Successful Retirement in NYC, 2 – Getting Around

February 10, 2015

New York, New York, a helluva town.
The Bronx is up, but the Battery’s down.
The people ride in a hole in the ground.

Yes, we do ride in a hole in the ground and that works pretty well for the most part. The subway lines go up and down town in a fairly convenient way; but there are few underground cross-town options.

Buses go up and down town as well as across town but you need to stand outside to wait for them.  And, compared to subways going in the same direction, they are slower.

There are apps for your smartphone which will keep you apprised of routes, schedules, delays and even the imminent arrival of your bus or subway, but I still use a Streetwise Manhattan map to help plan my movements.

As a senior you can get a subway/bus pass that gets you 50% off.

Taxis are everywhere but I find most of them a bit cramped for my 6′ 4″ frame. A taxi alternative is Uber or other private car system. With Uber I can order up an SUV on my smartphone and track its arrival. Uber has my credit card so no money needs to change hands in the car. I have found the cars to be neat and the drivers professional. It can be a bit pricey: in a recent snowstorm I watched the estimated cost of my ride go from $17 to $25 to $38 in less than three minutes.

I have my car in the City but I would not use it other than to get back and forth to Connecticut or maybe a Target run to Mount Vernon for paper goods etc. Parking is terrible and many drivers are very aggressive. I have seen taxi drivers deliberately hit cars they didn’t think were moving fast enough.

The most interesting aspect of getting around has been walking. NYC is a very walk friendly. My wife and I frequently walk across Central Park to get from the upper west side to the museums on Fifth Avenue (we were at the Guggenheim today). My son suggested I get a Garmin wrist band to track my exercise and I have found I am walking 6 to 8 miles a day! This has been great at offsetting the caloric intake from NYC’s many fine restaurants.

Back to New York, New York: one of the most fun plays we have seen is On The Town with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Comden/Green. Highly recommended!

 

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2015 R.K. Price


Successful Retirement in New York City

January 22, 2015

For the new year, my wife Barbara and I are trying a new retirement living experience: we have moved to NYC from our home in Connecticut for the first four months of the year. We visited the city several times a year for plays, museums and holiday pageants over the course of several decades and frequently said to each other that it might be fun to actually live there for a period of time and have easier access to the city’s cultural and educational resources.

So, we have rented a two bedroom, two bath apartment on the upper west side in a pet-friendly building that allows us to have our 75 pound Golden Retriever, Rufus, come along with us. We are one block from dog-friendly Central Park and one block from the subway. Whole Foods, Walgreens/Duane Reade, Petco, Home Goods and T.J Max are all less than a block away. The building has good exercise facilities including a salt water lap pool. There is parking in the basement so we have easy access to our car for the occasional trip home or elsewhere.

Because the apartment was unfurnished, we also rented furniture and kitchen equipment. This turned out to be very easy to do with good quality items, but not inexpensive.

At this point, we are in place and satisfied with the process of getting here as well the temporary home we have created. We have room to have friends/family visit for the weekend and a number of such visits are already on the calendar. We have already been to a number of plays, museums and exhibitions with more scheduled every day, and are beginning to wonder if four months will be sufficient.

For the next few months we (me, Barbara or together) will blog about different aspects of this experience. We hope this will be helpful to anyone contemplating a similar undertaking.

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2015 R.K. Price

 


Learning a New Language in Retirement using Duolingo

January 30, 2014

I am frequently asked about what activities I recommend for intellectual stimulation in retirement. My response of course could (and did) take up an entire book, but one of my favorite recommended activities is learning a new language. I did a post on this a while back which can be found here which explains why I believe this is a good activity for intellectual and many other reasons.

I have chosen to study Italian. It is a melodious language, pleasant to the ear and tongue; my four years of high school Latin provide a foundation; I enjoy visiting Italy and consuming Italian food and beverages.

I have taken community-based courses, used DVD programs (including Rosetta Stone, which is excellent in my view, but not inexpensive), CDs, textbooks and dual-language short stories.  I also translate Italian news from newspapers and the web and watch Italian movies.  I also get to practice during my occasional visits to Italy.

I have been using a new (to me at least) program the last several months called Duolingo which is available at Duolingo.com. Duolingo has many of Rosetta Stone’s fine characteristics such as starting simple and  then adding well-designed building blocks, but lacks Rosetta Stone’s contextual photos which do help with comprehension and retention. One Duolingo characteristic that Rosetta Stone does not have is the ability to easily ask questions of, and discuss grammar/usage with, your fellow students and program moderators. If you choose to, you can even answer questions for less advanced students. You feel like you are learning in a community environment.

Best of all it is completely FREE!

If you are interesting in learning another language, I suggest you check it out. In addition to Italian, there are German, French, Spanish and Portuguese modules. Other modules are under development.

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2014 R.K. Price


Humpty Dumpty in Retirement (Revisited)

September 24, 2013

Three years ago this week I published a blog post on Humpty Dumpty in Retirement in which I discussed the reasons why the risk of falling increases as we get older and what we can do about it. The content is still timely if you would like to review it by clicking on the above link or on the September 2010 Archives link to the right.

I was reminded of that post because today’s (September 23, 2013) Wall Street Journal (requires a subscription) has an article by Shirley S. Wang entitled From Athletes to the Elderly: The Science of Trips and Falls, in which she reviews some of the most recent research on how we maintain our balance. Ms Wang cites new insights from a number of research facilities around the globe, all of them quite interesting.

What I found most interesting from the perspective of a senior citizen, was this summation of the body’s three main systems which keep us in balance:

“The visual system takes in information from the outside world and transmits it to the brain. The proprioceptive system, which incorporates sensory systems throughout the body, tells us how the body’s parts are oriented relative to each other. And the vestibular system, located in the inner ear, focuses primarily on how the head is moving.”

As it turns out the vestibular system tends to decline in efficacy as we get older and most of us make up for that decline by relying more heavily on our visual system. Our visual system is slower than the vestibular system so if we begin to go out of balance we have less reaction time to correct the situation before we land on the floor.

Another interesting insight is that when faced with rough terrain to negotiate, walking with shorter steps and a wider stance may be more effective than simply walking more slowly.

All this is important for seniors because The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falls are the leading cause of death and injury to people over the age of 65. For more suggestions on how to avoid falls, please see the Humpty Dumpty post referenced above.

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2013 R.K. Price


Yoga in Retirement

August 28, 2013

“Yoga is for everyone.” –  Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar

I concur. (Full disclosure: I took up yoga at age 55, somewhat overweight, somewhat stiff, somewhat out of alignment and subsequent to two lower-back surgeries and thirty-some-odd years of corporate existence.  It’s been great for me; I’ve seen it help many others.)

What is yoga?  My definition would be “a practice directed at bringing mind and body into alignment and state of well-being.”   Other definitions might focus more on physical exercises, mental and spiritual peace, or something more philosophical.  If you would like to develop yourself in any of these areas, yoga can add real value.

Yoga exercises (asanas) will help you build flexibility, strength, balance.  They can also help reduce stress and improve your breathing.  If you want to also take it to a place more spiritual, that path is available.

While there are lots of books, videos and web sites with yoga guidance, I suggest the best way to begin is with a class.  Even if you have a room full of mirrors, you can’t really see everything your body is doing as you practice asanas.  An instructor can help guide you to a faster, more effective start and help you get the most out of your practice.  Once you get the lay of the land you can replace or supplement the classes with videos or books as you deem appropriate.  My own view is that the classes are a lot of fun and help challenge you try new things and take your practice to higher levels.

Check with your town, YM/YWCA, school system, senior center, hospitals etc re: the availability of classes.

Some other resources:

YOGA The Path to Holistic Health, Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar

www.yogajournal.com

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2013 R.K. Price


Special for Mother’s Day

May 8, 2013

Special for Mother’s Day: In celebration of motherhood, the Kindle edition of  The Successful Retirement Guide will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents throughout Mother’s Day week-end (and you don’t have to be a mother to get this great price)!


Close Encounter with a Namibian Rhino

April 24, 2013

It was our penultimate day in the country and we were out for a morning drive. We were moving at a leisurely pace in our open Range Rover along a straight and narrow forested road, admiring the abundant bird life, when all of a sudden there was a great crashing noise to the left. I turned to see an adult Black Rhino charging full tilt out of the forest and right at us (seemingly right at me since I was on the left side of the vehicle)! It slammed to a halt about 10 feet away, glared at us, lowered and shook its head, made a huge snort and then…

One of the great enjoyments of my retirement is having the opportunity to travel to other countries and learn about their history, culture, geography, art, architecture, food, beverages, languages, government, social customs and the like.

Recently, my wife and I, along with some friends old and new, were able to visit one of the youngest countries in the world: Namibia. It is located on the southwest coast of Africa, north of South Africa, south of Angola and west of Zambia and Botswana. In size, it is twice the land mass of California but only has a population a bit over 2 million making it one of the least densely populated nations in the world. Its official language is English although about 60% of the population speaks Afrikaans and 30% speak German. There are also a number of tribal languages and many Namibians are multilingual. It has a democratic government and gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. The most important sectors of its economy are mining, fishing, agriculture and tourism.

Namibia is a very dry country. It gets little rain and has almost no surface water. It is home to two of the world’s great deserts: the Namib along almost its entire coastline in the west, and the Kalahari which makes up most of the eastern part of the country. The coast is called the “skeleton coast” due the large number of bleached whale and seal bones along the shore from when they were aggressively hunted, as well as for the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there since the Portuguese began seeking a way around Africa to get to India and the Spice Islands.

The original people of Namibia were the nomadic San who were gradually replaced by the tribal Khoi-Khoi who were herders. Both the San and Khoi-Khoi were supplanted by the Bantu beginning about 2,400 years ago. In the late 19th century Germany, looking for land in which to expand, annexed Nambia and began taking over the best land for farming, driving the native population into the desert in the process. In 1904, a rebellion by the Herero people was brutally smashed with over 60,000 of them being killed. Following WWI, South Africa was given a mandate by the League of Nations to rule the Namibian territory, but the treatment of the native Namibians was not much better than under the Germans. The United Nations eventually voted to end South Africa’s mandate and, after much regional strife, Nambia finally became independent in 1990.

The capital of Namibia, Windhoek, reflects its heritage as a Germany colony both in architecture and cuisine (beer and sausage). The 500 seat church pictured below – Christuskirche – was built in part to symbolize triumph over the native culture:

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The Sossusvlei region of the Namib desert has the world’s tallest sand dunes, some of them towering 1,000 feet above the desert floor. They are red-orange due a high level of iron oxide. They are best seen early in the morning when early light plays against the sand. If you are feeling strong you can climb them:

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From Swakopmund on the coast it is easy to visit the Skeleton Coast and see shipwrecks and wildlife:

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After a day on the water it can be fun to visit a local tavern for some beer, fried caterpillars and chat with the locals:

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In Damaraland we learned how to track elephants (in part, by analyzing their dung). We were successful in finding several herds of “desert-adapted” elephants, which have smaller bodies and longer legs than the savannah/forest African elephants, and can go for several days without water:

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Our campsite in Damaraland was reminiscent of the Grand Canyon:

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In Twyfelontain we saw 2,500 year old rock carvings depicting African wildlife. These are considered among the best prehistoric art on the continent. There are over 2,500 individual carvings. Some examples:

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Each sunset called for a “sundowner” beverage to toast the magnificence of the landscape:

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Our final stop was Etosha National Park in the north of the country. It is roughly the size of Switzerland and is the third largest animal sanctuary in the world. We saw lions, springboks, wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, jackals, kudu, ostrich, a wide variety of birds and of course, rhinos. A few examples below and then back to the charging rhino with which I began:

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I turned to see an adult Black Rhino charging full tilt out of the forest and right at us (seemingly right at me since I was on the left side of the vehicle)! It slammed to a halt about 10 feet away, glared at us, lowered and shook its head, made a huge snort and then…

and then it quickly made a 90 degree turn to the left and charged off into the forest.

When the Rhino had charged there had been a collective gasp in the vehicle. Now there was total silence. Then our Namibian Tour Leader made a loud snorting imitation of the Rhino, we all laughed with nervous relief and then we moved on down the road.

R. Kevin Price

www.successfulretirementguide.com

© 2008-2013 R.K. Price