an unproven remedy, but is unlikely to make things worse. As puffiness under the eyes may be a normal part of aging, there’s one more option: acceptance. —Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Q: My 42-year-old son suddenly lost hearing in one ear. They did some blood tests, and he was given steroids. But he has not improved. Is there anything else that can be done? A: There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss happens when something keeps sound waves from traveling through the ear. The obstacle can be anything from a chunk of earwax, to inflamed tissue, to a benign growth. Sensorineural hearing loss is a problem stemming from one of two things. It can be a problem with the intricate apparatus that translates sound waves into nerve impulses (the sensory part of sensorineural). Or

it can be a problem with the auditory nerve that sends those impulses to the brain (the neural part). I can’t stress enough the importance of getting a hearing test as soon as possible if you’ve lost hearing suddenly. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent permanent damage and loss of hearing. Judging by the steroid treatment your son received, my guess is that he had a sensorineural problem caused by inflammation. “Steroids” in this instance is short for corticosteroids. They are powerful anti-inflammatories. They should not be confused with the anabolic steroids used by athletes to get stronger. Early treatment with corticosteroids has the potential to reverse the inflammation before there is permanent damage. But it doesn’t always work. Your son should ask his doctor about a bone-anchored hearing aid. It can be very useful for people with one-sided sen-

sorineural hearing loss. The procedure doesn’t restore nerve function. But it can make it easier for him to hear with the good ear without always turning his head. —Howard LeWine, M.D., is a practicing internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass., and Chief Medical Editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. Q. I’ve had restless legs syndrome for years. Is there anything I can take for it that won’t cause side effects? A. Unfortunately, there’s no medicine for any condition that has zero risk of causing side effects. But there are plenty of medicines for which the risks are small and temporary, and nondrug treatments help some patients. As you know, restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes unpleasant sensations in, and sudden spontaneous movements of, the legs — typically during sleep or when

at rest during the day. RLS is much more likely to occur in people with iron deficiency, diabetes and certain other conditions. Diagnosing and treating these conditions can eliminate RLS. The problem also can be provoked or made worse by nicotine and high intake of caffeine or alcohol, and improved by quitting smoking and reducing caffeine and alcohol. For mildly affected people, exercises, heating pads or hot tubs may give sufficient relief. If such nondrug treatments do not give enough symptom relief, then there are several medicines that are quite effective for restless legs syndrome. —Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D., Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu. © 2013 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

BEACON BITS

Jan. 16

FREE TIPS TO QUIT SMOKING

Join other tobacco users wanting to quit the tobacco habit and support those who have already quit in a free session on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, Ste. 100, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. Call (410) 740-7601 for more information.

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EARLY STAGE MEMORY LOSS CLUB

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Pills made from poop cure gut infections By Marilynn Marchione Hold your nose and don’t spit out your coffee: Doctors have found a way to put bacteria from healthy people’s poop into pills that can cure serious gut infections — a less yucky way to do “fecal transplants.” Canadian researchers tried this on 27 patients and cured them all after strong antibiotics failed to help. It’s a gross topic but a serious problem. Half a million Americans get Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infections each year, and about 14,000 die. The germ causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea so bad it is often disabling. A very potent and pricey antibiotic can kill C-diff, but also destroys good bacteria that live in the gut, leaving it more susceptible to future infections. Recently, studies have shown that fecal transplants — giving infected people stool from a healthy donor — can restore that

balance. But they’re given through expensive, invasive procedures like colonoscopies or throat tubes. Doctors also have tried giving the stool through enemas, but the treatment doesn’t always take hold. There even are YouTube videos on how to do a similar treatment at home via an enema. A study in a medical journal of a small number of these “do-it-yourself” cases suggests the approach is safe and effective.

Custom made pills are clean, safe Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, devised a better way — a one-time treatment custom-made for each patient. Donor stool, usually from a relative, is processed in the lab to take out food and extract the bacteria and clean it. It is packed into triple-coated gel capsules so they won’t dissolve until they reach the intestines.

“There’s no stool left — just stool bugs. These people are not eating poop,” and there are no smelly burps because the contents aren’t released until they’re well past the stomach, Louie said. Days before starting the treatment, patients are given an antibiotic to kill the Cdiff. On the morning of the treatment, they have an enema so “the new bacteria coming in have a clean slate,” Louie said. It takes 24 to 34 capsules to fit the bacteria needed for a treatment, and patients down them in one sitting. The pills make their way to the colon and seed it with the normal variety of bacteria. Louie described 27 patients treated this way at IDWeek, an infectious diseases conference in San Francisco. All had suffered at least four C-diff infections and relapses, but none had a recurrence after taking the poop pills.

Margaret Corbin, 69, a retired nurse’s aide from Calgary, told of the misery of Cdiff. “It lasted for two years. It was horrible. I thought I was dying. “I couldn’t eat. Every time I ate anything or drank water I was into the bathroom,” she said. “I never went anywhere, I stayed home all the time.” With her daughter as the donor, she took pills made by Louie two years ago, and “I’ve been perfectly fine since,” Corbin said. Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has done fecal transplants through colonoscopies, praised the work. “The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel — no one else has done this,” he said. “I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians.”

Researching wider applications The treatment now must be made fresh for each patient so the pills don’t start to dissolve at room temperature, because their water content would break down the gel coating. Minnesota doctors are testing freezing stool, which doesn’t kill the bacteria, so it could be stored and shipped anywhere a patient needed it. “You could have a universal donor in Minnesota provide a transplant for someone in Florida. That’s where we’re heading,” Donskey said. Other researchers are trying to find which bacteria most help fight off C-diff. Those might be grown in a lab dish and given to patients rather than the whole spectrum of bacteria in stool. The hope is “we could administer that as a probiotic in a pill form,” Donskey said. Louie sees potential for the poop pills for other people with out-of-whack gut bacteria, such as hospitalized patients vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant germs. “This approach, to me, has wide application in medicine,” he said. “So it’s not just about C-diff.” Learn more about C-diff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff _infect.html. — AP

BEACON BITS

Dec. 5

NAVIGATING SENIOR HEALTHCARE

Dr. John R. Burton, director of the Johns Hopkins Geriatric Education Center, will offer guidance on the complexities of choosing and communicating with doctors and translating insurance plans on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at the Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, Ste. 100, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. For further information, call (410) 740-7601.


H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Heavy smokers need yearly lung scans By Marilynn Marchione For the first time, government advisers are recommending screening for lung cancer, saying certain current and former heavy smokers should get annual scans to cut their chances of dying of the disease. If it becomes final as expected, the advice by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would clear the way for insurers to cover CT scans, a type of X-ray, for those at greatest risk. That would be people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years. Whether screening would help younger or lighter smokers isn’t known, so scans are not advised for them. They also aren’t for people who quit at least 15 years ago, or people too sick or frail to undergo cancer treatment. “The evidence shows we can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer deaths by screening” — about 20,000 of the

160,000 that occur each year in the United States, said Dr. Michael LeFevre, a task force leader and family physician at the University of Missouri. Public comments were taken through the end of August, and the panel is expected to issue its final advice by February. Reports on screening were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Recommendation affects millions The recommendation is a big deal for many reasons. The task force, an independent group of doctors appointed by the government, in recent years has urged less frequent screening for breast and cervical cancers, and no screening for prostate cancer, saying PSA blood tests do men more harm than good. There are no good ways to screen for ovarian cancer or other less common types. But lung cancer is the top cancer killer worldwide. Nearly 90 percent of people

who get it die from it, usually because it’s found too late for treatment to succeed. About 85 percent of lung cancers in the U.S. are attributable to smoking, and about 37 percent of U.S. adults are current or former smokers. The task force estimates that 10 million Americans would fit the smoking and age criteria for screening. The American Cancer Society (ACS) used to recommend screening with ordinary chest X-rays, but withdrew that advice in 1980 after studies showed they weren’t saving lives. Since then, CT scans have come into wider use, and the ACS and other groups have endorsed their limited

use for screening certain heavy smokers. The scans cost from $100 to as much as $400, and are not usually covered by Medicare or private insurers now. But under the new healthcare law, cancer screenings recommended by the task force are to be covered with no co-pays. “It’s generally going to be covered by all health plans” if the advice gets final task force approval, said Susan Pisano of the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans. She said her group may develop a response during the public comSee LUNG SCANS, page 11

New blood test measures cancer risk A blood test to identify lung cancer risk has recently been developed by a company in Rockville, Md. Genesys Biolabs’ test, the second of its kind available in the U.S., examines a panel of six biomarkers in the blood that are associated with lung cancer. While the test doesn’t diagnose lung cancer, it identifies the risk level for having the disease. “Lung cancer is a silent killer,” said Barry Cohen, product manager for Genesys Biolabs. “The reason so many people die of the disease is that there hasn’t been a good way to identify those with the disease until it’s too late.” While CT scans can help identify those who may have lung cancer, the test is expensive and exposes patients to radiation. If the patient first has the blood test and is found to have a low risk of lung cancer, a CT scan may not be necessary, Cohen

said. Conversely, those showing a high risk are then directed to have a CT scan. The test is called the PAULA test, which stands for Protein Assay Using Lung cancer Analytes, and is named after the wife of a local physician who died of lung cancer at age 55 only a few months after diagnosis. The test is designed for smokers or former smokers who have at least a 20-year history smoking a pack or more a day. Those who get the test should be age 50 or over, without lung cancer symptoms, and not currently receiving annual CT scans. Most insurances and Medicare cover the test, said Cohen. The blood test is done in a patient’s doctor’s office and sent to Genesys’ Rockville lab for analysis. For more information, ask your doctor, see www.BloodTestForLungCancer.com or call (240) 453-6342. — Barbara Ruben

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Lung scans From page 10 ment period, but has had “high regard” for the task force in the past “because they rely so heavily on the evidence” in crafting their recommendations. The task force considered lung cancer screening in 2004 but said there was too little evidence to weigh risks and benefits.

Since then, a major study found that screening the age group covered in the task force’s recommendation could cut the chances of dying from lung cancer by up to 20 percent, and from any cause by nearly 7 percent. Screening “is absolutely not for everybody,” not even all smokers, LeFevre stressed. That includes President Barack Obama, who said a couple years ago that he had quit smoking. Obama is too young

BEACON BITS

Dec. 4

CONTROL YOUR STRESS LEVEL

Discover insights into how your perceptions influence your stress, and learn how to bring more peace into your life during a free program offered by Howard County General Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, Ste. 100, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. For more information, call (410) 740-7601.

Nov. 25

at 52 and too light a smoker (he reportedly smoked less than a pack a day), to be in the high-risk group advised to get screening.

Why screening isn’t for all The potential benefits of screening may not outweigh its possible harms for people not at high risk of developing lung cancer. A suspicious finding on a scan often leads to biopsies and other medical tests that have costs and complications of their own. Ironically, the radiation from scans to look for cancer can raise the risk of developing the disease. “These scans uncover things, often

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things that are not important. But you don’t figure that out for a while,” and only after entering “the medical vortex” of follow-up tests, said Dr. Peter Bach, a cancer screening expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking or never start, and screening doesn’t make smoking safer, doctors stress. “That’s everyone’s public health concern: People [may] see this as a pass to continue smoking,” Bach said of screening. “I don’t think it’s likely,” because people know how harmful smoking is, he said. — AP

MANAGING ARTHRITIS PAIN

Revive Physical Therapy is offering a free seminar and personal consultations on strategies to manage arthritis pain through exercise on Monday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Revive office, 10300-B Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. Reservations should be made by Nov. 22 by calling (410) 988-5171.

Dec. 9

BUDDING AUTHORS MEET AT LIBRARY

Share your original writing with other aspiring authors for mutual support and feedback on Monday, Dec. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Central Branch Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia. For more information, call (410) 313-7860.

It’s Better To Give Than Receive The Neighborhoods at St. Elizabeth has been giving independence and health back to our community members for over 87 years. With such a rich tradition of excellence and a reputation for delivering world class care, it’s no wonder families choose St. Elizabeth for their rehabilitation & nursing care needs generation after generation.

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Target Pharmacy has you covered. Members of AARP® MedicareRx plans, insured through UnitedHealthcare,® could save on Medicare prescription copays at Target Pharmacy. For more information, visit www.UHCPreferredPharmacyNetwork.com/Target.

Additional Medicare plans are also accepted. See pharmacy for details. Plan is insured or covered by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliates, a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. UnitedHealthcare pays a royalty fee to AARP. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. ©2013 Target Stores. Target and the Bullseye Design are registered trademarks of Target Brands, Inc. All rights reserved. 483404 Y0066_PDPSPRJ14842 _000 IR


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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

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A toast to benefits of red wine, grape juice The buzz about the benefits of red wine has many of us drinking a glass to good health. And for those who choose not to imbibe, it turns out the booze behind the buzz may not be necessary. Grape juice and dealcoholized wine can offer similar benefits. Studies show that a daily glass or two of red wine may lower the risk of heart disease. While alcohol content may be partially responsible for wine’s ability to relax blood vessels and increase levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol, the hearty concentration of flavonoid compounds, such as anthocyanin, catechins and resveratrol, play their own role in heart health by boosting antioxidants. It comes as no surprise that purple grape juice — essentially unfermented red wine — boasts flavonoid compounds, as well. Grape flavonoids seem to have similar protective effects in juice as they have in wine. Studies show that these compounds help prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that leads to plaque formation and build-up inside artery walls. According to a study in the journal Circulation, when 15 patients with cardiovascular disease were given a glass of grape juice each day for two weeks, their LDL oxidation was significantly reduced and blood flowed more freely through the arteries. And according to preliminary research in a 2007 Cardiovascular Research study, grape juice stimulated the production of nitric acid in cells lining the arteries, which allows for improved blood flow.

But red wine has resveratrol Red wine comes out on top, however, when it comes to resveratrol, which has been linked with preventing heart disease and cancer in preliminary studies. Resveratrol is extracted from the skins of the grapes during the fermentation phase of winemaking, which doesn’t occur in grape juice. Both red wine and grape juice can, in moderation, be a healthy addition to a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods. Treat yourself to no more than one glass of wine a day for women and two for men. Or, enjoy a four-ounce glass of grape juice a day — be sure to scan labels for 100 percent juices with no added sugars. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. © 2013 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Grape juice better in some ways The flavonoid content in grape juice was shown to be similar to that of red wine. In addition, a study in the Journal of Biomedical Biotechnology found that one member of the flavonoid family in particular — anthocyanins — were better absorbed from grape juice than from red wine. The researchers believe the higher natural sugar content of grape juice may aid absorption. Furthermore, the absence of alcohol may boost the amount of time these antioxidant compounds stay in the body, according to findings reported in the January 2000 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When volunteers were given red wine and then a de-alcoholized version of the same red wine, catechin flavonoids remained in the blood more than four hours in the volunteers who drank the nonalcoholic wine, but just over three hours in those who drank the wine with alcohol.

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BEACON BITS

Dec. 5

CHILDREN’S CHORUS PERFORMS AT SENIOR CENTER

A chorus of children from Bushy Park Elementary School will perform traditional holiday music in a concert on Thursday, Dec. 5 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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• Bark is participating in Warm Hearts Happy Paws. Donate food supplies for local rescue organizations. Olney will be collecting for Greyhound Welfare and Clarksville will be collecting for Animal Advocates of Howard County. • Weruva and Natures Variety will be matching any food donations of their products.

• Frosty's Magic Jar - free raffle with purchase. • Jennifer Holland, author of Unlikely Friendships and Unlikely Loves, will be signing books and answering questions from 1-3pm. nestnaturalhome.com

• Coat sale all weekend (Dec. 7 and 8): 20% off all winter coats and jackets. boulder4men.com


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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Many meds deplete important nutrients Dear Pharmacist: I take a water pill (diuretic) for blood pressure. Now, my doctor says I have to take Boniva for osteopenia. Is there a connection? What’s next for me? — H.J. Dear H.J.: Oh yes, definitely connected! I don’t mean to be crass, but your diuretic makes you lose water volume (the point). But with every bathroom trip, you pee out minerals! Many people are saying “Aha” now, be-

cause you started out taking a blood pressure med, then at some point, you were prescribed a bone building drug for osteoporosis. Often, you’ll find that each drug you take creates a side effect calling for another drug. I’ll share my side effect solutions with you because I realize you have to (or want to) take your prescription medications. You’ve asked, “What’s next for me?” Depending on the specific diuretic you take, you may eventually need an antidepres-

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sant, something for leg cramps, and In the meantime, here are several side maybe tinnitus (ear ringing). You may also effect solutions to ask your practitioner(s) need a drug for heart arrhythabout. Don’t make changes mias — all just to counter the without your physician’s apmineral and electrolyte defiproval: ciencies that result from the Parsley or dandelion: “drug mugging” effect of These are gentler diuretics, drug number 1, your blood less likely to cause the harsh pressure drug! depletion of minerals; also Shocked? When side efless likely to cause dehydrafects due to nutrient depletion tion in low doses. by a drug (drug mugging) are Marshmallow root: Bisnot recognized, you’ll get a phosphonate drugs for bones new ‘disease’ and a new med- DEAR can irritate the esophagus in PHARMACIST ication for it. sensitive folks. Marshmallow By Suzy Cohen This year, an estimated root or slippery elm tea 163,000 people will suffer memsoothe and protect your ory loss (perhaps Alzheimer’s) due to vari- esophageal tract. ous prescription drugs that mug brain nutriGreen foods and supplements: Think ents. About 61,000 people will hear the words of spinach, kale, spirulina or chlorophyll “Parkinson’s disease,” but won’t realize it was supplements, or wheatgrass shots. These drug-induced. are full of minerals to restore what the drug Another 32,000 of you will suffer a hip mugger (diuretic blood pressure pill) is takfracture from a drug-induced fall, and al- ing from you. Take me seriously, mineral most 8,000 people will die from internal deficiency leads to heart beat irregularities, bleeding caused by over-the-counter non- faintness, dizziness and depression. steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or Coconut water: Unsweetened, unheatNSAIDs. ed coconut water will restore electrolytes This gets me fired up! It’s why I wrote if you have to take diuretics or lisinopril, a Drug Muggers (Rodale 2011) for you, be- popular blood pressure drug. cause 75 percent of doctor’s office visits This information is opinion only. It is not end with the physician giving you a pre- intended to treat, cure or diagnose your conscription for a medication — and you need dition. Consult with your doctor before using me to protect you! any new drug or supplement. I’ll email you a longer version of this arSuzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist ticle with more side effect solutions if you and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist sign up for my free newsletter at my web- and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To site, www.dearpharmacist.com. contact her, visit www.dearpharmacist.com.

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

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Tamp down family feuds at Thanksgiving Dear Solutions: up on the way out. No exceptions!!” I am in charge of Thanksgiving Dear Solutions: ever y year, and I always have the My daughter-in-law recently came whole family here. back from a trip to Europe My two daughters have and brought me a necklace always gotten along. My and earrings that are just older daughter remarried not my style. I take pride in this past year, and, unforhow I dress and what kind tunately, my two sons-inof jewelr y I wear, and I law who are in competing would never consider wearbusinesses are in what I ing these if she hadn’t would call a feud about bought them. something that happened. I know I could just wear When they’re together, them when she’s around. SOLUTIONS they argue constantly over now we have a big However, By Helen Oxenberg, everything, even the footfamily affair to go to, and MSW, ACSW ball teams they support — she knows the gown I’m and it seems there’s always a football going to wear. She keeps saying, “Oh, game to watch during the holiday. My I’m so glad I got you that. I had that daughters stay out of the arguing be- gown in mind and think it’ll really look cause they really love each other and great with that.” love to get together. They’re really kind of gaudy and What can I do about these guys so flashy, and I always wear quiet jewelthey won’t spoil the day? — Upset ry. Should I wear them? — Norma Dear Upset: Dear Norma: Uh oh, here comes Thanksgiving, and Yes. This time you be a gaudy and flashy here, in your case, come the three Fs — mother-in-law by pointing the jewelry out food, football and feud. to people and boasting how your daughterHopefully your daughters, since they in-law took the time and effort to bring this get along, will have some influence on for you all the way from Europe. their husbands. People at the affair may not love the jewelTo help your sons-in-law refrain from ry, but they will appreciate — and maybe spoiling the day for everyone, I would also even envy — the good relationship you mansuggest that you call each of them sepa- age to maintain with your daughter-in-law. rately and, without taking sides in their ar- Dear Solutions: gument, tell them you are counting on Every time one of my kids or close them, as you are on everyone who is invit- relatives has a problem and tells me ed, to help make the day a success. about it, I start worrying and can’t stop. Then put a big sign on your outside I console them the best I can, and then door that they will see as they enter. It when I don’t hear from them for a while, should say “Food, friends, football wel- I just keep worrying over and over come inside: Feuds must be left on the about what will happen. The same thing doorstep and may, if necessary, be picked happens when it’s my own problems.

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How do I stop being a worrier? — Hilda Dear Hilda: OK, so you’re a worrier. First, stop worrying about it. It keeps you from moving on, so accept that about yourself and then focus on what you can do about it. After you’ve consoled your kids and then don’t hear from them, I’ll bet they’ve solved their problem and have moved on, while you leave yourself stuck in the same place. So, until you hear from them again, assume they’ve solved their problem. When you’re stuck worrying about a problem of your own, try removing yourself. Step back and visualize a friend asking your advice about that problem. What would you tell her/him?

Also, when you’re feeling very nervous, try deep breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it for a count of four, release it slowly through your mouth and repeat. And each time the worrying starts and you haven’t found a solution, take a time out. Actually say the words out loud — “time out” — and watch a movie, read a book, anything that will engage your mind, After you’ve done all this, please tell me how it has worked. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll worry. © Helen Oxenberg, 2013. Questions to be considered for this column may be sent to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915. You may also email the author at helox72@comcast.net. To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.


16

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

VOLUME 3, NO. 12 • DECEMBER 2013

A Message from the Administrator By Dayna Brown, Office on Aging Administrator

Happy Holidays! As you plan, shop and prepare festive celebrations for your own friends and family, please take some time to remember the less fortunate folks in our community as well. The Office on Aging’s Project Holiday is a great way to make the holidays merrier for older adults in Howard County who don’t have families in the area. Donations (see the ad, opposite for suggestions) will be packaged into holiday gift bags and delivered to residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and others in our community just in time for the holidays. While shopping for the holidays is foremost on your to-do list, don’t forget that you have until Dec. 7 to shop for a new Medicare prescription drug plan as well. During open enrollment, our SHIP counselors can help you determine if your current plan will meet your needs for the coming year, or if another plan may be a better fit. Give them a call at 410-313-7391 to schedule a one-on-one appointment or register for one of the free enrollment events throughout the community. Visit www.howardcountyaging.org for a complete list of upcoming events. Unfortunately, Medicare’s Open Enrollment period also provides new opportunities for con artists to steal money and personal information from unwary health care shoppers. To avoid becoming a victim of Medicare fraud, remember that while private insurance companies sell Medigap and Medicare Advantage coverage plans, they should not claim to be Medicare representatives, nor can they say they are endorsed by Medicare. Cold calling — by phone or in person — is not allowed. If an insurance agent calls and you haven’t requested a call, hang up. If an agent comes to your door and you haven’t requested a visit, don’t invite them in. If you do decide to talk with an insurance agent, don’t feel pressured to buy anything on the spot. For more tips, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/avoidemedicarefraud.htm. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!

Some Medicare Enrollments Continue After Dec. 7 Prescription Plan Deadline

By Bill Salganik, Counselor, State Health Switching out of Medicare Advantage. Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) If you’re in a Medicare Advantage (HMO or Medicare’s annual enrollment period for other full health insurance program) plan, prescription coverage and Medicare but want to return to Original Medicare, Advantage plans ends Dec. 7, but there are you can do so between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14. other enrollment periods you can use at The change takes effect the first of the other times of the year: month after your new enrollment. Basic Medicare. The General Enrollment Medigap. Medigap (sometimes called Period for Medicare Parts A and B is Jan.1 to Medicare supplement) policies don’t have a March 31, but you can sign up outside that specific enrollment period, so if you need period when you turn 65, or when you leave Medigap, you can apply for it any time. employer coverage. Sign up online at Within six months of starting Medicare www.ssa.gov/medicareonly, visit a Social Part B, you can get Medigap without Security office, or call 1-800-772-1213. Your having to answer health questions. enrollment will be effective July 1. For more information about these and Replacing dropped plans. If your plan other Medicare questions or to make an was dropped for 2014 — Aetna PPO, appointment for free one-on-one counseling, AetnaPremier HMO, or Envision Rx Plus call SHIP at 410-313-7392. Gold for prescriptions — you have until the end of February to pick a replacement plan. But if you do not make the !"#$%&'(")$*+,-"./01!"$+"234+3" change before Dec. 31, you 45"1$66!1,4+3"($+&,!("4,!75"/$'"6$%8 may not have all of the 4+1$7!"5!+4$'5"% $"'!54(!"4+"+*'54+3" coverage you want until the $7!59"&5545,!("64:4+3"/&1464,4!59"&+("4+", !" new enrollment takes effect 1$77*+4,-; the first of the following <!!(!("4,!75"/$'"7!+"&+("%$7!+="" month. 5$1>5?6$,4$+?@$(-"%&5 ?5$&A?(!$($'&+," Switches for people in 5 &7A$$B1$+(4,4$+!'?A$%(!'?,$$, A&5,!" assistance programs. If ,$$, "@'*5 !5?*+(!'5 4',5 you’re enrolled in the federal "5%!&,!'5?+43 ,3$%+5?A&C&7&5 Extra Help or Maryland’s A*DD6!"@$$>5?5,&7A5?5,&,4$+!'-; Senior Prescription Drug E$+!,&'-"F$+&,4$+5"&65$"211!A,!(; Assistance Program, you can F'$A"$//"-$*'"($+&,4$+5"@-"F!1!7@!'"GH" switch prescription or &,"&+-"#$%&'(")$*+,-"I!+4$'")!+,!'"$'"&,=" Medicare Advantage plans #$%&'(")$*+,-"./01!"$+"234+3" outside the regular enrollment JKLG"M&,!%&-"F';9"I*4,!"NOO period. Changes take effect ")$6*7@4&9"EF""NGOPJ;" the first of the month after your new enrollment. If Q$'"7$'!"4+/$'7&,4$+"1$+,&1," you’re eligible for assistance ./!64&".,,"&,"PGO8RGR8JPNR"$'" programs (if your annual $'$55S $%&'(1$*+,-7(;3$:" gross income is below $34,470 for an individual or $46,530 for a couple) but haven’t signed up, you can do so any time.

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N â&#x20AC;&#x201D; D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Say you saw it in the Beacon

Coming Events The Senior Connection

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gifts from the Kitchen, Glenwood 50+ Center Learn how to make unique but easy items to give as hostess gifts or to friends. Taste the creations and learn how packaging is everything! Cost: $6; call 410-313-5440 to register.

Wednesday, Dec. 4, noon to 7 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Holiday Craft Boutique, Ellicott City Senior Center Shop our first Holiday Craft Boutique; $1 admission includes door prize drawings and a gift bag from Encore at Turf Valley. Proceeds benefit Grassroots and ECSC programs. Call 410-313-1400 for details. Thursday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Camerata Musica, East Columbia 50+ Center Experience the a cappella sounds of Camerata Musica and enjoy refreshments in the warmth of our center. Free; no reservations required. Call 410-313-7680 for details.

Friday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to noon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Holiday Plant Sale, North Laurel 50+ Center Decorate your home for the holidays with poinsettias and wreaths from eMerge, Inc. Sponsored by the North Laurel Senior Council; call 410-313-0380 for details.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gospel Choir Concert, Bain Center Delight in traditional Holiday music with the Bain Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gospel Choir and pianist. Enjoy this festive season with friends, food and fun. Sign up in the lunch room if you plan to stay for lunch. Tuesday, Dec. 10, noon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Poinsettia and Wreath Sale, East Columbia 50+ Center Our center will be full of beautiful plants and wreaths for holiday decorating and gift giving. Looking for something in particular? Call 410-313-7680 to let us know!

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 10:30 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; HCC Bain Senior Choir Holiday Recital, Bain Center Join Bainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chorus as they sing holiday tunes that will be music to your ears. Free, holiday refreshments served at 10 a.m. Call 410-313-7213 to reserve your seat.  

 



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The Senior Connection is published monthly by the Howard County Department of Citizen Servicesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Office on Aging. We welcome your comments and suggestions. To contact us, or to join our email subscriber list, email seniorconnection@howardcountymd.gov with â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;subscribeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the subject box.

Howard County Office on Aging 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, Dec. 11, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gift Exchange Bingo, Elkridge Senior Center Enjoy bingo with a holiday twist; play for free by bringing a gift valued at $10. Last year this event sold out, so register early by calling the center at 410-313-5192.

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; North Laurel Winter Concert, North Laurel 50+ Center Lyric Opera Baltimoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Opera Cares program presents holiday favorites. Enjoy a sing-along and a special holiday meal. Tickets: $10 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 410-313-0380. Friday, Dec. 13, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Holiday Cards Workshop, North Laurel 50+ Center Make personalized holiday cards for your loved ones during this joyful season. Cost: $7 includes instruction and materials. For more information or to register, call 410-313-0380 by Dec. 11.

Friday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Cookie Sale & Concert, Glenwood 50+ Center Support our fundraiser by purchasing home baked goodies for $4.50 a dozen, then enjoy the sounds of the Bushy Park Elementary School chorus singing the songs of the season! Call 410-313-5440 for details. Friday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Lyric Opera House Holiday Concert & Luncheon, Ellicott City Senior Center Celebrate the holidays with beautiful music from the Lyric Opera House as they perform their Holiday Spirit Program. A gourmet catered lunch follows at 12 noon. RSVP: 410-313-1400. Friday, Dec. 13, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Bain Center Council Dance Enjoy an afternoon of live big band music featuring Men-n-Motion. Refreshments served. Cost: Women $6; men get in free! Call 410-313-7213 for more information. Monday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Create a Gingerbread House, Elkridge Senior Center Work with a student from the APL to create a beautiful house to take home or use as a gift. Snacks and lunch will be provided; donations are appreciated. Call 410-313-5192 to sign up. Tuesday, Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Lyric Opera Returns, East Columbia 50+ Center The Lyric Opera will perform seasonal favorites at our annual mocktail and hors dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;oeuvre holiday event. Free; bring a donation for the Howard County Food Bank. Call 410-313-7680 for details.

Thursday, Dec. 19, 11 a.m. to noon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Marriotts Ridge Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ensemble, Ellicott City Senior Center Join us for a holiday concert featuring the talented ladies from the Marriotts Ridge High School Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ensemble. Free; call 410-313-1400 for details.

Friday, Dec. 20, noon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Holidays Go Retro, Glenwood 50+Center Kick off the holidays with a catered lunch featuring â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Retro Rocketsâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they are sure to get you up on your feet. Cost: $7; for tickets call 410-313-5440.

Mondays starting Jan. 6, 5:30 to 8 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Living Well, Medical Pavilion at Howard County, 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia, MD 21044 Learn how to manage your chronic conditions in a supportive group setting over the course of six weeks. Cost: $28; includes all materials. Call 410313-5980 for information or to register.

Wednesdays starting Jan. 15, 5:30 to 8 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Living Well for Men, Medical Pavilion at Howard County 10710 Charter Drive, Suite 100, Columbia, MD 21044 Living with prostate cancer, COPD, heart disease, obesity, arthritis or other chronic conditions? Attend Living Well for Men, a six-week workshop led by men, for men only, to regain control of your life. Cost: $28; includes all materials. Call 410-313-5980 to register.

Tuesdays starting Jan. 21, 9:30 a.m. to noon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Living Well with Diabetes, Bain Center Learn how to manage the symptoms of diabetes by taking charge of your health in just six weeks. Cost: $28; includes all materials. Call 410-313-5980 for information or to register. If you need accommodations to attend any of these events, call 410-313-5980 one week in advance.

The Howard County Paws4Comfort program fosters special bonds between pets, their owners and the County residents they visit. If you are interested in volunteering, or wish to schedule a free evaluation for your pet, contact Ingrid Gleysteen, at 410-313-7461 or igleysteen@howardcountymd.gov. Evaluations are held the 1st Wednesday of every month.

Wednesday, Dec. 4th 7 PM at Bain Center The Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way Columbia, MD 21044

410.313.7461 www.howardcountyaging.org

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Money Law &

OMBAMACARE SCAMS Watch out for scam artists using the new healthcare law to bilk seniors, including false websites and fake insurance navigators PASSWORD PROTECTION Several free software programs can help you remember all those passwords you need

Investor lessons from the financial crisis We have now passed the fifth anniverWith five years of distance from the eye sary of the financial crisis, which tested of the storm, here is my list of the top five every investor in America — lessons every investor can from neophytes to the most take away: jaded traders on Wall Street. 1. Keep cool: There are As Chicago Mayor Rahm two emotions that influence Emanuel once said, “You our financial lives: fear and never want a serious crisis to greed. At market tops, greed go to waste. And what I mean kicks in, and we tend to asby that is an opportunity to do sume too much risk. Conthings you think you could versely, when the bottom falls not do before.” out, fear takes over and makes While Emanuel was talking RETIRE SMART us want to sell everything and about politics, I think we can By Jill Schlesinger hide under the bed. apply his statement to inIf you had sold all of your vestor behavior leading up to and during stocks during the first week of the crisis in the financial crisis. September 2008, you would have been

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shielded from another 40+ percent in further losses (stocks bottomed out in March 2009). But how would you have known when to get back in? It is highly doubtful that most investors would have had the guts to buy when it seemed like stock indexes were hurtling towards zero! Yet, stocks are now up close to 150 percent since the March 2009 lows. 2. Maintain a diversified portfolio...and don’t forget to rebalance. One of the best ways to prevent emotional swings is to create and adhere to a diversified portfolio that spreads out your risk across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, cash and commodities. In September 2008, a client shrieked to me that “everything is going down!” But that was not exactly the case: this person’s 10 percent allocation in cash was just fine, as was her 30 percent holding in government bonds. That did not mean that the stock and commodities positions were doing well, but overall, the client was in far better shape because she owned more than risky assets. 3. Maintain a healthy emergency reserve fund. Bad luck can occur at any time. One great lesson of the crisis is that those who had ample emergency reserve

funds — six to 12 months of expenses for those who were employed, and 12 to 24 months for those who were retired — had many more choices than those who did not. While a large cash cushion seems like a waste to some (“it’s not earning anything!”), it allowed many people to refrain from selling assets at the wrong time and/or from invading retirement accounts. Side note: The home equity lines of credit on which many relied for emergency reserves vanished during the crisis. 4. Put down 20 percent for a mortgage (and try to stick to plain vanilla home loans, like 15- or 30-year fixed rate mortgages, unless you really understand what you are doing!) Flashback to 2004-’07, and you will likely recall that you or someone you knew was buying a home or refinancing with some cockamamie loan that had “features” that allowed borrowers to put down about 3 cents worth of equity. There’s a good reason that old rules of thumb work. Yes, Virginia, house prices can go down. And despite the recovery, See INVESTOR LESSONS, page 20


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

19

Finding and redeeming lost savings bonds By Elliot Raphaelson to talk to a real person, who was very knowlAccording to the Department of the edgeable. And there was no waiting time.) Treasury, 25,000 payments are returned to it every year Understanding taxes as undeliverable. and penalties In addition, billions of dollars If you decide to redeem in savings bonds have stopped bonds that are still earning inearning interest but haven’t terest, make sure you underbeen cashed. Many bonds have stand the penalties associated been lost, stolen or destroyed. with redemption. Fortunately, there is a DeYou must hold both Series I partment of Treasury websavings bonds and Series EE site, TreasuryDirect.gov, that savings bonds for at least 12 THE SAVINGS can assist you if any of these months. After 12 months, you GAME situations apply to you. have the option to redeem By Elliot Raphaelson From this website, you can them. However, it may pay to use a feature called “Treasury Hunt” to de- hold the bond for at least five years. There termine whether you are the owner of a is a three-month’s interest penalty on bonds savings bond that has stopped earning in- not held at least five years. terest but hasn’t been cashed. Interest on savings bonds is taxable The system does not contain a record of only at the Federal level; bonds are free all savings bonds. It does, however, pro- from state and local income taxes. vides information regarding Series E If you purchased the bonds after Dec. Bonds issued in 1974 or later, and Series 31, 1989, and use the proceeds to cover tuEE bonds issued in 1974 or later. You only ition for qualified higher education, the inhave to enter your Social Security number. terest is tax-free at the Federal level also. If you are not sure who is the registered You can determine the current rates for Seowner of the bonds, enter the Social Secu- ries I, EE and HH bonds at 800-US-BONDS rity numbers of all members of your fami- (872-6637). This information is also availly. There is no advantage in holding onto able at the TreasuryDirect website. bonds that no longer earn interest. If you own several bonds and would preYou can redeem bonds that no longer fer assistance with valuing and redeeming earn interest, or any other bonds you own, your bonds, you can purchase personal through a local financial institution or the service from SavingsBonds.com for about U.S. Treasury. There will be no charge to $6 per year. With this service, you will be you to do so. Information on how to sell provided up-to-date information on all your bonds through the Treasury Department bonds, specifically interest rate, current is available on the TreasuryDirect website. value and maturity date. The service will You can obtain redemption information also provide you with recommendations and other information regarding bonds at 1- regarding redemption. 800-245-2804 — the savings bond processing The site contains a great deal of useful site of the Treasury Department. (I called the information, such as a comparison besite, and was pleasantly surprised to be able tween I savings bonds and EE savings

&

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Elder Law, Estate & Special Needs Planning Medical Assistance Planning and Eligibility Advance Medical Directives / Living Wills Trusts / Estate Planning Administration Wills / Powers of Attorney Disability Planning / Special Needs Trusts Guardianship

bonds, regarding denominations, purchase price, interest, redemption and tax information. If you had bonds that were lost, stolen or destroyed, you can submit Form PDF 1048, available from the TreasuryDirect website. By providing as much information as you can — specifically estimated date of purchase, name of registered owner, type of bond and so forth — the Treasury Department will search its records for you. You can use this process for registered Treasury notes and bonds in addition to savings bonds. This site allows you to download other forms, such as for replacement of lost or stolen checks, or claims for bonds ordered but not received.

Locating unclaimed property The Treasury Hunt feature of the TreasuryDirect website will identify only information regarding savings bonds. I recommend

that you also go to www.unclaimed.org to determine if there is any other unclaimed property identified for you on state websites that you are not aware of. If you were a beneficiary of an estate, there may be assets turned over to a state that belong to you, not the state. For example, if the decedent owned bank accounts in their name only, and the executor of the estate was not aware of these accounts, the property would be turned over to the state. A few years ago, my children and I recovered several thousand dollars from Florida’s unclaimed property site in exactly this situation, with a search using decedent information. Treasury and state websites are convenient. Make sure you recover any assets that belong to you. Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at elliotraph@gmail.com. © 2013 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Obamacare scams targeting older adults By Kimberly Lankford Q. I received an email telling me I need to buy a health insurance card that shows I have coverage under Obamacare or I will have to pay a penalty. The email looked legitimate, but it asked for my credit card number. Is it a scam? A. Yes. Although the Affordable Care Act requires people to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty, there is no special card to buy. This is just one of the many ways that

crooks are trying to take advantage of misconceptions and misinformation so that they can get your credit card number, bank-account information or cash. Here are a couple of other scams to watch out for: • The Medicare-card scam. One woman in San Diego received a call from a person claiming to be from Medicare who said she needed a new Medicare card because of Obamacare and asked for her personal information and checking-account

number. (He already had her name and address.) The woman was told that her Medicare benefits would stop if she didn’t provide the information. She became suspicious and contacted the California Senior Medicare Patrol, one of 54 programs throughout the country that work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fight Medicare-related fraud. Not only does the new healthcare law not require you to get a new Medicare or healthcare card, but Medicare will never, ever call you. Instead, like the IRS, Medicare will contact you about any personal issues through the mail. You can call 1-800-633-4227 or go to Medicare.gov for more information, or contact the Senior Medicare Patrol in your state (www.smpresource.org). • Fake navigators and exchange sites. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $67 million in grants to community organizations to help people sign up for coverage through the new healthcare exchanges (also called marketplaces). Now scam artists are posing as these community “navigators” and saying that they’ll sign you up for coverage if you send them or wire them a few hundred dollars to get started. Legitimate navigators will not cold-call you or send you an e-mail. To find a legitimate navigator in your area through your state’s exchange, go to the “How do I get help enrolling in the marketplace?” fact sheet at Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-3182596 for more information and resources.

Q. Does the new healthcare law prohibit medigap insurers from denying coverage or raising rates because of health? A: No. Even though starting in 2014 most health insurers won’t be able to reject applicants or charge them more because of their health, the new law doesn’t apply to Medicare supplement policies (often called medigap). You can buy any medigap policy regardless of your health within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B. But after that initial enrollment period, insurers can reject you or charge higher rates because of a medical condition. There are some exceptions. For example, you may qualify for medigap coverage without medical underwriting if you are in a Medicare Advantage plan that discontinues operations, or if you move out of that plan’s service area. A few companies will let you switch from one version of medigap coverage to another without new medical underwriting, especially if you’re switching to a plan with more cost-sharing — such as to the high-deductible Plan F or Plan N. If your medigap premiums increase significantly, try applying for a new medigap policy, even if you have minor health issues. It generally takes about 60 days for a medigap policy to go through medical underwriting, but some companies will process the policy in 15 to 30 days, said Eric Maddux, senior Medicare adviser for eHealthMedicare, which provides price quotes and sells policies from many companies.

Investor lessons

were far riskier than investors understood. Whether it’s a target date fund or an agebased investment for your kid’s college fund, be sure to check out the risk level before you put a dollar to work. Living through a crisis is never easy, so let’s try to at least learn from it! Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is the Senior Business Analyst for CBS News, a former options trader and CIO of an investment advisory firm. She welcomes comments and questions at askjill@jillonmoney.com. © 2013 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

From page 18 please shun the advice from so-called experts like Suze Orman, who are once again saying that 10 percent down is just fine. 5. Understand what is in your target date fund: Pre-crisis, many investors had started to use funds in which the fund manager “targets” your future date of retirement and adjusts the allocation as you near the time that you will need to access the money. Unfortunately, many of these funds

See MEDIGAP, page 21


21

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Law & Money

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Let software remember passwords for you By Jeff Bertolucci Security experts tell us to create long, complex passwords (think numerals and symbols) for every online account. But how are we supposed to remember all of those mind-numbing character strings? Fortunately, there is software that manages your passwords for you. These programs allow you to store your passwords in one file by creating one ultra-secure master password to serve as the portal to all your other user names and passwords. Here are three of our favorites:

Dashlane This is an excellent choice for the password-challenged. Not only is it highly secure, but it’s also a breeze to use. Dashlane (www.dashlane.com) is a free download for Windows and Mac PCs and most

Medigap From page 20 If you can’t qualify for a new policy, another option is to switch from medigap to an all-in-one Medicare Advantage policy during open-enrollment season, which runs from October 15 to December 7. Any Medicare beneficiary can buy a Medicare Advantage plan during that time, regardless of his or her health. These policies

smartphones and tablets. Enter a master password (be sure to remember it because Dashlane doesn’t save it) and the app automatically encrypts your passwords and other private information using military-grade AES-256 encryption, which has never been hacked. Dashlane imports new and existing passwords from your Web browser into its “vault.” The program can remember your shipping and credit card information, as well as auto-fill online checkout screens. Dashlane also works within your Web browser to monitor your online activities. When you log in to your online email, for instance, Dashlane pops up and asks whether it should save your user name and password. Plus, it rates the strength of your existing passwords (and tells you if they should be changed), and it generates strong passprovide both medical and prescriptiondrug coverage from a private insurer. But keep in mind that Medicare Advantage policies tend to have restrictive provider networks (make sure your doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are included), and you could have a tough time finding in-network providers if you travel a lot. They also tend to have more cost-sharing than medigap plans. © 2013 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

words for new sites that you join. If you signed up for two-step verification using Google Authenticator (you need a code generated by an app in addition to your password), you may continue to use it.

LastPass This is another top-notch free password manager. Like Dashlane, LastPass (www.lastpass.com) prompts you to create a master password, integrates with the browser, detects when you log in to password-protected sites, and asks whether you want it to remember log-in information. It also generates strong passwords for new sites and auto-fills credit card and shipping information. Unlike Dashlane, however, LastPass doesn’t rate the

strength of existing passwords. LastPass stores your data online, which lets you access your credit card numbers from any Web browser. (The downside: You may be uncomfortable with having your sensitive personal data stored in the cloud.) The app also supports Google Authenticator.

Keeper If all you want is a free password manager and little more, Keeper (www.keepersecurity.com) is appealing. Like its competitors, the app uses bulletproof AES-256 encryption. The app supports two-step verification, but it doesn’t rate the strength of your passwords. Jeff Bertolucci is a freelance writer for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. © 2013 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

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www.ParkViewSeniorLiving.com Call the community nearest you to inquire about eligibility requirements and to arrange a personal tour or email parkviewliving@sheltergrp.com. Professionally managed by The Shelter Group. www.thesheltergroup.com


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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Travel Leisure &

Airlines offer perks like iPads and gourmet meals — for a price. See story on page 25.

Voluntourism makes for trips of a lifetime across volcanic crevices, fought off ticks and other clingy critters, been “decorated” with soupy loon feces, evaded hippopotamuses in the moonlight, sweltered under the Grecian sun, and had an infected toenail treated atop a trashcan at a clinic in African bush country. To me, these were challenging, mindexpanding adventures, and many were trips of a lifetime.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN ENGLEHARDT

By Glenda C. Booth “Pardon me. You did what?” asked an incredulous friend. “I caught crocodiles,” I replied coolly, when asked about my two-week Earthwatch volunteer expedition studying the Nile crocodile in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. And that’s just one of many things I have done on vacation. I have: • Filmed young marmots frolicking in the French Alps; • Identified dolphins by their dorsal fins’ nicks and streaks in Greece’s Amvrakikos Gulf; • Yanked invasive vines from an ancient heiau (temple for women) on Maui; • Helped band loons wintering in the Gulf of Mexico; • Weighed migrating shorebirds on Delaware Bay; • Mapped and macheted invasive plants in the Galapagos Islands; and • Cleared trails on St. John’s in the Virgin Islands National Park. I’ve tangled with prickly briars, tiptoed

Volunteer vacations

PHOTO COURTESY OF GLENDA C. BOOTH

Some call it voluntourism, volunteering for conservation or another cause while vacationing. Others dub it eco-immersion or “citizen science.” Usually, it involves traveling outside one’s home area and working with a group under the leadership of a scientist or other expert. Most projects do not require subjectmatter expertise, as leaders train volunteers on-site. It’s travel with a purpose, and service without pay. There’s usually little time to read a book, sip margaritas, or lounge in a beach chair. Senior volunteering is rising and is now at a 10-year high, with one in three people over age 55 volunteering in the U.S. or elsewhere. “More than 20 million senior volunteers gave nearly three billion hours of service, at a value of $67 billion,” announced the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in May. A 2008 CNCS study reported that more than 1 million people volunteered overseas.

Making a difference

The author, Glenda C. Booth, films marmots in the French Alps, on an Earthwatch project.

Most people say they volunteer for conservation and similar projects to do something meaningful, to make a difference. Conservation-oriented organizations promote a healthier planet, a more sustainable environment. Earthwatch volunteers, for example, often help scientists collect data that informs public policy and advances science. Vermonter Victoria Kohler, who has gone on 15

Earthwatch volunteers near the Arctic Circle in Canada use ground-penetrating radar to collect data on permafrost and soil for climate change research. An increasing number of older adults are taking part in volunteer vacations, which offer unique experiences and allow them to help the environment and communities around the world.

Earthwatch expeditions, commented, “I really enjoy working with animals, and hope that my efforts will help further knowledge about them and maybe even help save them from decline or possible extinction.” Part of a conservation project’s mission might be to help people who live near the project site. Claudia Seldon, an Earthwatch volunteer and retired nurse from Detroit, Mich., said, “I’ve always enjoyed meeting with local people. It’s different from traveling as a tourist. I enjoy giving back to society.” Conservation projects are usually in outdoor settings — nature’s classrooms — in all kinds of weather. Many projects are in remote locations. That attracts Kohler. “It gets me to unusual and interesting places where the average tourist does not go,” she said. Many volunteer projects are rich learning experiences. Volunteers gain new knowledge, such as learning about animals and plants, and master new skills, like using GPS systems or tools. They often hone their observation skills. For some, volunteering abroad allows them to brush up on a foreign language. On his fifth Earthwatch expedition

studying loons wintering in Louisiana, Ron LeMahieu said, “I do it because I’m a frustrated field biologist. Holding a loon is like holding the wilderness in your arms.” Volunteering abroad can also enhance your understanding of world events, generate insights into cultural values and assumptions, and can bolster respect for differences. Volunteer vacations appeal to many people who love to travel but do not have a compatible or willing traveling companion. Usually, others on the project are likeminded and may be of a similar age. The other volunteers wouldn’t be there if they did not have common interests. Because projects are often “away from the headlines” and are hands-on and in the field, they are a healthy respite from the Internet, email, cellphones, television and other technological trappings of today. Bottom line: They enrich your life.

Tips for choosing trips Extended volunteering requires thoughtful planning. “A lot of pitfalls can be avoided when people research their volunteer opportunities well. It helps set the volunteers’ See VOLUNTOURISM, page 23


H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Voluntourism From page 22 expectations,” said Genevieve Brown, executive director of the International Volunteer Programs Association. “Traveling to another country, people will experience some level of culture shock, so it is important to eliminate a lot

of the unknowns that can surround a volunteer placement,” Brown added. Here are some tips: • Understand the physical requirements, and assess your capabilities realistically. Projects may require backpacking, walking in muck or over treacherous terrain, standing for extended periods or

BEACON BITS

Dec. 8

GARDEN OF LIGHTS WALKING TOUR

Sponsored by Recreation & Parks, a bus trip to the Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring is planned for Sunday, Dec. 8, leaving at 4 p.m. and returning at 10 p.m. for an evening stroll through the lighted displays. Tickets are $49 per person. To reserve or for more information, call (410) 3137279.

Dec. 10

MORMON TEMPLE LIGHTS DISPLAY PLUS DINNER

Dinner at Mrs. K’s in Silver Spring is packaged with the Mormon Temple light show and musical production for a bus trip on Tuesday, Dec. 10, leaving at 4 p.m. and returning at 10 p.m. Tickets are $65, available by calling Recreation & Parks at (410) 313-7279.

Dec. 5

COLUMBIA DEVELOPMENT STUDY

A meeting to introduce the public to a study that will help determine the economic outlook for Columbia’s several villages will be held on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Hawthorn Center, 6175 Sunny Spring, Columbia. The session, sponsored by the Columbia Association, and the county’s Planning and Zoning and Economic Development Authority, will introduce the consulting team, provide an overview of the project, its processes and objectives, and include discussion time for participants. Registration is encouraged via www.ColumbiaMarketStudy.EventBrite.com. For more information, call David Greisman at (410) 423-4103.

Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

steady on a boat, getting in and out of boats, and lifting heavy equipment. Can you tolerate weather extremes, very hot or very cold weather? • Determine your minimal requirements for sleeping arrangements. Expect few frills. You may sleep on the ground, on cots, and in sleeping bags, tents or dormitories and you’ll likely have a roommate. • Understand meals. Explain your food preferences and allergies ahead of time. You may have kitchen duty. • Decide if one, two or more weeks are desirable. Weather can reduce the number of work days, but there may be indoor

work too, such as typing data into a computer. • Understand the costs. Most likely, you will have to pay for your transportation to and from the site. Understand what’s included in the organization’s price. Clarify what expenses, if any, are tax deductible. • Understand the insurance provided to volunteers by the sponsoring organization. Consider travel insurance and extra health insurance if leaving the U.S. • Don’t expect healthcare facilities, medicines or medical personnel like those See VOLUNTOURISM, page 24

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Talking on the phone can be easy again. You have our word.

Using voice recognition technology, a Captioned Telephone operator makes it possible for you to receive on-screen captions of what your caller says as you listen. You may qualify for a Captioned Telephone, amplified phone, or other devices through the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications program at no cost.

To learn more, visit mdrelay.org or call 1-800-552-7724 (Voice/TTY).

Captioned Telephone from Maryland Relay

R55Word-for-word captions R55Easy-to-read display R55Simple to use

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Leisure & Travel | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Voluntourism From page 23 you have in the U.S. • Pay close attention to the list of supplies recommended. Some projects require specialized gear, like headlamps for night work. Take every item recommended and don’t over pack, expecting porters. You’ll likely have to lug everything yourself. • Don’t expect much privacy or free time. While there’s always some “down time,” generally, your time will not be your own. • If traveling abroad, learn about the country beforehand — its governance, politics, cultural factors and restrictions based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. The sponsoring organization can likely connect you with someone who has been there. • Don’t expect to save the world.

“I think the biggest pitfall for people is expecting to change the world in the time of their volunteer placement,” Brown said. “Volunteers should go into their placement with the attitude of service, but also open to learning and striving to understand. “The greatest benefit from volunteer service is the bridge of cross-cultural understanding,” she observed.

Plan thoughtfully While many volunteers come home raving about the experience of a lifetime, it’s not for everybody. A woman whose husband of 30 years asked for a divorce signed up for a trip to Ecuador to “get away,” but spent much of the two weeks dysfunctional and grieving. Another failed to bring strong hiking boots and twisted her ankle the second day, disabling her and confining her indoors for most of the project. Most volunteer travel experiences require a tolerant, patient, flexible attitude.

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

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Once there, it’s usually hard to leave, so you have to “stick it out,” whatever the circumstances. To help you make informed decisions about volunteering abroad, check out www.idealist.org/info/IntlVolunteer or www.voluntourism.org/travelerstart.html. Most of all, volunteer travel requires a curiosity, a willing spirit and an open mind. You might learn something new about yourself. For many people, it is transformational. Wit Ostrenko, president of the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida for the last 24 years, found volunteering on Earthwatch’s Gulf of Mexico loon project had a profound impact on him. “This expedition was humbling for me, and it changed my life,” said Ostrenko. “Being part of the Earthwatch volunteer team allowed me to be a scientist again, and it changed my life as a science center president. I was reminded that it’s the

doing that matters, not the talking and the showing.” The following organizations offer volunteer travel opportunities: • Earthwatch, www.earthwatch.org • Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org/ outings • Road Scholar, Service Learning, www.roadscholar.org/programs/srvclearning.asp • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, www.wwoof.org • Biosphere Expeditions (wildlife conservation) www.biosphere-expeditions.org • Cross-Cultural Solutions, www.crossculturalsolutions.org • Idealist, www.idealist.org • Passport in Time, USDA Forest Service, www.passportintime.com/ • Wilderness Volunteers, www.wildernessvolunteers.org For more organizations offering a range of volunteer opportunities abroad, visit www.volunteerinternational.org/memberlist.html. To learn about traveling with minimal impact on the environment or cultures, visit www.responsible-travel.org. Glenda C. Booth is a travel writer and voluntourism enthusiast.

BEACON BITS

Dec. 12

TECH TALK WITH LIBRARIANS

Drop in to talk with librarians about ways to utilize specialized online research tools, including the Internet, library catalog and other technology, on Thursday, Dec. 12 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Glenwood Branch Library, 2350 Rte. 97, Cooksville. Call (410) 313-5577 for more information.

Dec. 5

HANUKKAH PARTY AT BAIN CENTER

The annual Hanukkah party complete with Mahaya musical entertainment will be held on Thursday, December 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia. The event is free, but reservations are required. To reserve or for more information, email SNovinsky@JewishHowardCounty.org or phone (410) 730-4876, ext. 103.

Nov. 23

A CRAFTY EVENT

014331RXX11

The ninth annual Town Center Holiday Craft Fair will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Historic Oakland Manor, 5430 Vantage Point Rd., Columbia. Admission is free. For information, call Patricia Loeber at (410) 7304744 or visit tcvillage@columbiatowncenter.org.


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Leisure & Travel

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

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Airlines offer a return to civility, for a fee By Scott Mayerowitz U.S. airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them. Unlike the first generation of charges, which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight. Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot firstclass meals in coach, and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office. In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier. “We’ve moved from takeaways to enhancements,” said John F. Thomas of L.E.K. Consulting. “It’s all about personalizing the travel experience.” Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has plateaued. So the airlines are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers.

Customized options Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in, and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight

BEACON BITS

Dec. 3

attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom. And just like Amazon.com offers suggested readings based on each buyer’s past purchases, airlines soon will be able to use past behavior to target fliers. “We have massive amounts of data,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings.” Other airlines are experimenting with tracking passengers throughout the airport. In the future, if somebody clears security hours before their flight, they might be offered a discounted day pass to the airline’s lounge on their phone. Airlines have yet to find the right balance between being helpful and being creepy. So, for now, most of the data is

being used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost. “We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn’t something to endure, but something they can enjoy,” said Bob Kupbens, Delta’s vice president of marketing and digital commerce.

Keeping base fares low Most passengers select flights based on the lowest base fare. The online travel industry plays up that price sensitivity with sites named CheapOair.com, CheapTickets.com and InsanelyCheapFlights.com. When airlines try to raise fares, they are met with resistance. “Customers are very quick to either change travel plans, or use another carrier or not travel at all,” said Jim Corridore, an airline analyst with Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. In the past three years, airlines have

tried to hike fares 48 times, according to FareCompare.com. During 29 of those attempts, bookings fell enough that airlines abandoned the increase. Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying array of offers. “I don’t want you to have to do the math every time,” said Rick Elieson, managing director of digital marketing at American Airlines. American offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a $199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to exit row seats, and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a passenger takes between October and Jan. 5. — AP

A Heartfelt approach to Assisted Living in Howard County

REMEMBERING THE ENCHANTED FOREST

The Enchanted Forest near Ellicott City opened in 1955, the first children’s theme park on the East Coast. Authors Janet Kusterer and Martha Anne Clark have written a book detailing the history of the park through its closing in 1989, The Enchanted Forest: Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park. They will speak at the Howard County Library

Harmony Hall has been a part of the Howard County community for decades with a reputation rooted in providing care with genuine compassion. Our philosophy encourages the process of aging in place - private apartments and competitive pricing along with the availability of in-house physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and 24/7 nursing promote overall well being and proactive care. We sit adjacent to Lorien Columbia, a sister community specializing in skilled nursing care and subacute rehabilitation, and we are in close proximity to acute and urgent care facilities.

Visit us online at LiveHarmonyHall.com

System’s “Meet the Author” event co-sponsored by the Howard County Historical Society on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City.

Call 888-620-4945 for a Personal Tour and Lunch!


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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Style Arts &

A flamingo takes a bath in one of Dr. Carl Segal’s animal photos. Read the rest of the cover story on his work on page 27.

Korean War love letters inspire new play after Lt. Col. Thompson became the Army provost marshal at Fort Meade.

A daughter’s discovery The daughter who discovered the hundreds of courtship letters is Susan Thompson, an actress and playwright now living in Massachusetts. She spent her formative teenage years in Columbia, participated in the Columbia Dance Theater, and graduated from Wilde Lake High School, class of 1976. Susan Thompson finds the letters again and again when she takes to the stage to reenact her discovery and to dramatize their contents and how they shaped her parents’ more than half-century — 51 years — of life together. She wrote a play about their lives, she said, to memorialize her parents and how they aged together, and so the audience will remember the soldiers who had fought in what has been called America’s “forgotten war.” Perhaps that is why she named the play Unforgettable: Letters from Korea. It was written last year, and Susan Thompson has acted as both herself and as her mother in

the performances that have been presented. So far, the 75-minute work has not had a continuous run. Last July 25, it was presented at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean “police action” that took the lives of 36,516 U.S. military and 1.2 million Koreans. In 2012, the play was performed at the Arena Stage library in D.C. for Korean veterans and their families. It has been staged a few times in the Boston area. Thompson is a lecturer in the Boston College Theater Department. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN THOMPSON

By Robert Friedman A woman packing up her family’s belongings in their Columbia home after the death of her parents finds the love letters exchanged by her father and mother during the Korean War. The letters are playful, angry, passionate, articulate. ”Let me know what you are doing,” the woman tells her future husband, who is 7,000 miles away. “The only way I can share it with you is by your telling me about it — all of it (good and bad).” Her husband-to-be, who commands an infantry platoon, replies: “I have felt pretty sick mentally the last couple of days because one of my good friends here got both legs blown off and died before he got to the hospital.” He also writes: “My heart, mind and soul leap oceans to you, always.” Dwight Thompson’s sweetheart who became his wife, Cleora Thompson, was Howard County’s first archivist, from 19751981. Through her efforts, many county buildings were put on the National Register of Historic Places. She died in 2010. The couple moved to Columbia in 1971,

After her parents died, Susan Thompson found in their Columbia home the letters they had written to each other during the Korean War. She has written a play about the letters in which she plays both her mother and herself. She is hoping to perform

Unforgettable: Letters from Korea locally at some point.

A moving time capsule When she discovered her parents’ letters 50 years after they were written, “I was moved by them, not only because they were my parents, but because they were historically significant,” Thompson said. See NEW PLAY, page 27


Say you saw it in the Beacon | Arts & Style

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Photographer

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Adapting to change

Neighbor Care pharmacy of the Medical Arts Building at 11085 Little Patuxent Pkwy., where he has his office. The Artists Gallery cooperative at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Columbia carries some of his cards, and usually has two or three photos on display there each month. Segal, who has been in private practice in Columbia since 1972, moved to the town a few years after it was established in 1967. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in pharmacy from Temple University, he

earned his M.D. degree from Thomas Jefferson University, and held a residency in psychiatry at Walter Reed General Hospital. He did post-residency training in community mental health at Harvard Medical School. He served in the U.S. Army for 10 years, and directed the Bureau of Mental Health and Addictions of the Howard County Health Department from 1972-77. Segal also held the posts of president of the Howard County Medical Society, president of the medical staff at Howard County General Hospital, and chair of the hospital’s department of psychiatry.

He happily shares his future plans: “To continue in the active practice of psychiatry in Howard County as long as I am physically and mentally able. To continue regularly visiting zoos and taking photographs as long as I am physically and mentally able.” In October, some 80 of his framed photographs were arranged in a 25-year retrospective exhibit at his office suite, arranged by Helene Segal, his wife of 57 years, and patient manager Karen Phillips, also a photographer. Together, the two women form what Segal acknowledges as “my support system.” Segal notes that he has been experienc-

ing some challenges in his distance vision lately, so he often takes someone along now on his zoo trips to spot an attractive subject. He takes it from there. Once he has focused on the animal, magnified in the viewfinder, Segal waits until the exactly right moment — the height of the yawn, the blink of the eye in a flirtatious wink. Then SNAP. Segal has also moved from his treasured single reflex lens camera to digital in recent years: “Got to be ‘adaptive’ — that’s the key to keep going,” said the man whose own name reflects one of the animals he so loves to capture on camera.

New play

Portraying both mother and daughter

viewed Korean veterans living there and the society put together an exhibit of uniforms, letters, medals and other memorabilia of the war. The play has not yet been presented in Howard County. Thompson said she would love to bring it to the county, where “my parents were so involved for over 30 years with church, the community.” She has contacted the Howard County

Historical Society, and they told her they would “try to facilitate” a presentation, Thompson said. Sean Gladden, the society’s executive director, told the Beacon that he would like to see the play presented locally. He said the society could not sponsor a presentation alone, but he hoped other organizations would come forward to partner with his group to present the play.

From page 1

From page 26 The letters were filled with the details of everyday life — the food they were eating, the clothes they were wearing — and they were “rich in emotion.” The letters, she said, ”were specific to time and place and particular to my parents, and yet they were universal because they were dealing with love and war.” Thompson said she is also working on a play about her great-great grandfather’s letters during the Civil War. In one of those letters, he wrote to his wife: “Please excuse the dirt on the letter.” “Those were the same exact words my father had written to my mother in one of his letters,” she said. This small but telling detail “shows that they [the soldiers] were trying to shield their loved ones from their own situation, which was writing while sitting in mud. They wanted to send something heartfelt to their sweethearts in their clean little worlds.” Thompson noted: “In working on the script, sometimes I needed to do very little, the source material was so strong…The play is really a story of love and how it endures through time.”

The actress-playwright takes two roles. She is her mother — at 22, when as a college senior she was corresponding with her soldier-boyfriend, and at 72, just before she died of Alzheimer’s disease — and she is the daughter, recalling their lives. During those last years of her mother’s life, Thompson noted, her father continually cared for her, dressing her for church on Sundays, taking her to his law office and even to court, letting employees close to them watch over her while he argued a case before the judge. The play moves back and forth over 50 years, interweaving the love letters, the last years of the war, projected images of the times, poetry, memories and songs heard often in the 1950s (“These Foolish Things,” “I Cover the Waterfront,” “Side By Side” and, of course, “Unforgettable”). On Nov. 9, Thompson and others in the production were in Osage, Iowa, where the Mitchell County Historical Society and the county’s Fine Arts Council sponsored two performances of Unforgettable to commemorate the Korean War armistice. High school students in the town inter-

A Season of Hits at Toby’s Dinner Theatre! OPENING NOVEMBER 15 Just in time for the Holidays!

2014 SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGE • $159 for 4 Tickets - Dinner & Show Coupon book which includes one FREE adult admission. Good for the first two weeks of the five 2014 shows...plus many more money saving coupons

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TOBY’S DINNER THEATRE OF COLUMBIA • CALL 410-730-8311 Based on availability. Due to the nature of theatre bookings, all shows, dates and times are subject to change.

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RESERVE YOUR SEATS TODAY!

Columbia Pro Cantare Handel Messiah December 8, 2013, 7:30 PM

Frances Motyca Dawson, Conductor. 37th Season!

Sponsored by:

Jim Rouse Theatre, 5460 Trumpeter Rd., Columbia 21044

Columbia Pro Cantare chorus, Amy Van Roekel, soprano; MaryAnn McCormick, mezzo Charles Reid, tenor; Lester Lynch, baritone, Henry Lowe, positiv organ; Festival Orchestra

“A CHRISTMAS NOËL” December 15, 2013, 3:00 PM Sponsor: The Steve & Susan Team of Long & Foster Real Estate.

Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Rd., Columbia CPC Chamber Singers perform season music spanning 400 years. Alison Gatwood, piano, Frank Rittermann, organ

JOIN CPC AT OUR NEW YEAR’S EVE SOIRÉE

For information and tickets: 410-799-9321 or 301-854-0107 Jared Denhard and Friends at a private home in Dunloggin, Ellicott City

www.procantare.org


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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Billy Crystal finds inspiration in hitting 65 By Hillel Italie Billy Crystal remembers a show in Baltimore, around 1975, when he opened for the ‘50s revival act Sha Na Na. He was an unknown comic at the time, an unknown who happened to look exactly like one of Sha Na Na’s lead singers, Johnny Contardo. “I’m introduced and I have no billing,” Crystal said during a recent interview. “’Please welcome another star of our show and an up-and-coming new comic ...’ That was the ‘70s. Whenever you heard ‘up-andcoming new comic,’ it was like ‘Ugh.’ “When I hit the stage, they thought I was Johnny playing a guy named Billy Crystal and they booed and they hissed and so forth. And I started getting in their face, in a funny way. And I finished my set, and I got a standing ovation after I walked off. And Johnny got a T-shirt that he would

wear and it said, ‘No, I’m not Billy Crystal.”‘

Time for his memoirs It’s been a long time since Billy Crystal has been mistaken for anyone else. At 65, he has the same round face, scrappy New York accent and rubbery grin known to fans of Analyze This, When Harry Met Sally, and all those Oscar telecasts. Seated in his publicist’s office, sipping coffee from a paper Starbucks cup, he looks at least a decade younger than his age, and is working at the same pace — constant — that he’s kept up for much of his life. He’s set to star in a film comedy directed by Frank Oz, and this fall returned to Broadway with his one-man show about his childhood and his father, 700 Sundays. His whole life is on record for his current project, the memoir Still Foolin’ ‘Em,

which set off a million-dollar bidding war among publishers last spring that was finally won by Henry Holt and Company. Turning 65 was all the inspiration he needed. “All of my really dear friends who are the same age are pretty much saying the same thing, which is basically, ‘Wow. Jeez. This is really happening,’” he said. “You go through stages — first day of school, ‘It’s a bar mitzvah,’ ‘a wedding.’ ‘You know who died?’”

Living everyone’s fantasies Crystal is both a typical baby boomer, baseball fan and political liberal who brags about his grandchildren and can’t believe that he’s a grandfather, and a VIP who seems to have lived out every childhood fantasy — a star of movies, television and the stage, befriended by Muhammad Ali and Mickey Mantle, adored by Sophia

Loren. During one Oscar show, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty stopped by his dressing room to compliment him. Beatty and Bill Clinton turned up backstage after a performance of 700 Sundays. He has not only palled around with Mantle, Yogi Berra and other New York Yankees, he even got to play for them once. “In 2007, I was in Costa Rica for Christmas vacation and could feel my birthday looming,” Crystal writes in his memoir. “I was anxious about turning 60 — it felt like a huge number. Derek Jeter happened to be at our hotel.” Jeter “happened” to be there, and also happened to be a longtime friend who asked Crystal to make a birthday wish. On March 13, 2008, Crystal was allowed an at-bat during a Yankees exhibition game. “Dreams have come true for me in so many different ways that’s it’s almost astounding,” he said. “As I was writing these things, other people reacted to them — I’ve lived through them, but other people say, ‘Do you realize how many great things have happened?”‘

Disappointments and loss, too Of course he has had disappointments — minor, major and profound. Joe DiMaggio once punched him in the stomach (Crystal, hosting a tribute at Yankee Stadium for Mantle, had failed to introduce DiMaggio as “the greatest living” baseball player). He was scheduled to appear on See BILLY CRYSTAL, page 29

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

Billy Crystal From page 28 the debut broadcast of “Saturday Night Live,” but his segment was cut. The 1992 film Mr. Saturday Night, which Crystal directed and starred in, was a critical and commercial letdown that kicked off a dry spell and made Crystal wonder if his movie career was over. But the real wound was sustained at age

15, when his father died of a heart attack. Jack Crystal was a jazz promoter and producer, and his son’s first audience. “That’s how you start,” Billy Crystal said, “making your parents laugh. And he was a really great mentor in looking at these really great comedians on television and saying, ‘Watch Laurel and Hardy and not The Three Stooges. ‘You can stay up late, even though it’s a school night. Then you can watch Ernie Kovacs and stay up for Jack PHOTO BY CHRIS PIZELLO/INVISION/AP

Billy Crystal recently returned to Broadway with his one-man show about his father and childhood, 700 Sundays. He is also starring in a movie called Winter’s Discontent to be released next year.

Coalition of Geriatric Services We’re a coalition of nonprofits, agencies, businesses and professionals who come together to advocate for and help older adults.

December Meeting Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 Time: 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Location: Vantage House 5400 Vantage Point Rd., Columbia, MD 21044

Speakers: Jeannie Finnegan – Therapeutic Music Consultant Topic: Music Therapy/ Holiday Networking

Learn more by calling (410) 997-0610 or visit www.cogsmd.org Thank you to our 2013 Executive Members PLATINUM MEMBERS Howard County General Hospital – Johns Hopkins Medicine • The Beacon Newspapers

GOLD MEMBERS Being There Senior Care • Gary L. Kaufman Funeral Home at Meadowridge Memorial Park Howard County Office on Aging • Visiting Angels

SILVER MEMBERS American Remodeling Group • Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr, LLP • Deborah L. Herman, CPA Ellicott City Health & Rehabilitation Center (Communicare) • Ellicott City Pharmacy • EMA-Copper Ridge

BRONZE MEMBERS Earl Wilkinson, M.D., ENT • Gentiva Health Services • Home Instead Senior Care HomeWatch Caregivers • Lighthouse Senior Living at Ellicott City • Professional Healthcare Resources, Inc. Sterling-Ashton-Schwab-Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville, Inc. • The Bob Lucido Team Trevor Barringer JD/MBA • Whaley Financial Services • Witzke Funeral Homes Inc. of Columbia Wood Builders Collaborative

PATRON MEMBERS Alzheimer’s Association – Greater MD Chapter • Brighton Gardens of Columbia Brooke Grove Retirement Village • Chesapeake Bay Aquatic & Physical Therapy • Craig Witzke Funeral Care Elizabeth Cooney Care Network • Home Call • Home With You • Ivy Manor Normandy, Inc. Morningside House of Ellicott City •Progressive Care at Home Right At Home – In Home Care & Assistance

Paar because Jonathan Winters is on.’” With the 50th anniversary of his father’s death approaching, Crystal decided it was a good time for another run, likely the last, of 700 Sundays. “I love the energy of Broadway, and I thought this was the way to commemorate it [his father’s death] and then put the

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show to rest,” he said. “I see the thread [in life], as I always end up returning to the stage, to get up in front of people and make them laugh and make them look at themselves and make them nod their heads and go, ‘Oh, that’s me, too.’” — AP

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Puzzle Page

Crossword Puzzle Daily crosswords can be found on our website: www.TheBeaconNewspapers.com Click on Puzzles Plus Enjoy Yourself by Stephen Sherr 1

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1. Attendee at a new student mixer 6. Unused 10. GE product 14. It’s used as a weapon a lot 15. Hot to ___ 16. He has a steakhouse at Caesar’s Palace 17. Complete 180 18. O: Pretty good blackjack hands 20. O: Last stop for supplies 22. Nile snakes 23. One of the w’s in www.crossword-dictionary.com 24. Achy 26. Fundamentals 29. O: Neurotic one 35. Gruesome 37. Cross the goal line 38. Match match 39. South Caribbean islander 40. TV ET HQ 41. Ann Taylor offering 43. Resentment 44. Hawaiian Island with no traffic lights 46. After Jack, he has won the most majors 47. O: New model greenlighted by Lee Iacocca in 1990 50. Concluding event 51. Jobs creation 52. “Oh no; a mouse!” 54. It turns clay to bricks 56. O: A good cleanser, bar none 61. Enjoy yourself (or what all the O’ed clues do) 64. Trojan hiding place 65. ___-Day (vitamin brand founded over 25,000 days ago) 66. Type of jazz or rock 67. Expels 68. War vet’s problem 69. Brooklyn team, since 2012 70. Short-tailed weasel

1. Botch 2. Pro ___ 3. Burden of proof 4. O: Attaches 5. In conclusion 6. One story or two lovers 7. Party pooper 8. Diary 9. Ending of the Bible 10. “I’ll be right there” 11. Senate tie-breaker 12. White-bellied Sea Eagle, and relatives 13. Ballot proposition options 19. Most pucker-producing 21. Start of a sonnet rhyme scheme 24. Home to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center 25. “___ the fields we go” 26. Other ref. nbr. 27. Small donkey 28. Wept 30. ___ Boomer (an intense post-war kid) 31. Left-over parts 32. Ole buddy 33. Begot 34. Face in a crowd scene 36. No-win situation 42. O: Evicts 45. Gardner of The Barefoot Contessa 48. Biblical mountain, in present-day Jordan 49. Arbiter or arbitrate 53. Community spirit 54. He could write of Pure Reason 55. Folk singer Burl 56. Feature of a 41 Across 57. He made 425 new cars in 1901 58. Roughly 59. “The Thin Man” dog 60. Annoyance 61. Short flight 62. Lifetime ___ (permanent expulsion) 63. Get a top grade

Answers on page 28.

Answer: What the clerk got when she decorated the gift package -- "WRAPPED" UP IN IT Jumbles: USURP APPLY POWDER BEHELD


H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 3

CLASSIFIEDS The Beacon prints classified advertising under the following headings: Business & Employment Opportunities; Caregivers; Computer Services; Entertainment; For Sale; For Sale/Rent: Real Estate; Free; Health; Home/ Handyman Services; Miscellaneous; Personals; Personal Services; Vacation Opportunities; and Wanted. For submission guidelines and deadlines, see the box on the bottom of this page.

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Home & Handyman Services BASEMENT OR FOUNDATION PROBLEMS? LEVELIFT SYSTEMS, INC. offers honest, professional, no-pressure inspection, consultation & repair quotes for owner-occupied homes with settling, cracking & buckling basement walls. Our 23-year-old Jessup, Marylandbased firm has a spotless record with Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau and Maryland State Home Improvement Commission. Ask for Paul. Office: 301-369-3400. Cell: 410-365-7346. Paulm@levelift.com. MHIC #45110. HANDYMAN MATTERS will help you stay safe in your own home. Professional, Reliable Skilled Craftsmen. Grab Bar Installation, Bathroom Modifications and your to-do list! 410-549-9696. MHIC # 89094.

CAVEAT EMPTOR! The Beacon does not knowingly accept obscene, offensive, harmful, or fraudulent advertising. However, we do not investigate any advertisers or their products and cannot accept responsibility for the integrity of either. Respondents to classified advertising should always use caution and their best judgment.

SANFORD & SON HAULING Trash removal, house & estate clean-outs, garage clean-outs, yard work & cleanups, demolition, shed removal. 410-746-5090. Free Estimates. Insured. Call 7 days a week 7am - 7pm.

EMPLOYMENT & REAL ESTATE ADS: We will not knowingly or intentionally accept advertising in violation of federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status or handicap in connection with employment or the sale or rental of real estate.

ESTATE SPECIALIST Experts in estate clean-outs and preparing your house for sale. Trash removal, house cleanouts, light moving, demolition, yard work, cleaning. 410-7465090. Free estimates. Insured. Call 7 days 7am - 7pm.

Caregivers COMPASSIONATE CAREGIVER – LADY COMPANION available for elderly or adult with disabilities. Very reliable, experienced, own car with excellent references. CPR/First Aid/Hospice/Mental Health Aide Certified. I can provide respite care, concierge, plus more services for your loved one. Please call 240-426-3548 and kindly leave me a message.

Financial Services ACCOUNTING, BOOKKEEPING, TAXES – conscientious CPA, 37 years experience, reasonable rates, looking for additional business, personal and eldercare clients. Call 410-6533363.

For Sale 2 SALVADOR DALI woodblock prints from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Signed and framed. Asking $900 for the pair. Can email pictures if desired. Call Steve 410-913-1653.

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Personal Services

LEARN ENGLISH – SPANISH – ITALIAN – FRENCH – PORTUGUESE Conversational. Grammatical. Private lessons. Reasonable Rates. Tutoring students. 443-3528200.

Wanted MEMBERS – CHINA-BURMA INDIA VETERANS WWII “Free State Basha.” Meet 1st month. Snyders Restaurant. 410-4653725/410-866-8781. VINYL RECORDS WANTED from 1950 through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections of at least 100 items wanted. Please call John, 301-5966201. CASH BUYER for old costume jewelry, pocket and wrist watches (any condition). Also buying watchmaker tools and parts, train sets and accessories, old toys, old glassware & coins. 410-655-0412. WE BUY OLD AND NEW COINS, Jewelry, Silver and Gold, Paper Money too. Watches, Clocks and Parts, Military Badges and Patches Old and New. Call Greg, 717-6587954.

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

Wanted

OLD AND NEW WE BUY Sterling Silver Flatware, Tea Sets or Single Pieces., Furniture, Tools, Cameras, Good Glassware, Artwork Too. Toys From Trains to Hotwheels, Action Figures to Star Wars. Call Greg, 717-658-7954.

FINE ANTIQUES, PAINTINGS AND QUALITY VINTAGE FURNISHINGS wanted by a serious capable buyer. I am very well educated [law degree] knowledgeable [over 40 years in the antique business] and have the finances and wherewithal to handle virtually any situation. If you have a special item, collection or important estate I would like to hear from you. I pay great prices for great things in all categories from oriental rugs to Tiffany objects, from rare clocks to firearms, from silver and gold to classic cars. If it is wonderful, I am interested. No phony promises or messy consignments. References gladly furnished. Please call Jake Lenihan, 301-279-8834. Thank you.

MILITARY ITEMS Collector seeks: helmets, weapons, knives, swords, bayonets, webgear, uniforms, inert ordnance, ETC. From 1875 to 1960, US, German, Britain, Japan, France, Russian. Please call Fred 301-910-0783, Thank you. Also Lionel Trains.

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You’ll see it as soon as you turn onto our scenic drive through lush pastures and hardwood forest. You’ll hear it in the birdsong, breeze and peaceful absence of city noise. You’ll feel it in the friendly manner of people who thrive in a gracious quality of life. This community hums with warmhearted camaraderie and a zest for living shared by residents and staff alike—in independent living, assisted living, memory support, rehabilitative care and nursing care.

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December 2013 Howard County Beacon Edition