Live Long and Prosper

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My post from the other day that mentioned living to 100 seemed to spark some interest, so I thought I’d follow up on it with additional info on the topic and provide you with a couple of online quizzes you can take to predict how long you will live.

Although no prediction is set in stone, it is possible to estimate your life span based on certain genetic, demographic, and lifestyle factors, and that is the focus of these online quizzes.

The first site I came across was Living to 100. The 10 minute quiz provides you with an estimate of how long you are expected to live. On this quiz, it was predicted that I will live until the age of 96.

Since I was hoping to hit 100, I had to try and find another life expectancy prediction tool that perhaps used a slightly different set of metrics and as a result might come out better for me. I was able to come across a life expectancy tool that took less than five minutes to complete. Using this tool, my life expectancy was to the age of 95.

So while neither tool predicted that I would make it to 100, it appears that I have at least 38 years to make some changes, (like changing my parents and grandparents medical history :( ) as a way of making my dream come true.

While it is fun to try and estimate how long you may live, to me the real message is understanding what the key longevity factors are and how much of an impact they have on your life span.

Each factor – and the amount of years it adds or subtracts from your baseline life expectancy – is documented by hundreds of medical studies.The two web sites mentioned above are fairly consistent in identifying what those key factors are, things like smoking, nutrition, exercise, sleep, family medical history, and social habits. There’s probably not too many surprises in that list (flossing is on both lists, and it always surprises me how important it is to your overall health), but it’s always helpful to be occasionally reminded of these factors and what impact they have on your health, wellness, and longevity.

It was encouraging to see the multiple dimensions of health and wellness that get incorporated into the age-estimates. I had written an earlier post that looked at the multiple dimensions of health, using the acronym SPICES (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Career, Emotional, and Spiritual) created by the Office of Health Promotion  at Villanova. This mnemonic makes it easy to remember that there is more to being well than just being physically fit.

I encourage you to take the quizzes, and I’d be curious to find out what your age expectancy is, so feel free to leave me a comment here or on Facebook.

And while I hope that you are expected to live a long life, just remember that it’s not the years in your life that matters, but the life in your years.

I plan to write a future post that looks at this very issue, based partially on this interesting article from the Wall Street Journal last week titled, The Caution-vs.-Kicks Quandary.

Until then, may you love long and prosper.

Get Out of That Rut

Stay in Touch

This is the second in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s.

Each one of the ads was a classic, and as soon as I start reading one of the ads now, it all comes back to me, over 30 years later.

Here’s the ad, titled “Get Out of That Rut”; click on the ad to read it full screen.

get_out_of_that_rutWhile all the suggestions are just as useful now as they were 30 plus years ago, here are some activities that may have made the list if United Technologies came out with the ad today:

  • start reading, and writing, a blog
  • take an online class
  • open a Twitter account, and start tweeting
  • use the Shuffle feature on your iPhone when listening to music
  • create, edit, and share a video on YouTube
  • use Duck Duck Go as your search engine
  • play 18 holes of Tiger Woods golf
  • learn to program in Java
  • skip work and  watch a movie using Netflix
  • go vegan for 30 days

After all, #YOLO.

Against the Wind, and Living to 100

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One of my favorite songs is “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger. (Note that the link to the song is actually a cover of the song, but it is an incredible cover; highly suggest you immediately stop reading this post and just listen to the song).

One of the lines from the song that has stuck with me over the years is:

Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

While Seger uses the line to share the pain of a love he thought would last forever, I remember the line really hitting home for me a few years ago when I was reading an article from the New York Times titled “What To Do Now To Feel Better at 100“.

Many of us were probably not aware of the importance of having an exercise routine or a healthy diet when we were younger and how that would benefit us as we grew older. But now that we are older, that is likely not the case (and certainly not for the members of the Write and Run 31 group!). I think most older adults (and hopefully lots of younger people also) are well aware of the many benefits of a daily walk or anything that gets your heart pumping, a strength training program, and eating consciously.

But at the same time, there are many of you who wish you didn’t know now what you didn’t know when you were younger concerning health and fitness. Some of the reasons for this “ignorance is bliss” mindset may include thinking that you are too old,  that it’s too late now to start now, that you don’t know what to do, or that it’s all genetic.

Gerontologists have shown that the rate of decline associated with aging can be tweaked to your advantage by a variety of interventions, and it often doesn’t matter whether you’re 50 or 90 when you start tweaking (or twerking for that matter!. According to Dr. Lachs, director of geriatrics at the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, “You just need to get started. The embers of disability begin smoldering long before you’re handed a walker.” Lifestyle choices made in midlife can have a major impact on your functional ability late in life, he emphasized. If you begin a daily walking program at age 45, he said, you could delay immobility to 90 and beyond. If you become a couch potato at 45 and remain so, immobility can encroach as early as 60.

So even if didn’t know when you were 20 what the impact of ignoring your fitness for the next 25 years would be, well now you do, so do something about it. This way, when you are 70 you can think back and say I knew when I was 45 what to do so that I could be healthy and active at 70, and I took action. I started working out, I started eating better, I reduced the amount of stress in my life, and I spent quality time with family and friends.

If you would like to get some tips from those who have successfully made it to the century level, click here for their words of advice.

Town and Gown Relations

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My wife and I bought our house about 28 years ago, and one of the items that attracted us to the house was that it was within walking distance to Villanova University, my employer.

I had always wanted to be able to walk to whatever school I was teaching at, and it’s not just because of the convenience. There is just something about being close to a college campus and having access to all that a college offers, from sports, to plays, to musical performances, guest speakers, etc.

And you don’t have to work at the college to take advantage of such opportunities, and so that is why I think many people choose to live in a college town, close to the campus.

I absolutely love our neighborhood, both for its location and our neighbors. In fact, several years ago when we were torn between moving to a bigger house or adding on to our existing one, it turned out to be a fairly easy decision because of what a great neighborhood we have.

Not everything is perfect, as you might expect. There is an increase in the amount of traffic around the campus during the school year, but there is also a lot less of it during the summer months. In addition, most colleges seem to always have some construction project going on, so that may cause the occasional disruption. There are also the rare instances when student life spills into the neighboring communities in the wee hours of the weekend.

I would think, or at least hope, that most people who move into a college town are aware of these trade-offs. That if you want to have the benefits associated with living near a college campus, then you have to put up with the costs of doing so. It comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. And if you think the costs, such as extra traffic, construction projects, rowdy students, are too high, then you shouldn’t live next to a college campus.

That is why I have been quite puzzled over the past couple of years by the reaction of many of our neighbors to a proposed construction project by Villanova University.

The project calls for some desperately needed dorms, which would be geared primarily towards juniors and seniors who live off campus. In addition, there would be construction of a four-level parking garage to accommodate the students who live in those dorms. There would also be a relatively small performing arts center built across the street from the new dorms, which would align well with our strong Masters in Theatre program.

The spaces where these new buildings would be constructed are currently just large asphalt parking lots, and are somewhat of an eyesore as you drive past the campus. The architect’s rendition of the project appears quite appealing and is certainly an upgrade over the existing parking lots. (It’s sort of a reverse Joni Mitchell thing, Villanova will be paving a parking lot and putting up a paradise…).

The parking lots are currently used by the many seniors and some juniors who are currently living off campus and commuting to campus. If the new dorms are built, those students would now be living on campus, and keeping their cars in the new multi-level parking garage. You would think that such a move would cut down on traffic around the campus, but some of the neighbors who are arguing against the new construction say that traffic will increase. I just do not see how that is possible.

The opponents also claim that the value of their property will decrease up to 50 percent as a result of the new construction. I’m not sure how such an analysis was conducted, but it seems quite questionable to me.

The opponents also claim that the bookstore that will be relocated from another part of campus and a new bistro cafe geared towards the students would hurt local businesses. There already is a bookstore on campus, so I am not sure how moving it from one place to another could hurt competition, and I am not sure how many local residents would want to go to a cafe that is dominated by a student population. Even if some residents use it, isn’t competition the foundation of our economy?

To me, it’s a case of NIMBY, even though the opponents say it is not. And I’d have to agree with them on this one. The college has been at this location for over 170 years, and will be here for many more decades. It’s hard to use the NIMBY against a college that has been there for more than 100 years before most of the houses of the opponents were built.

Perhaps Villanova should have started a NIMBY campaign when there was talk of building those houses.

But that’s not the way things work, so the best outcome now is that these people who are against the plan should move to somewhere where their neighborhood will never change in their lifetime, and certainly they should steer clear of ever living in a college town again.

And I don’t think  am biased just because I work there; in fact when my wife and I retire and look to move elsewhere, we would welcome the chance to live with a college IMBY. For us, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Meerkat, Periscope, and Younow – the Next Killer Apps?

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There seems to be a battle brewing in the world of live video streaming over Twitter. Such a service turns anyone with a smartphone into a broadcaster.

The two apps that are competing head to head are Meerkat and Periscope. Meerkat was released about a month ago and Periscope was just released yesterday. At this point, both apps are available just for Apple devices.

There was a story in today’s Wall Street Journal about the two apps and Fred Wilson wrote about these two services, along with Younow, a similar app, on his blog today.

I don’t want to talk about the details of each app in this blog; there are already several sites that do that. If you want to learn more about these apps, here are a couple of good links: Meerkat, Younow, and Periscope.

I would like to write about what I see as some potential uses of these apps.

I remember when Twitter first came out I had trouble figuring out how it was any different than using the update status in Facebook, and so I was hesitant to use it. Now I am a big fan of Twitter. I also remember when Vine first came out, and I wasn’t quite sure what you could do with six second videos, but I have seen some clever ones, but I’m still not sure how such a service can attract a large enough audience to be a game-changer.

But I do see potential in Meerkat, Periscope, and Younow. However, as Fred Wilson points out, and I agree, these apps need to have the ability to save their broadcasts so that someone can watch it at a later time, and isn’t confined to only catching the broadcast when it happens to be live. Otherwise, the apps would only appeal to a very small audience.

When I think of what would make for an interesting live/archived broadcast it seems a starting point would be to look at who has a large number of Twitter followers, and from there, what they might do with the broadcasting capabilities offered by these apps.

My first thought would be musicians; how cool would it be to get a live video broadcast from Springsteen while he is backstage, 10 minutes before he is ready to take the stage. Such a video could give those not in attendance a little taste of the action, and Bruce could offer a preview of what his plans for the show were. It would also be interesting to broadcast a practice session from earlier that day when they are doing a sound check, with no one in the audience.

I also think there could be be something here for athletes. It might be interesting to hear LeBron’s thoughts about that night’s opponent or to watch an athlete go through one of his or her off-season workout sessions. I’m not sure if it would be possible to have these apps work with a GoPro, but it would be fascinating to watch Lindsey Vonn ski and talk her way through a practice run, from her perspective, in real time.

One other thought would be having actors/actresses send live video updates out to their fans while they are on location. Such a video could give the viewer a sense of what it is like to be on a movie set in real time.

I’m also thinking that perhaps the most intriguing use of these apps would be broadcasting my accounting class out to the world. Viewers would be mesmerized by my explanation of the difference between a debit and a credit, and be intrigued with how the students in my class are able to sleep through such fascinating material. I’m thinking the use of these apps could explode the number of Twitter followers I have. Keep an eye out for the big announcement…

How I Met My Wife

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Halloween Party, 1979

 

The idea for this post was inspired by my middle son Joey and his girlfriend Megan, who just posted a video where they talk about how they met and how they have changed as a result of their relationship.

April 28, 1978 is a date that will forever be etched in my memory, and one that my wife and I still celebrate. It was my junior year in college at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) and I was at an off-campus party in Lake Valhalla, a small community about 10 minutes from campus.

It was the typical college party – a few kegs of beer, music blaring from the stereo system, and lots of young adults enjoying each other’s company. At some point in the evening a friend of mine, Bo, introduced me to a girl named Mary. He introduced us by saying “This is Dear Quincy”, which was in reference to a fake advice column I wrote for the weekly student newspaper.

Mary said she was a fan of the column (my first fan!) and we ended up talking to each other the rest of the evening. I’m fairly certain it’s the most I ever talked to a girl in my life, and when the night was over she gave me her phone number. As it turned out, Mary not only went to ESU, she had grown up in Lake Valhalla!

I called her up in the next day or so and she invited me over to her house and we took a walk down to the lake. I had no recollection what her last name was, but I was too embarrassed to admit it and ask her what it was. As luck would have it, the beach area by the lake had a wooden sign that listed all of the members of the lake, and I thought I was being clever when I said “I don’t see your family’s name on there.” She said, “Yes it is, right there,” and just pointed vaguely in the direction of the board. I must have mumbled something because she then said “You don’t remember my last name, do you?”

I sheepishly had to admit that was the case, but I’ve never forgotten it since :)

We started to see each other around campus and at parties over the next couple of weeks. We even had our first “informal” date, a visit to Bushkill Falls, the Niagara of Pennsylvania. Things seemed to be going well so I decided to try and get a job at the college so that I could see her over the summer. Fortunately I got a job cutting lawns for the college, but then I found out soon after that Mary had decided to take a job as an arts and crafts counselor at an overnight summer camp about an hour away. (I’ve always assumed one did not cause the other…)

But then fate intervened. I was walking back from dinner one night that summer, and I saw Mary’s sister driving through campus. She stopped and told me that Mary couldn’t stand her job, and that she was going to visit her to cheer her up. She asked me if I wanted to go, and I said sure.

So about an hour later we arrived at the camp, and when Mary saw us, she burst into tears (again, I’ve always assumed that they were tears of joy, not sadness). She told us how bad the living conditions were and after talking with us she decided to quit within the next couple of days.

As I recall, Mary has told me that my visit to the girl scout camp was a key moment in our relationship. It’s amazing how something that was completely unplanned became so pivotal.

Once she got back home, we started to see each other more frequently, and at that point I finally got up the nerve to ask her for our first “formal” date, a Boz Scaggs concert in Philadelphia. The concert was great, a perfect evening, until…

Until we got back to my car (a 1964 Ford Falcon with three on the tree!) and realized I had locked the keys in the car. What a way to impress someone on your first date! I tried a few different things, none of which worked, and I noticed the parking lot getting emptier and lonelier by the minute. At that point I started to get a little nervous, since the concert was not in the best part of town. Then out of nowhere, inspiration struck. The oil dipstick!

I opened the hood, took out the dipstick, and amazingly enough, I was able to slip it inside the window and unlock the car. Mary told me later how impressed she was with my clever solution, and that this was another changing point in our relationship. So I took to calling myself MacGyver for a while…

The summer of 1978 was a great one, and by the time my senior started that fall, we were a couple. I remember wanting to celebrate the first anniversary of meeting each other, so I made a reservation at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, I did not realize until we got there was outside of my price range. I tried to not let on, and so I tried to act nonchalant as possible, but I remember when the waiter asked if we wanted appetizers I quickly said no, and did the same thing when he asked us about dessert. I later found out that Mary had figured out early on what the issue was, but was kind enough to never let on.

None of my friends could understand how I had managed to be dating such a beautiful, nice girl, and I had no answer for them. I was certainly no ladies’ man, and it only took until the end of our second date, that Mary had become the girl I had had the most dates with my entire life. For whatever reason, she was attracted to me, and the feeling was definitely mutual.

Other memorable moments in those first couple of years – going to a Harry Chapin concert where Mary got to kiss Harry, the first time she came to visit me while I was at grad school in Pittsburgh, and then asking her to marry me on the banks of the Delaware River at the Shawnee Resort in the Poconos near the end of the summer of 1980.

We’ve had 35 great years since that moment, and there’s no doubt that Mary is my best friend and confidant. She has taught me the importance of kindness, recommended hundreds of books to me, and been the best mother to our children that any child could want.

Anything I’ve accomplished in life is the direct result of her love and support. She has helped make me the person I am, and for that I am forever grateful.

And who would have thought that having a car that constantly needed to have oil added to it (thus enabling me to know what or where an oil stick was) would have led to 33 (and counting) years of marital bliss…

Favorite Commercial of the Week – Embrace Life

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Five years ago the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP of England) came out with a commercial that proved that a picture is worth a thousand words. There was no dialogue in the video, but the message still came through loud and clear.

The SSRP works to reduce road casualties across Sussex with Encouragement, Education, Engineering and Enforcement. A typical approach such an organization often takes to dealing with an issue such as driver safety is one of shock and gore, showing horrific accidents and their consequences.

However, the beauty of this commercial was that the SSRP used the power of family, love, and music to connect emotionally with the viewers and to share its message about the importance of wearing a seat belt.

Simple, but powerful. One of my favorite combinations. Enjoy.

 

Thank You, Bank of America, for a Job Well Done

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I rarely step foot into a bank any more. With online bill pay, depositing checks with my smartphone, and using an ATM for when I need cash, there’s little need to do so. And so when I do need to go to a bank, it is usually something I want to get over with as quickly as possible.

Today I had to take care of a few transactions for my mom at a local Bank of America branch (Wayne, PA – in case anyone from B of A is reading this), and while I went in with low expectations, I left wanting to write about the positive experience I had.

The moment I walked in I was greeted by a friendly woman who asked if I needed help. I replied that I did and she immediately came over and started working with me.

When she was not quite sure how to handle a particular transaction, she asked the branch manager for some help. The branch manager, who was also quite personable, was able to get everything resolved in a timely manner. She even went beyond my reason for being there; setting up my mom’s account to earn extra interest and for a rewards program, helping to set up the B of A smartphone app for mobile banking, and making sure all of the paperwork for the accounts were in order.

And then to top it all off, as my Mom and I were walking out (quite slowly, as my Mom uses a walker), the relationship manager came out of his office to introduce himself, and even walked over to hold the door for us.

And here’s the most amazing part of the story – I’m not really a B of A customer. I was there on behalf of my Mom. They knew this, because at one point they asked if I had any accounts at the bank, and I said that I did not. They made no attempt to sell me on their services, but they did continue to treat me as one of their best customers.

But in reality, they really did sell me. If I had been in the market for a new bank, then I would not have hesitated to join this branch as a result of such a wow experience.

And while Bank of America has had its problems over the past few years (like many large banks), I think most people’s perception of a bank is based on what they experience when they visit their local branch, and not necessarily what they hear about in the news.

The people at a bank branch are the face of the organization, and in the case of the Wayne branch of B of A, it’s a face that could launch a thousand ships, or at least attract a few new customers.

Thank you for making my day; and for giving me something to write about.

Stay in Touch – Courtesy of United Technologies

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While I was in grad school at Carnegie-Mellon from 1979-1981, United Technologies ran a series of full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal that never mentioned UT or its products, but instead provided words of wisdom and inspiration. The ads stuck with me, and I recently tried to find the ads on the web. I was unsuccessful in my search, so I contacted the company, and a representative was kind enough to send me a full set of the ads. I am going to use this blog to post the ads on a periodic basis; to see the first ad, just click on the link below. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Stay in Touch

Saying All the Wright Things

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It wasn’t supposed to end this way. A number one seed losing to a number eight seed. A team that the President of the United States had picked to  make it to the National Championship game against Kentucky.

Two days after one of the team’s best performances of the year it all came crashing down last night as NC State beat number one seed Villanova in the round of 32 by three points.

As you might expect, people were divided on the outcome. Many people, including this Villanova band member whose tears while playing the piccolo went viral, were quite disappointed, thinking this was the year for Villanova to go deep into the tournament. Others were just as happy to say that it proved their belief that Villanova was overrated.

But one thing I would hope everyone could agree on was the class and poise that Coach Jay Wright showed after the disappointing .

Here are some of the things Jay had to say:

““You’ve got to own it, and we own it. We didn’t get it done. But not from any lack of effort or commitment. We know what comes with that. We know questions are going to come next year.”

“We know that upset is a big story. It’s part of being a big-time athlete. So you’ve got to take it, you’ve got to deal with it and you’ve got to own it. But it’s not easy. It’s part of life though.”

“We’ve got to start all over again and then try to get there [again]. I would love to be in the position again where people say, ‘They were in this position last year and they failed.’ It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get back in this position.”

“We try to teach the guys, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have 20,000 people cheering for you and then when you lose, everybody feels sorry for you. That’s just not life. And that’s what college basketball is all about. Dealing with life. Dealing with failure. And not being afraid to fail.”

“We failed here, but we don’t fear it,” Wright said. “It’s something you’ve got to deal with in life, but if you’re the one that put it all on the line and you failed, you’ve got to be proud of being the one that put it on the line out there.”

And in the dressing room after the game, Coach Wright told his players, ““This doesn’t define you as men.”

Coach Wright is correct that the loss did not define his players as men, but the way they handled themselves after the game certainly did.

Thank you Coach Wright and members of the men’s basketball team for a great season, one for the record books. You were a pleasure to watch both on and off the court and great role models for student athletes everywhere.

You made me proud to be part of Nova Nation.