Does That Cow Suit Have To
By: Karen J.
Co-Publisher, On the
sitting in the drive-though line at my favorite fast food
restaurant the other day when I noticed someone in a black and
white cow costume passing out samples in little plastic cups.
My first thought, after wondering how long it would take to get
to me, was that a costume like that would get smelly pretty
fast on a hot Houston afternoon and that it was probably a pain
I forgot all about costumes and free samples. As she reached
the car directly in front of mine, I realized that inside that
ridiculous cow suit was a woman in her mid to late sixty's.
When it was my turn, she smiled and politely asked if I would
like to try the chicken salad. I know we talked for a minute or
two but I don't remember what was said. What I do remember is
wanting to ask her why she was out there. But, I didn't. I knew
why. She was there because she felt she had no
course, I have no idea what her story is. Some sort of life
crisis. Loss of spouse, plummeting savings or investments, a
mountain of medical bills. Whatever the cause, I am quite
confident that this is not how she envisioned this time in her
bleak economic climate is unsettling at best and downright
terrifying for many, especially those over fifty.
than 600,000 jobs were lost in each of the past three months.
With the unemployment rate jumping to 8.1% in February, it
became the highest in a quarter-century. According to a recent
article in The
Economist, Americans who lose their jobs today have
less of a chance of finding another one than at any time since
they began keeping records half a century ago.
constantly being bombarded with news and revelations about how
bad things are in the financial sectors. The housing market
continues to get worse. Just this week, President Obama fired
the CEO of General Motors. Libraries are bringing in therapists
for staff members who feel ill-equipped to cope with the
onslaught of anxious and depressed individuals lining up
for job search assistance. As social services suffer budget
cuts, more and more people have no where else to turn for help.
Even those not yet in such unfortunate circumstances are
feeling the pressure and reacting in unexpected ways. Boat
owners are removing identification numbers and abandoning their
expensive toys in previously unheard of numbers. Most are fully
paid for, but the owners are no longer able or willing to spend
the hundreds of dollars each month to moor and maintain
kind of crazy, huh? Like things are spiraling out of control
and as much as we would like to believe the Obama
administration is going to get a handle on it, it's a little
scary. And it's not just us. That same article in
Economist reported that the
global economy has lost 4.4 million jobs in a little over a
year and "moreover, many of yesterday's jobs, from Spanish
bricklayer to Wall Street trader, are not coming back. People
will have to shift out of old occupations and into new
that's certainly easier said than done! Or, is it? There is a
new term for a phenomenon that surfaces whenever there is a
serious economic downturn --- "forced
As traditional avenues of employment dry up, there are many who
will find a way to create their own
Today, the Internet provides a tool that allows people to
market their ideas, find business partners and suppliers,
and to do all kinds of functions on a very limited
According to Jerome S.
Engel, director for the center for entrepreneurship at the
Berkeley Haas School of Business, "The goal for many
entrepreneurs nowadays is not to create a company that will
someday make billions but to come up with an idea that will
produce revenue quickly. Many people will focus on serving
immediate needs for individuals and businesses. The pressure
people feel to find new ways to make money is a very painful
thing. But it's a healthy thing."
parents believed in gold watches, pensions and the security of
the corporate world. That may have been their reality but it's
certainly not ours. Never before has it been so apparent that
security is an illusion.
talked about this before and I suspect it will continue to be a
theme we revisit. I believe it's extremely important that
everyone be thinking of ways to be in control of their future.
But it's essential for us gay baby boomers. Any resources that
may be available are unlikely to be for us.
considered what you might do if you lost your current source of
income? Or if your retirement dollars don't quite meet your
expenses? The time to come up with some sort of contingency
plan is not when the bottom falls out of your world. The time
maybe not. There's always the possibility of a job opening in
your neighborhood and a cow suit in your size.....
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Steps to Take Just in
In a study sponsored by AARP, it was
learned that 57% of adults age 40 through 79 have been
through at least one life crisis. The overwhelming majority
of those were overconfident before trouble struck and were
left shaken afterward.
little preparation can go a long way to lessen the impact.
AARP suggests the following:
Imagine the worst. Plan your life based on half of your
resources. Not only will this alleviate a lot of the fear of
what may happen, it will also put you in touch with what you
Save. Start with a fund for emergencies and then build a six
month cushion for expenses. Sound impossible? If you can't
do it now, how do you think you will be able to manage
should disaster strike?
Protect your most valuable asset --- your earning power.
Review your level of insurance coverage and disability and
long-term health care.
your network. In the event you are faced with a life crisis,
tell everyone you know about your situation. Family, friends
and associates can not help you if they don't know you need
help. Resist making a difficult situation worse by hiding
Share financial responsibilities with your partner. Avoid
surprises by making sure all aspects of your financial life
are known by both parties.
prepared to act. Focus on today and what you can do now
rather than dwelling on "what might happen
Another option is to become self-employed --- either as a means
of supplementing your income or exploring a second career. For
suggestions from a master entrepreneur, check out...
How to Become Successfully
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Fit in a Year - Week
If we are going to watch what we eat, we are going to need to
learn to read the nutrition label on food packages. I
know. I hear the moans. You're moaning with good
reason. Turns out, those labels aren't always completely
honest, and we will need to do some math.
And rather than explain every line, I will touch on the 5 or 6
most important things to know, this week and next.
Notice that the labels contain 2 kinds of information.
First, it tells you general information in the footnote on the
bottom. And second, it gives you information specific to
the item, including serving size, calories, and grams of each
So let's talk about serving size first. Do you actually
use only 2 tablespoons of salad dressing on the salad you
pulled from a fast food window? Do you know what 2
tablespoons of dressing looks like? Usually, the dressing
package holds 2.5 SERVINGS of dressing. So if you've
squeezed the entire package on the salad, and patted yourself
on the back for choosing a salad, there's a good chance you've
consumed somewhere around 600 extra calories by eating that
salad with all the dressing. And we haven't even begun to
discuss the dressing's ingredients.
But perhaps the most important thing to know about the serving
size is since the FDA has mandated disclosure of trans fats on
food labels--it must be reported if it totals more than 0.5gms
per serving--some clever manufacturers are reducing the serving
size to keep the gms/serving just below 0.5gms.
This means you must pay close attention to serving sizes
because the last thing you want to ingest is trans fats.
If you put a dish of trans fats on your deck, no animal will
eat it, and six months from now, it will not have
changed. That stability is what makes hydrogenated fats
so attractive to food manufacturers who need products that can
sit on warehouse shelves for weeks--perhaps months--without
Ok. This might take more than two installments. But
it's extremely important to be able to read these labels, so
for the next couple of weeks, we'll take a close