Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for April 2012

The Heart is a Lonely Killer

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Lonely people face a greater risk of heart disease, the biggest killer on the globe, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Lonely students at Ohio State University showed increased blood pressure caused by increased resistance to blood flow that may be harmful in the long run when performing mentally and emotionally stressful tasks. Non-lonely students recorded a more-normal response of increased blood flow from increased cardiac output. Both chronic high-blood-pressure and vascular resistance have been linked to increased risks of heart disease

The students were given a loneliness questionnaire, then monitored during one task involving mental arithmetic and one involving writing and giving a speech to defend themselves against a false accusation of stealing. Blood pressure before and during these stress-inducing tasks rose similarly for both groups, but lonely students had significantly higher vascular resistance and lower cardiac output than the non- lonely students.

In a parallel study of healthy older men and women, aged 53 to 78, systolic blood pressure rose with age in the lonely while it remained more stable in those who were not lonely. The subjects in this study were also given a questionnaire on loneliness, but underwent several medical tests to assess blood pressure and other clinical measures. Blood pressure was significantly higher in the older half of the lonely group. It was similar across all ages among the non-lonely. The study also revealed that lonely people were no different from the non-lonely in terms of behavior risk factors such as drinking, smoking, diet, and compliance with medical treatments.

“Differences in the (mechanisms of blood flow) observed through the session in younger adults may contribute to elevated blood pressure across time in lonely adults,” said Dr. John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago. “Previous research has shown that passive coping is associated with elevated (blood pressure) due to vascular resistance, whereas active coping is associated with elevated (blood pressure) due to increases in (cardiac output),” the researchers stated in their report.

“The parallels between these findings are suggestive of recent evidence that lonely individuals are less likely throughout the day to actively cope and more likely to feel anxious and threatened than non-lonely individuals.” Loneliness appears to be a stable characteristic across all ages, they suggest. “Lonely individuals tend to perceive their social world as less reinforcing and more threatening generally than non- lonely individuals.”

Mature Life Features. Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Health

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When officials gather to begin a project…

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… to build those big windmill farms that produce alternative “green” electricity, do they break ground or break wind?




–Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

Carib Cuisine Tour Begins at Cruz Bay, St. John

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By Cathy Jacob Gaffney

Mature Life Features

I don’t travel to the Caribbean to eat the same fare I can get back in the States so forgive me if I sound a bit snobbish. Unfortunately, the immense popularity of St. John, the smallest and least-developed of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, which also includes St. Thomas and St. Croix, has made this vacation paradise a victim of its own success.

Case in point: Over the past few decades, the swelling throngs of honeymooners and sun worshipers who flock here during the December-to-April peak season have fueled a demand for menus ballyhooing  buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers and — gasp! — hamburgers

So what do we  dyed-in-the-tastebud foodies, who enjoy exploring  the culinary oases of down-home joints boasting true West Indies fare as well upscale venues home to aspiring young chefs making bold new statements of gastronomic Caribbean creativity, do?

We take strength from the good news that St. John still boasts a smattering of eateries from both sides of the spectrum. But it pays to know where to look.

Arguably, the oldest and most respected fine-dining spot on the island is the fusion-oriented Asolare, a romantic gem overlooking Cruz Bay. The view is spectacular at night and, as might be expected, reservations are a must. Executive Chef Jonathan Balak was busy in the kitchen knocking out globally-inspired versions and visions of the traditional Indian samosa during our visit. This is prepared with black beans, sautéed Honshimeji mushrooms and red-curry Spanish romesco sauce, all of which arrived at our table as easy on the eye as it was pleasing to the palette.

Asolare’s eight-item menu reflects Chef Jonathan’s emphasis on quality over quantity: “I’d rather have a few things and do them really, really well, than have a large menu any day.”

Hands-down the newest kid on the cutting-edge dining block is Cruz Bay’s La Plancha de Mar, a casual, airy den. A trio of young chefs and co-owners – Mike Prout, Jonathan Fritts and Jason Howard — prepares everything on a traditional Spanish-style flat-top grill and draws inspiration from the culinary traditions of both southern Spain and southern France. All of which explains the uncommon pairing of French-style moules fritte (mussels in saffron-fennel broth served with garlic-herb fries) on the same menu as a Spanish-flavored romesco-stuffed chicken and a dish called Deconstructed Paella (risotto served alongside a skewer of shellfish, chorizo sausage, and braised chicken in a paprika broth).

If the crab-claw-shaped pastry filled with parmesan-and-bleu-cheese mousse is on the menu, order it.

Another don’t-miss upscale spot is Coral Bay’s Sweet Plantains, which specializes nightly one of several rotating West Indies-style fusion cuisines, including French-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean. The latter features a memorable cardamom-spiced tapioca dessert.

To enjoy bona-fide Caribbean flavors St. John’s inhabitants began creating at home more than a century ago requires a brief drive from Cruz Bay to Windy Level Restaurant. Owner Glycerus Hernan oversees a special board of time-honored family recipes handed down over the generations that include curried goat and Creole-stewed chicken (both served with rice and peas), oxtail, and a hearty side dish called Provisions — a mix of cassava, plantains, yuca and banana. Wednesday’s outdoor barbecue grill draws a colorful mix of local laborers and in-the-know visitors.

Tucked into the east end of St. John since 1979 is Vie’s Snack Shack, a roadside stop operated by 11th generation resident Violet “Vie” Mahabir. On the menu are traditional island staples like garlic friend chicken and johnnycake, a New Orleans-style beignet that replaces powdered sugar with syrup.

Back in Coral Bay is Sylvia’s New Clean Plate Kitchen. Bob Marley plays on the stereo while St. Lucia native-owner Julietta Messon and her Jamaican-born cook Sylvia Nicholas woo patrons with tried-and-true West Indies staples ranging from jerk pork with bammie (cassava bread) to fungi (okra hush puppies) and Jamaica’s national dish of fresh salt fish and ackee. Wash it all down with a drink called Brush, a blend of bananas, molasses, strawberry and cream.

 Mature Life Features, Copyright 2012                                                                                  


  Photos  by

James Gaffney


West Indies-style curried goat with bammie

                      Asolare’s samosa 



Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

There are more than three kinds of lies…

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          … with apologies to Benjamin Disraeli.

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics, as he said,

 plus anything uttered by a politician.



— Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

Posted in A Musing

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Shop for your Retirement

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Instead of saving for your retirement,  go shopping — for an income plan, that is.

Saving has such an onerous connotation to many of us. We think  it requires discipline and deprives us of the immediate use of all the money we work so hard for. The notion of buying your retirement might ease the pain of the process,  suggests the Financial Planning Association.

You’re going to shop a  401(k), individual retirement account, tax-deferred fixed annuity or some other plan that best for you. The money you put into that investment will be used for delayed purchases of groceries, vacations, medical treatment, family cars, insurance, clothing — everything you shop for and buy now. “Think of it as buying something on the lay-away plan,” said FPA member and San Diego certified financial planner Andrew Castiglione.

Act like your taking a trip to the Retirement Planning Mall. When you head to the megastores looking for a television set or refrigerator or winter jacket, you have an idea of what you want or need. Your study the colors and qualities of several models on your shopping trip, narrow down your choices, and finally make your purchase. Shop the same way for your retirement.

Do you want one with plenty of travel time or lots of hobbies? Are visits to your grandchildren high on the list of desired features? Are you thinking of moving or working part time? What medical-treatment options do you have in mind? It’s just like buying a TV set, in a way. You may not be able to afford the latest 60-inch flat-screen entertainment center and have to settle for a 32-inch model.

So you may not be able to afford a dream retirement, but you can avoid facing a nightmare if you shop as early as possible. Like, right now if you haven’t done it yet.

A retirement lifestyle that reflects your working-life standard of living will cost about 75 percent of the income you earn during your career, according to the FPA. Social Security and your company pension plan will cover part of that, but that’s not likely to cover it all. To get the best bang for your buck, buy your retirement plan as early as possible.


Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

Posted in Finance

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