Seeking Senior Bloggers

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d love to be a blogger, if only I knew where to begin? I don’t even know how to use a computer.”

According to The Pew Research Center out of 500 million bloggers, less than 1 percent are age 65 and over. Bloggers in the 21-to-35-year-old demographic group account for over 53 percent of the total blogging population, followed by 19 percent who are 36-to-50-years-old. But enough boring statistics and more about the sparse number of senior bloggers.

I am in the 1 percent. No, not that 1 percent, the “less than” group identified by Pew. Before the door of opportunity opened 12 years ago, I had no plans to include blogger on my resume. Then, one day a friend suggested, “Why not augment your love for writing and create your own blog?” Thus, post-retirement, I birthed my second career and added personal blogger to freelance writer and published author.

In addition to writing a blog, I study them. I’ve found that the gazillion younger than 50-year-old bloggers tend to write about fashion, politics, health & fitness, music & entertainment and technical devices. Although some senior bloggers tackle those same subjects, the majority of posts written by seniors concern elder lifestyles and the challenges of advancing years. Many of their posts have titles about subjects that very young readers would call old people stuff. Healthy Aging (translation:  avoiding the decrepit zone). Fighting Aging (Good luck with knocking that out). Defying the Aging Process (enter Botox and plastic surgery). And the topic that none of us old-schoolers want to discuss, the one that keeps most of us in denial – Funeral Planning (Think Dreamgirls, “And I am telling you, I’m not going.”).

Anyone who retired in let’s say the last 15-20 years who did not learn computer skills while they were in the workforce, I will bet you my best friend’s social security check that some of them are not inclined to do so now. Sadly, I know mature people who not only lack computer skills, but some think that a hard drive is being on the road for two hours or more without making a rest stop.

For seniors who want to learn to compute – it is not too late. There are basic computer classes available everywhere. It seems pointless to ask someone who may not own a computer and lacks computer skills to check on-line for computer classes, although a tablet or smartphone might suffice. But you could ask a computer-savvy friend to help you search online, or inquire about classes at a library near you. Some libraries offer free computer classes that provide hands-on training to adults. AARP offers tech training for people 50 years and older.

Seniors, you need to get that training and start blogging so that we can increase our numbers in the blogosphere. There are plenty of things to blog about:  sports, travel, food, name it and claim it. And of course, there is the personal blog.

I enjoy being a personal blogger. That’s my forte’. However, I offer some words of caution to potential personal bloggers. Share your thoughts at your discretion.

Before jumping in with both feet, think of personal blogging as swimming nude at a public pool. Your posts will be as exposed as a naked swimmer on a diving board. It is one thing to log your personal experiences and private thoughts in a diary, but another to publish something on-line that the whole world can see. Be forewarned. Accept that putting yourself out there, placing your thoughts on display will open you up to criticism and as well as complements. But don’t let the fear of criticism deter you. Life is too short to worry about what others will say about you. Do your thing – with style and humor – and give them something to talk about.

Here are some basic tips on getting started with your blog.

  • Choose a domain name. The domain is the address of your website that people type in the browser’s URL bar to visit your site. Imagine that your website is your home and think of the domain name as your address. I chose Potpourri101 because it suggests a variety or mixture of subjects, not just old folk stuff. In the American university course numbering systems 101 often designates a course for beginners in a particular subject. Thus, potpourri101. (A blog can be set up with or without a unique domain name depending on who is hosting your site.)
  • To make your website accessible to other people on the Internet, you need a “host.” The web host provides the technologies and services required for the webpage to be viewed on the Internet. It will store all of your website files:  code, text, images, video, etc, on servers.
  • Get a blog platform. A blogging platform is a software or service that you use to publish your content. There are many platforms, but I like WordPress because it offers numerous free blog themes. Imagine having an interior designer decorate your home. The theme is the appearance or decoration, so to speak, of your website. You may want to check out Godaddy.com or SiteGround.com as sources that host WordPress sites. A downloadable copy of an excellent book WordPress for Absolute Beginners can be found here.

After you get everything in order, write, write, write on your blog! It will expand your horizons.

In the process of exchanging comments and emails about some of my posts, I’ve made friends with other bloggers as well as readers who are not bloggers. And lest you think that the lot of them are old fogies, they are not. Many of them are as young as you – or as young as you think you are.

I hope this post will encourage other seniors who may have scratched “become a blogger” off of their list. We’re waiting for you to join us. Just do it!

 

 

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Dating Across Political Lines

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

I recently read an article where a guy said that 90 percent of females he encounters in DC are very liberal and seem to view conservative men as walking deal-breakers. When I was in the dating game (nearly 20 years ago before my current relationship), I dated men whose liberal views aligned with mine – except for two who were conservative Republicans.

Back then, I did not discriminate. If I liked a guy who asked me out, I’d date him. My radar has honed over the years, and I am more political than I’ve ever been. In these polarizing and contentious times, for the sake of my peace of mind, if I were still in the game, I would not be inclined to date across party lines. People who date across the political divide can make a relationship work – if they are willing to put in the work. I’m not. It is sometimes difficult enough to maintain a platonic friendship across party lines.

My first Republican flame was a speechwriter for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger (is one among others) to whom the quote above is ascribed. I began dating the speechwriter on the rebound, following a breakup with my then-boyfriend. After a few dates, I found that I liked the conservative guy. He was a perfect gentleman. He was smart, had a sense of humor, and I enjoyed his company. However, there were a couple of hurdles that intruded in our relationship.

Once, when we were out together, while my date was busy buying tickets I glanced at two black men who were standing about 12 feet away. I guess they were in their late 20s or early 30s. I couldn’t avoid noticing the hateful expression on the face of the one with his arms crossed whose eyes were throwing darts at me. He and the guy who was with him were both wearing black berets. While he was giving me the cold stare-down, I overheard some of his snide comment to the fellow standing beside him. “That sister other there dating a white guy. Ought to be ashamed.” That was in the I’m-black-and-I’m-proud 1970s. Society was moving toward being racially progressive on interracial relationships, but it had not progressed to where it is now. For the next few seconds, I ignored him, until my date and I continued on our way and they went theirs.

Our second tension was more personal. It occurred one evening while we were watching an episode of Roots. The character Kizzy’s master was selling her away from her family for something that she did (I don’t remember what it was) and boyfriend commented that some masters were good to their slaves. Well, Jumping Jehoshaphat! Whether that statement was true or not wasn’t the issue. It was simply the wrong thing said at the right time. Our argument that occurred as a result of that episode wasn’t what led to our break up. We eventually smoothed things over, but I decided to get back with the guy that I broke up with before I got involved with the speechwriter.

The other Republican I dated was black like me. But if you heard him talking smack and couldn’t see him, you wouldn’t know it. He was in the entertainment business and very political. It was difficult enough trying to stomach his political views, but I wholeheartedly resent people who constantly berate members of their own racial group. His arrogance wore me down. It doesn’t matter if the intra-racial bashing is for someone’s job, their political party or because they are blinded by self-hate, in my opinion, constantly stereotyping and denigrating your own racial group does nothing to enhance your image. It makes you look bad. I don’t care whether your viewpoint is due to envy, feelings of superiority or because you think that you are economically and socially better off than other people. Don’t let it go to your head. Life is like a giant sliding board. You can be up at the top one day and down on the ground the next. It doesn’t matter if someone is high on the corporate ladder or picking up trash on the street if a person is out here trying to make an honest living then don’t negate him or her. Actions and deeds aside, as human beings, none of us is better than the other. I strongly dislike seeing black people put other black people down and I view racial animosity with more disdain than partisan animosity. My compassion compass with Republican #2 was not in synch. Thankfully, that pseudo-relationship crashed and burned.

When it comes to mixed-partisan relationships, evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans have a hard time making relationships work. To the contrary, a high-profile couple, political strategist James Carville and his wife, media personality Mary Matalin are one example of an inter-political relationship that is working. According to USNews.com Martin had this to say about that, “That we disagree on policy was tough, but it’s not one of those deal-breakers. We’re very practical in our local politics, and we’re philosophically opposed on the role and scope of government, but we love each other.”

 

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Forcing the Smile

Before she died in 2011, my Aunt Sarah often told me that there was one thing that she liked most about my writing. “I like your humor,” she would say. It didn’t matter if I thought a particular post stunk like a wet mop, as long as Aunt Sarah thought it was funny my day was made. My aunt enjoyed humor, and she had an unwavering sense of it. She would crack me up with some of the jokes she told. More importantly, she focused on the bright side of life even in her darkest hour. Oh, how I miss her.

If my aunt were alive she would understand when I say that it’s getting difficult to maintain a sense of humor. The political and social climate we live in leaves little to laugh about or even smile.

In her speech before the 1964 Democratic National Convention civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She might not have imagined that fifty years later, her words would become a mantra for people praying for relief in a society that appears to be stepping back in the past toward racial injustice as it steps forward to a resurgence of senseless and criminal acts against black and brown people.

If we are to believe the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, aren’t we (too among) the people entitled to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity?”

Like Fannie Lou was in her day, generations of us today are sick and tired of feeling that we must constantly justify our existence and demand our human rights to life and liberty. We are sick and tired of being inherently suspect and perceived as threatening by people who look for reasons, no matter how irrational, to call the police. We are sick and tired of being stereotyped and presumed guilty until proven innocent. We are damned sick and tired.

We parents and grandparents feel compelled to reiterate the self-preservation talk with our black youths. “I recall a few occasions when one of my grandsons was younger and naïve, his response to “the talk” would be, “But I don’t bother anyone.” And my immediate reply was, “You don’t have to be bothering anyone for someone to bother you. It’s the world we live in.” They are grown men now and have come to understand. I think they get it.

It doesn’t help me to read disturbing articles like the one recently published by the Los Angeles Times. It discloses the findings of a study that reveals that Getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America.

I have never forgotten an incident that happened years ago when my son was about 15. I took him and his male friend of the same age shopping. Nordstrom was one of many stores along the shopping strip in a high-rent district in Washington, DC. I knew that prices inside could make a hog squeal, but for the heck of it, I decided to go inside to see if I could find anything I wanted. Within moments after we entered the store, I noticed that an inconspicuous store employee pretending to be a shopper was trailing a short distance behind us. When we stopped to look at something, so would she. After a few minutes of cat and mouse, I was tempted to disregard her unspoken indication that you don’t belong here and continue browsing for the hell of it. Instead, because I was getting pissed off I told the boys, “Let’s go.” We left that store and I have never gone back there. That was over 30 years ago and every time I think about the experience, I get angry all over again.

Whether it is being followed in a department store or pulled over for driving while black, there is no justification for racial profiling and racist behavior. One bad choice or miscalculated move on our part could be a matter of life or death. That is our grim reality, and it is no laughing matter.

I prefer to write about lighthearted topics and would rather not write about my frustrations regarding racism. But I usually express what is weighing heavily on my heart and mind and right now, today, this is it. The subject of racism is exhausting, but we must keep talking about it.

One commonality shared by my Aunt Sarah and Fannie Lou Hamer is that both were proponents of civil rights. My aunt who participated in the 1963 March on Washington, would see no humor in this post, but she would certainly understand it. So would Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who in 2009 was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home after someone placed a 911 call about someone breaking and entering a residence. Gates was suspected of breaking into his own home. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson would also understand it. The two African American men were arrested in  2018 at a Philadelphia Starbucks while peacefully waiting for a friend to join them.

I am not implying that Black people don’t commit crimes, but so do whites.

I am sure that Aunt Sarah would understand why there is no humor in this post. She would also understand why I am not smiling as I write this, but I’ll smile again. Maybe tomorrow. I may even write something lighthearted – tomorrow.

In the meantime, if any of you readers have doubts about the absurdities perpetrated against Black people every day read The Root’s list of 100 Things Not To Do #While Black. Some of the things on the list are so ridiculous they might even make you smile as you shake your head at the idiocy.

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When the Sibling Bough Breaks

“Death brings out the best and the worst in families.”

“Mom always liked you best” was the signature line that Tommy Smothers hurled at his brother, Dick, during The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that aired in the late 1960s. The brothers told interviewers that their on-stage rivalry was simply part of the comedy act. But it is no joke that numerous siblings everywhere feel that they are the least favored child in their family. Some reports reveal that sibling rivalry is more common among children who are the same gender and close together in age. It doesn’t matter who your brother or sister is, sibling rivalry knows no boundaries; not social class, economic status, race/ethnicity, or culture.

Loving parents want to see affection between their children. If a mother recognizes that there is ill will between them, she will often intervene to try and mend the bridge. Unfortunately, after the mother dies, the rivalry among siblings that began in childhood, could continue through adolescence and extend into old age. It is not uncommon to find adults who have severed contact with their sibling, but that is a secret that many people don’t like admitting. Some of us know people in that situation. Some of us may be among them.

Siblings are a coincidence of birth; kinship aside, brothers and sisters are no different from unrelated people with whom we interact throughout life. Some are loving, generous, and kind-hearted; others are selfish, mean-spirited, and devious. A love/hate relationship among siblings is not usual.

When parents have more than one child, many wish for the siblings to be friends forever and to love each other throughout their lives. Unfortunately, when the parent dies, the family dynamics sometimes change. Secrets, resentment, and even lifestyles may lead siblings to withdraw from each other.

Author Christine Ro writes that “violations of what mothers saw as their personal values make estrangement even more likely….”

Several years ago, a lifelong friend of mine told me that she had not spoken with her brother for over 30 years. Then, one day, she encountered him as she was walking along the street on her way to the store. They chatted briefly. She said it became clear to her that there was no longer any connection between them. It was as though they were strangers. Each went their separate way, and one day a year after that chance meeting, a mutual friend told her that her brother had died. She said she felt no emotion and did not attend the funeral. At the time, I could not understand how siblings could so easily detach from each other, but time has a way of educating us to things that we previously did not comprehend.

The complexity of sibling interaction that could ultimately lead to estrangement is not limited to full brothers and sisters. Half-siblings and step-siblings also have their issues.

Encyclopedia.com says this about that. “Stepsiblings have no shared family “history” that helps to develop common habits, values, customs, and expectations; and changes in family size, place in the family, status, and role expectations may precipitate strong emotional reactions in children.”

There comes a time when estranged siblings must decide whether to make an effort to reconstruct a weak link or make a clean break. For some, the decision is complicated. For others not so much. Bad feelings caused by misunderstanding, anger, and old resentments does nothing to restore the bond. Reuniting requires a conscious effort by both siblings.

Lipstick Alley reveals some shocking information about celebrities who are – or in some cases were, during their lifetime – estranged from their siblings:  Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine; Dorothy Dandridge and Vivian Dandridge; Halle Berry and Heidi Berry;  Mariah Carey and Allison Carey; and Oprah and a number of her siblings and half-siblings.

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A Red Hook Resident Gives a Shout-out to Old Timers Day

The following post was written by life-long Red Hook resident and Guest Author, Vanessa Staton.

 

Current and former tenants of Red Hook will come to the northwestern Brooklyn, NY, neighborhood from all over the country this weekend to enjoy the 34th annual Old Timers Day.

Red Hook is the site of the Red Hook Houses, the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. Groundbreaking for the NYCHA property of 27, two and six-story buildings, occurred on July 17, 1938. The first tenants took occupancy following completion of construction in June 1939. The area was named for its red clay soil and the hook shape of its peninsular corner of Brooklyn that projects into the East River.

Red Hook Houses is the largest public housing development in Brooklyn. The property contains several parks; Old Timers Day activities take place at many of them. This year’s affair will include events at Wine Park and Coffey Park.

Friday is usually the Old Timers Day kid’s time. The children of Red Hook enjoy pleasurable activities and games and have the opportunity to win prizes.

This year, Saturday’s activities took place at Wine Park. In addition to other events, it included an evening for the adults. White apparel was the color of the evening.

Sunday’s main event started at noon today at Coffey Park. As usual, there is plenty of food to feast on and music provided by a DJ and live band.

Affinity Health and other vendors and services will be available, offering something for all.

Old Timers Day is always highly anticipated by current and former Red Hook residents. Some even schedule their vacations around the date. Everyone enjoys coming together to reminisce about old times and delight in some face-time with old friends and neighbors.

 

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