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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Eight Ways To Make Yourself Popular




Retiring can shrink your circle of friends. Brush up on how to connect and be someone others seek out. 


Most people don’t think about older adults needing to be popular. That ends at high school, right? Wrong. Given COVID distancing, friends moving to downsize or be closer to grandchildren, losing work friends at retirement — getting older can be a lonely place. And it’s easy to let social skills get a bit rusty.

We combed the Internet to find tips for making new friends and keeping old ones. These eight tips are a good reminder for all of us on how to be the sort of person others want to be around. And some of them may surprise you.

Where to Find New Friends


Many older adults feel sidelined by the Delta variant and/or a health condition. Others may need some new ideas about where to hunt for new friends. Here are some likely sources:
  • Your local library has book clubs, game nights, author talks, and other programs. This is also an excellent resource if you need help finding a volunteer opportunity, don’t know how to contact a MeetUp group, etc. Libraries have free computers with internet and staff to help out. 
  • Check MeetUp online for local groups with a shared interest, then try them out.
  • Volunteer at the local food bank, animal shelter, or any other organization helping those less fortunate. 
  • Visit your local senior center. 
  • Join AARP
  • Attend Osher Lifelong Learning classes. 
  • Join a local church or synagogue.
  • Take Fido to a dog park.


  1. Introduce yourself. If you’re in a situation where you don’t know anyone, the best way to break the ice is to go up to someone standing alone and say, “Hey, I’m John.” Sounds way too simple, but there’s almost always at least one other person just as scared as you may be, and the best way to offer relief is just to say “hey.”
  2. Ask questions. Make it all about them, not you. It’s often easiest to ask how they know the birthday girl, or what brought them to this get-together, or if they come to this bar often. Maybe you both know Michelle; a good follow-up is to ask how they met. Or maybe the person wanted to see the West Coast so he signed up for the Pacific Sea Turtle Conference, and your next question can be what sparked his interest in sea turtles. Does he snorkel? Does he love the beach? Has he seen the tide pools here? And you’re off. Of course, it’s fine to throw in a line or two about yourself but keep the focus on the other person. Remember that Barbara Bush would always tell son George growing up that he should ask other people about themselves. He was president and a guest when Barbara and the elder Bush were giving a dinner party at their home. Barbara overheard her son start telling some guests a story about some heads of state and she admonished him, “George, no one wants to hear all about you!”
  3. Be a good listener. Most of us are too worried about what we’re going to say next to really listen. Being a good listener is all about digging a little deeper and then remembering what you heard. If you ask someone how their day is going and they answer “fine” with a smile, ask what made it good. If they tell you they got a hole in one, remember that and the next time you see that person ask if they’ve been out on the golf course lately. It will make them feel special, and you will move up on their esteem meter.
  4. Deliver your opinions with a spoonful of honey. It’s great to have confidence in your beliefs and know where you stand, but smart to offer them sparingly and with a smile. Brilliant statesman Ben Franklin noticed that people were more likely to reject his arguments when he used firm language like “certainly” and “undoubtedly” so he switched to using phrases like “I think...” or “If I’m not mistaken…” Another way to offer an opinion without offending someone is to tell a little story to illustrate your point. Let listeners come to their own conclusion. 
  5. Fake it ’til you make it. Yes, you can! Research shows that making eye contact, staying relaxed and speaking evenly, and using decisive hand gestures signals that someone is confident, even if they know almost nothing about what they’re saying. Demonstrating this social confidence will help you attract and keep friends.
  6. Get good at small talk. We know, you hate small talk! But it’s a learned skill, and it is how people build relationships. It’s all about listening and then keeping the conversation going based on what you’re hearing. Every few questions, you can throw in something about yourself. This is what skilled conversationalists do. Nothing is more wonderful to someone else than to talk about their favorite subject: themself. And by offering a tidbit about yourself, you are giving them the opportunity to ask you a question back. It’s a little like playing tennis: a skilled player in a friendly match can keep hitting it right back to the other person to keep the game going.
  7. What about body language? Don’t get too worked up about how you’re standing, the direction your feet are pointed, or the many other specifics you may have read about. Author and speaker Ramit Sethi advises people to use the acronym “SETHE” to practice the essentials. They are: Smile, Energy, Talk slowly, Hands and Eye contact. He says most of us don’t smile enough, or big enough, when we’re nervous. Practice in front of a mirror or videotape yourself on your phone. Project positive energy — probably 50% more than you think you need. Talk slowly so others can understand you and you will also sound more relaxed and self-assured. Make eye contact. If you’re not sure how much, watch people in films or on TV and then practice in front of the mirror or with a good friend. Most importantly, just work on one thing at a time. You don’t want to be so nervous about getting everything right that nothing works. As Sethi says, “You have your whole life to get good at this.”
  8. Be sincere. A sincere compliment goes a long way. “I love your haircut. Where did you get it done?” works great if you’re being honest. But saying something just for flattery often comes off as shallow and desperate, and actually reduces your social credit. Remember what author and speaker Dale Carnegie said: “The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other is insincere. One comes from the heart out, the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

For a more robust explanation of how to be popular, with added videos, check out author Ramit Sethi’s blog. Sethi penned “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” and these days he travels the globe (or at least Zoom!) on speaking tours, but he was once an awkward child and teen. 





Sunday, October 10, 2021

Clean Out Your Closets and Sell Extra Stuff




Decluttering can take a load off your shoulders and bring in some extra money to boot! 


With the holidays coming up, what better way to both make your home look inviting and score a little cash for gifts than to sell unwanted items? It’s never been easier, thanks to the internet and a host of apps. All you need is a smartphone to get started earning.

The first step is weeding out clothing and other items that you don’t need. The process can be very difficult when sentiment is involved. Can you really part with Dad’s favorite chair? How about the vase Mom always had on her kitchen windowsill?

The Kondo Approach

One idea is to take a look at the methods of organizing diva Marie Kondo. She believes that less “stuff” in our lives makes us happier while acknowledging the difficulties of letting go. 

Seller Beware


No matter where you decide to market your extra things, make sure you only give personal information out to the site, and never to prospective buyers. Scam artists are waiting for newbies. They will send a note telling you they want to give that bracelet you have posted to their wife for her birthday, but can you save it until then? and include “their” email address and/or phone number. Never respond to such requests. Legitimate buyers go through the site’s messaging service and never ask for personal information.


Quick Tip: Fold, Don’t Hang


When you’re repacking clothes, folding takes less space than hanging. The problem is that clothes on the bottom of the pile tend to get wrinkled and stay unworn since you never see them. Remedy this by folding into three parts (left, right, center), and then again into three or four parts top to bottom, and packing one-side-up. You will be able to see the side of every item within a drawer, and no item will be crushed beneath another.


Kondo espouses the “three piles” approach: take out all your clothing, for example, ALL of it at once — drawers, closets, anywhere there is a single sock! — and divide into piles to keep, donate, or throw away. You can add another pile: sell. This pile may replace the “donate” stack, or it may be separate. 

As you are going through item by item, mentally thank each piece for its service. Remember that Grandma’s hankie won’t bring her back but place it in a pile with gratitude and love. Keep only those things that spark joy and can still be of use to you. (Good-bye, dress that never quite fits.) See if family members who don’t live with you want items that hold memories. If not, it’s time to acknowledge that the item’s work is done. Perhaps it will go on to make meaningful memories for someone else, but its time with you is over. 

Hassle-Free Sales

People who just don’t have the time or energy to sell online can opt to take clothing to a local brick-and-mortar consignment store. Generally, management will look over your clothes, choose what they want to market, and either pay you a set price on the spot or keep track of each item and pay you a commission when (and if) it sells. Generally, items are kept for 60 or 90 days, and they may be marked down every 30 days. Items that don’t sell are usually donated to a charity for you.

Another way to get items you want to sell off your plate is to use the online consignment store ThredUp. Order a Clean Out Kit and the company will send you a large bag to fill up, complete with a shipping label. Drop it off at FedEx or USPS, and they do the rest. You can opt to get cash or shopping credit for items that sell, and they will donate what doesn’t. They pay 3% to 15% for items that sell for under $20, and up to 80% for those pieces priced at $200 or more. 

DIY Local Sales

Several apps allow you to sell locally. You post the photos and description and use the app’s messaging service to connect with buyers. This can be a great way to dispose of large items like furniture, that are difficult to ship. Craigslist is perhaps the oldest and best-known, but Nextdoor, letgo, and Facebook Marketplace are coming on strong. The advantage of these last three is that your buyer has a profile you can check. All are free to use. No matter which app you choose, never schedule a showing when you are home alone. It’s also helpful to move the item to your garage or porch, if possible, so your house can stay locked. If the item is small enough, load it in your car and meet buyers at a local grocery store (or anywhere there are always a lot of people) or police station. 

You can always opt to give things away for free via the above apps or join the Buy Nothing network, where members give away things they don’t need and pick up items they can use from each other. It’s a great way to recycle and it fits everyone’s budget! 

DIY National/Worldwide Sales

If you want to get top dollar for your items, you need to expand your pool of buyers while utilizing a platform that will help you get views. Facebook Marketplace can be used, or go with the daddy of this method on eBay and gain access to over 183 million buyers for anything from jewelry to cars. Take your own photos, fill out the listing, and then ship your item when it sells. EBay allows you to have an auction-style sale with bids (quicker, but usually the sale price is lower) or set a price. You can opt to allow buyers to make offers. EBay will handle payments and gives sellers a discount on shipping, which is made easy through printable labels the company sends to the seller. 

A plethora of companies have popped up to take share from the generalists, and they’re viable options. Poshmark and The RealReal specialize in designer apparel, accessories, and home goods. Sell tech and small electronic goods on Decluttr and use MaxSold, which specializes in estate sales, for collectibles. 

No matter which route you take, you’ll feel great knowing that you have less stuff taking up space, and the things that are left are ones you care about and enjoy. Some of your things will be giving joy to other people, and some will have ended their usefulness. And some will have put some holiday cash in your pocket. 



Thursday, October 7, 2021

Avoid Dangers of Using Cash Apps



Most of us use cash apps like Venmo to make payments nowadays, but they’re not always safe.  


Using your smartphone to make payments is getting more common than ever. More than 7 in 10 adults now select Zelle, Venmo, Square, or PayPal to reimburse friends, buy produce at the farmer’s market, or pay the plumber. It’s easier and faster than writing a check, and payments are made instantly - without the fees charged by credit card companies. However, consumers need to be savvy to avoid revealing personal information or becoming targets for fraudsters. 

While the vast majority of transactions are legitimate, complaints about transactions are on the rise and it can be difficult to reach customer service. The best way to protect yourself is to follow good use practices. 

Keeping Yourself Safe With Cash Apps

Regardless of which cash app(s) you use, including Google Pay and Apple Pay on your phone, there are some rules you should follow for every single transaction. 

Stay off public Wi-Fi. If you have a plan with low data, it can be mighty tempting to hook up to public Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop, dentist’s office, library, you name it. Your phone may well be set to automatically connect wherever you have used it in the past. But if you do, hackers can steal your financial information. Stay safe and use your carrier’s network or a separately purchased VPN. 

Stay private. Use privacy settings so no one can learn who your friends and family are and use their names to trick you into sending them money. 

Stay wary of emails asking for information. Never, ever send money in response to an email without verifying the source and circumstances. Hackers are very clever about scaring you into sending cash, and they have no conscience. If you get a threatening letter claiming to be from the IRS, Social Security, or even your bank, ignore it or call to verify. If you get an email requesting personal or banking information, your criminal detection reactors should go on high alert. Ditto for those claiming to be from someone associated with a relative. 

"You have to be worried about your email because that is the number one way they are going to come after you,” says Shane Harris, senior director of product management at Mimecast, an international cybersecurity firm with U.S. headquarters in the Boston area.

And never, ever click on a link in an email; just go directly to the site you need to use. 

Venmo is the app of choice for many small businesses and private users. But reject the urge to add all your Facebook contacts to its address book, although it will ask you to. Add individuals as needed and keep all transactions private by going to Settings and selecting Privacy to view your options. 

Transfers on Venmo are free via the usual “slow” route that takes one to three business days. But be aware that prices just got hiked on the faster “instant” option that will get money to someone in just 30 minutes or less. That now costs 1.5 percent of the transaction, with a minimum of 25 cents and a maximum of $15.

Zelle is owned by a partnership involving 7 of the largest banks. Its claim to fame is that you only need to know a person’s email or cell number to transfer money between accounts. The other nice thing: it’s always free, and the money is there within a few minutes. 

Just remember to check carefully that you are using the correct email address or cell number because you can’t get your money back if you make a mistake.

PayPal has long been used by online sales companies such as eBay and is the oldest online payment service. You can use it internationally, and small businesses can take advantage of an option for their invoicing services. The downside is that PayPal tends to charge excessive fees. International transactions using PayPal or a personal bank account cost a stiff 5%, or 7.9% if you use a credit card.

Cash App (part of Square) is used to transfer money to friends and family, just like Venmo. If you set it up to pay out of a debit card account, then the service is free. But don’t make the mistake of linking it to a credit card, which will set you back 3% per transaction and potentially open you up to scams. 



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!


Image Source: Wikipedia

October 17 - Mae Jemison, engineer, physician, astronaut

Jemison, the first female Black astronaut to travel into space, has enough accomplishments to fill many lifetimes. She graduated from Stanford (chemical engineering, African, and African American studies) and then got a medical degree at Cornell University. Jemison was a doctor for the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone, then decided to apply to NASA and was chosen for the first group of astronauts after the Challenger disaster. 

But that’s not all. She left NASA to found a technology research company and then a non-profit educational foundation for the sciences. She wrote several children’s books, appeared on Star Trek, and has been awarded a slew of honorary doctorates. She has also had a lifelong love of dance, nearly choosing a professional dance career (she knows African, Japanese, ballet, jazz, and modern styles) over medicine. 

Jemison began Stanford at the tender age of 16. She has asserted that some arrogance is a necessary trait for women to be successful, and lamented teachers who failed to support her lofty ambitions. Aboard the Endeavor, Jemison had with her a poster from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a West African statuette, a photo of female aviator Bessie Coleman, the first Black American to hold an international pilot’s license, and an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority banner. 

Jemison is an active speaker with an array of outreach programs, primarily to promote female achievement in the sciences. She is a member of several scientific organizations, including the Association of Space Explorers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, and the American Chemical Society.



 




Image Source: Wikipedia

October 18 - Martina Navratilova, tennis player

Czech-born Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 59 major titles. She had a great rivalry with Chris Evert, including what may be the best woman’s match of all time in the 1985 French Open final. She also displayed amazing career longevity, topping her career by triumphing in the mixed doubles at the 2006 U.S. Open just two months shy of her fiftieth birthday.

The child of a ski instructor father and a mother who was a gymnast, tennis player, and ski instructor, Navratilova started playing the game at age seven with her stepfather filling in as coach. She famously defected from communist Czechoslovakia at the age of 18 after living for two years in the United States. The country renounced her citizenship at the time, although she has reclaimed it now that her native land has become a democracy. She has made it clear that she has no plans to move out of the U.S.

Navratilova is renowned for her expertise on fast, low-bouncing grass, but her titles showcase ability across clay as well. She is one of only three female players to win a “Grand Slam Boxed Set,” claiming victory in women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Although she is naturally right-handed, Navratilova has always competed as a southpaw. 

You can read her autobiography, Martina, or one of three thrillers she co-authored with Liz Nickles. Navratilova is active in gay rights, animal rights, and charities that support underprivileged children.








Image Source: Wikipedia

October 20 - Danny Boyle, film director and producer

If you haven’t seen Slumdog Millionaire, the most successful British film of a decade, go treat yourself. Perhaps you could view Shallow Grave at the same time, since it earned a BAFTA for Best British Film. Complete the trifecta with Trainspotting, the tenth greatest British film of the 20th century. All were directed by directorial phenomenon Danny Boyle.

Although currently a “spiritual atheist,” Boyle grew up in a Catholic family with a mother who wanted her son to become a priest. But at the age of 14 Boyle was dissuaded from this vocation by a priest. He muses:

“Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or the priesthood from me, I don't know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama. And there's a real connection, I think. All these directors – Martin Scorsese, John Woo, M. Night Shyamalan – they were all meant to be priests. There's something very theatrical about it. It's basically the same job – poncing around, telling people what to think.”

Boyle’s work can be viewed on the small screen, and he has been active in theater productions. But you may have already seen a critically acclaimed piece of his in another venue; Boyle was artistic director for the opening ceremony Isles of Wonder at the 2012 Olympics
 




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