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October 2005
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December 2005

Paying Credit Cards Bills in Blood

As has been reported, credit card companies are, these days, doing their utmost to gouge every penny cardholders have left after paying for food and fuel. Crabby Old Lady is pretty sure they’ll soon start charging for their end of the postage plus the paper and ink used to print the bills and other sundry mailings.

Last week, Crabby received one of those sundry mailings and after reading the letter several times, she wonders if she has slipped a gear and rounded the bed into dementia. She understands each of the English words, but for as much as she can’t figure out what they mean strung together, it may as well be written in Klingon. Here is the meat of the letter, verbatim:

“Each month you must pay at least the Minimum Amount Due by the payment due date. The sooner you pay the New Balance the less you will pay in periodic finance charges.

“To calculate the Minimum Amount Due, we begin with any past due amount and add any amount in excess of your credit line. We then add the largest of the following:

  • The New Balance on the billing statement if it is less than $20;
  • $20 if the New Balance is at least $20;
  • 1% of the New Balance (which calculation is rounded down to the nearest dollar) plus the amount of your billed finance charges and any applicable late fees; or
  • 1.5% of the New Balance (which calculation is rounded down to the nearest dollar).

“However, the Minimum Amount Due never exceeds your New Balance. In calculating the Minimum Amount Due we may subtract from the New Balance certain fees added to your account during the billing period.”

Whatever that gibberish means, Crabby is reasonably certain more money will be going out of her pocketbook. Although the letter doesn’t state this, she suspects such a convoluted explanation of the company's complex new billing system is a way to charge an additional fee to people like Crabby who pay off their credit charges in full each month. She is particularly mistrustful of that "the sooner you pay...the less you will pay" phrase in the first paragraph; is that Klingon, do you suppose, for "no more grace period"?

Crabby believes that late charges are fair. What is not fair is the new practice of jacking up interest rates to 24 and 29 percent and reporting customers to credit bureaus as deadbeats after only one late payment. Credit card companies already take a percentage of the charges from the merchant and if too many customers are defaulting, as companies claim, they might try sending fewer card offers to people who have maxed out their other cards.

So while credit card company's are asking for blood payments, Crabby wants to know when customers will get a rebate when service is poor or nonexistent. How about a dollar off the bill for every minute past five left on telephone hold. Five dollars for every wrong or stupid answer. And $25 if the customer service person who finally answers the call asks a single question Crabby has already punched into the phone.


The Cute-ification of Elders

Mainstream media has done it again and Crabby Old Lady cannot let it stand unremarked upon.

In August, the Washington Post published a particularly loathsome piece on elderbloggers which made clear the reporter’s disinterest, if not quite disgust, at the idea of older people in general which, of course, Time Goes By challenged.

This week, it is the Associated Press demeaning elderbloggers, as published in USA Today and elsewhere. (Do note too the insulting URI USA Today assigned to the online story: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/
2005-11-06-geezer-blog_x.htm.)

It’s not so much reporter Carla K. Johnson’s dismissive language that bothers Crabby, although there is some of that: “a new leisure-time option for senior citizens” as though blogging were a form of shuffleboard; quoting an elderblogger with the patronizing lead-in, “with original punctuation;” and referencing blogging as a “hobby.” No one refers to younger bloggers as hobbyists. There are pieces published almost daily, ranging from the propriety of teenage angst blogs to the affect of blogs on politics and media, that are written with the respect that should be accorded any group of people.

But what bothers Crabby more than specific words and phrases is the general tone of the story: Isn't it cute how these senior citizens manage to navigate new technology and keep themselves busy - which the reporter somehow attained even while acknowledging the invisibility that affects older people. Let it be clearly understood: Crabby Old Lady was not the “cute” sort when she was young, nor is she now. And neither is our own Millie Garfield, who is quoted briefly in the story.

Mainstream media just refuses to treat older people as adults. It infantilizes us every time reporters express amazement that Crabby and her peers are capable of feeding themselves. This is most egregiously obvious in the ubiquitous use of the word “still” as in, “At 82, Jane Smith still walks three miles every morning.” To his great credit, AARP Magazine editor, Steve Slon, bans the word “still” in that context.

Ageism and its abusive cousin – age discrimination in the workplace – will continue unabated until the culture, which is defined mostly through the media, gets over its kneejerk condescension toward elders. This is most frequently accomplished through a belittling attitude as though we regress to childhood in our old age.

In the past, women were commonly dismissed and ignored in a similar manner until they (we) declared war on the status quo. Old people must do this too until we are granted the respect all other age groups receive without question.

Crabby Old Lady refuses to be cute-ified.


Getting Over Getting Older

category_bug_journal2.gif Along with public speaking and dentistry, having photographs made of me is one of my least favorite activities. Throughout my life, I have disliked every photo taken – that is, until I was sorting through them for the Timeline. I saw them then with new (old) eyes. Hey, you were kind of cute at 21, I remember thinking. And, that’s a lovely picture when you were 47. Why didn’t you like it then…

Last week, I spent two hours sitting for a professional photographer and although the man made a mighty effort to relax me, it was the same old agony it always is. When a camera is pointed in my direction, I can feel the muscles in my face go all funny and stiff. When I smile, it feels forced. My mouth goes as dry as when I give a speech.

It is nothing but vanity to be so uptight - wanting to be prettier, more attractive than one is. Understanding that doesn’t relieve the discomfort.

The next day, the photographer emailed one of the pictures to me. Judged purely on its photographic merit, it is beautiful. As a picture of me, it was shocking. I had no idea I look so old. Chubby face, the two little jowls, wrinkly hands and gray hair pulled back rather severely. If I didn’t know better, I’d take me for 80, not 64.

I showed the photo to a friend, someone I see at least weekly, and expressed my shock to her. I wanted to know if it is a fair picture, if I really do look that old.

She believes my shock is due to the fact that I didn’t gradually back into my older self; I did it all at once. Two years ago, I stopped using any more than the minimal amount of makeup to smooth out some blotchiness. At the same time, I quit coloring my hair and let it grow long. Nowadays, I usually pin it back in a pony tail or pile it in a clasp on the back of my head. It’s easy, comfortable and a whole lot cheaper than the price of Manhattan hair cuts every month. But it is an old-fashioned look.

My face would probably be less chubby if I hadn’t given up a lifetime of dieting about ten years ago. I can camouflage my lumpy body under loose sweaters and jackets, but not my fat face.

And so I’ve spent the past week forcing myself to look at this new photo several times a day and also to look in the mirror longer than the usual quick glance and be done. What I’ve learned is that I’m not quite so accepting of what I’ve turned into in my mid-sixties as I’d have you readers – and me - believe in the things I’ve written on this blog about getting over getting older.

But I am determined to get there, to find acceptance. I have no desire to spend the rest of life as concerned about my appearance as I was for the first 60 years. It is a monumental waste of time and emotional energy, as is the cosmetic regimen the youth and beauty police demand of older people to not offend their false belief that aging is an avoidable myth.

Recently, Elisa Camahort (one of the three Blogher founders) at her HealthyConcerns blog referred to me as “ElderBlogger Ronni Bennett.” Certainly that comes from the name she gave the panel (Respect Your Elderbloggers) where I'll be speaking at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, in March 2006.

For a few moments when I read that "title" Elisa gave me, it was unsettling. I like the word "elder" when it is applied not in the newer sense of frail, but in the older sense of learned and wise - which I do aspire to reach one day. After rolling it around in my head for awhile and saying it aloud - elderblogger, elderblogger - it felt right. So that's what I'll call myself in relation to Time Goes By from now on - Elderblogger Ronni Bennett.

And, it makes that old woman in the new photograph more acceptable to me.

I like the new title so much now that I've changed the headers on the Older Bloggers and Honorary Older Bloggers blogrolls to Elderbloggers. If anyone listed there is uncomfortable with that designation, let me know and I will remove your link. But that would be a shame. This is an opportunity to reclaim a lovely old word and make it positive again. Thank you, Elisa.


Baby Boomers Rule

Prepare for the deluge. The oldest baby boomers start turning 60 next year and it’s a sure bet media and marketing people won’t stop talking about them until every last one is in his or her grave which, according to boomers, won’t be until they are a 100 years old. That takes us to 2064 when the youngest will finally kick off.

In its cover story this week, Newsweek has produced a reasonably good overview of what boomers expect in their approaching dotage and the impact that will have on the culture.

“To say boomers expect to stay young isn’t just a figure of speech, it is a statistically verifiable fact. ‘Baby boomers literally think they’re going to die before they get old,’ said J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich Partners, the polling company, which found in one study that boomers defined ‘old age’ as starting three years after the average American was dead.”

Isn’t that just like the boomers – the ones who invented our youth-centric culture. The cover story continues:

“’If you’re marketing to boomers, you should start staying away from age,’ says Jim Gilmartin, president of Coming of Age, Inc. ‘Some boomers are new dads at 59.’”

Wrong again. As Newsweek writer Jerry Adler points out:

“The marketing industry’s apparent fixation on boomer fathers belies the statistics, which show that as of 2002, the 27.5 million American men older than 55 were responsible for about 83,000 births, a fertility rate of 0.3 percent.”

Undoubtedly, Mr. Gilmartin is a baby boomer.

Some good news amidst boomers’ impressive self-regard turns up on the employment front. According to the Merrill Lynch New Retirement Survey, 81 percent of boomers expect to keep working past 65, but their professional goals will shift:

Says Ken Dychtwald, president of Age Wave:

“You have corporate CEOs who want to be schoolteachers, and marketing managers who’d really rather run a coffee shop, bookkeepers who want to join the Peace Corps. They’ll work fewer hours or only eight months a year, and they won’t be as concerned about having the biggest office or the most lucrative job. It will be more important to do something they enjoy.”

Of course, not all boomers will have such attractive options. One study reports that three-fifths of people between the ages of 21 and 64 have neither an IRA nor a 401(k) and their old age will not be financially easy.

“Many of them haven’t faced retirement planning yet, says [demographer Cheryl Russell] but when they do, it will come as a shock...

“’Some baby boomers got a big slice of the pie,’ says [58-year old Patrick Debol], ‘people like David Letterman and George W. Bush. But it never really came to me.’ he says. This would be more of a problem if he thought he was getting old, but like all boomers, he assumes that time is actually on his side. ‘I still have some good years left in me to work,’ he says stalwartly.”

Individual fortunes and dubious longevity beliefs aside, the thing about boomers is that being born in tandem with the post-World War II economic boom, they always had more money than previous generations. That, coupled with their numbers – 78 million, which is larger than any previous or subsequent generation - has given them the clout to impose their sensibility on American culture. Blue jeans might have become a relic of old West without the boomers. Rock-and-roll might never have overtaken crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Those aren’t bad things; I a fan of both. But what I’d like to see in the press is a little attention to other generations of Americans. At five years their senior, I have little of the boomer mentality and I’ve resented their pre-eminence for a long time or, if not them personally, the media attention they get.

In connection with the Newsweek cover story, NBC Nightly News is running a boomer series all week. Boomer mentality has ruled the culture for 50 years and there is fat chance that will change in the near future.


Stories For Future Generations

[EDITORIAL NOTE: There seems to be some confusion about yesterday's post. I am not curtailing or stopping blogging. The Timeline, one section of the blog, began on 18 October 2004, followed through my life with two photos each weekend until it reached the present yesterday. It will continue now and then only as there are events worth mentioning. Otherwise, I will be blogging as usual. I apologize for being unclear.]

The Timeline was many weeks in the making spread out over two or more years. In fact, I’ve done it twice: once at a photoblog site and repeated here, giving me a chance to add and rearrange pictures, correct some stories and tell a few more in the mix.

It was an extraordinary adventure, plowing through, sorting, scanning photos and keepsakes of a lifetime. Some triggered memories that had not come to me since the original event – a few “oh, wow” moments in that. There are long gaps, too, in the pictorial narrative leaving me to wonder what I no longer recall without a memory trigger – a photograph, a letter, a ribbon saved from a gift, etc.

Earlier this year, I wrote two pieces about collecting our stories for our family descendents. The first, titled Stories For the Infinite Future, lamented how little we know of our ancestors and suggested that with the new technologies available now, we can tell our stories for our children, grandchildren and beyond. A photo timeline like mine is one way to do it and there is no reason to make it public unless you wish to.

In response to that post, a woman emailed that she had led a dull, ordinary life as a wife and mother and she had no stories to tell. Well, that’s just nonsense, isn’t it – as I answered in (Extra)ordinary Lives. Everyone has family stories to tell. There is no such thing as an ordinary life.

Think how much you would appreciate a Timeline such as mine about your grandparents and even your great-grandparents. These days there are videos to be made too. You can write the stories of your life or you can record them in audio so your great-grandchildren can know what your voice sounded like and how you spoke.

Jill Fallon at Legacy Matters writes a lot – as you might suspect from the title of her blog – about legacy. You might want to read some of them and think about getting your stories together for your descendants.

Bonded Black and White

Blogging and Rediscovery

Gift of a Lifetime

Every Damned Thing or Stories?

Why Legacy Matters

As interesting as our stories will be for future generations, it is equally fruitful to do it for ourselves. It was an extraordinary journey, sitting here at my desk over weeks and months, reviewing the life I’ve had so far. There were moments my eyes filled with tears and others when, alone with the cat, I laughed out loud and felt again the joy of times past.

I understand my life a little better now. I can see its arcs and eras. The turning points. The choices made and those rejected. And I imagined for awhile how my life might have been different if I’d taken another path at those junctures – though each decision feels inevitable from this vantage point.

My Timeline began with the purchase of a scanner with the purpose only to electronically preserve old photos that were mouldering and fading in shoe boxes and envelopes. It unexpectedly turned into the story of my life so far and I have a sense now of having put things in order, of settling some old questions, of knowing myself better. It is an excellent project I recommend to anyone.

Next...


Ronni Then and Now

Category_bug_timeline THEN - 7 December 1941

Ronni1941_12_07

The family legend about this photo is that mommy and daddy were taking pictures of baby Ronni in her bath when a shocking announcement was made on the radio: Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

This image began a snapshot journey that covers more than a hundred years. It ends today in the present. The world has changed since I was a little girl. We have television now, cell phones, the internet and we know that the moon is not made of green cheese.

I wonder if little kids today see the face of "the man in the moon" as I did on clear nights many decades ago or if, in our new knowledge of the Sea of Tranquility and other moon landmarks, they no longer imagine such things.

NOW - 31 October 2005

Rb2005_10_31gray In sorting photos for the Timeline, I learned a lot about myself, my family and friends, and my world. I remembered old stories I hadn't thought of in years. I realized how public events sometimes colored my personal life. I changed my mind about some people, places and things. And - there are still so many stories left untold.

All in all, it's been an interesting trip most of which has borne no resemblance to what I daydreamed as a girl about my adulthood. Would I, should I have done some things differently? Of course. But we all do the best we can with the tools and strengths we have at the time and I have no regrets.

It has been a little more than a year since I began the Timeline and ending it today, feels like a beginning. It feels as though I've put old mysteries to rest, put a button on my adulthood and I'm ready for a new adventure.

Is it serendipity that the Timeline reaches the present just as I close the book on one era of my life and embark on another in a new city? Or is there an order to the cosmos that perhaps provides symbols and markers for us if we are willing to pay attention? Personally, I believe that - and not - depending on the day of the week.

Although I had been researching aging for several years before I began this blog in March 2004, and have been writing on aspects of "what it's really like to get older" for 20 months since then, right now all that feels like a prelude.

There is a strong sense of reaching a divide, of crossing a frontier into new territory. Perhaps all my protestations on this blog of embracing old age have been practice, preparation, and now I am ready for the real thing. Should I take after my great aunt and grandmother and live to my early 90s, I've got a quarter of a century of doing that in front of me.

The Timeline has only reached the present. As time moves on and events and photo documentation warrant, it will be continued.

Next...


The Nature of Blog Friends

Internetdog

Earlier this year, I published a lengthy post about the benefits of blogging for old people. Among those benefits are new friendships, something that becomes particularly important when, as we get older, families may live far away, retirement removes daily interaction with colleagues, spouses and friends die and for some, as the years pile up, getting out and about becomes more difficult and less frequent.

And so, there are fewer opportunities to enjoy old friendships or to make new ones. Isolation and loneliness can become problems and are known to negatively affect health and mental acuity.

But blogging opens up a world of intimate connections and even for those who are not alone – or old yet – blog friendships are rewarding. Why else are we here every day? Yes, much has been written of the ego gratification of seeing our thoughts in print and having people respond to them. That is not to be dismissed. But I think as we become accustomed to it, the personal connections we make over the months and years of blogging take on greater importance.

Next to nothing has been written about the nature of blog friendships. They often develop, I think, when a blogger, writing of deeply personal feelings and events, touches another who has lived a similar experience. And even without revealing innermost secrets, we come to know and be drawn to one another through reading of our shared interests.

Email is then taken up, and a friendship burgeons, blossoms and grows although in most cases, we never meet in person. Do these friendships, I wonder, have the strength and “stickiness” of in-person friendships? I haven’t been blogging long enough yet to be certain.

My friend Sali and I met in 1969 or 1970. She subsequently moved to Israel and our face-to-face visits have been few in the 35 years since then. In recent years, email has kept us in closer touch, but we write in bursts and sometimes months can go by with little more than quick “hi, just checking in” notes. But when we see one another, we always relish the fact that we pick up the conversation as though we had seen one another just last week – as though no physical absence of great length has intervened.

Sali and I have a long-term, in-person history. Is it different, do you think, when we don’t know what someone we’ve come to feel a closeness with looks like?

Many of us publish photos of ourselves from time to time and even a video now and again. But what we don’t know is a blog friend’s body language, facial expressions, way of expressing themselves in speech – and what they might say in conversation without the advantage we have on our blogs of thinking it over first, editing ourselves and putting our best feet forward.

What I am wondering is how this changes the nature of online friendship compared to in-person friendship. In my early years of reading blogs, before I started TGB, I was often astonished at how personally revealing many bloggers are. Much more so, I think, to unknown readers than most of us would be in the first few meetings with a new in-person friend.

This might be an advantage to getting to know another better; sometimes it is easier to be honest at a remove from one another. On the other hand, there is much to be discerned about people non-verbally – the look in their eyes, the kinds of clothes they prefer, whether they are the touchy-feely sort or not, etc.

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” How DO online and in-person friendships differ? I wish some people more thoughtful and articulate than I am would put their minds to the nature of blog friendship.

[See also All My Blog Friends Live Close By]


Anti-Aging: The Snakeoil of Our Time

“Anti-aging” may be the fastest-growing buzzword of our day. A Google search turns up 15,300,000 links to websites, and that’s up from 8.28 million in April. Almost all are selling potions, lotions and nostrums “guaranteed” to make you younger than you are.

One of the top anti-aging gurus is Oprah Winfrey darling, Dr. Michael Roizen, who developed an “age reduction program” starting with his first book, RealAge: Are You as Young as You can Be?”, and who claims that people who use his program can “live and feel up to twenty-six years younger.” [I’d be curious to know how Dr. Roizen came up with that number. Why not 25 or 27 years?]

If you ever doubted the power that Oprah Winfrey wields: in May, when she touted Roizen’s most recent book, You: The Owner’s Manual, sales knocked Harry Potter off the number one position at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thanks to repeated appearances by Dr. Roizen on Oprah’s television program over the past five years or so, millions of people believe they will grow younger using the RealAge plan. A blurb from the cover of the first book is typical:

“I was so inspired by Oprah’s show, which featured your book, that I have decided to further improve my RealAge. Thanks to you and your book, I’m working every day to become younger…I never want to grow old.”

And that is the false promise anti-aging gurus make – that you can stay young forever.

As geriatrician Dr. William H. Thomas points out in his book, What Are Old People For?,

“The essence of [Roizen’s] argument – that aging is an unnatural and immoral imposition on us all – depends on an abiding faith in an imagined human potential for eternal youthful vigor…The term anti-aging is a euphemism for youth perpetuation.”

To be fair, Roizen’s advice rests on solid scientific ground: don’t smoke, reduce stress, get some exercise, lose weight and eat a healthy diet. But the results he promises for those who follow this regimen are a lie:

“The better condition you are in,” writes Roizen, “that is, the younger you stay – the better prepared you will be to fight the factors that age you. When you take care of your body, time slows down.” [emphasis added]

No, it does not. No reputable doctor or scientist will tell anyone that anything in existence will make you younger. These gurus are also ageist and discriminatory by insisting that the appearance of youth is the gold standard of life, and they deny those who believe their false promises the chance to discover and explore the extraordinary benefits and pleasures of growing old.

But no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public and useless anti-aging products are now a multi-billion dollar business.


Some Words of Wisdom

Perhaps because short and pithy is not my talent, I collect the words of others who have that knack and I’ve been collecting quotes about growing old for a long time. There must be thousands on the computer now. Here are some that ring true for me - depending on day and mood:

Kurt Vonnegut::
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

Anais Nin:
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Pearl S. Buck:
“Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked.”

Agatha Christie:
“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about...It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.”

Thomas Jefferson:
“Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe:
“So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?

William James:
“How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young - or slender.”

Pearl S. Buck:
“You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.”

Frank A. Clark:
“We've put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it.”

J.B. Priestly:
“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age - I missed it coming and going.”

Henri Amiel:
“To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”


Preparing For Avian Flu

category_bug_journal2.gif It is hard to miss the media discussion of avian flu, also known as bird flu and the “lethal H5N1 virus.” Nearly every day, at least one newscast reports how unprepared we are for a possible pandemic and last week, Newsweek made it their cover story.

For now, avian flu has infected only people who handle poultry that carry the virus, but it has traveled recently from its ground zero in Asia to Europe – Croatia, Romania, Turkey and Russia. Last week a parrot, which died in quarantine in Britain, was found to be infected and the European Union has now banned the import of pet birds.

Yesterday, Canada announced that the H5 virus has been found in several wild birds in Manitoba and Quebec, and authorities are awaiting the results of more tests to determine if it is the deadly N1 subtype.

All human flu viruses begin in animals. It is necessary for the virus to mutate to jump species from animals to humans and then it is spread among humans primarily through droplets in the air when people cough or sneeze.

No one knows if human avian flu will develop, but many experts are alarmed. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota said an outbreak of human-to-human Avian flu could kill 150 million people worldwide in a matter of months and that it is “the single greatest risk to our world today.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Michael Leavitt, said two week ago that America is not prepared:

“There have been many who foresaw this and urged the country to begin preparations sooner….and it would have been better if we had done so.”
- Newsweek, 31 October 2005

As a first public step, in a speech today at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, President Bush will unveil the government's strategy to reduce the possibility of an avian bird flu outbreak in the United States. It is important to do everything we can to prevent its arrival here because there is no vaccine for avian flu. It is being worked on, but when it is developed, it will take many months to manufacture the number of doses needed just in the U.S.

Should an outbreak occur, everyone is at risk, but particularly the old and the very young. We shouldn’t panic, and there are precautions we can take:

  • Poultry and eggs are safe to eat as long as they are fully cooked.
  • Get your regular, annual flu vaccine. It is not effective against avian flu, but by not getting sick, you body will not be weakened.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with alcohol-based gels.
  • Cover you mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Do not send your kids to school nor should you go to work when you are sick.

Liz Ditz of the I Speak of Dreams blog alerted me a couple of weeks ago to a new Flu Wiki. With that and some other links below, you should be able to keep up with information you need on the possible outbreak of avian flu.

The Flu Wiki

CDC Key Facts About Avian Influenza

National Institutes of Health Bird Flu Information

NPR - a continually updated collection of avian flu news stories and information