We Are Not That Old!




Thought this was fun to read in the Boston Globe today so thought I would share-I added pictures of true examples!

REMEMBER THE legend of Ponce de Leon, the 16th century explorer who discovered the Fountain of Youth in, of all places, Florida? The story goes that this magical water source was capable of reversing the aging process and curing sickness.

Well, it turns out that Ponce de Leon’s got nothing on current-day “explorers” when it comes to turning back the hands of time.

Researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Stony Brook University recently released a study that suggests the start of middle age is no longer 45 or 50 but, instead, 60.

That’s right: 60 really is the new 50. Boomers, rejoice!

Life expectancy is increasing at a faster rate than ever. The Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital projects an increase in life expectancy of 1.4 years per decade in Europe. In response, according to the study, the definitions of “old” and “middle age” have to change. Rather than basing age categories on the amount of time someone has lived so far, the researchers argue that the categories should be based, instead, on the amount of time one has left to live.

“What we think of as old has changed over time, and it will need to continue changing in the future as people live longer, healthier lives,” says Sergei Scherbov, coleader of the study.

For a generation that’s so allergic to the thought of aging that the mere mention of “Social Security” or “AARP discount” can induce anaphylactic shock, this is the best news since the invention of Botox.

 So long as the definers of age keep moving the goalpost, boomers may never have to grow old.

I wish I’d known this sooner. Here I was, believing that being in my 50s meant I’m middle aged, when, really, I’m still terribly young. What a fool I’ve been, going to sleep by 11:30. I could be pulling all-nighters. To think I gave up tennis because an orthopedist apparently misdiagnosed my shoulder pain as osteoarthritis. That’s a condition for middle-aged people, not a young, athletic woman like myself. And all the technology and devices I have trouble learning? That’s not a sign of age, that’s just a sign of stupidity. Whew.

The current research seems to echo findings by Bernice Neugarten, a pioneer in the study of adult development, who began arguing for a more complex view of aging decades ago. One of her most significant contributions to the field was to differentiate the “young-old” from the “old-old” rather than categorize people who are decades apart the same way. But, today, many of the “young-old” would be called middle aged.

Today’s research also confirms what we’ve already known, anecdotally: Good health, an active lifestyle, and a young attitude may have more to do with a person’s “age” than their date of birth. You don’t have to look any further for proof than last week’s Boston Marathon, where a dozen men and women in their 80s qualified to run. These incredibly fit Marathoners are definitely not your parents’ grandpas and grandmas.

Speaking of grandmas . . . maybe the revised age categorization will put to rest concerns about the age of the potential future Grandma-in-Chief Hillary Clinton. If elected, she’ll be 69 when she assumes the presidency. That means she’ll only be middle aged. And, if researchers continue to revise the age definitions, Hillary could miraculously still be middle aged even at the end of two terms in office.

I can see it now: the next Clinton conspiracy theory. Clinton’s opponents will start floating a rumor that the Clinton Foundation was behind this research study.

If that turns out to be true, one thing’s for sure: Clinton will win the vote of grateful boomers everywhere.

Meta Wagner is a contributor to the Boston Globe Opinion pages. Follow her on Twitter @meta_wagner1.


Verona-Another City of Love in Italy



Straddling the Adige river in Veneto, northern Italy, you will find Verona  which has approximately 265,000 inhabitants. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of northeast Italy. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

Three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew.

Piazza Delle Erbe(above) is a good place to start a visit to Verona. Originally the Roman Forum, the rectangular piazza is in the heart of the historic center and is surrounded by beautiful medieval buildings and towers. In the middle is a 14th century fountain with a Roman statue.
This is Verona’s market square- where vendors come to slice and sell whatever’s in season. People have gathered here since Roman times, when this was a forum. The whale’s rib, hanging from an archway for 500 years, was a souvenir brought home from the Orient by spice traders. Today Piazza Erbe is for the locals, who start their evening with anaperitivo here. It’s a trendy scene, as young Veronans fill the bars to enjoy their refreshing spritzdrinks, olives, and chips.


Verona’s Roman Arena is the third largest in Italy (after the Roman Colosseum and the arena in Capua). Built in the 1st century and still retaining most of the original stone, the arena holds up to 25,000 spectators. Since 1913 it has been the venue for a prestigious opera festival and a top setting for other theatrical performances. Although part of the seating is in bright orange and red chairs, it’s easy to imagine the original look of the amphitheater.



Ancient Romans considered Verona an ideal resting spot before crossing the Alps so the city has a wealth of Roman ruins. Corso Porta Borsari was the main drag of Roman Verona. A stroll here makes for a fun, ancient scavenger hunt. Remnants of the town’s illustrious past — chips of Roman columns, medieval reliefs, fine old facades, and fossils in marble — are scattered among modern-day fancy shop windows.



Verona’s most popular site is the balcony said to be Juliet’s in Romeo and Juliet. The house said to be Juliet’s house is in a courtyard off Via Capello. You can see the balcony and the bronze statue of Juliet for free .The 13th century house is a good example of Gothic architecture and inside is a museum with period furniture. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet made Verona a household word. Locals marvel that each year, about 1,600 Japanese tour groups break their Venice-to-Milan ride for an hour-long stop in Verona just to stand in a courtyard. The House of Juliet, where the real-life Cappello family once lived, is a crass and throbbing mob scene. The tiny, admittedly romantic courtyard is a spectacle in itself, with visitors from all over the world posing on the almost believable balcony and taking snapshots of each other rubbing Juliet’s bronze breast, hoping to get lucky in love.(this is supposed to happen within 7 years!)

Olympic Stadium in Berlin


I really wanted to go see the Olympic Stadium where “The Boys in the Boat” rowed to their victory and Louie Zamperini(Unbroken) ran in the Olympics in 1936. If you haven’t read both of these books you should-very inspirational stories. I loved them both. The history that they both cover about this particular Olympics and it being in Berlin is fascinating. Arriving in Berlin, during the summer of 1936, Olympic athletes like Zamperini saw swastikas flying everywhere.  The “Juden Verboten” signs – forbidding entry to Jewish people – were temporarily out of sight.



The stadium has been all revamped since then, of course, and they use it mostly for their soccer team and games.



I found the plaque for Jesse Owens’ wins. Pleased with the performance of German athletes, and with the games in general, Hitler was nonetheless distressed by the numerous victories of Owens, a talented African-American who dominated his events.  Winning four medals, Owens did not win-over a prejudiced Hitler who – according to Albert Speer – was upset about Owens’ accomplishments:

Each of the German victories, and there were a surprising number of these, made [Adolf Hitler] happy, but he was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens.  (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich.)

Louie Zamperini did not compete against Jesse Owens.  Instead, he ran the 5,000 meters – a long race that was not his forte – against a group of Finns who’d been winning the race for years.

Biding his time, he initially misjudged how fast his competitors would run.  When he realized he needed to move more quickly, he kicked into high gear, finishing in 14:46.8 – the fastest 5,000-meter time for an American in 1936.  He finished his last lap in 56 seconds.

Later, when he met Hitler, Louie was surprised that the German leader remembered him.  “Ah,” he said.  “You’re the boy with the fast finish.”



This is the plaque for “the boys in the boat”-” achter” is  the eight man boat. Out of the depths of the Depression this is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.


Visit to East Berlin


East Berlin was the name of the eastern part of  Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It was the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, part of West Germany. Although it was always legally a part of an occupied city, East Berlin was claimed as the capital of East Germany. From 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989 it was separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. The East German government referred to East Berlin simply as “Berlin” or often “”Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR” (Berlin, capital of the GDR). The term “Democratic Sector” was also used until the 1960s.

On October 3,1990, West and East Germany were united and East Berlin ceased to exist.

Since reunification, the German government has spent lots of money on rejoining the two halves of the city and bringing services and buildings in the former East Berlin up to the standard in West Berlin. There are still differences between eastern and western Berlin. There are a lot more pre-war buildings in Eastern Berlin, some still show signs of wartime damage. The style of architecture used in the whole of the GDR was very different from that used in rebuilding West Berlin.

The twin buildings on the Gendarmenmarkt are the French Dom (we climbed up the tower!) and the Deutsche Dom, with the Schauspielhaus (concert hall) in between.

In 1964 Walter Ulbricht, leader of the Socialist Unity Party which governed East Germany, decided to allow the construction of a television tower on Alexanderplatz, modelled on the Fernsehturm Stuttgart and the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik. Construction began on August 4, 1965. After four years of construction, the Fernsehturm began to test broadcasts on  October 3, 1969, and it was officially inaugurated four days later on the GDR’s National Day.

When the sun shines on the Fernsehturm’s tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection usually appears in the form of a cross. This effect was not anticipated by the architect. Berliners nicknamed the luminous cross Rache des Papstes, or the “Pope’s Revenge”.  U.S. President Reagan mentioned this in his “Tear down this wall” speech on  June 12, 1987.

We went to the Berlin Wall Memorial and Marienfelde Refuge Center Museum-they have a wonderful computerized version of the wall being built and how it was monitored to search for people trying to get over to West Berlin. Bernauerstrasse was a street(located in the middle of the capital) that was literally cut in half when the Wall went up-there was a period of about 24 hours where people were quickly jumping out of the windows of apartments before they were all boarded up and they show film clips of this as well. I highly recommend it. They have also constructed a visual representational line of where the Wall previously was.

Love Locks in Paris


I recently took  a trip to see my daughter who is studying in Paris for the semester. I saw the usual sights-the Louvre,Notre Dame,Champs Elysees,Eiffel Tower but what fascinated me the most(because I hadn’t seen it before) were the “love locks” on a lot of the bridges. Apparently there is some history to it -how it started. A lot of it you can guess, but I still found it interesting-

The history of love padlocks dates back at least 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of  World War 1, with an attribution for the bridgeMost Ljubavi (lit. the Bridge of Love) in spa town of  Vrnjacka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke off their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time she died due to heartbreak from her unfortunate love. As young women from Vrnjacka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.

In the rest of Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s. The reasons love padlocks started to appear vary between locations and in many instances are unclear. However, in Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the 2006 book “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia, who made a film adaptation in 2007.

In May 2010 the city of Paris expressed concern over the growing number of love-locks on the Pont Des Arts,Passerelle, Leopold Seder-Senghor and the Pont de LArcheveche bridges, stating: “they raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage”. The lovelocks on the Pont des Arts mysteriously disappeared during the night of 11 May 2010, but the Administration denied responsibility, until it was discovered that they had been removed by a student of the nearby Ecole des Beaux Arts to make a sculpture. Love locks immediately began appearing on the Pont de L’Archeveche and have since spread to at least 11 Seine bridges, the Canal Saint Martin footbridges, and to parks and monuments all over the city. Many tourists mistakenly believe this is a longstanding Parisian tradition, not realizing the practice only migrated into Paris in late 2008 after affecting cities in Italy and Asia.

In January 2014, a campaign and petition, No Love Locks™, was founded by two Americans living in Paris in an effort to save the city’s historic bridges and monuments from the overwhelming number of locks. The international media attention the campaign received has been credited with the actions begun in the summer and fall of 2014, when the city began seeking alternatives to love locks and asking the public to stop placing locks on Parisian bridges and monuments. On 9 June 2014, the weight of the padlocks on the Pont Des Arts bridge were blamed for the collapse of part of the parapet. The city began an experiment in September 2014 on the Pont des Arts, replacing three panels with a special type of glass that would prevent locks from being attached.