Friday, October 24, 2014

Traveling is Good for You

As anyone who reads this blog knows by now, my wife and I are frequent travelers.  While we always enjoyed traveling, now that we are retired, we have the time to travel as much as our retirement resources allow us to do.  Recently, we have been traveling a lot.  We just returned from a visit with our daughter and her family in Minnesota.

During our visit, we had a number of wonderful experiences in the Minneapolis area, which we will be writing about.  On the way back  home, we also made stops in New Glarus, Wisconsin and Springfield, Illinois.  

I will be writing about each of these adventures in the very near future. So, stay tuned.  What I wanted to share with you today is the somewhat surprising finding that traveling can be good for you, despite the perceived stresses of flying and driving.  

A study conducted by Expedia in 2013 found that 90% of vacationers experienced less stress after a day or two away from the office or factory.  Many other studies have shown that the failure to take regular vacations can both speed  up the aging process and result in a greater risk of coronary related disease and deaths. "Feeling Stressed? Hit the Road," Minnesota, Money Magazine, October 2014, p. 9.

Now, not everyone can travel or take a vacation as often as we do.  But keep in mind, if you can, give a vacation a try.  It just might save your life.

O Canada, We Stand with You

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that we frequently visit Canada, particularly, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  We, like most Americans, were abhorred by the recent assassinations, apparently by self-styled terrorists, of two Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends and colleagues of these two brave men, who died in the line of duty.

We have always viewed Canada as a neighbor of peaceful people, who love their hockey and enjoy life.  The cowards, who took the lives of these two young men, seek by their acts to sow hatred and fear not only in Canada but throughout the civilized world.  We must not let that happen.We were heartened by the comment by Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in an address to the Canadian Parliament yesterday morning, that "Canadians will not be intimidated." "Here, Here!"

As Pittsburgh residents, we were also touched by the gesture by the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team,  which before Wednesday night's hockey game in Pittsburgh, asked all of the fans to sing the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada."

Let the events of these recent days be a reminder to all of us that no country, no state, no city and no neighborhood is immune to the violence and evil that today stalks the world.  I am reminded, however, of the words of John F. Kennedy in his Inaugural Address that we should all keep in mind :

  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
  To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.6

Have a Drink and Improve Your Memory

If you are over sixty, you have probably experienced those dreaded "senior moments."  You know what I'm talking about: those times when you can't remember where you put your reading glasses or car keys, or maybe even where you parked your car at the mall.  If so, I have good news for you: have a glass of wine or two a day and you might actually improve your memory.

Recent studies at several universities have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol, seven to fourteen glasses of wine or beer per week, may actually improve your "episodic memory," the ability to remember events. The studies are based upon follow-up analyses of participants in the famed Framington Heart Study. The consumption of alcohol is believed to increase brain cells.

This follows several earlier studies that showed that similar consumption of wine and beer may actually prevent the onslaught of dementia or Alzheimer's  disease.  The percentage decline in those diseases in moderate drinkers compared to teetotalers was a startling 37%.

The recommened level of consumption per day is one glass of wine or beer for women and no more than two glasses for men.

So drink up and remember where you read about this important information., where you can find lots of useful information everyday.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial Eclipse of the Sun Today, October 23

I have previously written about the blood moon. The Blood Moon is Back, October 8, 2014. Today it is time to give equal time to the sun.  For you astronomy buffs, today will witness a partial eclipse of the sun.  About forty percent of the sun will be covered by a shadow from the moon.  On the East Coast, the best viewing time will be about 5:45 p.m. Because it is only a partial eclipse, the sun will not go totally dark. Remember though, despite that fact, do not look directly at the sun or you might cause permanent damage to your eyes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Blood Moon is Back

At approximately 6:25 Eastern Time this morning, we will be treated to a total eclipse of the moon.  This will result in yet another "blood moon," part of the tetra cycle of four this year and next. So, look skyward and observe this natural phenomenon once again this year. The last time the tetra cycle took place was over three hundred years ago!

For more information, visit

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hidden Gem: The Hotel Mulberry

Located in a recently converted parking garage in the heart of New York City's Chinatown and just blocks away from Little Italy, the Hotel Mulberry offers a luxury experience at a modest price (at least by New York standards, that is). On a recent visit to New York, we stayed at the Mulberry for two nights. Our room, located on the penthouse floor, was spectacular. The room was exceptionally large for a New York hotel and like the rest of the hotel, immaculately clean. Our room boasted a king bed, lounge chair, desk, television stand (with a large smart television on top with DirecTV) that doubled as a chest of drawers and a relatively large bathroom.

But by far, the most spectacular part of the room was the bank of floor to ceiling windows that lined one side of the room. The windows offered a truly unparalled view of the new World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline. Overlooking Columbus Park, we were also  able to see the Tai Chi practioners performing their exercises every morning and the soccer players playing every evening in the well-used park.

The hotel does not have a restaurant, but offers free vouchers for breakfast for two guests at a nearby restaurant. In addition, when we asked on of the desk clerks (all of whom were extremely courteous and helpful)  for a recommendation for lunch,  she suggested the Amazing66 at 66 Mott Street, two blocks from the hotel.  We lunched there on authentic Chinese food for a very modest price. Most entrees were $5.95 and included your choice of white or brown rice and soup. I opted for the walnut chicken and sweet and sour soup and was not disappointed. I should also mention that the restaurant is Zagat rated.

For those of you (like us) crazy enough to drive into New York City, two doors down from the hotel is a parking garage, offering indoor, secure parking for $35 a day. It location also offers easy access to the Holland Tunnel when entering or leaving the city.

The Hotel Mulberry is located at 52 Mulberry Street, two blocks from Canal Street, in New York City's Chinatown. We will go back the next time we are in New York and we hope you will make it your choice for lodging on your next visit as well. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Casbah

No, not that Casbah in Algiers, Algeria. No, this post is about the Casbah restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Located at the confluence of the Shadyside and East Liberty neighborhoods in Pittsburgh's East End, it has one of the best lunch menus in the City and maybe in the country.  My wife and I had lunch there recently and came away with the feeling that we had just had lunch at some New York or Los Angeles bistro; it was that good..

The Casbah offers a new menu daily. The day we were there, the offerings included tomato and basil bisque topped with a crostini, which my wife ate as part of the restaurant's "gusto" special, which I highly recommend. The "gusto" special, for $15, offers you the opportunity to taste three of the Casbah's lunch offerings. In addition to the creamy tomato bisque (which was excellent), my wife also enjoyed a mini crab cake (all lump crab meat) and a small pasta dish. I ordered the "gusto" special as well. My trio included a mini swordfish sandwich with a delicious aioli, a small salad with pieces of grilled corn, heirloom tomatoes and radishes. The third item was a small pasta dish with cavatelli pasta noodles  and  velvety ricotta cheese in a rich tomato sauce. The servers were prompt (filling glasses of ice tea immediately as soon as the glasses ran low ) and knowledgeable about the menu..

It was a terrific meal and if you find yourself in Pittsburgh at lunch time, I would recommend you stop in the Casbah.We have not eaten dinner there, but I am sure it is equally good.

The Casbah is located at 229 S Highland Avenue. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating all year long on a covered patio. Parking, which can be problematic on the street, is available in a lot  next to the restaurant.