Saturday, January 06, 2007

Enjoy the next prime of your life!
Daily Press
Patt Abrahamson

ESCANABA — Art Linkletter isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. Together with Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, they spawned a new, exciting book: “How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life,” published in July.

Art Linkletter is 94 years young. He was born in Canada where, as an orphan, he was adopted by a Baptist evangelist minister. Shortly, thereafter, the family moved to Massachusetts and eventually ended up in California. Art graduated from San Diego State College in 1934.

Most will remember his long running shows: House Party (25 years) and People are Funny (19 years). His has written 23 books. Among them are Old Age isn’t for Sissies and Kids Say the Darndest Things, one of the top 14 best sellers in American publishing history.

After reading his newest book I am convinced that it is a must read for every senior. Personally, I couldn’t put the book down. Not only is there ways to improve your health and stay fit, keep your memory from fading, enjoy sex through your senior years and keep a vibrant spiritual life, but there is humor abound.

For example: A husband and wife, both 60 years old, were celebrating their 35th anniversary. During their party, a fairy appeared to congratulate them and grant them each one wish. The wife wanted to travel around the world.

The fairy waved her wand and — poof! — the wife had tickets in her hand for a world cruise. Next the fairy asked the husband what he wanted. He said, “I wish I had a wife 30 years younger than me.”

So the fairy picked up her wand and — poof! — the husband was 90.

Art Linkletter and his wife Lois of 70 years have had their share of tragedy in their lives. In 1969 their daughter, under the influence of LSD, jumped to her death from her sixth-story apartment. They have also lost a son and have dealt with a life-threatening illness of another child.

Those were tumultuous years for the Linkletters. They had to go on, and they were able to overcome the heartache. Art went on to become a professional lecturer on drug abuse, positive thinking and gerontology. He schedules 75 lectures a year. That’s incredible, considering his age.

Art says, “Don’t ask me if I am going to retire. Retire to what? I love what I am doing because I think it matters. And I think this book can matter to anyone who is getting into the later years. Don’t stop living and learning.”

As I mentioned the book is filled with wonderful information and a good dose of humor.

You know you are getting older…

...When happy hour is a nap.

...When your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.

...When your idea of weight lifting is standing up.

The architects of the book believe that age 60 is the new 40, the new middle-age — and age 80 is the new 60. And I have to agree. Our grandparents seemed older than the grandparents of today. Today’s more youthful grandmothers might wear jeans, sport a tattoo (ugh), run a marathon, start a business, write a best seller, mountain climb, sing, dance and entertain and the list goes on and on.

It’s not exactly the stereotypical grandmother of yesterday when grandmothers looked tired and older than their years, wore house dresses covered with an apron, a hair net and for the most part did not work outside the home—nor did they have washers, dryers and the myriad comforts of today that make life easier.

There are many myths and misconceptions about how we age — is it determined by lifestyle or genetics? On the chapter that addresses this question the final score may surprise you: Lifestyle 70, and genes 30. But think about the diseases we bring on ourselves by what we put into our bodies.

The list is lengthy. Dietary choices, obesity, smoking and alcohol are culprits that cut years off of our life expectancy—not to mention the quality of life and energy sucked out of us from poor choices. Exercise also plays a huge part in delaying our destiny with the Grim Reaper.

I love the humor in the book:

Two old men had been best friends for years. They both lived to their early 90s when one of them fell deathly ill. His friend visits him on his deathbed, and they’re reminiscing about their long relationship when the friend asks, “Listen, when you die, do me a favor. I want to know if there is baseball in heaven.”

The dying man said, “We’ve been friends for years, this I will do for you.” And then he dies. A couple of days later, his surviving friend is sleeping when he hears his friend’s voice. The voice says, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s baseball in heaven.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“You’re pitching Wednesday.”

Did I mention how great laughter is for our well-being?

Three elderly men are at the doctor’s office for a memory test. The doctor asks the first man, “What is three times three?” “274” is his reply. The doctor rolls his eyes and looks up at the ceiling and says to the second man, “It’s your turn. What is three times three?” “Tuesday,” replies the second man.

The doctor shakes his head sadly then asks the third man, “OK, your turn. What’s three times three?” “Nine,” says the third man. “That’s great,” said the doctor. “How did you get that?” “Simple,” he says, “just subtract 274 from Tuesday.”

You’ve got to love this one!

A reporter was interviewing a 104-year-old woman: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” the reporter asked.

She replied: “No peer pressure.”

Art says, “Get ready for the next prime of your life! Make the “rest of your life the best years of your life.”

— — —

EDITOR’S NOTE — Patt Abrahamson, Escanaba, is a free lance writer and published author of “Brain-Injury: A Family Tragedy.” She can be reached at

Friday, January 05, 2007

Economic 'garden' set to sprout?
Marlene Kennedy

Here's a new entry for your business lexicon: economic gardening.
It's the idea that successful communities cultivate or grow their own businesses, rather than relying on a few big national or international firms for new jobs. Homegrown companies develop deep roots, the thinking goes, and so become interwoven into the fabric of the community to everyone's betterment.

It got on my radar last month when the Times Union brought site-selection consultant Robert Leak to the Capital Region to speak at our Capitaland Quarterly breakfast for community leaders. Leak saw economic gardening as equally important to the region as the incentives package that enabled us to land Advanced Micro Devices Inc. last year.

The Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., is credited with developing the concept in 1989 following a layoff by the area's largest employer, Martin Marietta. City officials were upset that their economic health was being determined by an out-of-state company and so directed the city's business/industry affairs office to come up with some ideas.

Christian Gibbons, now director of the office, says he was the city's economic development chief then and worked with others in Littleton government to scour the research of the time to come up with the award-winning idea.

They liked the studies into job creation being done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by David Birch that showed big-company "recruiting coups" were responsible for less than 5 percent of a community's new jobs, despite the headlines they generated. Instead, the majority of new jobs were produced by small, indigenous businesses.

So Gibbons and his colleagues decided to build from the inside out: that local entrepreneurs creating new companies were the primary source of jobs and wealth, "and that the job of economic developers should be to create nurturing environments for these companies," he says.

But it wasn't that simple, Gibbons found. Not every small business succeeded and not every entrepreneur who took a "How to Write a Business Plan" seminar saw his or her company take off.

So Gibbons et al. refined their ideas (again, based on Birch's work): It wasn't small business as a whole that created new jobs by the barrowful but the nimble, fast-growing companies -- known as "gazelles" -- led by CEOs who embraced change and risk.

These companies learned to operate at the "edge of chaos," straddling stability and innovation to move forward. That meant "the most vibrant economies (in terms of producing jobs and wealth) were highly unstable in the sense that they had the highest rate of business start-ups and business deaths," says Gibbons.

And the temperament or "culture" of the community played a role, too. Did local citizens embrace change, or were they risk-averse? Were they content to have outsiders control their destiny, or did they support the entrepreneur

By the late 1990s, Littleton's economic gardening concept was raking in accolades. But its authors were still refining their ideas, particularly in how to build an environment that supported entrepreneurs -- both culturally and structurally.

Littleton concentrated the latter in three areas: information (making available, for instance, data-base services usually affordable only to large companies), infrastructure (not only highways and traffic lights but parks and trails and community college courses in e-commerce) and connections (to think tanks, trade groups, industry research and other CEOs).

You can read Gibbons' account of the maturation of the concept of economic gardening -- he sees it as still a work in progress -- at economicgardening, the Web site of his office in Littleton. And you can read about Robert Leak's talk to local community leaders in the next issue of CQ, our quarterly business publication, in the Times Union on Sunday.

And then you can ask yourself whether this area, likely the home of a new AMD computer chip manufacturing facility in the next decade, is doing enough economic gardening.

We have many flavors of programs that teach the basics or offer support to local entrepreneurs, through chamber, community and college initiatives. Is that sufficient? Do we embrace risk-takers? Can we surf the edge of chaos with them? You decide.

Business Editor Marlene Kennedy can be reached at 454-5492 or by e-mail at

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2007, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

“The greatest gift which humanity has received is free choice. It is true that we are limited in our use of free choice. But the little free choice we have is such a great gift and is potentially worth so much that for this itself, life is worthwhile living.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, quoted in the conclusion of today's article in the New York Times on free will.