weekly blog--one for the ages
Jack Ma is chairman of Alibaba, a China-based mega billion dollar e-commerce company similar to Amazon. In the next 30 years he predicts that the world will see much more pain than happiness with regard to job disruptions.
“Social conflicts will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life,” he said in a recent speech. Ma warned that longer life spans and better artificial intelligence are likely to lead to aging labor forces and fewer jobs. “Machines should only do what humans cannot,” he said. “Only in this way can we have the opportunities to keep machines as working partners with humans rather than as replacements. (Bloomberg News/Boston Globe)
Meanwhile, on April 15th Emma Morano of Verbania, Italy, passed away at age 117. At the time, she was believed to be the oldest person in the world. The reason for her longevity has long been pondered and investigated by researchers.
In the mix of reasons why: the mild climate in the lakeside village where she lived, the three raw eggs that she ate every day for nearly a century, or an unfortunate marriage and separation in 1938 that made her never contemplate marriage again.
Ms. Morano was devout, wore rosaries, and loved clocks that chimed, especially those that sounded like Big Ben in London. She worked until age 75, was proud that she could pay for whatever she owned, and cooked for herself until age 112, usually pasta to which she added raw ground beef. Until Ms. Morano was 115, she did not have live-in caregivers, and she laid out a place setting for herself at her small kitchen table at every meal.
After reaching age 110, her celebrity status increased and she was honored by a host of organizations, Italian presidents and schoolchildren, and even the local gas company. One fan was a blind man who came every Christmas and Easter, and gave her a certificate for being a loyal customer. (NY Times)
Last Monday was Patriot’s Day and the 121st running of the Boston Marathon. As I watched the last of the runners straggle down Comm. Ave. toward the finish line 7 miles to the east in Boston, it got me thinking about paths people can take when they retire. The 6 paths below were chronicled in a book, Too Young to Be Old, by Nancy Schlossberg.
Learning how to tie your shoes before being able to enter kindergarten was a rite of passage in my hometown. It was the beginning of a lifelong battle to keep the laces from coming apart. Now I know the reason why it happens thanks to a new study by a group of mechanical engineers at UC Berkeley.
The researchers found that when running, your foot strikes the ground at seven times the force of gravity. The knot stretches and then relaxes in response to that force. As the knot loosens, the swinging leg applies an inertial force on the free ends of the laces, which rapidly leads to a failure of the knot in as few as two strides after inertia acts on the laces.
Of course, when a person goes walking or running, their shoelaces don’t always come untied. Tightly tied laces can require more cycles of impact and leg swinging to cause knot failure than one might experience in a day’s worth of walking or running.
For the elderly, lacing up a pair of shoes can present its own challenges. There are many assistive devices available to help. Shoelaces, such as Coilers, are available with coils that never need tying, and there are elastic shoelaces that allow shoes to be slipped on and off without tying and untying. Those who are unable to reach their feet can use a long handle shoe horn, a handicap grabber or push their feet into shoes equipped with elastic self-fastening laces.
Meet Alexa, Amazon’s digital voice assistant who rests inside one of the company’s cylindrical tabletop smart speaker devices such as Echo, Dot and Tap. I have not yet ventured forth to buy one or its Google Home equal, but it’s easy to see how important such a device will become for anyone who wants to successfully age in place.
In the kitchen, you can ask Alexa to set a timer or convert ounces to cups. If you’re planning what to make for dinner and notice that you are out of something, you can ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list. If you have previously bought an item such as paper towels from Amazon Prime, you can re-order it by simply saying, “Alexa, reorder the paper towels.” Alexa’s Food Network skill provides access to an extensive library of recipes. You can ask Alexa a series of questions to help decide what’s appropriate for dinner. If you own a GE Wi-Fi Connect appliance, Alexa’s Geneva skill enables you to control these devices with your voice. For example, you can ask Geneva to preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or if you mess up while cooking, there is a skill to help you order take-out food.
In the bedroom, Alexa will turn off lights and lower the thermostat for Alexa-compatible devices. She can set your alarm clock to wake up, and once it goes off, you can ask her for traffic, weather and a news brief, find out what is on your Google or Outlook calendar, and if you are running late, call for an Uber pickup.
In the living room, Alexa can play anything available on Amazon Music and other services such as iHeartRadio, Spotify and Pandora, as well as read audio books from a Kindle account. Additionally, if you ask nicely Alexa can track your favorite sports teams, locate a misplaced smart phone, and hookup with a host of third-party developers creating skills for games such as Bingo, quizzes and fitness routines. Say something naughty? Don’t be alarmed--there is an easy way to delete individual recordings.