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The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done
I was heading toward a cliff with a 500-foot drop, and I couldn’t stop. Of course, I’m not crazy — I was strapped to a hang gliding guide who had been taking people hang gliding for 30 years. I’d been watching others make the same run and leap of faith off the cliff for a half hour before it was my turn to do so. I felt very confident and safe — I had done my research about this, and I knew there were minimal risks. The allure of flying was too hard to ignore. As we started moving toward the edge, I was feeling nervous and excited as I watched the drop into nothingness come closer and closer. Just when we were a few steps from the cliff’s edge, the wind coming up off the ocean suddenly died. We had too much momentum to stop our run, and over the cliff we went. With the lack of wind, the nose of the hang glider dipped downward and to the left, heading back toward the cliff. This was the first time I had ever gone hang gliding, and I was blissfully naive about the situation. The wind picked up after a few seconds and blew the glider upward, away from the cliff’s face. I was having the time of my life. We flew on top of the warm updrafts hundreds of feet above the cliff, floating back and forth for about 15 minutes. We did corkscrew dives, and all the while I felt like a bird — it was an incredible experience. Around this point, while we were coasting along, my guide said, “Well, that was the most scared I’ve ever been in 30 years of flying.” I was confused. “What do you mean?” I asked. As far as I knew, everything had gone smoothly during the whole flight; nothing had gone awry. He then explained to me that if the wind hadn’t picked up the second it did, the two of
us would have turned too far and been blown right into the cliff. The wind that comes off the ocean hits the cliff and shoots upward, and it’s this draft that propels the hang gliders up and away from the cliff. Had this not happened, we would have plummeted to our deaths on the beach 500 feet below. I started to laugh. My guide was a bit of a jokester, and I figured he was just messing with me — it couldn’t have been that bad. Then he asked why I was laughing, and I immediately realized that he was serious. My stomach dropped, and I started to feel like I might vomit. I was young and single and hadn’t properly assessed the true risks of hang gliding. Everything I had read made me feel like any potential problems were one in a million. I told the guide to land ASAP so that I could get off this kite-based death-ride — I needed to be on the ground now. However, other gliders were lining up to land, so we had to wait our turn. We continued to fly back and forth, waiting for an opportunity to land. I
wasn’t having much fun at this point; I just wanted solid ground under my feet. We finally landed, and I contemplated my life for a few minutes while I composed myself. As we were leaving, I told my friend who had come with me that he needed to drive back, because I couldn’t do it. People talk about having near-death experiences, but when it actually happens to you, it’s unnerving. I was utterly rattled — I felt so sick that I couldn’t drive. I would still recommend that everyone try hang gliding at least once in their lifetime. But after that experience, I figure that one hang gliding adventure is enough for me. It’s said that one of mankind’s deepest wishes is to fly like a bird, and this is probably the closest you’ll ever get to that unless you jump off a cliff with a wingsuit — which I’ll never do. If you’ve never seen a wingsuit, I recommend you look it up sometime. You’d be amazed at what people can do!
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SPONTANEOUSLY EJECTING CORK CAUSES LAWSUIT Putting the ‘Pain’ in Champagne
For many people, preparing for the New Year’s countdown is the most exhilarating part of the holiday season. You tune your TV to the Times Square ball drop, hand out party hats, confetti, and noisemakers, and meticulously line up some champagne flutes. What’s left to do? Pop open the champagne! There are many partiers who pop the cork with enthusiastic and careless abandon, while others point the bottle away from their faces and anxiously twist the cork until they hear those bubbles surge to the surface. Turns out, while the latter practice may be slightly less fun, it’s certainly the safer approach. On April 8, 1978, Charles J. Murray was injured when a natural cork stopper spontaneously ejected from a bottle of previously unopened Almaden Blanc de Blancs champagne and struck him in the left eye. He was preparing to serve the bubbly to a party of 40 people, so he placed 12 bottles on a rolling cart and removed the foil and wire retainer from three or four bottles — including the one that eventually injured him. Once he started to roll the cart toward the guests, the cork shot out of the bottle all on its own. When it comes to retirement and finances, there’s enoughmaterial about saving to fill a library. You see commercials onTV showing one tiny domino gradually becoming a massive tower, you hear advice from coworkers and family members, and you read books and articles on the topic. Much less attention, however, is paid to how to spend those savings once you’re actually retired, even though it’s a significant part of the equation. After all, it doesn’t matter howmuch you save if you blow it all in a year. Here are a few considerations to keep inmind as you begin chipping away at that nest egg. The easiest way to budget for your retirement is with a level spending plan. In this system, you simply estimate how many years your retirement will last and divide your savings by that number. It’s better to make a generous estimate rather than a conservative one. A survey of financial planners conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that outliving savings is the No. 1 concern of those approaching retirement. Underestimating your life span is an easy way for this fear to come true. Of course, a level spending plan assumes that your financial needs won’t change over the course of your retirement. If you’re the type of person who regularly meets and exceeds your budgeting goals, you can probably make it work. If not, you may want to consider a plan that allocates more money with each passing year of retirement. In the event of increased medical costs or other later-life expenses, an escalating plan provides a financial safety net. HOW MUCH TO SPEND
Due to the severity of his injury, Murray sued Almaden Vineyards, Inc., National Distillers and Chemical Corporation, and Carbo, Inc., alleging that they were responsible because they failed to include a proper warning label on the bottle. The defendants, however, argued that the cork stopper did not and could not spontaneously eject unless Murray had handled the bottle improperly. The case was argued by both sides for two years, but eventually, Murray won. Almaden Vineyards now prints the following on its bottles: “WARNING: THIS BOTTLE IS UNDER PRESSURE. THE STOPPER WILL EJECT SOON AFTER THE WIRE HOOD REMOVAL. TO PROTECT AGAINST INJURY TO FACE AND EYES, POINT AWAY FROM SELF AND OTHERS WHEN OPENING.” When it comes to bubbly-induced mayhem, the greatest potential trouble lies in the eye of the beholder — literally. With an estimated velocity of 60 miles per hour, uncontrolled corks do in fact fly faster than the blink of an eye. To avoid having to explain a not-so-fashionable eye patch at work on Monday, handle those fizzy drinks with care.
How to Spend Wisely in Retirement MAKE YOUR SAVINGS LAST
WHAT TO SPEND ON
Some of your spending choices will come down to personal preference and interests, but you might be surprised to learn that one category of spending consistently proves more fulfilling than others. Professor Michael Finke of The American College surveyed nearly 1,500 retirees and found that spending money on leisure activities and experiences caused the lowest rate of regret. Finke calls this “social spending” and surmises that it’s favored because it encourages older adults to get out into the world and enjoy their retirements. There is no perfect plan for how to spend your savings during retirement. But there is one very wrong way to go about it, and that’s mindlessly. However you choose to spend your savings, make sure you have a plan.
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TAKE A BREAK
Social Media Reminders for Parents SOCIALLY SECURE Social media has been making the world smaller than ever. The distance among cross-country relatives and friends shrinks with each post or Skype call. And instant updates from loved ones are particularly valuable during the holidays. That Christmas morning video call means Grandma and Grandpa get to see their grandkids in their new holiday outfits, but so can online predators. According to digital and safety experts, half of the photos filtered onto the darknet are stolen from parents’ social media accounts. If these predators are privy to your photos, they’re also able to snag your location and other sensitive information, putting you and your children at physical risk as well. On a less disturbing note, social media content is permanent. Even after you delete a post or a photo, it leaves a digital footprint that could follow your child throughout their education and could even affect job interviews or future relationships. It’s still possible for you to foster a sense of privacy in the digital age, but it’s important to respect what your child deems private information. After all, it’s their future. Consider these rules before you share. 1. Ask your child’s permission. If they can speak, then they can speak for themselves. Children love to see photos of themselves, but they may also be aware of what they are and aren’t comfortable with, even at a young age. 2. Limit the nudity. Everyone loves a beach day, but think twice before posting swimsuit or skinny-dipping pictures. Opt to post safer photos, like the family posing prior to fun in the sun. 3. Check your settings. Your privacy settings may be exposing your family to more people than you know, and if you feel the need to share every minute of your child’s day online, making these settings airtight will protect your children and their reputations. 1. Tinybeans.com is a secure photo-sharing website for parents of babies and young children. The digital photo album app allows you to share photos with only the people you choose. 2. Create a separate, secure group on Facebook. Family, friends, or coworkers in closed groups can still fawn over their little ones in a personal, safe setting. Despite the dangers your digital life can elicit, you don’t have to avoid the digital world completely. Social media is still a great tool for families to stay connected, as long as you take precautions. Go ahead and brag about your kids online — just be safe and considerate of your child’s wishes. Consider some of these safe alternatives to regular public posting:
CITRUS AND AVOCADO SALAD
Winter is the height of citrus season, so it’s a perfect time to experiment with oranges and lemons. Roasting the fruits concentrates their flavor and makes the skins edible, creating a blast of flavor for this winter salad.
• 1 blood, cara cara, or navel orange, sliced 1/8-inch thick and deseeded • 1 Meyer or regular lemon, sliced 1/8-inch-thick and deseeded • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice • 1 bunch arugula • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves • 1 avocado, cut into wedges • • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. In a rimmed baking sheet, toss citrus slices with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast citrus until lightly charred and caramelized, about 10–15 minutes. Let cool. 3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine onion and lemon juice. Season with salt and let sit for 5 minutes. 4. Add citrus, arugula, and mint to onion mixture. Drizzle with remaining oil,
season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss thoroughly. 5. Add avocado, combing very gently to not crush avocado.
Inspired by Bon Appétit
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
1 2 3
A Terrifying New Experience
Watch Out for Rogue Champagne Corks This Year Spending Tips for Older Adults Citrus and Avocado Salad Staying Safe on Social Media
Monthly Picture Contest
A Message of Universal Love Commemorating MLK Jr.
We have been avid fishermen our entire lives. Each month we’re going to have a picture contest. Your picture will appear in the newsletter if you win. We want to keep this newsletter interesting, so please enter your pictures! For next month’s picture contest, submit a picture of you with a fish caught in Missouri with a sentence or two about where and how it was caught. You can text the picture along with your name to (573) 233-2301 or email it to Paul@ BeckLawMO.com. If you prefer to mail it to us, send it to this address: Beck and Beck 8770 Rose Ave., St. Louis, MO 63144. MONTHLY PICTURE CONTEST! Please Submit Your Pictures!
Paul Owens 7 lb Largemouth Bass, Caught in Catawissa, MO Congratulations to this month’s winner!
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