Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Change is in the Wind

Spring is on the way, even if that arrival date may have been pushed back by the latest bad weather sweeping eastward this week. Spring will be here eventually, bringing sunnier days, warmer weather and new vegetation. Ah, Spring.

Change is often a good thing. It certainly is inevitable, whether or not we are ready or even want it to happen. Not only will the arrival of Spring bring change. From a review of recent news stories, change may be rolling in like a tsunami.

The Catholic Church is undergoing change. The Pope has resigned. Although not a Catholic, I was shocked to see that Pope Benedict is about to leave the papal office. This event hasn't happened in the Catholic Church for 600 years. No doubt he must have had a very good reason to "resign" his post and it must have been a decision to which he gave a lot of thought. That termination, along with the selection of a replacement pope, has forced at least a few changes within the Church. To an outsider, it might just be time for the Catholic Church to "modernize" a bit.

Television is undergoing change. One of the so-called Big Three TV networks has suffered greatly in recent "sweeps" ratings. Television certainly isn't what it was a few years ago. The Big Three had a good ride for many years, dominating all alternatives. In the early days, they also made an effort to inform and entertain the public. The subsequent advent of cable and satellite options have benefited viewers by providing numerous options. As a result, the stranglehold of the Big Three has waned in recent years. Perhaps as a misguided effort to alter their audience base (and win over certain demographics), the Big Three have changed course to win viewers. The result has been chaotic at best with mediocre programming followed by quick adjustments/failures. As for me, there is little reason to watch the Big Three other than to catch the local news. They need to find their strength and then stay on that focus. Or else.

Print journalism is undergoing change. Some newspapers and magazines have stopped print versions entirely, opting to go on-line instead. It was inevitable that the time-lag and costs of print journalism would make it impossible to compete with on-line websites. Of course, print journalism was usually well constructed, proof read and thorough, none of which can be said about on-line news. Those stories are often flimsy, gossip-y and filled with errors. But they are fast. Like "fast food," however, they leave the public wanting more.

The post office is undergoing change. I use postal services frequently and have noticed little change among the personnel, who remain helpful and friendly. But the mailing costs have increased continually. The majority of mail that gets delivered to me consists of packages and advertisements. Businesses are encouraging their customers to utilize on-line payment for prompt processing and less clerical involvement. One day, even payment of bills via so-called snail mail may no longer be an option. There is little personal mail now. Emails and ecards have replaced written correspondence and greetings. The post office, like many other institutions, simply missed the boat. They waited too long to recognize that ecommerce was more than a fad. The post office is now forced to cut hours and staff. The costs of maintaining post offices across the country must be staggering. Real estate, utilities, personnel, vehicles, printing, etc. Plus the post office is permanently saddled with those pesky legacy costs (pensions) which must be paid. I enjoy dealing with the post office and will continue to need it well into the future. But it needs to play catch up and figure out a better method of operation.

There is other change in the wind. Television isn't the only entertainment venue which requires modification. Movies need to get a clue, too, as to what the public wants. Meager offerings at significant expense isn't going to fill seats. Same thing applies to sporting events, many of which are already suffering from sluggish ticket sales. People simply do not now have the money to attend in person. If the Congress continues to do nothing and the sequester budget cuts kick in at the end of the week, we may all experience financial cutbacks -- quickly.

So while a change in the weather is a rather pleasant offering, change is not always a good thing. But it remains inevitable and will often arrive even if we don't want it too.

Whaddya going to do?

Friday, February 22, 2013

And the Winner Is…

This is the weekend for the Academy Awards. Despite all the criticism of the televised program over the years, despite its length and tedium, I always watch the show and will do so again this year.

Movies have been a mainstay in my family for several generations. My maternal grandmother became devoted to films during the many years of her unfortunately unhappy marriage. Like many women of the early 20th century, she did not work outside of the house. But she was a fan of films and passed that love of entertainment down to her only daughter, my mother. Mother and daughter would go to the movies on the weekends. They were keenly aware of what films would soon arrive in their small town and who starred in the them.

In the early days of films, there were a number of production companies and movie moguls battling for ticket sales. Films were vying for the right to entertain the public and some film makers were willing to take chances with innovation as technology evolved.

My mother retained her fondness for film and during the early 1950s made her children aware of the wonders of film. During that time, the only way to see even relatively current movies was to actually go to a movie theatre. TV had made its appearance but movies on TV were already many years -- even decades -- old. I don't remember any prime time movies being shown on television until NBC began "Saturday Night at the Movies" in the late 1950s. This was a landmark program and changed television viewing almost immediately. Relatively-recent movies in your living room! Wow.

Going to the Saturday matinees in the 1950s was a special treat. The theatre in our town aimed at kids, showing westerns or science fiction thrillers, sometimes two, accompanied by cartoons. For the magnificent sum of $1, I could go to the movies, pay the admission, have money for popcorn or a candy bar and have a dime left to use the phone. Not too bad. These were not great films but kids had a lot of fun and felt like some adults cared about keeping them entertained.

During the rest of the week in the 1950s, regular movies were shown. I went with my mother to see such memorable films as "An Affair to Remember," "Three Coins in a Fountain," and "Cheaper by the Dozen." Sure, the story lines were over my head and I didn't understand all of the conversation. But there is nothing wrong people -- even kids -- having to stretch their imagination a bit to follow a plot. Plot: storyline; the story of sequence of events in a narrated or presented work such as a novel, play or movie. Plot: something often omitted from movies today.

On to the 1970s and 1980s. As premium cable channels brought first-run films into our homes, things began to change. I still enjoyed going to movies and seeing a film that people were praising. But it was hard to justify going to the theatres and PAYING to see a movie which was available in my home. The lure of the theatre had faded entirely by around 2000.

Several factors have negated my fondness for movie theatres. Smaller screens in multiplex theatres. Rude fellow viewers who talk, take cell phone calls and generally annoy. Higher prices for tickets and all edibles. The hassle of seeing a movie on someone else's schedule. At home, I can watch in my jammies, consume my own snacks and relax on the sofa. It is a new wave of viewing. Movie theatres have felt the pinch.

I still go to the movies but rarely. If I hear about a film that strikes my fancy, I make a mental note of interest. But if something prevents me from getting to the theatre in time to see it, I take comfort in knowing it will be available "On Demand" or DVD very quickly.

In the old days by the time the Academy Awards show arrived, I would have seen many of the films and be cheering for my favorites. Now, I see only movies which are deserving of my time. During the awards shows I watch the film clips and note those which seem intriguing. These will be the ones I rent. It's nice to let the Academy voters do my selecting in advance.

Some good movies are still made. Included in the onslaught of mediocrity is an occasional movie of note. Hopefully a few films of quality will win an Oscar this weekend. It would be nice to think that good entertainment might rebound.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Discount Shopping

Several news items have recently indicated that at least one large, well-known discount retailer has lost significant revenue and may be headed for worse times. Naturally, this is bad news for the store and its competitors as a foreboding of continued economic woes.

No one should be surprised.

News articles and economists can shake their heads, accompanied by a collective "tsk, tsk" over the state of the nation's economy. Truth is the media may have hoped for a rapid return to the past glory years, but most of us knew prosperity was still way beyond the horizon.

Many retailers have been in dangerous territory for several years. Each year-end brings out the predictions of which companies will likely disappear before the end of the coming year. Some of the same stores have made the list for at least the past three years but are still limping along. Others -- including the current large, well-known discount retailer -- have managed to avoid being on any list, presumably deafened by the ca-ching of its registers, ignoring the clamors of discontented customers.

Like many people, I have absolutely nothing against saving money. Most of my lessons were learned the hard way, like comparative shopping the price of items I frequently purchase. However, I have found that many folks do not bother to check the prices of items from one store to the next.

Many discount retailers sell a wide variety of items, literally from A to Z. However, let's focus on groceries.

I know what I pay for certain items. Pretty good at guessing what the total grocery bill will be each trip. Checking prices is a good habit to develop. Many years ago I moved across the country and knew that my new home in the Washington, D.C. area was notoriously expensive. Not to worry, I thought. I will just be careful. On a pre-relocation trip to D.C., I trekked to a local grocery to check out some national brands that I often purchased. The prices in D.C. were not a great deal higher. But each item was from a few cents to a dollar more. Each and every item. Those small differences add up and, of course, I was confronted by a significant cost-of-living increase.

There are ways to beat price discrepancies. Don't buy the item again and do without it entirely. Try the so-called store brands. Switching often is a good tactic although I have found some store brands which are vastly inferior to the original. Another option is to splurge on the "real thing" occasionally or find a substitute in a similar product. People can learn from their mistakes.

It appears, however, that stores are not able to make the same adjustment.

This current large, well-known discount retailer has had a good ride. Some of its competitors have tried to keep up with it, providing shoddier, more cheaply-made imported goods in order to catch the same wave. But their sales -- to me as a shopper, at least -- have gone dormant. Many folks see through such attempts and simply stop shopping at such stores.

This current large, well-known discount retailer needs to wake up and make some changes. When your company is the butt of jokes, recognized by a website which makes fun of the shoppers who patronize it, you need to tend to business. Despite the fact that its founders may have been well-intentioned in wanting to bring bargain prices to the masses, somewhere along the line the message got lost. The world has changed in recent decades but the store seems not to have noticed.

Whether the prices are merely comparable or greatly reduced, what matters to many shoppers is how they are treated by the store and its employees.

Ask yourself these questions about any retailer:
     Is getting to the store convenient?  
     Is the store clean? 
     Is merely entering the store a cause of dread?
     Are the prices worth the hassle?
     Is the check-out process insufferable?
     Do I feel worse following the shopping experience?

Shoppers should vote with their feet. If I can answer "yes" to any of the questions above, I'm likely to find another place to shop.

The large, well-known discount retailer would do well to keep that in mind.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sniffing Out the Truth

We all encounter things every day to which we pay little attention. With our busy schedules we miss a lot.

After encountering a series of bouts with respiratory problems, I recently learned the source of my problems. I was referred to an allergist and underwent a session of so-called scratch tests. The answer was simple -- I have developed some dandy allergies.

My wrestling with allergies dates back decades to my life in the Arizona desert. Each spring I would tear up, choke up and sneeze, like many others who live in the Sonoran Desert. It was allergies and I underwent a series of shots to help my immune system stop freaking out as the calendar changed.

People used to joke about all the allergy sufferers who lived in Arizona. "Oh, I thought people used to come to the desert to avoid allergies" was a commonly spoken line that provoked laughter. The growth boom after World War II brought newcomers from all corners of the country to the Sun Belt. Many of those people just could not bear to be without their beloved grass lawns, traditional trees and bushes.

And so the art of irrigation took root as folks with an appreciation for desert landscaping (native bushes and cacti) lived next door to those who made every effort to replicate the lawn they had in Dayton. The result was plants and greenery of every description, some of which were in bloom at any given time. Those of us who suffered with allergies no longer had a period when we were symptom free.

Since then, I have lived in other parts of the country, each time accompanied by some type of allergy. One doctor told me that it usually takes 7 years to develop an allergy after moving to a new environment.

My more recent problems seemed a bit different. Gone were the old runny nose and itchy eyes. I would go into full-blown respiratory infections complete with wheezing. What brought about all this?

Thus the referral to the allergist.

People are allergic to all sorts of things to a variety of degree. I have a friend with a peanut allergy who can sniff out peanut oil on a salad at 50 paces. I once saw a little boy react to eating a peanut which required an injection of epinephrine. Others are sensitive to foods including walnuts, fish, and eggs or molds, feathers, and pet hair. In short, there are plenty of variables out there.

My tests resulted in identifying those items to which I am highly allergic: grass, ragweed, corn pollen, and weed mix. These are hard to avoid entirely but are limited by the change of seasons. So taking steps like "covering up" when working in the yard and then changing clothes before re-entering the house can make a difference.

When the doctor asked me if there was a source of possible allergies that I was suspicious about, I told him that dust has always bothered me. And it turns out that I am highly allergic to dust. Ten of the last 15 years I worked were spent in buildings that were either extremely dusty or which had minimal janitorial service. I could tell that I was experiencing breathing problems within a very short time of entering such an environment. Of course, I thought I could just ignore the dust and go about my business.


It is surprising how much a "dirty" and dust-filled environment impacts all of us. I now look around when entering a store, shop, or restaurant to see if there is accumulated dust. Having a love for antique hunting, I often encounter situations which are less than pristine where the owner/operator has made no effort in this regard.

Tolerance to outside contaminants can change with age and moving to a new location. If you or someone you know has experienced repeated and previously unidentified breathing problems, you might want to consider meeting with an allergist. That doctor is trained to help identify what might be causing the problem. If the issue is not related to allergies, he can certainly direct you to another professional who may be able to assist. The testing process -- contrary to the warnings of others -- was no big deal. There was no discomfort and it took about 10-15 minutes to confirm problems I had lived with for decades. A simple problem now under control.

Too bad I didn't pay attention earlier.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In the Still of the Night…

I woke this morning at 3:20 a.m. Not as the result of bad dreams or indigestion. Just woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep.

Early morning is a magical time. The house is quiet and almost surrealistic. No sounds and few disturbances. Like finding yourself in a serene environment with no interruptions.

I've always been a morning person. But it's different when waking very early is not your idea. To me, any time before 5:00 a.m. is considered "night."

Ever have trouble getting to sleep? Or falling back to sleep after a late night drink of water, phone call or family discussion? Returning to slumber is not too complicated. But sometimes when I happen to awake, it's as though someone flipped my brain like a light switch and the brain waves stir.

Did I turn off that light? Did I set down frozen meat for dinner tomorrow? What color should I use to paint the kitchen? Brain waves are apparently sensitive little fellas and can quickly be pressed into action at the slightest provocation. Once thoughts start to flicker, I am usually a goner. It becomes clear that the best course of action would be to get out of bed and do something. Read a book or turn on the computer. Articles about sleep disturbance often recommend doing something to take your mind off of the fact that you can't sleep.

Sleep is an amazing process and doing without it (or getting less of it) can impact our waking lives greatly. Recently while experiencing a respiratory condition, I had many nights of minimal sleep. The result was that I felt like heck -- on top of the fact that I felt like heck. Getting back to deep sleep gave me a renewed appreciation of just how precious sleep can be.

My father was always a morning person. He was a contract mail carrier who delivered mail from our small town to neighboring towns. He would get up at 4:30 six mornings a week and begin his journey. This was in the Midwest and meant making his trek during rainy and snowy days and nearly always in the dark. It was a job that I think he more or less enjoyed because he was essentially his own boss. But I realize now that it involved a lot of hard work and a killer pace. And, oddly enough, I don't recall ever hearing him complain about it. He just went to work and came home.

For many years during my 30s and beyond, I would get up early and go for a run before dressing for work. It seems like a hassle now and I remember worrying about what my hair would do and did I have time to mess with it. But invariably when one gets into some type of groove, the body follows suit. We can do such things if motivated.

Recently there was a news article about the huge percentage of people who manage their daily lives without enough sleep. This has been true for a long time. When I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, I routinely saw people function in a sleep-deprived state. People would fall asleep on the Metro trains almost every day. At one job, the pay was so low for the recent college grads that several I knew worked two jobs. One young man tended bar at night and worked at a law firm during the day. When we would leave the office to go to lunch, this kid would come into our office, shut the door and sleep under the desks. These people learned to cope until the weekends or pay raises would allow them the luxury of only one job.

In today's economy, I know there are people working multiple jobs, taking care of home and family and just trying to keep afloat until things turn around. They endure long hours and likely little rest/sleep in the process.

To anyone who is trying to get by with little sleep, please be aware that you might have other options that would help you make the most of the 24 hours allowed each day. Sleep is paramount to feeling well and keeping calm.

So tonight, if you have difficulty falling asleep or wake up in the pre-dawn darkness, just keep in mind that you might not have another shot at sleep until tomorrow. It might motivate you to turn over and try again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Things I Never Do

Recently I was remembering a television show popular in the 1970s. It was called "Phyllis" and starred Cloris Leachman, a spin-off of her Phyllis character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show centered around Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) and her family.

The show was funny, as I recall, but I only watched because of a character named Mother Dexter, portrayed by elderly actress Judith Lowry. Mother Dexter was the mother of Phyllis' father-in-law. Judith Lowry was in her mid-to-late 80s and actually passed away during the second season.

This show and the Mother Dexter role was the first depiction of a feisty elderly woman that I ever recall. During this period, older women either weren't portrayed at all or, if they were, they were shown as quiet, shawl-wearing women who cooked chicken soup and knitted by the fire.

"Phyllis" was different. Mother Dexter was fresh, opinionated, daring and hilarious as a result. I recall one episode where she expressed some outrageous opinion and drew shocked reactions in return. She then uttered some wonderful line to the effect of "I've waited my entire life to be able to say what I want to." It impressed me greatly and I never forgot the punch of that philosophy.

Most people are afraid of saying and doing the wrong thing. In this age of painful political correctness, we all have to weigh through ideas before expressing them. We wouldn't want to say or do something that could be considered un-"PC." Every day we hear about some sports figure or political start who happened to utter a phrase when they thought the nearest microphone was turned off or perhaps spoke in haste. The wrong words were uttered and the speaker has to scramble to apologize or assure his/her fans that he/she would never do so again.

Well, like Mother Dexter, I'm tired of tippy-toeing around to avoid offending anyone. At a certain age, we ought to be allowed to relax just a tad. I don't mean being overly rude or cruel to others. But we should let our hair down a bit and try to relax. It doesn't look like our society appreciates humor any longer, but we can take it down a notch anyway.

And so, I have compiled a short list of things which I no longer will do. Enough already. These include the following:

Hold for robocalls
If some boiler room telemarketing organization has me on it's list, I'm liable to receive calls any time of the day. A few days ago, the phone rang at 2:00 a.m. It was a robocall. I automatically (and foolishly) answered the phone and then had trouble going back to sleep. This will not happen again.

Stand in line to pay for something (except groceries)
Standing in line is part of living and occasionally we have to play along. I have stood in line to get into a performance or movie. I have stood in line to get my car serviced despite having an appointment. But I refuse to stand in line to give away my money. In a large nearby city during an after-Christmas sale, I was standing in line to buy an item for myself. I stood in line for a l-o-n-g time but the line was not moving. Finally, the stupidity of the moment dawned on me and I placed the item on a nearby counter and walked out of the store. This will not happen again.

Return to a restaurant/hairstylist/business where I had bad service
Remember that old saying about "You don't have a second chance to make a first impression"? Too true. There are plenty of services provided to the public that require effort on part of the service provider. I have walked out of restaurants where I sat holding a menu for more than a few minutes. A new restaurant has one shot at making me want to return. A hairstylist who chops my hair and charges me too much to do so will not see me again. The public should vote with its feet. If you don't like a place, don't go back even if your friends rave about the service. They simply do not want to admit they were fooled. It's a sort of ego thing.

Spend extra time talking to/listening to people I seriously dislike
Life is too short to waste conversing with people I seriously dislike. That's one of the greatest gifts of retirement: the ended conversation. No longer am I required to listen to the vacant observations of others.

Consider this maturing chapter to be a sort of game. Learn the rules and have fun with it. If not now, when?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who Cares?

There are many things that are positive about growing older. People occasionally hold doors open for you. You can manage your own time and schedule without much thought to others. At last, you can call your own shots.

One of my personal favorite aspects about to growing older is to pick my own battles. I have always liked that phrase and have used it for many years. It's a nice way of saying "That is of no interest to me," "Why are you wasting my time," and/or "Who cares?"

"Who cares?" may seem a bit rude. But by the time we reach retirement we have all played the squeaky-clean role for decades. How many times have we told someone that we had a good time at a lunch/dinner/party when all we really wanted was to escape as quickly as possible? How many times have we suffered through boring conversations about someone's gall bladder surgery or the cost of their recent root canal when we (a) never liked that person anyway and (b) don't want to be in the same room with them?

If these circumstances have never happened to you, then lucky you. For most of us, the art of feigned interest wasn't easy to learn but fortunately can easily be forgotten.

Like most adults, I spent many years working with people I did not like. Truthfully, I would never have chosen to work with such shallow, unpleasant folks. I had no chance to screen them during the hiring rituals although they may have had some part in screening me. So how could I have known that they were not only obnoxious but would proceed to tell me everything that happened during every minute of their waking day?

The phrase "Who cares?" was brought mind over this past weekend when the media was constantly blathering about the Super Bowl game. I mean really, who cares? I stopped faking my interest in football when I got divorced in the 1970s, which is about the last time the big game was exciting. By that point I was tired of faking interest in all kinds of things -- his job, his cars, his bad judgment. Who cares?

The Super Bowl seems to be out of touch with the modern world. In order to make game day more exciting -- because, goodness knows, the game isn't -- the NFL (or whoever makes decisions about the events) has chosen to recruit big stars, sometimes antique performers who are most certainly hoping to revitalize their careers. Sometimes these appearances have been great. Sometimes not so much. Although I will admit a low level of interest in the game, I have been known to peek at half time to see what all the fuss is about. Curiosity and all that…

Then there is the build up about those silly commercials which are shown during the game. Sometimes these ads have become memorable, even classic with the passage of time. It seems that structuring an entire day of hoopla around obscure entertainers and commercials is a little pathetic. Commercials were designed to give us time to use the bathroom and refill our drinks. I do not watch commercials. Period. Let the public rave about some baby commercial afterward. If I had wanted to see babies, I would have had my own.

My "who cares" mentality extends well beyond sports. In fact, it has worked it's way into my conversation on a regular basis. Here is a sampling of the types of comments which will loosen my "who cares" retort:

"I had to wait at the post office for five minutes today. They were really busy."

"The girl cut my hair way too short. Just look at it."

"The power was out at the Super Bowl for 35 minutes. Can you imagine?"

"I ordered this steak medium and it's too pink! Gross."

People might be surprised to learn how often they make such statements aloud. Often such phrases are made entirely without thinking and don't generally warrant a response. Many people who hear such utterances say nothing. Silence always confirms that there is no need for anything intelligent to be said.

But the next time you hear a stupid comment like the ones listed here, try a different approach. Smile, shrug and respond, "Who cares?" It will stop the other speaker in his/her tracks and make them wonder what the heck just happened.

Hearing you speak those two words will do something more for you. They will empower you. You are actually expressing cynicism, which is not a bad thing. We could all benefit from a little more cynicism.

And everyone could benefit from a little more empowerment.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Where to Retire...

This morning on my way into the local post office, I was stopped by a man who asked about the license plate on my car. "Gotta ask you about that license plate," he smiled. "What does that mean?"

"It means I used to live in [another state]," I replied.

"Well, that has always sounded like a perfect location. Why the heck did you move here?"

"This is where I grew up," I replied. "Besides, [that other state] isn't fit to live in any more. Too much has changed."

"Oh, I see. I used to live somewhere else, too," he added.

People -- including total strangers -- often seem interested in the life story of other people and how they chose where to retire. Most folks have a reason for making a move. They might have chosen to live near family, former friends, perhaps where the climate is more to their liking. Reasons are personalized according to each situation. One thing remains: the curiosity about why they made a move at all.

We all aspire to find the ideal place to retire. Then there is the actual moving to that area, sometimes a bit more complicated. Maybe if we pick the correct location, everything will fall into place.

Today's conversation brought to mind this little piece I found some time ago. Thought you might enjoy it on this winter's afternoon. (No offense intended to anyone.)

You can retire to South Texas, where... 
1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.
2. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave the county.
3. You have over 194 recipes for Mexican food.
4. You know that "dry heat" is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door.
5. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and extremely HOT!


You can retire to California where...
1. You make over $250,000 and you still can't afford to buy a house.
2. The fastest part of your commute is backing down your driveway.
3. You know how to eat an artichoke.
4. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
5. The 4 seasons are: fire, flood, mud, and drought.


You can retire to New York City where...
1. You say "the city" and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.
2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park but can't find Wisconsin on a map.
3. You think Central Park is "nature."
4. You've worn out a car horn.
5. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.


You can retire to Minnesota where...
1. You only have four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco.
2. Halloween costumes must fit over parkas.
3. You have more than one recipe for corn casserole.
4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with fewer than eight buttons.
5. The four seasons are: winter, still winter, almost winter, and construction.


You can retire to Tennessee where...
1. You can rent a movie and buy live bait in the same store.
2. Y'all" is singular and "all y'all" is plural.
3. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Mary Ellen, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.
4. Everything is either "in yonder," "over yonder" or "out yonder." It's important to know the difference, too.
5. You actually like grits.


You can retire to Colorado where...
1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.
2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home, so he stops at the day care center.
3. A pass does not involve a football or dating.
4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.
5. People have to encourage you to become more anxious about life.


You can retire to the Midwest where...
1. You've never met any celebrities but the mayor knows your name.
2. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.
3. You have had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" on the same day.
4. You end sentences with a preposition: "Where's my coat at?"
5. When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, "It was different!"


You can retire to South Florida where...
1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind -- even houses and cars.
3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.
4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
5. Cars in front of you appear to be driven by headless people.
See, it's all a matter of choice. So if you are beginning to contemplate a retirement move, take all these factors into consideration.

And remember that it doesn't really matter where you live as long as you feel at home and enjoy life!