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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Senior Debt Relief: Comprehensive Guide to Programs for Retirees

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO), the share of older families with debt and their debt has significantly grown over the last few decades. This puts a considerable strain on households often living on a fixed income.

Young people might have ample time to pay off debts before retirement. So, they must look into a few debt relief options rather than bankruptcy. As a senior, making debt payments might be difficult after paying for your everyday living costs. So, don't take funds out of your retirement account until you've considered these other choices first.

Here are the prime debt relief options for older adults:

Downsize your home

You might want to move into a smaller home and be able to sell some of the things in your current house. The money you get can be used to pay off some of your debt.

Per a study conducted by Merrill Lynch, an American investment management and wealth management division of Bank of America, and Age Wave, "Roughly 51 percent of retirees ages 50 and over move into smaller homes after retirement."

Smaller homes also have lower costs, like smaller mortgage or rent payments, lower utility bills, and less upkeep. Getting rid of some costs can stop you from accumulating more debt and give you more money in your budget to put toward the debt you already carry.

Create a budget

When it comes to getting out of debt as an older person, creating a good budget is a great place to get started for two reasons.

First, a reasonable budget will show you where your money is going and where most of your debt comes from. Some types of buying are easy to cut back on, ensuring no more debt is taken on.

Second, you can determine how much money you have to pay off your debt. This is an excellent place to start when making a plan that will work. Or you might find out there isn't enough money so that you can look for other earning options.

Sign up for credit counseling

Credit counseling can be a great way to get help if you have outstanding debt issues.

A credit counselor can assist you in making a budget, looking over your credit record, and making a plan for dealing with your debt. You can almost always start with a free session, but some services that are part of your plan may cost money.

The Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) are both non-profit groups that can help you find a good credit counselor.

Enroll in a debt management program

Nonprofit credit counseling agencies help with many financial issues, including debts. Your counselor will review your funds and suggest a debt management plan. They will assist you in enrolling in a debt management program that might benefit you in the following ways:
  • Get a plan for how you will pay off your debt in three to five years.
  • Combine the payments for several credit accounts and loans into one monthly payment.
  • Your creditors may lower your interest rates or your monthly payments.
  • As you pay down your debts, your credit scores may go up.
  • During the payoff process, you get information and help from professionals.

Consolidate your debt

Debt consolidation means putting all your bills into a single loan. It won't eliminate your debt  instantly, but it could lower your monthly payments, reduce the time it takes to pay it off, lower your interest rate, or make it easier to deal with.

There are many ways to consolidate senior unpaid debt:
  1. Debt consolidation loans: Most of the time, a debt consolidation loan is a personal loan you use to pay off bills. If you have good credit, you might be able to get a loan with a lower interest rate than what you're paying now. This could save you money and help you pay off your debt faster. Personal loans are also unsecured debts, meaning you won't lose your house or other property if you can't repay the loan. But if you don't have good credit, you might not be able to get a lower interest rate or even a personal loan. There are fees to pay upfront, which could compensate for any interest savings.
  2. Balance transfer credit cards: If you're having trouble paying off your unpaid debts, especially credit card balances, a balance transfer credit card with 0% APR could help you by lowering your interest rate. These cards can give you 0% interest for up to 21 months, allowing you time to devise a plan for paying off the debt and then making your payments, which go for 100% towards paying it off. Most balance transfer cards are tailored for people with good to excellent credit. Some also charge fees to transfer balances, and some have annual fees. Once the 0% interest period is over, the company may charge high-interest rates on fresh purchases and the existing balance.
  3. Home equity: If you have a lot of equity in your home, which means that the value of your home is more than what you owe on it, you can use that equity in several ways to help pay your bills or pay off more debts. All of the choices below can help you lower your interest rate or use the value of your home to get funds. But you could lose your home if you can't keep up with your payments.
    • Home equity loan: A home equity loan is like a second mortgage on your home. It has a fixed interest rate, so this option suits seniors with a fixed income and monthly spending plan.
    • Home equity line of credit (HELOC): A HELOC or home equity line of credit will give you access to credit that can be used when required, can be paid back, and used again. The home will be considered as collateral.
    • Cash-out refinance: With a cash-out refinance, you get a bigger loan than you already have on your home. You get the difference between the two in cash, which can be used for any purpose, especially for paying off debts. The interest rate is lower than other home equity loans. Still, you can usually only borrow up to 80% of your home's value.
    • Reverse mortgage: With a reverse mortgage, you can borrow more as you get older, which can be very helpful for older people. With a reverse mortgage, the investor can give you a lump sum or monthly payments every month. You must repay the loan when you no longer live in the house.

Settle your debts

You may negotiate with your creditors and make payments less than what you owe. You may discuss the terms of your debt, like the balance, interest rate, and fees, by yourself or hire a debt settlement company to do it for you.

Debt settlement is one of the popular debt relief programs that saves a lot from overall debt payments. However, there are a lot of debt relief scams that involve debt settlement companies. It is risky, and you might end up paying lots of money just to ruin your credit. Even if the deal goes well, it will remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

Take money out of a 401(k)

Withdrawing money from your 401(k) to pay off your credit cards won't help. This is because 401(k) payments are usually expensive. On top of loan fees, you might have to pay taxes on your borrowed money.

You might have to pay the full amount if you quit or lose your job. If you are younger than 59.5, you may have to pay an extra 10% tax. In addition to that, you'll lose some of the interest your retirement savings would have earned.

File for bankruptcy

Being a senior, you can file for bankruptcy when you've tried everything else and nothing works. Bankruptcy shouldn't be your first choice because it can hurt your credit, but it can sometimes help you get out of debt.

It's a big and complicated decision, so you should talk to a bankruptcy attorney before you file.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: A senior person must pass a "means test" to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person's qualifying assets, such as cars, gold, and other things around the house, will be sold to pay off debts as much as possible. The remaining debt balance is then discharged. You can keep some assets, like your home if you qualify for an exemption. Some debts, like student loans, mortgages, or car loans, can't be discharged. Also, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on the credit report for 10 years.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a person would work with the court to make a plan and pay off the debt over the next three to five years. As long as the person keeps making those payments, most of the debt will be canceled at the end of that time. Some debts can't be wiped out. For example, home and government student loans can't be eliminated. After filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it stays on the credit report for seven years.


It is wise for any older adult needing debt relief to explore options. Seniors have plenty of valuable alternatives to handle their debt problems, based on the type of debt and their financial situation. Most of the time, debt consolidation is the safest choice to keep your credit profile intact. If you have no other choice, debt settlement may also be helpful, as it can save a lot from the total outstanding debt payment. If you have no other option, you may opt for bankruptcy filing. But remember, consult an expert, such as a financial advisor or a financial attorney, no matter what option you choose. Best of luck!

Guest article submitted by: Lyle Solomon

Lyle Solomon has extensive legal experience, in-depth knowledge, and experience in consumer finance and writing. He has been a member of the California State Bar since 2003. He graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, in 1998 and currently works for the Oak View Law Group in California as a principal attorney.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

What to Do for Your Ride Home After a Procedure

Solo adults often have to delay procedures because they can’t find a ride home from the hospital or surgical center.

You know you need that colonoscopy, and your vision is getting cloudier while you wait for cataract surgery. The problem isn’t the procedure itself, but the requirement that someone be there to drive you home. 

According to the 2022 Census Bureau report, 42% of Americans aged 65 and over are in single-person households. Many of those have no relatives who can drive nearby. To schedule a procedure involving sedatives or painkillers, they must rely on friends who may resent the task or feel overburdened, while the patient feels like a heel for imposing on even the most willing driver.

The problem is “rampant,” says Janet Seckel-Cerrotti, executive director of Friendship Works, a nonprofit where trained volunteers provide free medical rides in the Boston area. “We see it every day. It’s hard on your dignity.”

Why can’t you just call an Uber or Lyft, or grab a taxi home?

Why You Need an Escort

General anesthesia can leave you drowsy, dizzy, or with impaired coordination. Even if you feel fine, you may not realize you are not your usual self. Even conscious sedation can make you groggy. Eye surgery can alter your depth perception and vision, making you unsafe on the road.

“The type of medicine you receive, how long the procedure lasts and other medications you may be taking can alter how long the effects last,” says Khoi Le, a general surgeon. “To minimize or eliminate day-of-surgery transportation issues, we recommend you arrange a ride before arriving at the hospital or facility where your procedure is being performed.”

Who Counts as a Driver Escort

Basically, the facilities and doctors are protecting themselves against lawsuits, even if it’s a one-in-a-million chance you’ll cause an accident or get hurt on the way home. That’s why your teenage grandchild probably can’t drive you, and neither can the rideshare or taxi driver who stays outside and won’t walk you into your home. 

If you’re thinking of fudging it, like paying the driver extra to come into the facility and pose as your buddy, just make sure he or she will walk you into your house or apartment. Some facilities require your “friend” to stay on site throughout the procedure, which can take several hours for even a simple operation as you check in, meet your medical team, wait for an operating room, etc. 

Ride Services

Luckily, there are some options. Medicaid pays for medical transportation services, although state policies vary widely. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, look for a nonprofit group in your area. 

The National Volunteer Caregiving Network offers rides, and so does Shepherd’s Centers of America, available in 17 states.  The Village Movement is another nonprofit to try. Others have used volunteers from their local church or community institutions where you can volunteer to earn credit that can be used for rides. 

Your Area Agency on Aging or Eldercare Locator can help connect you with a group that provides rides in your area.

Home-care companies may also be able to throw you a lifeline with trained personnel who may also be able to stay with you after you arrive home, but expect to pay for their services. Be sure to hire someone far in advance of your procedure since there is a general shortage of staff across the country. 

Check With Your Doctor

Finally, it can’t hurt to check with your provider to see if there’s an alternative you can both be happy with. An in-home test for colon cancer may be accurate enough to forego the usual colonoscopy. Cataract surgery can be performed without IV anesthesia. You may be able to replace the usual sedative with a short-acting one. And some facilities will allow you to stay for several hours while the drugs work their way out of your system and you are safe to drive. 

Living alone definitely has its advantages, but easily finding someone to give you a ride to and from a healthcare procedure is not one of them. You may have to reach out to local nonprofits or talk to your doctor, but there are alternatives that can save you from having to lean on your friends to get your health needs met.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Should You Help Your Kids Buy a House?

It might be a great idea for parents to help their child purchase a home, but there’s a lot to consider before making the leap.

Do you have children or grandchildren who could use a little help getting a home? It’s a common scenario with the current environment of high interest rates, high prices, and few homes on the market. A parent or grandparent may have the resources, and the will, to lend a helping hand. Keep in mind that a home usually must be held for three to five years to break even on the cost.

“There's such tremendous wealth in the Boomer generation," says Angie O’Leary, head of Wealth Planning at RBC Wealth Management in the US. “The market's been good to them, they're on their retirement path or in their peak earning years, and they may be able to afford to help their kids out. For these people, it can be attractive to pass some wealth onto their kids now, when they need it, instead of as an inheritance decades from now when their kids are already in their own peak earning years."

Choosing the Right Strategy

Relatives considering a gift should look at their options before committing to one plan or another. Meet with your financial professional to consider the impact different giving strategies could have on the children’s financial situation and especially your own retirement plan. After all, a gift is probably not much of a help if your children end up having to pay for your care later in life, or it causes you to worry about retirement funding. 

If you’ve got the money to commit to assistance with a home purchase, there are three general ways you can go about it:
  1. Provide an intrafamily loan
  2. Money as a gift
  3. Co-sign a mortgage
“Parents or grandparents can make an intrafamily loan using the applicable federal rate," says Bill Ringham, director of private wealth strategies at RBC Wealth Management in the US. “Because this rate is significantly below today's mortgage rates, this option can save children hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest." This rate is the lowest that can be charged while avoiding gift taxes.

In addition, the loan can be forgiven simply by using the gift tax exclusion. In 2023, an individual can give up to $17,000 to any number of people without exhausting any part of their lifetime exemption from estate and gift tax. With this in mind, a couple could give a child and their spouse up to $68,000 per year, since each member of the couple can give the full amount of $17,000 to each person, or $34,000 total. Make sure to use an attorney if you go this route, Ringham cautions, so the loan is properly documented in case the IRS comes knocking. 

Parents or grandparents who don’t have cash for a loan may want to co-sign a mortgage for the kids. The upside is this can make it easier for the child to qualify for a loan. But an important downside to consider is that the co-signer is legally responsible for the debt on the home, and any hits to their credit score from late or missed payments. If your married child winds up divorced, some or all of the assets could be forfeited to the ex-spouse. 

Estate Planning 

An important aspect of gifting is to include it in your overall wealth plan. Intrafamily loans can help transfer wealth in a tax-efficient manner while setting children up with an asset that may appreciate over time. But keep in mind that if there is more than one child or grandchild now or in the future, you may need to consider if you can offer the same assistance to all family members without damaging your own retirement. 

Make sure to communicate clearly with both your financial professional and family members about expectations. Your own needs should come first, and a professional should help you work through the consequences of any gift, including co-signing. It’s not only an act of love, but a commitment that should be put in writing so all parties know exactly what to expect. 

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice from a qualified financial advisor.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Can Personality Traits Help Us Live Longer?

Two personality attributes are common to people who live the longest lives. Can we use the Japanese concept of Ikigai to improve both our outlook and our longevity?

Everyone knows that plenty of exercise and healthy foods are beneficial to our well-being, but there may be other factors at play. Studies of people in “blue zones”- those areas of the world where people live longest – reveal personality hallmarks among the oldest inhabitants. 

In the blue zone country of Japan, a 2012 study found that a positive attitude toward life and willingness to express emotions were characteristics common to the vast majority of 250 centenarians, both as they saw themselves and as others considered them. 

Seniors and Longevity Personalities

You may wonder what older adults our age can learn that will improve our outlook. But recent studies show that seniors in their 60s and above have high emotional intelligence. We’re better at seeing the good that can come from stressful situations, and we empathize with people who are less fortunate. Of course, not all older adults have these skills, but your life experience gives you a good basis for acquiring them.  

Practicing Greater Emotional Expression

Therapists use a combination of techniques to help people talk about emotions. One is to begin by drawing how you feel, or finding a song that expresses your mood if words are difficult. When you do put feelings into words, try to use “I” statements, such as “I feel afraid.” If negative emotions are tough to let out, try embracing positive ones, such as “I feel happy.” 

Don’t chastise yourself for being fearful, sad, or upset. Instead, give a reason for your emotion. It might be “I’m sad that my daughter didn’t like the gift I chose for her” or “I’m nervous about giving my speech at the meeting.” You shouldn’t judge yourself for feeling a certain way. 

Finally, make it a habit to name and share your feelings with at least one person you feel close to. Ask that person how they feel, and why. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
The ability to express emotions and not keep them bottled up inside is something we can all work on. Therapy is a good place to learn better habits. A therapist can help us learn how to appropriately express anger, frustration, sadness, fear, and disappointment – all emotions that we may have been taught are somehow bad. We can also look online for techniques to better understand and release these emotions that we all experience.

Ikigai for Seniors

One way to bring these attributes into our lives is by considering the Japanese concept of ikigai. Literally a combination of the words for life, iki, and value or worth, gai, ikigai combines four areas of reflection to find your ideal purpose or reason for being. Not surprisingly, a strong sense of purpose is another feature common to blue zone inhabitants. 

The four aspects to ikigai comprise:
  • Passion – What you love doing
  • Mission – What matters in the world
  • Vocation – What you can be paid to do
  • Profession – What you’re already good at doing

Perhaps the monetary element doesn’t apply at this stage of your life. That’s okay. You can concentrate on the other three elements. Your ikigai may be mentoring your grandchildren, teaching knitting or woodworking to other community members, or leading a Boy Scout troop. Everyone’s ikigai is different, and it can change or be more than one thing.

You may find your ikigai online. It could be Zoom calls with a book group, sharing recipes with foodies or researching your ancestry. You may find a passion you didn’t know you had now that you have a little more time to yourself. Your ikigai may also be an offshoot of your professional identity, volunteering to help a small business grow or offering your services for free to underserved people. 

If the concept of ikigai intrigues you, there are books and workbooks available to expand your knowledge. Online materials include this ikigai questionnaire to help you discover how much ikigai you already have, and areas that may need some action. 

Most of us won’t live to be 100. But we can improve the quality of our lives and those around us by emulating the healthful traits of those who do.


Friday, October 13, 2023

Surprising Things Your Phone Can Do

Betcha don’t know half these things your smartphone is capable of! 

Whether you’ve got an Apple phone or an Android, there are plenty of crazy useful things your phone can do that you’re probably unaware of because these little devices can do so much. And it’s super simple to learn how to use your phone for this stuff! Just a step or two and you’ll be the expert on, well, all of the following technologies!

If You Need a Little Help

Some of us may not know how to drop a pin or even download an app, and that’s okay. No need to stress! Just search “YouTube how to pin” or “YouTube how to download an app” and tap a video. Voila! All your questions will be answered. You can also search “iPhone drop a pin” or “Android download an app” to get the answer in sequenced steps for your device. 

Still a little confused? Your local librarian should be able to offer enlightenment, or there is bound to be someone at a nearby senior center who is happy to help out. You can also visit a Best Buy or other store that sells smartphone accessories and hit up a salesperson for a quick tutorial. 

  1. Remotely Start Your Car. A lot of cars have this tech, depending on the make, model, and year. Check out your own vehicle on the web to see if it has this feature. Usually, you’ll just need to download the manufacturer’s app. For example, if you’ve got a Ford then FordPass allows you to lock and unlock doors and start the car remotely (even at a specific time every day!). Some Android phones have a digital key to work with a car manufacturer’s app to allow your phone to open your car. You can also set the temperature in your vehicle to have it warmed up or cooled down by the time you hop inside. 
  2. Scan Documents. Both iPhones and Android can scan and send documents. On iPhone, open the Notes app and hit “scan documents.” For Android, open the camera app and hold it over the document, then tap “scan document” for Pixel devices, or the yellow “T” on Samsung phones. Done!
  3. Measure Anything. IPhones have a preloaded Apple Measure app, while Google users will need to use Measure Up on their phone’s browser. All you do is drop a point at one end of the object and pin another point at the end. Yep, now you know if that sofa will fit!
  4. Save Your Medicare or Medicaid Card. You may already know that you can hold boarding passes, credit cards, event tickets and more on your smartphone. But did you know you can store your health insurance card there too? Most insurance providers, including Cigna and Aetna, allow for mobile access to your card. Just download their app and sign in to present the card to any provider. Users of iPhone can add it to their Apple Wallet for easy access without an app. 
  5. Monitor Your Heart Rate. That’s right, you don’t need a fancy schmancy fitness tracker to get your heart rate in seconds. Just go to your phone’s app store and choose a heart rate app with a lot of positive reviews, such as Instant Heart Rate for Android. You just place your finger over the camera and flash. 
  6. Record Your Voice. On iPhone, open the Voice Memos app and tap the red “record” button to start and stop. Android users can download a free voice recording app in the Google Play store. Record your memories from childhood or a sweet song or book for the grandkids!
  7. Become a Metal Detector. That’s right, you can find the needle or ring you dropped in the carpet, although it’s doubtful you’re going to find any hidden treasure. Download a metal detector app (some are free) with good ratings to make your phone play a sound or vibrate when it detects metal objects. 
  8. Magnify Print or Pictures. Yep, your phone is a magnifying glass! On iPhone, open the Magnifier app which is already installed. If you can’t find it, look in the Utilities folder. You can adjust the size and brightness of text, as well as increasing contrast for easier reading. Android users just have to open the camera app and use their fingers to unpinch small type. 
  9. Translate. Apple’s Translate app will work on text or voice … even in the middle of a conversation. Android users can download Google Translate from the Google Play store. 
  10. Change the Channel. Lost your remote control or it’s not working because the battery died? Smartphone to the rescue! Many TVs can sync to your smartphone. Your iPhone will work with Roku, Fire TVs and Apple TV 4K. Just check on how to use your iPhone as a remote control. Android users can download an app for Roku and Fire TV or open the Google TV app and go to the remote icon on the bottom right to scan devices and choose one for pairing. 

Finally, and this is going to rock your world, you can make calls on your smartphone. With all the amazing things these little computers can do, don’t forget that you can phone a friend or family member and have a chat. It may be pretty old-fashioned, but it’s a great way to keep in touch.


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

How to Nap Your Way to a Better Life!

Taking a nap can have a host of benefits, but you have to do it in the right way, studies show. 


You may start feeling tired in the afternoon. An energy downturn is normal between about 1 pm and 4 pm for most people. Should you take a nap? Absolutely, according to experts. Whether you’re feeling sleep-deprived from the night before or you experience a daily dip in energy, napping can help. 

In fact, napping has many benefits:
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Better mood
  • Improved athletic performance, such as quicker reaction time 
  • More alertness
  • Relaxation
  • Decreased risk of dying from heart attack or stroke
  • Better memory of something just learned

Who knew that something that can seem so unproductive is exactly the opposite? But experts say that timing your nap can make the difference between waking up refreshed or groggy. 

“Data shows 20 minutes is optimal for our health and can increase alertness and performance in the afternoon,” says Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford and author of “Life Time: The New Science of the Body Clock, and How It Can Revolutionize Your Sleep and Health”. 

Most scientists recommend naps last between 10 and 20 minutes, to avoid going into deep sleep. But if you need more rest than that, aim for 90 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to cycle back into light sleep, from which you’ll awaken more easily and in an alert state. 

Four Sleep Stages

  1. Stage 1 is when you have just drifted off to sleep, when the body begins to relax and your brain slows down. You can awaken easily and quickly. It lasts from one to seven minutes.
  2. Stage 2 lasts from 10 to 25 minutes. Your body temperature goes down, muscles relax and breathing and heart rate slow. This stage is crucial for solidifying memories.
  3. Stage 3 is for deep sleep, and it lasts 20 to 40 minutes. Your pulse slows down and your brain switches to delta waves. This is when your body repairs tissue, bone, muscle and the immune system. You may be difficult to wake in stage 3 sleep, and you’ll feel groggy.
  4. Stage 4 is characterized by rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that starts off at just a few minutes long, but increases throughout the night until it’s nearly an hour long by morning. Your brain activity increases, and your body is temporarily paralyzed while your eyes dart around under closed lids. This is when the majority of your dreams occur. It’s an important stage for brain cognition and creativity. Waking during Stage 4 will result in a feeling of “brain fog” rather than rested alertness.

Sleep researcher Matthew Walker cautions that naps shouldn’t interfere with nighttime sleep. Avoid napping if you have insomnia or take a long time to go to sleep, because naps could make those conditions worse. 

For most of us, it helps to avoid napping after 3 pm, and to set an alarm for 10 to 20 minutes so we don’t oversleep. Sleeping too much during the day can interfere with our ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly at night. Research also shows that night owls tend to benefit more from naps than early risers. 

Not sure if you’ll like napping? The only way to find out is to give napping a try!

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

October 5  Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist 

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be America’s most recognized scientist. He has authored several books aimed at everyday people, written a slew of essays, and appeared on many popular television and radio shows including “The Big Bang Theory”, “The Joe Rogan Experience” and “Real Time with Bill Maher”. After gathering degrees from Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin and Columbia University, Tyson rose to become the director of the Hayden Planetarium and oversaw its $210 million reconstruction in New York City.  

Tyson’s interest in astronomy was born when he was nine and went to the sky theater at the Hayden Planetarium, when, he says, “the universe called me.” He took classes there during high school, when director and instructor Mark Chartrand III mixed humor with enthusiasm in his classes, a pattern Tyson admired and has tried to replicate. 

An avid learner, Tyson studied astronomy intently as a teen and met luminaries in science such as Neil Armstrong and Isaac Asimov. Princeton University and the American Museum of Natural History featured him on staff early in his career. President George W. Bush appointed him to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry in 2001, and three years later to the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, known as the “Moon, Mars and Beyond” commission.

Tyson said that science is a spiritual experience when he stated: “For me, when I say spiritual, I'm referring to a feeling you would have that connects you to the universe in a way that it may defy simple vocabulary. We think about the universe as an intellectual playground, which it surely is, but the moment you learn something that touches an emotion rather than just something intellectual, I would call that a spiritual encounter with the universe.”

An ardent advocate for increasing funding for NASA, Tyson believes in the power of the organization to advance American might. In March 2012, he said, “Right now, NASA's annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that—a penny on a dollar—we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow.”

Image Source: Wikipedia

October 10  Tanya Tucker, singer-songwriter

Tanya Tucker burst onto the music scene in 1972 at the age of 13 with the hit song “Delta Dawn.” The artist had the rare ability to maintain her audience for decades after, scoring a Grammy Award for Best Country Album with 2019’s “While I’m Livin’”. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame just this year. 

Tucker began her career even before the release of her first song. She auditioned for a role in the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” before she turned 10. While she lost the bigger role, both Tucker and her horse got bit parts in the film. Her father drove her to the Arizona State Fair at around this time, hoping his daughter could back up country singer Judy Lynn. After Tanya sang for fair organizers, she was signed up to sing on her own at the fair. Tucker had already sung with Mel Tillis by the time she signed on with Columbia Records, her first label.

After a string of hits in the country genre, Tucker took a big risk in 1978 when she switched to rock and released her album “TNT“. It went gold, and in a twist of irony “Texas (When I Die)” climbed to number five on the country charts. But lonely nights on the road and a breakup with fellow musician Glen Campbell took their toll. Tucker turned to alcohol, and by 1988 her family persuaded her to go to rehab. 

After getting sober, the artist veered into country-pop and rebounded with several hits. Tucker has continued to perform and release new material, including her 2022 album “The Return of Tanya Tucker”.

Image Source: Wikipedia

October 17  Thomas Hearns, boxer

Thomas “the Hitman” Hearns earned a place in history as the first man to win world titles in five different weight divisions: welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight. He was named Fighter of the Year in 1980 and 1984 by both The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. 

Hearns is revered as one of the most damaging punchers in boxing history, knocking out his first 17 opponents. In 1981, with a 32-0 record that included 30 knockouts, Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard faced off in a bout that earned the boxers a combined $17 million. Hearns was defeated in the 14th round. 

In another historic fight, Hearns faced Marvin Hagler in 1985 for the super-welterweight championship. Hearns nearly knocked out his opponent early on and nearly won the bout, but then broke his right hand and continued fighting as best he could, eventually succumbing in the third round. 

Although a devastating opponent in the ring, Hearns proved that his heart was as mighty as his punches. In his next bout, in 1986, Hearns took out up-and-coming boxer James “Black Gold” Shuler with a knockout in the first round to win the NABF championship belt. When Shuler was killed only a week later in a motorcycle accident, Hearns delivered the belt to Shuler’s family, telling them they deserved to keep it since Shuler had held the title longer than he had.


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