1. Retirement Heaven or Simply Death Valley

    Social media experts tell us that the quickest way to get Internet viewers to click on a story is to put in a headline like: 10 Secrets to Becoming a Billionaire, The 5 Most Expensive New Cars for 2018, or The 3 Best Receipts for Brownies.

    What started off innocently enough has exploded out of control. Seems like everywhere you read somebody has the list of 10 best for some purpose. Advice on retirement is a favorite.

    The Worst Advice List Award

    In fairness, it can be a challenge to find the right place to live in retirement. Prices of housing in many parts of the United States have gotten ridiculously expensive. Even if the mortgage is paid off, the cost of maintenance and property taxes are still rising every year. The ripple effect of higher real estate prices spills over into food and most every other cost of living. So finding the right place is important.

    It is also a fact that one location is not right for everyone. Choices are part of what makes life interesting. For example the television show Hoarders shows how people can be perfectly content living that way.

    But here is a good example of a tired idea being taken way too far. We came across an article that is so embarrassing; we are not even going to identify the source.

    The title is: “These five cities have EVERYTHING you are looking for in retirement”. This sounds inviting; an article that everyone over a certain age should read. That is until you actually dig into the recommendations.

    Here is the top choice: numero uno:

    Chesterfield Missouri is a town of 47,500. If you love small town living in the middle of nowhere this is the place for you. If you want to go somewhere, the nearest airport is a little over a half hour away in St. Louis. But who needs to go anywhere there are plenty of retirees to keep you company: over 20% compared with 11% nationwide.

    Chesterfield picked up the name Gumbo Flats because it’s soft silky soil becomes very muddy during the 3½ feet of rain it gets every year. Cultural offerings include a Wal-Mart store just a little over 30 minutes away. Not much else.

    But if you yearn for truly small town living there is Leawood (pop: 31,900) and Prairie Village (pop: 21,400) Kansas. Both towns are about 30 minutes from the Kansas City airport, for those getaway weekends to someplace or anyplace for that matter.

    The mayor of Prairie Village boosts of the 292 days a year of sunshine and ultra low crime. Both of these towns offer unobstructed views of cornfields. So if living in the flatlands is on your bucket list or if you suffer from acrophobia; go for either Leawood or Prairie Village.

    If you are more of a city person, Scottsdale Arizona with 217,000 population has been a favorite of many snowbirds for a long time. If you like sunshine but not the flatlands of Kansas, take a look at Scottsdale.

    The town claims to have 307 days of sunshine annually. Toasty warm days that average 105+ in the summer months give way to nice crisp 80 degree lows at night. But it is such low humidity that you don’t know that your body is being slowly cooked. If you have low blood pressure and constantly fee chilly in Houston, try Scottsdale.

    If An Occasional Hurricane is OK

    The final spot on the list of dubious retirement spots combines small town size with big city advantages: Naples Florida. Half the population is over 65. Home construction exceeds the mortality rate so real estate prices are kept in check.

    The airport is nearby. Beautiful ocean beaches mean you never have to travel anywhere. Family will come to visit you. Naples has less than 20,000 population but is close to Florida’s social and cultural advantages. Finally Naples has the most health care facilities of any city on the list.

    OK, now if I can find nine more bad advice articles, I will create a new Top 10 list. Just what the world needs.

  2. Concubines of An Unusual Kind

    When the mass media isn’t responding to President Trump’s venom with its own venom, they can actually produce some thought provoking stuff. Take the New York Times for example.

    The paper is doing a video focus piece with the bland title: Life on Mars. The project is a NASA backed 8 month long test of “team cohesion” using six young scientists and engineers, four men and two women.

    The group is ensconced in a tightly configured space capsule built into a volcanic mountain in Hawaii. The idea is to simulate the Mars environment in everyway possible. For example anytime any of the crew leaves the capsule, they are required to wear awkward protective suits that make them look more like firefighters than space cadets. The terrain is bleak at best, totally lacking in vegetation.

    The 8-month project corresponds to the approximate 228 days it took the spacecraft Mariner 4 to make the trip. The difference: Mariner 4 had no humans aboard.

    The experiment has been underway for a while and some initial impressions have been given to questions presented by NYT readers. Mission biologist Josh Ehrlich mentioned missing the feel of wind and the smell of grass.

    When mission specialist Brian Ramos was asked a question “about romance” he quickly insisted how they were all professionals, there was much work to be done and they were all very busy.

    This seems like a very relevant question given all the publicity these days about sexual harassment. Brian’s answer: not so much.

    Are You Kidding Me

    But if it takes 8 months to get to Mars, it takes the same amount to return and that is only if you are the bus driver dropping off passengers. That’s lots of Saturday nights without Boogie Nights. After all, we are dealing with human beings.

    Comedian Jerry Seinfeld claims a man cannot go more than two minutes without thinking about sex. Do the arithmetic, how many two-minute intervals are there in 8 months?

    If you were the husband of one of only two female mission specialists, how would you feel about sending your spouse to live with four men?

    Vice President Mike Pense won’t even have dinner with any women other than his wife.

    Big Issue For Employers

    Team cohesion as NASA terms it, is not just an issue for Mars travel; it is a big time headline-making news. Men and women work side-by-side, sometimes shoulder-to-shoulder in today’s modern workspaces.

    By itself, that can make an uncomfortable situation. But in light of the harassment scandals at Fox News things have gone to a whole new level. It has people scared.

    More than 25% of office workers are afraid to even have a one-on-one private meeting in the office with a member of the opposite sex; things are getting really scary.

    A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult for the New York Times makes exactly this point. What is causing the fear? Are women becoming concerned that harassment is around every corner? Are men fearful of being accused of harassment every bit as much? Or worse yet, is harassment pervasive?

    Almost half of the survey takers believed it is not appropriate to even have lunch together. That is usually a pretty safe venue and common in many companies. When it came down to having a drink or dinner, there was overwhelming negative response.

    But in some pretty innocent things like riding in a car together nearly 40% deemed this inappropriate. It seems a long way from the world of the anything goes 1960’s.

    The NASA project is just getting started so it will be revealing if the same set of questions could be presented around New Years Eve. That is when the true test of cohesion can be measured. In the meantime, until Artificial Intelligence comes up with a real solution, stay safe.

    This fact underlies the entire basis of ESPN. It is shear genius that SportCenter schedules programming and commercials in perfect sequence to accommodate this phenomenon. But even in this increasingly mobile world, what happens when there is no ESPN?

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