One of the biggest frustrations that folks have with Health Insurance when going into the Medicare Market is due to the change of terminology.
No longer is there a simple PPO or HMO solution. There are terms like Supplemental, Medi-Gap, Medicare Advantage, Part A, Part B, Part D, or Medical Groups vs Insurance Carriers. This is what Denice teaches monthly at her Educational Events.
Denice started out as an insurance agent 14 years ago offering individual Health policies, but soon found it to be disheartening when she couldn’t get a client approved, or they would get a decline letter.
Denice says she was introduced to Medicare and reluctantly agreed to sit in on a Medicare Advantage (HMO) presentation at a local Mimi’s Cafe. At the time, she wasn’t a big fan of HMO plans, thought they were limiting and wasn’t sure she wanted to represent a plan she wouldn’t consider for herself. Boy, was that about to change!
Lunch at the Mimi’s Cafe was an eye-opener. She recalled sitting in the room filled with about 15 seniors. The presenter walked through the overview of the plan and spelled everything out. What she learned was there were plans now that wouldn’t cost the client anything per month, they could go to their doctor at no cost, hospitalization stays also at no cost. Wow, being age 65 had its benefits! Everyone in the room was so appreciative and excited to enroll into this new Medicare Advantage (HMO) type plan.
So this was the turning point of Denice’s career and the beginning of her agency that dedicated all efforts to supporting the senior market exclusively.
The Agency “Merrill Insurance Services, Inc” now includes her husband (Stephen) for the last several years. He always says he’d wished he had jumped in years earlier and has never looked back on his sales engineering days, because he enjoys this so much. We have both found incredible contentment and passion in our day to day lives and helping others. We also are grooming other agents, so they too can replicate exactly what we do and have the same love of life and to be in this business of helping seniors. Education and taking the time to explain the details is what makes us different.
Denice shares that one of the most important questions every senior should ask is “How will MY personal prescriptions be covered?”
“This is what makes one plan a better fit for you than another” she says. “Honestly, I can simplify and help you to understand your options of a Medi-Gap Supplemental policy, or a Medicare Advantage plan and they all offer amazing coverages, but its the everyday or every month usages of medications that can really break the bank!”
Because of the ever-changing nuances of Medicare, it can be a nightmare to navigate, it’s also critical to find a professional you trust as a Medicare Insurance Broker…Just like finding the right Financial planner, or CPA, or Doctor. Choose wisely.
“It can be very difficult to know all the ins and outs”, says Denice. “But this is what a good Broker must do…compare different plans and different companies especially! Don’t be fooled by an agent that refers to themselves as a “Broker.” It’s important to ask representatives if they can enroll you with different companies based on your medication needs. If not, they are not doing a complete job for you.”
A complete job is what you can expect when you work with Denice & Stephen. From individual personal meetings, to attending one of their local seminars for a better understanding of this new terminology in the “Turning 65/Medicare World.”
“We strive to make the process as easy as possible,” she says. We love that clients get to keep their doctors. They really didn’t have to change a thing, except perhaps save money! In some cases, just rely on their doctors to direct them to other doctors within the group. Pretty Simple. It often is when you get to do what you believe in.
Connect with Denice directly by calling (949) 584-2646. CA Lic# 0H08139
A symphony orchestra is typically comprised of seventy to one hundred musicians. Depending on the work being played and the size of the venue, the philharmonic is comprised of brass, woodwinds, and percussion, sometimes including keyboard or a stand-alone instrument, like a standing harp.
Each piece has its part in the composition. Each piece has its own individual music, the notes blending together to form the symphony’s movements. Each musical note is vital to the performance.
A human body is comprised of six main elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. 60% of those elements makes a body of water. To sustain the symphony that the human body plays night and day - heart rhythm, blood circulation, nerve connection, one must receive the proper amount of nutrients, remain in an environment that is amenable to growth, and avoid injuries or weaknesses that would attack its regular performance. Colonel H.S. Dhinsa has dedicated his life to providing the correct environment for a vibrant internal composition. A voracious reader and trained horseman, the Colonel was born and raised in India. After graduating from his studies as a Veterinarian, he joined the Indian military as an animal vet and became an expert on breeding horses, especially in the areas of fertility and infertility.
A delicate balance, to be sure, the Colonel spent thirty years in the military, perfecting the science behind the body’s own balance, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel. Taking early retirement, he and his wife moved to the United States in 1991. Individual notes in a larger symphony, joining the broad musical sweep of American culture, the Colonel realized how vital it was to alert his new community to the vitamins, herbs, and alternative supplements that could revitalize their health.
Graduating from the American Academy of Clinical Homeopathy was icing on the educational cake. A Master’s recipient of a Nutrition and Reproductive Physiology degree from Denmark added to his extensive background in reproductive physiology, nutrition, and clinical homeopathy. The Colonel began to stack up his experience, looking for an outlet to forge a new path towards health. His opportunity arose in 1999, with the purchase of Health Works Juice Bistro. Housed in Laguna Niguel’s Plaza de la Paz, the Bistro has been Colonel Dhinsa’s “Temple of Healing” for the past 18 years. Present seven days a week to give sage advice to his customers, the Colonel takes pride in the gourmet sandwiches, wraps, soups, wheatgrass shots, and fruit smoothies he provides at Health Works. “We are looking at alternative systems to supplement medical science, and produce a healthy body.”
Without the conductor, a symphony is simply comprised of individual instruments. Single sounds which, without guidance, produce cacophony. Offering free one-on-one guidance to his clients, Colonel Dhinsa is the health composer. Aligning a variety of herbs, medicines, and supplements, his homeopathic cures for yourself or your favorite animal companion will revitalize your internal composition and bring you back to the symphony your own body is capable of. What a sweet sound that is.
Connect with the Colonel by calling (949) 831-9777. Health Works and Juice Bar is located at 27271 La Paz Rd, Suite A in Laguna Niguel.
In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pondered all the possible ramifications. This thing I realized? My mother appears a bit more stubborn than she used to be. She laughed when I called it to her attention, but the more we thought about the fact that she was growing increasingly stubborn, it occurred to both of us that this trait could prove to be increasingly problematic as she got older.
She shared that she had always imagined herself to be a strong elder - a grey haired grandmother who had seen it all, survived it all, and was stronger for it. But the real truth was that as she remains set in her ways, the traits that she could get away with in her younger years (like wanting to do everything herself and refusing to ask for help when she needs it) would only be exacerbated by the slights of age. At 84, she sometimes forgets the simplest of day to day tasks. Like taking her vitamins and prescriptions - on time and in the right dosages.
In an article referenced on the web site for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies have shows that in the United States alone, non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10 to 25 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions. Further, the consequences of non-adherence are enormous. Patients who don’t take their prescribed medications run the risk of serious health issues, including hospitalization and death (ref: mhealthintelligence.com).
How prevalent is this problem? According to a recent Kaiser Permanente report, 72 California hospitals were fined in 2016 by the federal government for the disproportionate number of patients who returned within 30 days of hospital discharge. Ninety percent of these patients were readmitted due to health issues specifically arising from medication non-adherence.
“In spite of their difficulties and illnesses, many men and women prefer to remain independent and self-sufficient as they age,” says Andrew Harper, Co-Founder and Pharmacy Director of the Orange County-based AmeriPharma Specialty Care. “So many cases of patients who arrive at their doctor’s office with the same symptoms they were prescribed medication for, return still suffering, because they had not taken their medication as prescribed.” Or, as I could suddenly foresee happening with my mom, forgetting to take her medication at all.
A respected industry leader utilizing cutting-edge prescription packaging systems, AmeriPharma Specialty Care introduced the MedBox and helped set a new standard in medication management that has revolutionized the way for government-run healthcare programs, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities dispense medication. And now they are bringing the MedBox direct to consumers for use in the comfort of their own home.
Working directly with your pharmacy, AmeriPharma arranges with your physician to manage, maintain, and dispense your medical prescriptions - delivering them right to your front door. Packaged by date and time to be consumed, the MedBox is out to change the way we take pills - for the better. Wrapped in customizable packaging, the doses are easily identified by the patient and/or their caregivers, and even easier to handle and open.
Non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 death annually and accounts for 10 - 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions
“Dosage times are marked, and the procedure of actually filling the packets is done directly under the care and supervision of the pharmacist - which eliminates the chance of you, as a patient, misidentifying a bottle or taking the wrong dosage,” says Harper. “This is especially useful for those patients who cannot manage their own medications as prescribed due to physical disabilities, mental infirmities, or a combination of other factors. Fifty-eight percent of all patients over 65 admit that they have missed taking at least one dose of their prescriptions at one time or another.”
There is no additional cost to using the customized MedBox - patients keep their current insurance and co-pay and won’t pay a penny more for this service (delivered directly to your door - monthly, bi-monthly or in an emergency, within four hours!).
With benefits that include convenience, no additional cost, ease of use, peace of mind AND safety? The MedBox sounds like something my mother and I can both stay stubborn about.
For more information, call (800) 270-7091 or visit medbox.ameripharma.us
All the jokes my husband makes about potentially living under the same roof as his mother-in-law aside, my 84-year-old mother knows she can always move in with our family if or when the time arrives when she needs extra help in her daily life.
I recently learned about Acti-Kare, thinking forward about what options were out there for those looking to take care of their elderly in-house: options to give you more dignity, comfort, and independence, not less.
An industry leader in providing highly qualified, compassionate, and trustworthy caregivers, Acti-Kare is dedicated to in-home care, and Lori Renaud, R.N., is at the helm in South Orange County, steering her team towards excellence. Especially when it comes to senior care. Acti-Kare offers affordable in-home care - both hourly and live-in services - including transportation, meal preparation, personal care services, companionship from professionals who are screened, bonded and insured.
“I began Acti-Kare in April of 2015. Working in healthcare provided me with the opportunity to recognize the value and benefit of high-quality in-home care,” says Lori. “Too many seniors only have a life of existence, leading to isolation and depression.” Indeed, for those struggling with recovery following a surgery, like a friend’s mother after she broke her hip, life becomes smaller and smaller. Until the house you raised your children in can start to feel more like a trap than a triumph.
Acti-Kare utilizes a collaborative approach in working alongside hospice and home health care companies toward the same client/patient goals through open communication and a commitment toward providing outstanding service. “Our caregivers go to the client’s residence, and we are daily achieving my goal of providing seniors the opportunity to have a life with meaning, and a more active, social, and independent lifestyle in a safe environment,” says Lori.
As a Registered Nurse, Lori takes each initial consultation herself, developing an individualized plan of care for every client, and checking back in regularly to provide personalized health assessments. The Acti-Vate Program takes customized care one step further, challenging the norm of an age-induced fatigue, and balancing mind, body and spirit to improve the wellbeing of clients holistically. The knowledge that your loved ones are in careful hands is priceless, and the understanding that those hands are leading your loved ones to a safer, more independent lifestyle in their advanced years is immeasurable.
“I can now sleep at night, knowing my mother is safe,” says Mary, a client from Laguna Beach. “Not only does my mother now have a constant companion, her laundry is taken care of, mail sorted - but if she wants to go out and run errands or meet a friend, her transportation is arranged.” Clients can still do their own grocery shopping; but if they’d rather not bother with the task of preparing and cleaning up afterwards, or perhaps are dealing with a restricted diet, “Acti-Kare caregivers can prepare meals that maintain a healthy diet, as well as monitor their daily nutritional needs to insure sufficient nutrition.” Unfortunately, a great many seniors fail to meet those demands, leading to frustration, and often, a heightened risk of illness.
“I educate the public on disease management and prevention,” says Lori. “But sometimes it takes the presence of a competent, compassionate caregiver to ensure that corners aren’t being cut on health in some of the most important years of your life.” Treating every client as if they were a family member of their own, Lori’s team is confident that their suite of senior care solutions will surpass your expectations for care - without committing to a long-term contract or minimum hour block of service.
My mother is in fine health now. But as she ages and has increasing needs, what a great option to see her in her own home, running her own errands, confident, dignified and independent in the care right at her doorstep.
Connect with Lori Renaud, R.N. by calling (949) 558-2777 or visit www.southorangecounty.actikare.com
A brilliant smile is currency in California. Land of leaning palm trees, beach traffic, and the golden streets of Hollywood. Long-time resident of Newport Beach Bruce Glover, DDS, is no stranger to the demands of the local community.
After completing his undergraduate studies at Cal State Hayward, Bruce attended the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco, receiving his doctorate in dentistry, and beginning a life dedicated to providing the highest quality of care possible. A tough task, perhaps, for a doctor in a field that seems to be plagued with terrible reviews and generally bad vibes. Nobody likes going to the dentist. Just like nobody likes the hard work of getting back in shape, or tackling a task that has been on the to-do list for weeks, purposefully ignored. But everyone loves the result: gleaming, pearlized chompers ready for dinner tonight, or even for the silver screen.
Though he is as efficient, professional, and qualified as any dentist to perform the normal teeth cleanings, bondings, fillings, sealants, and more, Bruce has a special drive and desire to stay abreast of all the current trends and techniques. A regular attendee of continuing education seminars, Dr. Glover has the most up-to-date training on current technologies and techniques. “Implant dentistry has been a primary focus through coursework with Straumann, Zimmer, and others.” At his family, cosmetic, and implant practice in Laguna Woods, one can expect to be met with the utmost care and service, while receiving the most cutting edge of procedures.
Most dental care, to a certain point in one’s life, is preventative. But as the body ages, so do all of its individual components. The teeth sometimes take aging the hardest. When cavities are neglected, when bone loss loosens teeth, or they fall out on their own; when decay causes teeth to break down - all begin to happen with more frequency the older we get. Dr. Glover is invested in remedying these normal failures with the advanced procedures he offers. Crowns, bridges, dentures, implants, and root canals are all within his wheelhouse, and no procedure is finished until the patient is satisfied. “We are focused on providing top quality dentistry by using only the best materials and labs available”, Dr. Glover notes, “we aren’t satisfied unless you are.”
Also taking patients with TMJ into his treatment, Dr. Glover is dedicated to finding creative solutions for those in his care. As there is no one solution to issues that arise with the temporal-mandibular joint, a great deal can go wrong before a fix is found. Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing teeth that are missing, causing misalignment - moving teeth or micro-adjusting the bite, even using a plastic mouthpiece to prevent clenching of the jaw, or grinding of the teeth that may be contributing to the problem. If untreated, “the teeth surrounding (the issue) can begin to shift, or link up, creating a whole chain reaction of bad things.” When teeth deteriorate, gum disease can become a serious issue, and the difficulty of treatment increases exponentially the more neglect is allowed to continue.
Be it a routine checkup or your first set of dentures, “Our promise to you is that the veneers, fillings, crowns, and bridges we create will look as good as or better than the teeth nature gave you. You can trust your smile with us.” Take that one to the bank.
Bruce M. Glover, DDS Cosmetic, Family and Implant Dentistry is located at 24331 El Toro Road, Suite 340 in Laguna Woods. Connect with Dr. Glover by calling (949) 583-1400 or visit www.BruceGloverDDS.com
In In the Greek myth of the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and body of a man dwelt in the middle of a labyrinth. Built by Daedalus and his son, Icarus, the labyrinth swallowed all who dared to enter. Until the hero Theseus. Following his beloved Ariadne’s advice, the hero followed the labyrinth down and down into its center, never wavering to the right or to the left. Trailing a string behind him, Theseus came finally upon the beast, and after a mighty fight, slayed it there in the center of the maze.
Great story, right? Something straight out of a Ridley Scott movie. Though Theseus may be a hero clear out of the pages of myth and legend, a modern tour guide into the labyrinth exists, and will lead you through the mystery that is Medicare.
Ruth Page has lived in Orange County for just over two decades. Having spent a great many years in financial services, Ruth established Porter Page and Company, Inc. in the year 2000, and has been in the business of helping clients navigate the maze of healthcare options, specializing in Medicare insurance ever since.
“I first moved to Aliso Viejo in 1996. I love Orange County, and I can’t imagine living or working anywhere else,” says Ruth. “Well … maybe on a small farm with goats and chickens in Vermont or upstate New York.”
Realizing that her clients felt like they were battling their own beasts with Medicare was the first step to unspooling the Thesean thread: leading those lost in the labyrinth to sunshine. Sifting through the sludge of printed propaganda, government issues, and filtering healthcare noise is enough to drive anyone toward the feeling of quiet desperation.
The Porter Page team is made up of state-licensed and certified agents who are either on Medicare themselves, or who have helped family members evaluate their options and come to a decision about their Medicare. As Ruth recalls, “We quickly realized that coaching from the sidelines on a topic as complicated as this just isn’t an option. That’s why we’re in it with our members.”
While benefits under Medicare are divided into multiple parts, each with differing rules and penalties, Ruth and her team slash the monstrous jargon “and simply explain how these things work in real life.” Most Medicare beneficiaries are unaware that when first enrolling in Medicare, they have “once only” choices available to them during their initial enrollment. And, “we help you determine whether you need Medicare Part A and Part B if you are still working.”
As you face confusing health insurance plans, complicated Medicare, or part bull-part man, you can rest easy knowing that Ruth and her team at Porter Page and Company, Inc. have the string and the sword in hand - ready to cut through the red tape and lead you worry free into whatever life you’re dreaming about: apple orchards in New England, or margaritas on the beach.
Question: What choices do people have during Annual Open Enrollment?
Ruth Page: During the Annual Enrollment Period of October 15th to December 7th, individuals entitled to Medicare have the option to switch or enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans, switch prescription drug plans or enroll back into traditional Medicare. Once a change is made, the choice becomes effective January 1st of the next year.
Also, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.
Question: What is the one thing most Medicare beneficiaries are unaware of when first going on Medicare?
Ruth Page: Most Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize there is a lot that traditional Medicare does not cover such as vision, dental, hearing, or an annual physical exam. Also, there is no maximum on the out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part B pays 80% of approved costs and 0% of non-approved or excess charges.
For example, consider someone with only original Medicare having heart by-pass surgery. If their hospital charges $300,000 for the surgery and Medicare only approves $250,000 the patient would pay 20% of $250,000 and the $50,000 excess charge and for a total of $100,000.
Therefore, it’s smart to enroll in either a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. Either option will help you contain your health care costs.
Question: Do I need Medicare Part A or Part B if I am still working?
RP: Even if you have coverage through a current or former employer, you may still need to make some important Medicare enrollment decisions. You may have to pay a penalty if you don’t enroll on time, so it’s best to seek the advice of a Medicare professional to understand how your current coverage works with Medicare before making any decisions.
In most cases, for as long as you have group health insurance provided by an employer, you can delay enrolling in Part B, which covers doctors’ visits and other outpatient services and requires a monthly premium. When you eventually retire, or leave your work plan, you will be entitled to a special enrollment period of eight months to sign up for Part B without incurring a late enrollment penalty. Cobra is not considered creditable coverage regarding the Part B penalty.
It’s a good idea to compare the costs of your employer plan (the monthly premium and the co-pays) with the costs of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. In many cases, you can save money by choosing to enroll in Medicare.
Connect with Ruth Page and the professional team at Porter, Page and Company by calling (949) 297-3917.
Starting a new tradition at Ricardo’s Place in San Juan Capistrano
When Ricardo’s Place invited us to learn how to make tamales, we couldn’t say no! While we didn’t learn the exact secret to their famous family recipe, we did see how to put it together.
Ricardo recommends using any of your favorite tamale recipes, and told us you can really make a tamale out of anything. He recommends using onions, garlic, cumin, black pepper, salt, and chicken. After combining those ingredients, pack them into pre-soften husks, with your choice of filling or in our case, corn mush and the chicken blend. Then, place the tamales into a foiled covered tamale pan over a stovetop for roughly an hour.
For our part, with so many wonderful options available at Ricardo’s Place, Tamale Thursdays is sure to be a hit - and one that is bound to be infinitely easier and decidedly more flavorful than trying to make tamales at home (you can order them for takeout to enjoy at home though). In addition to Ricardo’s traditional chicken, beef and pork tamales, the menu now includes a rajas and cheese tamal and the albóndiga (meatball) tamal - all covered with your choice of red, green or Rosa’s secret sauce.
Ricardo’s Place is located at 32082 Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano. For more information, call (949) 493-4941 or visit www.ricardosplacesjc.com
I had been looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year for over a decade. It was the year that our son would be the 5th grade – the first year in which California students study American history. I had visions of showing him (and his 9-year-old sister) the places where all that crazy rebellion, revolution and nation-forming happened; places I had visited in the distant past and which I was eager to see again through the new lens of older eyes.
So we set about planning something more profound than a star-aligned school year: a fun-filled, educational family adventure that turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. It hit my husband and me the same way. We realized that we are in the midst of a very special window in time, wherein our children are old enough to really appreciate and understand what they see, and wherein they still think it’s pretty cool to hang out with their parents and, yes, wherein they are still subject to our schedule and our whim. That window is a narrow one. We are determined to make the most of it.
We believed the historic weight of Washington D.C.’s Constitutional establishment and Baltimore’s rich founding settlements would prove to be a real boon to our kids’ elementary education so at the start of their summer vacation in June, our family headed east. First stop: Baltimore.
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Humanity is drawn to water. For survival, originally, then for industry and trade, and now, for leisure. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been a haven for humanity since the city was founded in the 18th century. Named in 2009 as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world” by the Urban Land Institute, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore is an attraction itself. Not just attracting ships for trade any longer, the waterfront was adapted as a focal point for public spaces, tourism, and housing. Now a historic port, the Inner Harbor is home to the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum and a short ride away, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s Druid Hill.
Boasting more than 16,000 animals, from sharks to sea turtles, the National Aquarium is a family favorite. Stunning exhibits attract guests from all over the world. A water taxi connects the harbor to attractions further off, including Fort McHenry and Fells Point. The renewal and transformation of the Harbor began in 1958, with the adoption and redevelopment of the 33 acre Charles Center by the City Council and Mayor Thomas D’Alessandro, and has continued since, directing the course of waterfront redevelopment with the successful additions of office buildings, hotels, and retail shops.
If the two-story dinosaur exhibits at the Science Center aren’t enough to keep the kiddos busy, and the pirate ships (ok, they’re really called tall ships) occasionally ported won’t suffice for the long days of summer, just head on over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and you’ll be talking about the world’s most interesting oddities for days.
Founded in 1729 and 1790, respectively, the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. hold much interest in the line that extends from the British settlement, through the war for independence, up until the battle of 1812; when at the Battle of Baltimore, the valiant defense of Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would eventually be called “The Star Spangled Banner.”
A decisive victory won by the colonists on September 13, 1814, the soldiers defending the Fort repulsed an attack from both land and sea following the burning of Washington D.C. by the redcoats. Named after James McHenry, a soldier and physician who served under Washington and Lafayette during the War for Independence, the Fort is star-shaped and red-roofed. Touring with one of the Fort’s rangers, we discovered what it was like to be soldiers during the Battle of Baltimore, witnessed a re-enactment, took in a twilight tattoo ceremony, and even saw the Fort McHenry Guard performing drill, musket and artillery demonstrations.
Open year round, and just a cannon’s trajectory away from historic locations such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield, the USS Constellation Museum, and Gettysburg National Military Park.
Gettysburg National Military Park
The site of yet another turning point in the tide of American history, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania serves as a reminder of the devastation the Civil War brought to the front porches, fields and gardens of its residents. Every home turned into a hospital, and every farm a graveyard. Known as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the National Military Park now remains as a marker to honor the lives given for freedom under the Union cause. President Abraham Lincoln commemorated the park with his famous eulogy, reminding those who listened to “renew their devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”
For me, this stop ended up being one of the major highlights of our trip. The entire battlefield is now a national park. You can walk the grounds and see it as the soldiers saw it. There are monuments on site from just about every state, because sons of just about every state bled there on that field. I cannot express with enough enthusiasm the experience of letting an expert historian and tour guide drive us around the battlefield in our own car, unfolding for us as he drove the events of those three heartbreaking days (visit www.gettysburgfoundation.org). The museum at Gettysburg is one of the best I’ve ever visited, and that part of the country is unspeakably beautiful.
The USS Constellation is actually the third in the line of American ships dubbed for the configuration of 15 stars found in the original flag of the United States. With its own proud and distinguished record, “Connie,” as her crew calls her affectionately, has almost 40 years of service - through the turbulent waters of the Arabian Gulf to Yankee Station on the coast of Vietnam.
The first Constellation was built by naval engineers Joshua Humphreys and Josiah Fox, 165 years before rivets were put to metal on the USS Constellation’s proud lines. Immediately put to the test, much like her predecessors, the USS Constellation sailed out of harbor straight into conflict, as the first U.S. airship to launch strikes against North Vietnamese vessels and bases in August of 1964.
For the eight years following, Constellation returned to the South China Sea seven times, conducting air strikes, engaging enemy aircraft, and naval targets alike. Sailing under the motto “Spirit of the Old, Pride of the New,” Connie was the second ship in the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carriers, and has hosted various dignitaries over the years on her illustrious decks, including U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Pronounced “America’s Flagship” by President Reagan in a watershed moment in the carrier’s history, the Constellation would go on to lead 21 successful deployments, with over 30 commanding officers, over 41 years of proud service to her country.
For centuries, sailors have navigated the vast waters of the world’s oceans by starlight, finding their way over the dark and dangerous seas. And for over 200 years, the Constellation and her legacy have guided seamen home to free shores, kept so because of its work abroad in unfamiliar waters; a guiding light of American freedom.
America’s Favorite Pastime
Now in its 25th season, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (www.mlb.com/orioles) is considered one of the best stadiums in baseball, with its throwback atmosphere, accessible location, and variety of concessions. We were lucky to experience America’s favorite pastime at the retro-style downtown ballpark that has inspired many other stadiums since and cheer for the Orioles against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Not to be outdone, on the grand tour of America’s history stands the Washington Monument, just an hour south of Gettysburg, and though currently closed for renovations, the 555-foot obelisk stands as a record of one of our first American heroes: George Washington. Part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Monument is administered to by the National Park Service, receiving approximately 24 million visitors each year.
If you’re one of those 24 million, and you’d like a tour of the White House, make sure you’re thinking well in advance: tours are scheduled through one’s member of Congress and requests can be submitted up to three months and no sooner than three weeks in advance). Like most of the famous National Monument sites, the White House’s draw is both culturally and historically weighty, housing the President of the United States since 1800. The President’s Park and its surrounding 82 acres offer myriad opportunities to step back into another time.
We contacted Congressman Darryl Issa’s D.C. office a few weeks prior to our visit and were offered a tour of the U.S. Capitol by a member of his staff who walked us through the Capitol Building’s historic rooms, including the National Statuary Hall, the Old Senate Chamber, and the Old Supreme Court Chamber.
During our “capitol wanderings” over the course of our stay, we got a glimpse of researchers working at the (stunning) Library of Congress, walked by the World War II memorial, touched the Vietnam Wall, stood in awe of Lincoln’s much larger than life (in reality and in spirit) marble figure, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, strolled the National Gallery of Art and encountered Picasso, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Dali and others through works we had no idea were housed there.
For the kids, walking around the Mall was hard work. There were steps to climb, fountains to attempt jumping into, and I’m certain the takeaways seemed almost too grandiose to comprehend. The legends of American history brought into sharp relief before our eyes: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr. From historic battlefields and modern day attractions to an all-American pastime, we started out chasing history but ended up making memories. We were lucky enough to get both. It only required a week away, a bit of forward planning and a realization that the window is open now, but won’t always be.
KIMPTON HOTEL MONACO, BALTIMORE – INNER HARBOR
It seems incongruous to describe a lobby characterized by soaring marbled staircases and crystal chandeliers as “playful” until you step across the carefully preserved threshold of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Baltimore (www.monaco-baltimore.com). The entire experience was akin to playing dress up in the most exquisite jewelry and ballgowns as a child, only to find out that all the gems were real, and the dress was an Alexander McQueen original. The hotel does relaxing and luxury without the pretension behind it, and as such, has created a restful haven near the Inner Harbor. Ideally situated, the hotel offers amenities such as in-room spa services, and every suite is outfitted with a yoga mat, making your stay feel like a wildly relaxing version of home.
Complimentary morning coffee and tea service elevate the experience even more, starting your day off with the right lift to get you out the doors and onto one of the Kimpton’s perfectly appointed custom PUBLIC bikes to ride around town. Back to the historic Beaux-Arts building for a lunch or dinner sourced from local farmers and purveyors at B&O American Brasserie will give your palate the ride of a lifetime. Once the headquarters of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the restaurant serves only the freshest ingredients, and boasts a buzzing happy hour with a craft cocktail program that makes it one of the city’s favorite hangouts: for both locals and travelers alike.
Just a short walk or ride to the city’s most famous attractions, and a short skip into its historic neighborhoods makes the Kimpton Hotel Monaco a perfect jumping off point for any social event, business meeting, or quick, luxurious and truly playful getaway.
KIMPTON GLOVER PARK, WASHINGTON D.C.
Sometimes, staying in the heart of the action is exactly where you want to be. But occasionally, a tree-lined street away from the sensory barrage of the city beckons with a Siren’s call. A quiet, boutique hotel nestled in Upper Georgetown, the Kimpton Glover Park (www.gloverparkhotel.com) offers beautifully appointed guest rooms above the canopy of Rock Creek Park. Easily accessible to the buzz and hum of Georgetown’s cobblestoned streets, the hotel finds a quiet confidence among the neighborhood, oozing relaxation after a hectic day of business meetings or sightseeing.
Whether you just came from the Kennedy Center or Georgetown University’s stunning campus, life is good inside Casolare, a James Beard award-winning destination restaurant. Serving Chef Michael Schlow’s family favorites from Amalfi, Sardinia, Puglia, Cinque Terre, and Livorno, Casolare brings Italy to Glover Park. The eatery provides a vibrant selection of seafood, as well as wood-fired pizza and antipasti. Perfect for a large group of friends and family, or new colleagues eager for a taste of the city. Inspired by the neighborhood’s namesake, Charles Carroll Glover - a banker and philanthropist who famously helped reshape the nation’s capital with donations of almost 3,000 acres of parkland - the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel blends the urban edge with familial comfort and tranquility.
If you’re anything like me, your knowledge base of investing in gold correlates directly to the 2003 crime thriller The Italian Job. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, and Charlize Theron, the movie revolves around a Venetian heist-gone-wrong: and the currency being trafficked? Gold bricks. If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest checking it out. If you have, then I circle back to my original point. All I know about gold I learned from The Italian Job. The bricks are pretty, they seem to weigh a lot, they’re stamped with the image of a Balinese dancer. They’re worth a ton. 27 million, to be exact, by the time the team of thieves-gone-good catch up with the loot. Seems like a good investment option, right? About as well-researched as betting on a Triple Crown winner based on the color of the jockey’s silks. Don’t even get me started on horse racing. Seen Seabiscuit?
Yet, though we are no longer on a gold standard, gold is the standard upon which our entire system of currency is based. So what is the real story? Open up your wallet for me. Dig through until you find a one, or a five. See where it says “Federal Reserve Note”? It means that bill is a note of obligation. A promise from the Federal Reserve to pay its value out. In gold. Once upon a time, dollars couldn’t be printed without the actual, physical gold to back it. Now, our paper money is based on our country’s credit - the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. Government. Just like that plastic card in your wallet is based on the full faith of your bank account to back it up. So what happens when the full faith of the U.S. Government is placed in a failing system, looking towards the burst of yet another financial bubble like that which popped back in 2008?
Implemented quite often in recent times, the process and policy of quantitative easing targets the supply of money by buying, or selling government bonds. When the economy stalls and the central bank (read: Federal Reserve) wants to stimulate economic growth, it buys government bonds, lowering short-term interest and increasing the money supply. But when interest rates approach zero, like they did following the global financial crisis in 2007-2008, this strategy loses effectiveness, at which point banks have to implement other strategies to stimulate the economy. To a newbie investor like me, that sounds just fine. But what we’re seeing is that by flooding financial institutions with new money, or capital, what began as a promotion for increased lending and liquidity turned into a massive inflation in share prices.
Which brings us back to gold. Traditionally, we’re taught to play the market. Aggressively, at first, if you get into it in your youth. You have more time, so you can afford to take more risks. As your portfolio ages, risk taking slows, and you begin playing it safe. You’re buying into your 401k, the universal retirement account and general genius idea that drove right on by the more traditional retirement vehicle, (pension), and kept on trucking your investments through mutual funds all tied to the stock market. But here is where the two roads diverge - and where Ron Swanson of Parks and Rec starts to make a whole lot of sense. (“I don’t know how much money I have, but I know how many pounds of money I have.”) While the stock market has gone through a boom bust swing over the last 15 years, gold has gone up over 12- not only in the US dollar, but in every major currency in the world.
Enter Advantage Gold
Most financial companies I’d imagine would argue their case for protecting your financial assets. Advantage Gold is looking to take that one step further. “Not only is gold a tangible asset, it has no counter party or credit risk.” It sounds a little backwards to me, at first. Kinda like trusting my knowledge of gold to the credit of the filmmakers of The Italian Job. But gold has been a store of wealth for thousands of years, and is the only effective way of protecting your liquid assets against inflation and currency devaluation.
Voted the #1 Trusted Gold IRA company on the market by TrustLink, Advantage Gold is looking for clients who are invested in protecting their wealth. Focused on providing their clients with an in-depth education on the entire process of investing in gold, they’d like to draw you out of the national debt crisis cycle, and into a world where you don’t have to worry about your asset liquidity evaporating entirely.
An essential tool for saving for the future, an IRA has become synonymous with tax-free or tax-deferred savings, making it an easy choice when you’re looking at the golden years of retirement and hoping to actually be able to enjoy them. We all know there to be two different types of IRA - a traditional and a Roth. But there is a lesser known IRA out there that Advantage would like to suggest: precious metals.
“By adding physical precious metals to your retirement account, you lower your overall portfolio risk by diversifying your assets, says Adam Baratta, managing director.” Rolling over your existing account is a pretty straightforward process, and you have your choice of metals: silver, platinum, palladium - or if you’d rather go the way of Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, bullion and bars, instead of coins. The categories of gold stock we’re accustomed to hearing about however, typically refer to stocks and mutual funds comprised of companies that produce, refine, and explore for gold. But investing in a mining stock doesn’t necessarily mean that the price of gold going up correlates with the value of your stock increasing.
“With mining stocks, you’re betting on the mining company’s ability to make profits regardless of the price of gold,” says Baratta. Though gold stocks have benefitted enormously since the turn of the 21st century, the meteoric rise in the pricing of precious metals stocks are simply not the same as an investment in physical metals. A gold backed IOU is still an IOU at the end of the day. The investors at Advantage believe we are robbing Peter to pay Paul, kicking the can down the road for the next generation to come up from underneath and stir the toxic cocktail we’ve made from overvalued assets, military conflict, and the uncertainty of a future beneath a national debt ceiling such as we have never seen before. “We specialize in working with investors, not coin collectors. We’re looking at gold as an asset class: and the average size of our investors accounts are larger than that of our competitors.”
Since the turn of the century, our country has needed to raise its debt ceiling regularly. Each and every year since 2002, the U.S. has needed to borrow more money to meet its obligations. And for every trillion dollars of debt, gold has risen $100 per ounce. Even if most of your financial decisions are based on more sound reasoning than the cinematic intelligence of a 2003 crime thriller, isn’t it about time to invest in something with a solid future?
What is a Gold IRA?
A Gold IRA is a self-directed individual retirement account that allows ownership of physical precious metals. All IRAs can give you tax advantages, but several types of IRAs offer different protections and assets. With a Gold IRA, not only can you hold paper assets like stocks and bonds, but you can also hold physical precious metals in the form of coins and bars. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which types of precious metals you want to be held in your account.
How does a Gold IRA work?
A precious metal IRA (or Gold IRA) works the same as a conventional IRA or 401(k) with all of the same rules especially as they pertain to contributions and tax treatment. The significant difference is that unlike a conventional IRA or 401(k) with a bank or brokerage firm that specializes in bank deposits, stocks, mutual funds, annuities, and other approved assets, you hold physical precious metal coins, bullion, and bars such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in an IRA that are held in custody, by an IRS approved custodian, for the benefit of the Gold IRA account owner.
To hold physical precious metal coins, bullion, and bars such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in an IRA, you need to open and set up a self-directed IRA (commonly referred to as a Gold IRA). You then fund the Gold IRA account with cash or you can roll over some or all of an existing 401k account into your new IRA account. Then you select a precious metal broker or dealer, as well as an IRS approved depository (custodian). By working with Advantage Gold, the entire process of setting up a Gold IRA is handled for you by one of our IRA specialists.
A Gold IRA is governed by the same tax rules as other IRAs. Your contributions into a self-directed IRA that holds gold and other precious metals can be deducted from your federal income taxes. The precious metals that you buy and hold in your Gold IRA cannot be withdrawn from the account until you reach the age of 59 1/2 years old without tax effects and a 10 percent penalty for the early withdrawal. Investors with a Gold IRA as part of their retirement portfolio must begin making mandatory minimum withdrawals at age 70 1/2 and pay taxes on those withdrawals.
If your Gold IRA is a Roth account, you will be able to make tax-free withdrawals because you were already taxed on the contributions. You also would not be compelled to start pulling money out at age 70 1/2.
Which Retirement Accounts are Eligible for Gold IRA Rollover?
– Traditional IRA
– Roth IRA
– SEP IRA
– Simple IRA
– TSP (Thrift Savings Plan)*
– 457 (B)*
– Pension plan*
– Tax-sheltered annuity
*To qualify, must be from a former employer or for an individual older than 59 ½.
For more information or to connect with Co-founders Adam Baratta and Kirill Zagalsky, call (888) 681-1596 or visit www.advantagegold.com
Advantage Gold is giving away a special edition of Jim Rickards’ latest book, The New Case for Gold to all Community Publications Readers.
It’s simple, fast… and FREE! Just call (888) 681-1596 now and leave your name and address on our voicemail. We will then process your request and rush you your very Gold IRA Investment Kit with our special edition Jim Rickards’ book The New Case for Gold.
Learn how to protect and secure your wealth with gold by calling
(888) 681-1596 today!
*Must have a qualified retirement account to qualify. Supplies are limited.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe that physical photos are a medium worth preserving. When I recently sat down to put together my daughter’s baby book, I thought of how printed images might at times seem like a thing of the past. But then I can’t imagine showing off my family photos by scrolling through all the images I posted to Facebook once upon a time.
Diana Schmitt of the San Juan Capistrano-based Accents Portraits by Diana understands the desire for individuals and families to preserve their most precious memories in more than merely a digital format. She has spent the better part of 30 years specializing in family portraits, wedding photos and capturing the most priceless of moments in all types of life celebrations.
With nearly 30 years of experience, Diana’s focus is families, and she always aims to deliver “extraordinary customer service.”
“Diana is amazing,” says Heidi Hitt. “She has taken so many special pictures over the years for me and my family. They all turn out so beautifully. I am so blessed to have someone I can trust to help me capture special moments in time. Everybody loves when we send out our Christmas cards; they can’t believe how beautiful the pictures are. Thank you Diana for all the beautiful memories.”
Accent Portraits by Diana and San Juan Photo and Digital is located at 32281 Camino Capistrano, Suite C-104 in SJC. They can be reached at (949) 661-6465 or online at www.accentportraitsbydiana.com