*** December 2008 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· In the Spirit of the Season
· Simple Energy-Saving Ideas
· Social Security for 2009

Happy Holidays

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It is's wish that you have a joyful holiday and a bountiful new year! As we welcome in this season of the year, our minds and hearts turn to giving (and getting). Here is a personal story about how volunteerism helps both the giver and receiver.

Downsizing and Freecycle™ by Monique Theriault

Veronica had just moved from a house to an apartment. Due to lack of space, she found herself having to rent a storage unit for her overflow. Not wanting to have to pay for storage for the rest of her life, Veronica had to decide how to dispose of her stuff, a hard decision to make - some of it had been costly and some of it had many memories attached to it. She considered eBay so she would feel better about the money aspect of it but, in the end, opted for Freecycle™ gifting. More to come below about her decision-making process. But first let me tell you a little about this movement that she opted for.

The Freecycle™ network is now the largest Web environmental community in the world making a huge difference in the status of our landfills, with over 5.7 million members in more than 85 countries! This nonprofit gifting movement enables individuals to gift items in their local communities rather than to throw them away, thus keeping over 600 tons out of landfills daily. In 2007 Freecycle™ was ranked by Yahoo as the third most searched environmental term on the planet, following only "global warming" and "recycling."

This huge grassroots movement started in Tucson, Arizona, when Deron Beale had a bed he wanted to give away but could not accepted at the local thrift shop. So he started a recycling group where members would give each other the things that they no longer needed. Everything was free, even membership. What started as a group of 30 of Deron's online friends has evolved into 4,610 groups worldwide with over 10,000 volunteer moderators. Freecycle empowers people, on a grassroots and local level, to take charge and make the world a better place both by keeping stuff out of landfills and by giving stuff to those who need it. It's that personal touch that swayed Veronica in her decision-making.

In a recent query, several members of Freecycle Huntington Beach, expressed their views on consumerism and the gifting of items. Veronica was one of those who replied to our query. We chose to highlight parts of her answer in this article because she has a clear idea of how hard it is for most of us to let go of our stuff and how Freecycle can be a real help. Veronica stated that she is not Christian, but bases her viewpoint on her spirituality.

(Edited for brevity) "…For me, Freecycle™ [giving] is an act of faith… I love eBay as a buyer, and I've often thought that I should become a seller too, treating all of my no-longer-needed items as inventory to sell on eBay for cash. But in reality, I don't have time to sell everything. …One of the lessons I am always in the process of learning is that God is the true source of my well-being; God provides for all my needs. Nothing in this material world has the power to provide me with security. Material things are the inert results of God's grace and my faith in it.

"…When I hesitate to release some material thing that won't add value to my life in the foreseeable future, it is a demonstration of my fear. I think "I might need it someday," -- and deep down, that translates to worry that I won't have the money to buy another one, if and when that time ever comes. … the best part about Freecycle™ is that participating in it can serve as a tangible reminder of the interconnectedness of all things -- us to each other, and all of us to God. …

"…By giving these items away, versus throwing them away (perish the thought!), I am expressing gratitude for having received them, and am now passing along that blessing to someone else. I am opening myself to become an instrument for satisfying the needs of others.

"It is just as wondrous for me to experience being used as God's instrument to fulfill someone else's need or desire, as it is for me experience the "miracle" of receiving exactly what I need or want from another Freecycle™ [member], in the perfect time and way….It is a cycle of giving; everyone gives to everyone with absolutely no expectations of anything at all in return."

Veronica's reply may be helpful to some of you who are struggling with too much stuff. If it is and you'd like more information about Freecycle™, please go to: for more information or to sign up with a Freecycle group in your area.

Find gifts to make this a happy season for your senior at our Senior Bazaar.

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Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 55 million Americans will increase 5.8 percent in 2009, the Social Security Administration announced today. The 5.8 percent increase is the largest since 1982.

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), from the third quarter of the prior year to the corresponding period of the current year. This year's increase in the CPI-W was 5.8 percent.

The 5.8 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that over 50 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2009. Increased payments to more than seven million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will begin on December 31.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $106,800 from $102,000. Of the estimated 164 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2009, about 11 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2009 can be found at:

Tax Rate 2008 2009
NOTE: The 7.65% tax rate is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare. The Social Security portion (OASDI) is 6.20% on earnings up to the applicable taxable maximum amount (see below). The Medicare portion (HI) is 1.45% on all earnings.

Maximum Taxable Earnings: 2008 2009
Social Security (OASDI only) $102,000 $106,800
Medicare (HI only) Medicare (HI only)

Additional insurance information for seniors can be found at:

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1. Simple Energy-Saving Ideas
This winter is likely to bring higher heating and electricity costs. There are many ways to take major steps to reduce these costs. Unfortunately, they tend to be big and costly steps. Such things as solar panels, geothermal wells and tankless water heaters are far beyond what most people can undertake. However, there are some smaller steps that can both save money and be eco-friendly.

Some of these things are straightforward. They include replacing an old upright freezer for a chest model, and unplugging TV's and electronic gadget chargers when they aren't needed. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute of Snowmass, CO, water heating accounts for approximately 19 percent of total home energy use and costs an average household over $300 a year. Many things you can do to cut your water heating costs, include using hot water more efficiently, switching to water-efficient shower and faucet fixtures, and making a few simple adjustments to your existing heater.

Learn more at:


2. Pentagon Memorial Opens
On the seventh anniversary of the day a hijacked airliner (Flight 77) slammed into the Pentagon, President Bush dedicated the memorial near the crash site. In a solemn ceremony before thousands of service members and civilians, he called it not only a place of remembrance, but also a reminder of the resilience of the American spirit. The ceremony also featured speeches from the secretary of Defense and other senior officials.

With the dedication on September 11, the Pentagon Memorial is now open to the public. The memorial is designed so that the nation may remember and reflect on the events that occurred on that day in 2001. The memorial honors the 184 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks Admission to the memorial is free and open to the public seven days a week. Groups and individuals are welcome in the memorial each day but guided tours are not offered; the memorial is meant to be experienced on a more personal level.
Learn more at:

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Ira Gershwin - "One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with them."

Jim Morrison - "Love cannot save you from your own fate."

Johnny Bench - "Slumps are like a soft bed. They're easy to get into and hard to get out of."

Sammy Davis, Jr. - "The ultimate mystery is one's own self."

Walt Disney - "When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do."

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
With the holiday season comes many parties and festive events. It is timely to be attentive to the potential driving dangers. Accidents related to drunk and drugged driving claim the lives of thousands of Americans every year. During National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month an effort is made to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and to encourage citizens to drive responsibly.

Each of us can play an important role by educating family members and friends about the devastating consequences of impaired driving and by insisting that they have a designated driver. Businesses, community organizations, and faith-based groups can promote substance abuse prevention and encourage alternative sources of transportation. By encouraging our fellow citizens to make responsible choices, we can help save lives.

Let's make it a happy and safe holiday season.

2. International Volunteer Day (IVD) - 5 December
IVD is offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions at local, national and international levels. Over the years, rallies, parades, community volunteering projects, environmental awareness, and free medical care and advocacy campaigns have all featured prominently on IVD.

During the holiday season, many people turn their attention to giving to charities or volunteering within their own communities--at homeless shelters, food pantries and even nursing homes. Let's work to extend this spirit of volunteerism throughout the year!

You and your friends or group can do something nice for the people in your community NOW, at the start of the new year, by offering to volunteer a few times a month at a local venue. For example, you could spend time with young students by reading some of their favorite books to them! Not only will your students improve their reading skills, but you will also be helping to give back to the whole community as well.

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1. Home Health Care Data
This is a more research-oriented website with statistics on home care use and other data facts and information about home health care. As the nation's principal health statistics agency, the National Center for Health Statistics compiles statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the health of individuals. They are a unique public resource for health information—a key element of public health and health policy. See:

Also learn more at


2. Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO)
LCAO is a large coalition of the nation's non-profit organizations serving older Americans. The association is diverse and dedicated to preserving and strengthening the well-being of our older population. They provide a voice for seniors and their families in the ongoing national debate on aging policy.

Organization members of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations are dedicated to:

    1. Advocating for strengthening both the public and private sector response to meeting the needs of America's older population;

    2. Promoting thoughtful and rational policy changes where such changes are necessary, recognizing that state and local level activities are important both to the generation and implementation of public policy;

    3. Seeking dialogue with responsible leaders of both the public and private sector;

    4. Working with all of society's institutions-political, social, economic, religious-to ensure that they welcome and support full participation by America's older population;

    5. Working to ensure that no older person is a victim of discrimination based on age, gender, race, or ethnic origin; and

    6. Recognizing the diversity of America's older population, which includes the most vulnerable and frail elderly in need of a range of services, as well as older persons who are contributing to their communities through work-related pursuits and volunteer service.

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1. More Things to Ponder

    1. No one has more driving ambition than the boy who wants to buy a car.
    2. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
    3. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong phone number at 4.a.m. It could be a right number.
    4. Think about this: No one ever says "It's only a game." when his team is winning.
    5. I've reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.
    6. Be careful reading the fine print. There's no way you're going to like it.

2. ID Your Computer Fix

Joe (not the plumber) was having trouble with his computer. So he called Richard, the 11 year old next door whose bedroom looks like Mission Control, and asked him to come over. Richard clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, Joe called after him, "So, what was wrong?"

Richard replied, "It was an ID ten T error."

Joe didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, "An, ID ten T error? What's that? In case I need to fix it again." Richard grinned. "Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?"

"No," Joe replied.

"Write it down," Richard said, "and I think you'll figure it out."

So Joe wrote down: I D 1 0 T

And Joe used to like the kid!

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2008, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

This Copyright E-zine may be forwarded to others only if sent in its entirety. Other uses are subject to written permission of the publisher.

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