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Best Places to Retire

Oct 28, 2013

Love the culture and excitement of urban life, but loathe the congestion and cost? One of these 'second cities' could be your first-choice retirement spot.

If the thought of retiring to a sleepy beach town or country hamlet bores you silly, you're not alone. Increasingly, retirees are "interested in urban center communities," says John McIlwain, senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute. "They don't want to be isolated out in the suburbs." It's not surprising that people want to spend their post-work years surrounded by the arts, cutting-edge health care, and diverse neighbors, but the cons of urban living (like cost) can be daunting. So we set out to find places that won't ding your nest egg with high taxes and nosebleed prices, yet still have great attractions and plenty of your peers. Here are five affordable small cities you may one day want to call home.

The Wrong Way To Write About Trans People

Editor's note: Fallon Fox is a transgender mixed martial arts fighter. Last week, Grantland, an ESPN website, published a story about the inventor of a golf putter who committed suicide. In Grantland's story, the author revealed that the inventor was transgender. The story's treatment of the subject elicited criticism and drew a response from the site's editor. Fox shared her response with TIME.

Dear journalists and editors,

I know that you are watching everything I post. So, pay attention. The "Dr. V's Magical Putter" story is an example of what not to do. I just heard about this today and it just about made me vomit. It unfortunately highlights the ignorance, lack of empathy, and exploitation of trans people.

Time and time again I've been flabbergasted at the lack of understanding in media in regards to why trans people may omit or even lie in some situations about their past. As if the reasoning for protecting oneself in a country where violence and discrimination of trans people isn't obvious. I've sat and pondered why some in media can be so cruel to us.

How could they be so blind? How could they not put themselves in another person's shoes? And I've come to a conclusion. Many of you may get it--you may actually care, and many of you may not. However, it doesn't really matter does it? In the end, it's not really about treating the subject with respect. It's about getting the most views, notoriety, and money. Editors need stories that will sell. And what sells more than controversy? We all know that if something is considered "strange" it's likely to fall into the "controversial" category. And yes, because trans people are so few--and physical transition is so new--we are looked at as "strange."

The "Dr. V's Magical Putter" story made me wonder if any of the journalist or editors involved paid any attention in their 5th grade history class. Did they even read the stories of mixed-race Americans who could pass as white shortly after slavery? Many of those early Americans omitted their past or even lied in order to protect themselves from harm. They faced discrimination, losing many of the friends and support around them, and even violence if anyone found out that they had even the slightest amount of black heritage. Those history stories were not just told to us in our youth just to show what happened to black people. We were supposed to take lessons from those stories and apply them to other groups in the future. We were supposed to not allow history to repeat itself. Some in media are failing miserably in this in relation to trans people. They reinforce the notion that trans folk are not as worthy of respect as other groups of people because we are oddities.

Much like my black ancestors who were of mixed race and could pass as white, I hid my trans status (unless confronted on it). Much like my ancestors I've had to deal with society telling me what restroom I could or could not use or what spaces I could not occupy. Much like my ancestors I lived in fear for my life or being physically harmed by people who hate on other humans for being slightly different. History consistently repeats itself because people consistently drop the ball--because of greed.

I could sit here and type away--I could write a book about what it's like to have to deal with gender dysphoria. I could express what it's like to have to spend loads of money in order to match one's body to their gender. I could go on and on about what it's like to deal with family and friends on this issue, or to lose ones livelihood. But, would that even matter? I think not. What really matters is your bosses' perception of their ability to make money from a story. How many trans people have to be pestered and questioned about their past when they obviously want to not talk about it? How many trans people have to be driven to suicide or endure incredible amounts of mental torment because you just couldn't help yourselves? I suppose we will find out.

And yes, I've been close to suicide myself over this. Fortunately, I had a support network in place, teammates and loved ones around me who actually care about me existing. They supported me, and it helped me stay here. But, what helps keeps me going the most is the opportunity to put a dent in all of this nonsense directed at trans people. Sometimes it feels like I am a tiny drop fighting an ocean. If that is the reality then so be it. But, I will not be taking my own life. I refuse to go out like that. If I'm going to go out, then I'm going out swinging. That is my way of dealing with all of the pain I have had to deal with.

This life is precious, as it is the only one that I get to live. I wish that I had it like the rest of you. I wish that I didn't have to deal with the knife that some in media like to try to twist in my side, all for trying to experience happiness and success just like everyone else. But, that's not my lot in life. No, the reality is that it's more likely I was born ahead of my time. I may never enjoy the the acceptance that trans people are likely to have in the future. But, I can do my part to help change things for them. And that gives my life meaning.

If media entities want to avoid what happened to the editors of the "Dr. V's Magical Putter" story they need to do something very important. They need to have transgender sensitivity training. They need to be educated on trans issues. They need to attempt to wrap their heads around what it's like to be a trans person if they even suspect that the individual they are doing a piece on is transgender. The editors need this training even if they "think" they know about trans people. This goes for MMA media also. The journalist and commentators from ESPN to AXS TV also need training. A small investment like this would go a long way in ensuring that their company isn't looked at negatively. It is all so avoidable.

Fallon Fox is a mixed martial arts fighter.

Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer

Sarah Tuttle-Singer lives with her two kids in a small village with rolling fields in central Israel. She is a Contributing Editor at Kveller, and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel.

A Resolution for Moms: No More Fakebook

According to Facebook, this is how I spent my Saturday with the kids:

My children and I woke up with the sun, smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.” My hair was shiny. My smile, too. We drank our morning drinks in latte cups—frothy foam mustaches lacing our lips. We played backgammon, our skin mottled by drops of shade in the morning light. We went for a walk in the orchards, and we danced between emerald leaves like fairies. We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers.

‘Cuz that’s how we roll: Just another day being totally awesome. And while all of this is basically true, I’m also full of shit. Here’s how it really went down:

My children and I did wake up with the sun. Waaaay too early because someone forgot to close the blinds the night before. Sure, they were smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.”

I wasn’t.

So we brushed our teeth and took turns peeing.

“Mama, why does your vagina have a tail?”

Huh?

“Oh, that’s a tampon.”

“What’s a tampon?”

“Tampons go inside your vagina.”

“Why?”

“Because they stop the blood from coming out of your vagina.”

My kids took it all in stride.

“Why do you have blood in your vagina?”

Oy.

“Every month if there isn’t a baby in my uterus, I have blood. It doesn’t hurt, and the tampon stops it from getting in my underwear.”

“I want a tampon,” my son said. I gave him a clean one. He unwrapped it, grabbed the string, and hit his sister on the ear.

We ate leftover schnitzel and chocolate cake. Breakfast of champions, people. And I took several “spontaneous” pictures of all of us smiling with a camera timer. (“Come on . . . Please. Smile, dammit! Look happy!”)

The kids went back to the TV, and I hit up Facebook to see what everyone else was doing. Most of my Facebook friends with kids were telling their Saturday stories for the world to “like.” Homegirl posted a picture of her and her brood frolicking in a field of red poppies. (And I felt a twinge of envy.)

I clicked “like.”

Another friend wrote, “My hubby makes the best pancakes for our little man.” (And I threw up a little in my mouth.)

I also clicked “like.”

And not to be outdone, I uploaded our new pictures. “Sunny Saturday!” I wrote in the status. I’m not a total liar. I’m just good at PR.

We were on the third cycle of Beauty and the Beast when the Internet went out. I started to shake. I couldn’t breathe. My window to the outside world was shuttered and locked.

And, guess what? Now I have to actually spend my entire weekend with the kids; actually with the kids.

And here’s the dirty little secret that I’ll never admit on Facebook: I love my kids every freaking second. Would I die for them? You bet. Would I kill for them? Hurt my child, and I will cut you. But I don’t always want to be with them.

Yes, we did drink out of oversized coffee mugs. But my son spilled his hot chocolate all over the floor.

Yes, we did play backgammon—but by “play backgammon” I really mean we built towers out of the backgammon chips for a grand total of two minutes and thirty-three seconds before my daughter realized that two of the white pieces were missing and her tower would never be as big as her brother’s.

Yes, we went for a walk in the orchards. But within minutes, we were soaked in mud and our feet were cold. And both kids were whining because the clementine juice stung their fingers.

Yes, we rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. But just one song before my kids took the CD player hostage and put on a Disney singalong.

Yes, there were blissful moments on that Saturday with my kids—moments I quickly captured in photographs and Facebook statuses, like butterflies pinioned to a board. “Look everyone! Look! My kids are happy! I’m happy! We’re happy!

And yes, we are happy. Most of the time. But there are times when we aren’t.

My life on Facebook is an airbrushed and Instagrammed image of my real life. I edit the suckage because I want people to think I have my shit together. I give everything a hiptacular filter to make the drudgery look interesting. Most of the time, I think I’m a decent mom, and I think I’m giving my kids a pretty good life. But I also think I’d be a better mom if I stopped pretending, and making friends on Facebook feel like they have to pretend as well.

Reprinted courtesy of Kveller.com.

*Excerpted from The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality, edited by Avital Norman Nathman. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2014.

Courtesy of Sunni Brown

The Deceptively Intelligent Doodle

Many of us have had this exact experience: We’re seated at a table during an obligatory meeting, listening to a colleague or higher-up speak. For a variety of reasons — the content is unrelated to our responsibilities, we’re convinced we already know what the person is about to say or we simply can’t stand who’s talking — we start to disengage. We’re conveniently armed with a trusty notebook or iPad and our favorite writing tool, and by the time the meeting is over, curious and seemingly random visual marks have appeared in the margins of our pages. Sometimes they’ve even consumed the page. Some of us make these marks spontaneously and unwittingly. Some of us make them with purpose and skill. Wherever we land on that spectrum, throngs of people around the world and throughout history engage in this act called doodling.

(MORE: How We All Can Be ‘Creative Types’)

For a considerably long time — more than 30,000 years — humans have used doodling as a device, and for a considerably long time, we’ve generally failed to take notice or investigate the purpose this device is serving. But as a visual-thinking consultant and professional Infodoodler, I’ve learned to stop underestimating a device that millions of people are deploying daily. After thousands of interactions and interviews with scientists, teachers, innovators, engineers and artists, it’s become unequivocally clear that there is a deep contribution from this universal act and it needs its day in the sun. We have the opportunity to explore the benefits — cognitive, professional and personal — of this deceptively simple act, and we have the opportunity to seriously advance its applications. Let’s first explore some of the benefits of doodling, which I define as “making spontaneous marks with our minds and bodies to help ourselves think.”

BENEFIT NO. 1: Deeper Sensory Engagement and Immersive Learning

Human beings are multidimensional learners. We’re not designed to sit still and learn predominantly via the auditory and linguistic channels. We like to take in and process information through a variety of channels, using multiple learning modes including auditory, linguistic, visual and kinesthetic. To doodle is to accommodate a richer conversation with more facets of our learning selves. Making visual marks on a page — or even better, in a large, shared white space — accommodates visual information, language and physical movement, and consequently provides access to different kinds of insights at higher levels of retention. When we doodle, we more deeply immerse ourselves into the learning process because it supports a broader activation of neurological networks and native learning modalities.

BENEFIT NO. 2: Focus and Concentration

In today’s hyper-digital environments, there seems to be a near universal, creeping sensation of fractured and partial attention. For many of us, sustained focus and concentration have become increasingly rare, and there are real consequences — productively, psychologically, creatively and emotionally. Doodling is known to be one of the easiest, most accessible, most relaxing ways to not only "be here now" but to slow the mind and allow it to breathe in order to process and integrate information. Our brains must go “off-line” at various intervals as a function of how they optimally perform, and this temporary quieting often leads to our biggest breakthroughs in creative problem solving. Doodling is a ready-made yet simple vehicle for harnessing our minds when they become frenetic due to overwhelming information or the constant pings and pokes of modern life.

BENEFIT NO. 3: Amplified Understanding and Bigger-Picture Thinking

A large part of our thinking system involves pattern recognition. We are exquisite at tracking and recording experiences to form a template of the world that liberates us from having to relearn similar concepts all the time. (Read: I know how one door works, therefore I can extrapolate to know how all doors work.) The downside of pattern recognition is that we tend to round up or approximate by default, and we struggle to contain and see both bigger pictures and gray areas or nuances. We also struggle to break out of habitual thinking patterns and view information from a new perspective. We get stuck seeing a small view the same way. Infodoodling — a term referring to the tight integration of words, shapes and images — is a formidable technique for helping knowledge workers and students map, evaluate, clarify and display larger realities, including the nuances of big-picture systems and processes. Through that effort we amplify our understanding and we often experience a shift in our original points of view.

(MORE: Do, Re, Mi, Fa-get the Piano Lessons: Music May Not Make You Smarter)

To doodle is ultimately to think, and to become literate in infodoodling is to become capable of visually articulating and displaying any system, process or concept imaginable. Thankfully, this skill is not a far leap from our native doodling instincts.

We can quickly move from the basic doodle to the infodoodle and have a powerful effect on awareness, comprehension, information retention, creativity, problem solving and communication. It’s a no-brainer. Infodoodling and the pursuit of basic visual literacy have clear potential to transform conversations and outcomes in our most significant business, social and civil institutions. We could start with students or perhaps with the people already seated at tables in meeting rooms.

Sunni Brown is the author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently.

© imagebroker / Alamy

Boise, Idaho

Moving to a mountain town means easy access to skiing, hiking, golf, fly-fishing, and more. Unfortunately, it also usually means jaw-dropping home prices, a dinky airport, limited health care, and tourists galore. Not in Boise.

Yes, locals here can ski at Bogus Basin 16 miles from downtown, stroll or bike 85 miles of trails, and paddle or fish on the Boise River, which runs through town. But they'll also find low taxes and affordable homes.

Plus, Boise has become a nucleus of culture and health care. Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center is ranked in the top 5% of hospitals nationwide for clinical performance.

Where to live

North and East of downtown: Prices in the city center are steep, so buyers should concentrate on the surrounding neighborhoods, says Boise real estate broker Jason G. Smith. "Traffic isn't an issue," he says. "So you don't need to be right downtown to enjoy it."

You'll find two-bedroom condos or small single-family houses priced at about $300,000 in the North End.
Southeast and Northwest Boise: On a tighter budget? Head to these neighborhoods (located about 10 minutes from the city center) for homes starting around $200,000.

What to do

Outdoors: Walk along the Boise River Greenbelt or explore the trails winding out of Hull's Gulch or Camel's Back Park. The city has two open-air Saturday markets, which are a great place to find produce and bump into friends.
Art: The Boise Art Museum has 3,000 permanent works and presents diverse exhibitions ranging from site-specific installations to collections of ancient artifacts.
Performance: Grab tickets for the opera, philharmonic, or ballet. Boise State's Morrison Center hosts national tours of Broadway shows, stand-up comedy, and live music, while the Shakespeare Festival fills a 770-seat outdoor amphitheater.

And there's more to come: Construction is under way for a new $70 million, 65,000-square-foot cultural center, slated to open in 2015.

Taxes

Retirement benefits are taxed, though some types of pensions qualify for a deduction. There is no inheritance or estate tax.

  • Income tax: Highest is 7.4%
  • Sales tax: 6%
  • Median property tax: $1,230

Polar Vortex Gives Way to Merciful Thaw

After three days of record-setting cold weather, the so-called Polar Vortex began to move away from the United States and toward Canada Wednesday, allowing much of the U.S. to start thawing out Thursday.

Temperatures across much of the country will return to more normal winter ranges on Thursday, remaining below freezing in many places but a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures that closed schools and cancelled thousands of flights. After two days of temperatures in the single digits or even negative territory, the forecast for the northeast calls for temperatures in the 40s by the weekend.

The thaw is a welcome reprieve from winter weather that shattered records and caused problems in many states. Minnesota's Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, spent 62 consecutive hours below zero, according to the Weather Channel. Chicago was in a sub-zero freeze for 37 hours, including 29 hours with temperatures in the negative double-digits. More than 7,000 flights were canceled on Monday and Tuesday as ground crews dealt with sluggish fuel lines and de-icing solution that froze. On Tuesday, all 50 states had temperatures below freezing, including Hawaii, where the top of the Mauna Kea volcano reached 25 degrees.

According to counts by NBC News and the Weather Channel, the bitter cold has been blamed for at least 17 deaths across the country.

[Weather Channel]

Polar Vortex Turns Niagara Falls Into Frozen Wonderland

The American Falls at the side of Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario
The American Falls at the side of Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario, Jan. 8, 2014Aaron Harris / Reuters
The American Falls at the side of Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario
The American Falls shown from Niagara Falls
Visitors observe Niagara Falls, Ontario
The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario, Jan. 8, 2014.
The Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ontario
The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario
Ice chunks and water flow over the falls Niagara Falls
Visitors take pictures overlooking Niagara Falls
The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario
APTOPIX Deep Freeze
The American Falls at the side of Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario, Jan. 8, 2014
Aaron Harris / Reuters
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© Andre Jenny / Alamy

Spokane, Wash.

Unlike gloomy Seattle, Spokane basks in about 260 days of sunshine a year. Want to get out and soak up that vitamin D? The Spokane area has 76 lakes and five ski resorts, plus plenty of golf courses and wineries.

The city has urban appeal too, with a downtown that's become a destination for retirees looking to trade high maintenance homes for condos that are walking distance from restaurants, art galleries, and theaters.

Spokane residents do pay a hefty 8.7% sales tax, but the state has no income tax.

Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pauses as he addresses the media during a news conference Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton.

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