Seniors Find Eye Care Improves Lifestyle

By Tom Hays, ABOC, NCLE

Some older adults may be able to improve their quality of life with a simple device: new eyeglasses. In a recent study, those seniors who received eyeglasses for uncorrected vision problems were found to have improved quality of life and decreased symptoms of depression when compared to those with vision problems who had not received eyeglasses.

Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a trial in which 142 nursing home residents age 55 or older were assigned to a group that would receive eyeglasses one week after check-up (78 residents) or a group that would receive eyeglasses at follow-up two months after check-up (64 residents).

Vision-related quality-of-life and depressive symptoms were measured at baseline and at two months.

At baseline, both groups had similar demographic and medical characteristics and had similar visual problems uncorrected by eyeglasses. After two months, distance and near visual abilities for the right and left eye improved in the group that received eyeglasses, while the group that had not received eyeglasses had no change in visual ability.

At the two-month follow-up, the group that received eyeglasses reported higher scores for general vision, reading, activities and hobbies and social interaction as well as fewer depressive symptoms.

“This study implies that there are significant, short-term quality-of-life and psychological benefits to providing the most basic of eye care services—namely, spectacle correction—to older adults residing in nursing homes,” the report authors conclude.

You do not have to be in a nursing home to benefit from new, properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses. They will make your life easier and more enjoyable wherever you live. See better, live better!

Tom Hays is a Board Certified and Registered Optician and a Fellow of the National Academy of Opticianry. He is currently President of Velocity Business Advisors headquartered in Napa, California.

Shocked Listeners Hear Civilized Life on Planet Amphibia

By Tom Hays

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my experiences a few years ago in a recording studio in Oklahoma, in which we were fortunate to have recorded strange signals from a distant planet.

I invited readers to visit a web page where they could hear actual samples of those recordings and, if they wished, order the complete collection of those recordings. The results have been gratifying.

As predicted, some felt compelled to question my sanity, but many were amazed (or perhaps amused) and immediately ordered the CD’s by mail or simply downloaded their order from the internet. In my view, those who responded with an order were the smartest ones. They are already listening to every exciting episode in this historic series of recordings.

Now, it is your turn. If you have not yet listened to this series I urge you to order now!

Are there really little green men from outer space? Here is where you find out.

Life Discovered on Distant Planet!

By Tom Hays

It was a few years back, a time when life had a different feel to it. The air in the recording studio seemed electric, sparking, crackling with activity and creativity, spiced by the smells of stale pizza, herb and cigarette smoke, filled with the amplified sounds of voices, music and sound effects.

As my friend John and I worked into the fuzzy hours of the night, building commercials for our advertising clients and educational audio programs for school publishers, we had little knowledge of just what was coming our way, courtesy of an errant sound mixing console.

My agency studio was filled with second hand equipment, mostly acquired from radio stations. That old broadcast console and the Ampex recorders had some miles on them, but I had a good consulting engineer go through the place on a regular basis who kept it right up to specs. Maybe too good.

As I said, it was late, and we were trying to finish up, but as we were listening to a playback, we started to hear some sounds that were not coming from what we had just recorded, faint sounds as if from far, far away. We were in a soundproof studio. Nothing was on except for the tape player, the console and the speakers. What was that noise? We turned off the tape playback, but the far away sound persisted. We turned the speakers all the way down, and still the strange sounds came. With our ears we followed the sound to the source, the small broadcast monitor speaker in the console. We were not a radio station. We were not “broadcasting” anything. It got weird after that.

“If we’re not broadcasting,” I said, “then we must be receiving.” John turned up the volume on the console monitor and the sound became more audible. It was like nothing we had ever heard before, like a microphone was on in a strange place and no one knew it was on, and it was being transmitted and somehow, our old radio console was picking up that transmission. Strange indeed, for the sounds were like an old radio serial from days gone by. “John,” I said, “we’d better get this while we can.” So, John turned on one of the recorders and we started recording.

The recordings continued, night after night, and in time we came to discover that what we were hearing was some sort of transmission from a small planet named Amphibia, in a far away galaxy known as Croakatoria. All in all, we managed to piece together 40 of these recordings. Astounded as we were, but fearing how the government dealt with those telling stories about "hearing people from outer space", we dared not release them to the public. The project was code named “Star Base Toad”.

Kept secretly and securely in my vault for all these years, I have now decided to risk ridicule and share these recordings with others who may find them of interest. People who may wish to hear about life on other planets, about alien civilizations and the distant reaches of space and time. It is important to me that the world has the opportunity, through these recordings, to study the society that exists on Amphibia so that we may try to better understand our own, and there has never been a time when we needed that more than right now.

In order to share this amazing audio discovery with as many others as possible, I have transferred these 40 recordings, each 6 to 7 minutes long, to 4 audio CDs. I am making the complete set available for only $34.95 plus $4 for shipping and handling. But wait, there’s more. The first 5000 people ordering the set will also receive the valuable Prologue recording, giving rare insight as to the origins of civilized life on Amphibia, a total of 41 recordings in all.

Supplies are limited! Not available in stores. Great gift idea! Order yours today! Operators are standing by. An opportunity of a lifetime! Don’t miss out on this fabulous offer. Do it NOW! for more information, to hear samples of the tapes and to order.

Become Involved

There is an artist living inside you. Have you ever looked at a ceramic bowl or a hand made piece of jewelry, a needlepoint pillow or a hand carved wooden sculpture and said "Gee, I wish I could do that". Well, you can. You just have to try it.

The fact is, with the right instruction, you will surprise yourself with the creative ability you perhaps did not know you had until you set it free. So often I've heard, "I don't have a creative bone in my body." from someone who goes on to create perfectly charming works of art, because they finally decided to give it a try.

What particular art form has held the most fascination for you? Want to put your hands into some clay? How about some silversmithing, or beading? Working with fibers, making handmade paper or woodworking? The creative options are endless.

Look over the articles on the pages of the Creative Enrichment department at and see what inspires you. There you can even get help finding an expert instructor in your area. It's your turn to explore. Just do it.

Wrong eyewear choice can be a “glaring” mistake.

By Tom Hays, ABOC, NCLE

Good vision is more than just having the right prescription in your lenses. As spring blossoms and summer approaches another important consideration in selecting and purchasing eyewear is how to deal with glare.

Glare is a vexing visual problem. Glare can be described as “extreme brightness” from the presence of excessive visible light. Glare can be distracting and even dangerous and can occur day or night in a number of ways. It can cause you to squint, resulting in eye strain and eye fatigue, and in extreme cases, glare can even result in temporary blindness.

There are actually four types of glare that must be dealt with:
Distracting glare is created by the reflections on lens surfaces. The images they generate can be distracting to vision, hence the name. The way to eliminate this problem is to use an anti-reflective coating on the lens. This is particularly true for sunwear where back-side surface reflections can be especially distracting since the dark lens color accentuates the reflected light. Computer users also benefit from anti-reflective coatings.

Discomforting glare is caused by everyday bright light where the eye is unable to adapt naturally, as when light conditions change often. Photochromic lenses are a good choice here, as they automatically darken and lighten to meet the lighting conditions.

Disabling glare is caused by intense bright light. Fixed tints or photochromics help in this instance. An Optician is trained to recommend the correct shade and tint.

Blinding glare is due to reflections off of shiny surfaces, such as water, automobile windshields or snow. Polarized lenses are the best solution for this problem.

Where there is light there is glare in some form or other, and finding the right way to deal with it is not something that can be done in a “self service” store. A professionally trained optician can help you choose the right lens type or treatment for the distinctive kind of glare you wish to eliminate. So, before you head outdoors to enjoy the sun, make sure your eyes are properly equipped for the tasks expected of them. Visit a professional eyecare provider.

Tom Hays is a Board Certified and Registered Optician and a Fellow of the National Academy of Opticianry. He is currently President of Velocity Business Advisors headquartered in Napa, California.

Not For Babies Only

by Susan Hays


As I turned on the water to draw my bath, I glanced at the shelf by the tub lined with bottles of bath oils and lotions, reflecting various colors of the sky, the earth and flowering desert plants. Many of those bottles were given to me by friends at a birthday party who said, "Be kind to yourself, take a warm, long bath, relax, luxuriate and treat yourself like a baby." Hmmm...

I began by dipping my elbow into the bath water to check the temperature. As I slowly stepped into the water, the warmth of it engulfed my leg, and my foot felt the security of the smooth mat on the bottom. I lowered myself into the tub and cradled my neck in a soft pillow and breathed in the rising steam scented by a mild eucalyptus oil. Closing my eyes, covered by a cool eye mask, I consciously relaxed every muscle in my body. I listened to my deliberate, steady breathing, felt my heart beat ever so slowly and I fell peacefully asleep.

Upon awakening I ran a hot shower and washed my hair, massaging my scalp with the hardness of my fingernails and the softness of my fingertips, making thick lather. Using one of my scented soaps and loufa, I washed my body, the roughness of the loufa scrubbing away dead skin, the faint lavender scent of the soap making me feel lusciously clean.

Stepping out of the bath, I wrapped myself in a large, soft towel, heated by the towel warmer. As I poured the cool moisturizing lotion into my hands to warm it and smoothed it over my body, I luxuriated in the silky feel it was giving my skin, and it reminded me of the obvious joy a baby feels when rubbed with baby lotion after a warm bath.

Babies are touched, caressed, massaged, nurtured for a reason. It gives them a feeling of security, love and acceptance. The human touch is so immensely important, not only to babies, but to all of us.

Even if we don't have the time or resources to indulge in professional massages, manicures, shampoos, or aromatherapy treatments, there's nothing to keep us from pampering ourselves and recalling those same feelings a baby feels.

As I dry my hair and dress, I think how I feel nurtured, loved, safe and relaxed, and it makes me recall those same feelings as when I was growing up. And I'm the one who made me feel this way. Pamper yourself -- treat yourself like a baby!

Warmest regards,
Susan Hays

Tell Us About Your Art

by Tom Hays

Now it's your turn! Tell us about your art and the medium in which you work. We welcome and encourage you to send us stories, pictures or videos to share on this site. WHAT DO YOU HAVE YOUR HANDS IN?

Fiber That You Don't Eat

by Tom Hays

If the Neanderthals had invented disco lounges, surely some of the males would have shown up in polyester leisure suits. But the leisure suit and polyester had to wait through thousands and thousands of years of sewing and weaving by hand, using available plant and animal fibers. Then ... the BeeGees showed up.

Now, with the advent of man made fibers and automated machinery, many of the hand fiber skills learned through the years are becoming lost to us. Yet, they can still be both rewarding and very gratifying. Explore the various fiber arts. Sometimes, the natural way is the best way. And, you will be preserving the craft for the generations to come.

You'll Appreciate Jewelry You Make Yourself

by Tom Hays

Making jewelry and other items from metal is truly fascinating. It combines a number of skills, most of which are fairly simple to learn, along with some science and a lot of possibilities for art. Get out the jewelry pliers, tiny saw blades and the Dremel, put on your magnifying visor, and suddenly you are in a private world, where you craft a beautiful silver piece or mount a precious stone on a ring of your own design. Jump in! Sign up with a local instructor.

Beyond Playdough

by Tom Hays

Working with clay can be very gratifying. It is one of the earliest crafts humans learned, and it still holds an almost primal appeal. Put your hands on some wet clay, work it around a little, and you will see.

This creative, Anasazi inspired container came from the
imagination of a first time pottery student.

The school of "Jurassic Trout" were easy to make, and a "whale" of a lot of fun.

We all are creative. Working with clay or ceramics is one more way to excercise your creative side. Give it a try. Let that child out to play!

Working With Wood

My grandfather would sit for hours and whittle. Sometimes I would join him on the porch and try my hand. I made a lot of pointed sticks, while he was crafting intricate parts that became violins. We both enjoyed the time.

The smell of freshly cut wood is captivating. Use a tiny cutting blade, a fancy radial saw, or a chain saw, whatever appeals to you. They are all better than the rock tools our ancestors had to use, and they managed to build some pretty neat wooden stuff.

Baby Boomers Discovering Wine Country!

by Tom Hays

It’s not as if baby boomers aren’t acquainted with drinking, partying and having a good time. But as they are entering mid-life, many of them are discovering the joys of fine wine. Wine is an acquired taste, more valued for the nuances of its flavors than beer, which was the boomers’ choice to be chugged in great quantities at a frat party or ball game.

Now that they are older and somewhat settled, the mid-life baby boomers are discovering a variety of new tastes, including food and wine. That discovery has led many of them to want to learn more about the gracious lifestyles found in the prime wine growing regions of the world.

Wine tastings, tours, and visits to Wine Country are increasingly leading to the purchase of a second home or a retirement home in the vineyard regions. A simple lifestyle, based on fresh, locally grown foods prepared by excellent chefs, paired with delicious wines, and presented in a beautiful, small village or country atmosphere is a powerful magnet to the boomer who is entering the second half of his or her life. And for those who are not quite ready to move to Napa, Sonoma or Tuscany, many are ordering food, wine, cheese and other items from Wine Country over the internet to bring a bit of the charm, tastes and treasures to their own life.

Up-scale real estate continues to hold value in Napa Valley and other wine regions. Most have strict ordinances controlling conversion of vineyard land to housing development, keeping the idyllic rural atmosphere that people are seeking in their Wine Country dream home. That bodes well for the future housing prices in these desired areas, in spite of housing downturns in other parts of the country.

Those mid-life baby boomers who can are buying now. Those who can’t are buying as much of the lifestyle as they can, either on visits to Wine Country or over the internet from websites such as

I Need How Much To Retire?

by Tom Hays

I've flunked "Retirement 101" four times. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Maybe I have a low boredom threshold. I have plenty of hobbies and I enjoy all of them. But maybe when I am trying "retirement" I have too much time to think about what "might" occur in my future instead of what "is" going on at the moment.

I think about my father, mother and all my other ancestors who lived to very ripe old ages. I can see the financial world changing every minute, the cost of living increasing and the cost of medical care spiraling onward and upward. With only a "comfortable" sized nest egg, it is enough to scare anyone to an early grave!

Point is, I'm just not sure how much is enough. In a perfect world, my wife and I would spend our last dollar on the day we passed on. But, no one can tell me when that will be, or what our cost of living will be between now and then. And, heaven forbid, one of those illnesses comes along later in life that creates huge medical expenses and long-term care costs.

I may have enough. Several times in the past I have thought I did. But each time I eventually realize I have no idea how much of a nest egg will be enough to sleep comfortably every night. (I'm sure Bill Gates does not have this problem.)

So, I go back to work, and I feel better physically and mentally. Besides, making money is fun. I enjoy the game!

Give me your thoughts.

Welcome To Your New Life!

You are invited to join countless others who are coming together in Platinum Pearls®.com . . . . sharing ways to enjoy the rest of their lives, becoming more satisfied, more secure through self discovery and self actualization. The secrets are there, to be discovered and utilized. Shared, they will become a positive force for an entire generation.

Who are you??? There’s a new person born every eight seconds. One of them may well be you! We’ll help you nurture and educate that new person you are becoming. Ahead is a different road, and it will take you where you want to go only if you use the right map. Stop and ask directions.

Not for babies only! While we deal primarily with life factors and life styles of those persons born during the so-called “baby boom” years of 1946 to 1964, the fact is, a lot of people on both sides of those years face those same challenges and opportunities too, and we welcome your participation in Platinum Pearls® programs and membership benefits.

We can all enjoy a longer and happier mature life if we resist becoming “old”. We’d love to have you join the organized resistance!

Please add your thoughts, ideas, methods and experiences. We are all in this together!

My Volunteer Vacation! Building Hiking Trail In The Colorado Rockies.

The cool, thin mountain air stabbed my lungs with each breath as I lumbered up the trail at over 10,000 feet elevation, carrying the weight of my daypack, loaded with lunch and snack provisions, water for the day plus a little extra, raingear, binoculars, plus a slew of extras for "just in case", and, I was carrying a Pulaski, with which I would work all day, building a stretch of the Colorado Trail.

The morning sun and the physical activity was beginning to warm me, and I removed layers of clothing as I, along with around 20 other volunteers, progressed from our campsite at 9,800 feet to our work site at nearly 11,000 feet. Through clearings in the trees, traversing a small meadow, the view stretched out for miles and miles, and I felt like this mountain was the very top of the world, and I was on it. "This", I said, "is a vacation!"

Being a flatlander from Oklahoma, adapting to the thin air at this altitude took some time. But I had come up to Breckenridge, Colorado two days early for my week long stint as a trail builder. I had read about the Colorado Trail, a 490 mile stretch of hiking trail which roughly follows the continental divide from Denver to Durango in southwest Colorado, and I was impressed that it was built primarily by volunteers, with the support of the U.S. Forest Service. The Colorado Trail Foundation was formed to build and maintain the trail, and it was through that organization that I signed up for a week-long "trail crew".

My fellow crew members were from all parts of the United States, along with two people from Great Britain. Each were volunteers, and each brought their own tent and sleeping bag, their own eating plates and utensils, some good hiking/work boots, plenty of sunscreen for the high altitude sun, and a good attitude. We each paid thirty-five dollars to join the Colorado Trail Foundation, and the foundation provided the food for the week, which we cooked as we each took turns doing kitchen duty. The Forest Service hauled in potable water for us.

Setting up camp on Saturday was a team effort as we dug a latrine and erected the kitchen and community tents. On Sunday we learned to use the trail building tools properly and safely. We worked on the trail Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday was a free day for hiking, fly fishing or just resting, and Saturday morning was spent tearing down camp and restoring the site as best we could to lessen the effect our presence for a week had on the environment.

All in all, we built nearly a mile of fresh trail to the exacting specifications of the Forest Service. It is proud work, something that countless hikers and backpackers will enjoy for years to come.

For more information on this volunteer service contact the Colorado Trail Foundation website.

Help fight FCS. Is a cure at hand?

Picture yourself. You are very high up in a tree top, in a wooden container with a rounded bottom, perched precariously on a slender branch. The container teeters back and forth, side to side, as the wind blows. You are so afraid, not daring to move a muscle. Suddenly, without warning, the bough breaks and you are falling and falling. You crash to the ground and the cradle lands squarely on top of you.

Terrifying isn’t it? How can you go to sleep imagining that? But that’s the story that was repeated night after night to millions of babies, including me. It was called “rock-a-bye baby” time. I called it “torture” time.

That’s why I, along with countless others, suffer from Falling Cradle Syndrome (FCS). FCS needs your help. It has been proven that the more money we have, the better we sleep at night. Please send a generous contribution now. Send your check directly to me, and you’ll know you’ve done your part in the fight against this horrible affliction. Thank you for helping fund the cure.

For more information click on

Barking Frog Music Group - How It All Began.

The Story of The Barking Frog Music Group

"The mind will play funny tricks on you. One minute you’re in a business meeting or hard at work on the job, and then, something will hit you that brings back a familiar taste, or smell, or feeling, and the next thing you know, you’re remembering those times years ago, sitting around a campfire after a big camp meal, with friends or family. I remember we’d pull up logs and sit around . . just poking the fire, swatting bugs, swapping stories and singing songs, a lot of them made up right there on the spot. We’d pass around the guitar and those that could play would. Those that couldn’t would tell a joke, or a story, or recite a poem. But we’d all join in with something, and it’d go on ‘til the moon was way overhead, and the fire had burned down to red hot coals.

There’d be plenty of laughing and kidding around … and sometimes we’d get to laughing so hard that a “different” noise would come from somewhere around the campfire ... and everyone would look around at all the other faces in the smoke to try to guess who the guilty party was. Sooner or later, it would be agreed that it must have been just a big frog . . barking at the moon.

Those “barking frogs” earned quite a reputation in our part of the country, and it was hard to have a camp-out where you wouldn’t hear at least one or two. So, it came to be generally known that anyone who would come, and maybe join in and play, or sing, say a poem or tell a joke, was automatically a member of the Barking Frog Music Group. And back then, we had meetings just as often as we could.

Now, it’s a gathering around a virtual campfire. We call it the bfmg Café, and nearly every night it’s a new group of members sitting around playing their songs, and singing, and telling stories. Maybe you’ll join in, or maybe you’ll want to just sit back and listen. Either way, we hope you’ll have so much fun you’ll come back often. Click to the bfmg Café, put a beverage in your hand, put that work day behind you, and drag up a log! You're a member of the Barking Frog Music Group!

P.S. You might want to have a souvenir of your visit to the bfmg Café, or proof that you are a proud member of the Barking Frog Music Group. You’re invited to drop by the store to look over the bfmg collection. Cool!"