Nov 182017

November 18, 2017 — As a child, I feared a tornado could pick up our tiny  house and send us into the ether, like in “The Wizard of Oz.” The house had neither a basement or a crawlspace. My fears grew after the 1965  Palm Sunday tornado. Our town wasn’t in the path of the multi-funnel event.  In Indiana, 137 people were killed and more than 1,200 injured by ten tornadoes during the late afternoon and evening hours, according to the National Weather Service.

What do I fear the most today? Shortly after I retired in October, I shopped at our local discount store.  I thought of a recent incident. Several days before, an active shooter ripped through the same store in a western state. Police chased him, and he eventually shot himself. The chase was slow in starting as locals drew weapons in this open carry state, mystifying the police about the shooter. According to a “Los Angeles Times” story, “good guys with guns” may have caused additional chaos.

I laughed at myself about my fears going to the store. I just retired from a psychiatric hospital, where chaos is the norm. Few mental patients become violent, but there’s some agitation when troubled individuals are in defined, locked spaces. In the nearly four years I worked in the crisis stabilization hospital, I can count on one hand the times I was afraid. So, I checked that off my list of fears, and I’ve been thinking about what I do fear.

In the early part of my career, I was fearful that my spouse or I would lose our jobs, and not be able to pay our mortgage. (With interest rates above eight percent on our first mortgage, which was a healthy fear.) After several miscarriages, I was afraid I couldn’t have a child. We had a beautiful son, who was diagnosed with autism at age two. I was afraid he would never talk and always be tethered to us.  He grew, language came, and he went from special education to neurotypical classrooms. Would he be okay at church camp for three days? Or on the high adventure trip to Wyoming with Boy Scouts (and no cell phone service)?  Then off to Europe with his high-school French Club for two weeks? And then moving to the East Coast for college, and staying for his career?

Tornadoes still frighten me.  And I’m again afraid of a nuclear bomb blast, just as I was in early elementary school. We drilled in the classic “Duck and Cover” way as if a second grader’s wooden desk shielded us from nuclear annihilation or radiation or the roof falling in.

As an adult, my greatest fear is losing my spouse and our son. My mother is gone now, as are all my grandparents.  My father will be 87 this year; I know it is a gift that he is still with us. Unlike many of my peers, I am not afraid to fly. I can’t say I don’t think about what can happen, but I don’t dwell on it. Flying from Atlanta, Georgia, to Madrid, Spain, in summer 2014, the pilot came on the overhead speaker about three hours out of Atlanta. The little screen map on the seat ahead of me showed we were smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“We’re going to have to turn all the power off for about 15 minutes,” he said. “One of our engines has gone out, and we have to reboot the computer to get it started again.” Of course, this massive plane could fly easily on one engine. We were not in any danger. Fifteen minutes in the dark makes one realize how little control we have over everything. The power came back on and we had a wonderful time in Spain.

Of course, anything can happen at any time.  I was a fortunate child that all I had to fear in my childhood was bad weather, not abuse or poverty or any of a hundred horrors many children face. 38 Special - FMJ, SP, WC - SB - 3.jpgUnlike children today, I did not have to worry about an armed domestic terrorist coming into my classroom. As a teenager, I didn’t worry that a gunman would interrupt my viewing of “The Towering Inferno” in a theatre. When worshipping with my family at Sunday morning services, we didn’t consider that a shooter could step inside and kill half of us. These are all realities we face today.

I am by no means fearless. I have no idea how I would respond to any of the situations in a school, theatre, or church we’ve seen in our country.  But we cannot let fear run our lives.  We can be diligent and use common sense. And that over which we have no control, we must let go.

A former co-worker of mine was terrified when her high school age daughter attended the last Presidential inauguration. Rumors flourished that protestors might disrupt the proceedings, and my friend was worried something would happen to her daughter, a thousand miles away from her Kentucky hometown of 29,000 people. Her daughter was fine. On the night the daughter was to return with her classmates, a man who shot another man was apprehended in my co-workers front yard. He was discovered in this town of 29,000 people, a town described as “sleepy.”

Most worry is for naught.  While we should not abandon caution, we don’t know our future.  We do not know when the bullets will fly or the cancer cells will turn against us. While FDR’s first inaugural speech quote “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” has become a cliche, the speech bears revisiting.  No one reading this was alive in 1933, but our grandparents and great-grandparents struggled in the depths of The Great Depression.  Roosevelt, who was known as jovial and cheerful in his campaign, gave a stirring speech with many religious overtones. He reminded Americans that they lacked material possessions, not values. He used the forum to remind Americans of how they forefathers struggled to build this country. Rereading that speech tonight gave me additional comfort and insight.











Nov 172017

November 17, 2017,  Three points on the national discussion about sexually inappropriate behavior.

OUR PARTY AT ALL COSTS.  Roy Moore could make love to a sheep on the roof of the Truman Balcony and some Republicans would defend him.  POTUS once said he could shoot people on Fifth Avenue and he would still be loved. Even though some admit that Roy Moore’s behaviors (if you believe his accusers) are vile, they still plan on voting for him.  The one that threw me over the edge was the female governor of Alabama.How can any woman in politics, regardless of stripe, not be moved by the number and similarity of Moore’s accusers?. Better a pedophile than a Democrat?  Seriously?

GASLIGHTING.  When asked why POTUS commented on Senator Al Franken’s bad behavior while not condemning Roy Moore, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “The only difference between President Trump and Sen. Al Franken is that the Minnesota lawmaker admitted he did something wrong.” That is some kind of stinkin’ thinkin’.  Trump has more than a dozen accusers of sexually inappropriate behavior.  We’ve all seen the infamous Access Hollywood tape where 45 admitted he makes advances without permission. (I’m being delicate but I’m talking about the grabbing her by the p@#%* remarks.)  But the difference between the two men is that Senator Franken admitted his errors and apologized, accordFlickr_-_law_keven_-_The_Bear_Necessities_of_Life.....jpg (2924×2496)ing to the Press Secretary.  How will she explain her comments to her children when they are of age?

  1. POKE THE BEAR. I’m disappointed with Senator Franken’s behavior (but not surprised.)  Anyone who is surprised that a prominent white male behaved/behaves this way hasn’t been paying attention.  Or maybe living on the Planet Mongo for the last century. But for POTUS to go after him with the giant logs in his own eyes (sorry but I couldn’t resist using the Biblical metaphor about the log.) seems as ridiculous as poking a hibernating bear with a large stick.  God only knows what will happen next.

Yes, I would like to see Senator Al Franken resign for his sins, despite his excellent record as an advocate for marginalized groups.  But here are my terms.  Senator Franken should resign when 45 does.  Tit for tat.



Nov 082017

REFLECTIONS November 2017

The Raven Lunatic

 Senior Wire News Service — I rarely, rarely comment on our son’s posts. Okay, I break that rule all the time. Last night our son went to see Apocalyptica in Washington, D.C., so I commented on the picture he posted. Do I know Apocalyptica from a hole in the ground? No, but the venue was beautiful.

When a 19-year-old Harvard sophomore created what would become Facebook in his dorm room, could he have imagined its global reach among all ages? A new study from Visiting Angels ( shared the feelings of some millennials who secretly want to unfriend Mimi and Poppa, who they believe, tend to post embarrassing stuff.

According to the study, here are the top no-nos for Grandma and Grandpa:

  • Posting personal stuff: One in four respondents say grandparents post too much information about their love and social lives. (Got news for you kids, Mee-maw isn’t quite walking to the light yet.) More than one-third said their elders post dirty laundry about family feuds or finances.
  • Rant and rave: One in five believe Gram-Gram goes “emoji crazy” in comments or posts, while 33% of respondents say they don’t like it when their elder relatives get too political or go “holy roller,” posting too much about religion.
  • Tread on personal turf: One in four really hate it when Grandma tries to friend their friends, and 30% really don’t dig Grammy or Grampy posting on their timeline. Half of those surveyed don’t want their grandparents posting on their timeline at all (I get that, and no baby pictures either.) Biggest no-no on personal turf: For pete’s sake, Oma and Opa, don’t comment on appearance, hair, weight, or clothing. (That probably leaves out comments about the Significant Other as well, I’m guessing.)

Surprise, Kiddos, We’re Not Going Anywhere!

In 2017, there are 2.01billion Facebook monthly users worldwide. While much public perception focuses on the social media activity of millennials, don’t sell Nana short. Data from Pew Research tells a different story. Among online adults, the percentage of those who use Facebook in the 50-64 age group is 63% and 56% above age 65 in the most recent statistics available.

Marketers should not ignore us. We baby boomers are here to stay and still make an economic impact.

Like many other people my age, I first went on Facebook to monitor our son. At the time, he was a freshman in college, moving 1,100 miles from home. He’s not the type to call or text daily (or sometimes even weekly), so seeing his posts gave us a sense that he might still be alive.

Over time we developed rules. I rarely, rarely comment on our son’s posts. Okay, I break that rule all the time. Last night our son went to see Apocalyptica in Washington, D.C., so I commented on the picture he posted. Do I know Apocalyptica from a hole in the ground? No, but the venue was beautiful. If he doesn’t like what I post, he just takes it down.

Since he rarely comments on my posts, if I need to refer to him I use “Junior.” He’s not tagged and generally won’t see it, as in “Junior met Senator Elizabeth Warren yesterda

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Public Domain,

y.” This tactic allows the parent or grandparent to brag but keeps millennial eyes off the post. Of course, I’m entitled to this one joy. My cats are all dead; I have no kitty pictures to post anymore. Vacation is but once a year, and I’m not a grandmother.

While baby boomers are active users of social media, it is their children and grandchildren who tend to be the early adopters, especially the millennials.

Dr. Tamara Wandel has researched and published on social media topics since its inception in the early 2000s. “Young people are the fastest growing adopters of the newer online platforms, so they’re very interested in trying out what’s trendy. Young people still check in on Facebook, but they’re more apt to post a quick photo on Instagram, keep up with a daily Snapchat streak with friends, or retweet something on Twitter,” said the professor of communication at the University of Evansville (Indiana). “But Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, and its registered users are more broadly representative of the U.S. population as a whole.

She added, “To put in context, nearly 80 percent of online Americans use Facebook, and for Twitter, the amount is closer to 25 percent.”

While the younger folks may lead the way, seniors will likely be bringing up the rear. A British study reported by the Telegraph noted 4 in 10 baby boomers now use a smartphone, up 11 percentage points in a year, while the use of smartphones among the over-75s has nearly doubled from 8 percent to 15.

Some seniors remain resistant. The Telegraph study noted that half of the over-75 group had “no plans to use the Internet.” In my life, my 87-year-old father has no need for Internet as he has AmyNet and AndyNet (that’s us). When he wants to know something, he’ll call one of his children, knowing we have “the box” in our hands.

How did the Cubs do today? What’s happening in the market? Can you find the address of my sophomore year college roommate? Where did the Lincoln funeral train go in Indiana? (Helps that I’m married to a research librarian.)

But, God forbid Grandpa to call either of his grandsons for the same request or express any interest in going on their Facebook pages. That would just be wrong.

Amy McVay Abbott is a newly retired healthcare executive who can be reached @ravensenior on Twitter or amyistheravenlunatic on Instagram. She is not competent at either technology but gives it the old college try.


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