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Murder in the Cultural Gardens - Whodunit Mystery set in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens by Dan Hanson

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Eating paczki is the traditional Polish way to indulge before the fasting in observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Paczki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages.

Baby eating a paczki

All ages love paczki!

Councilman Tony Brancatelli, Cleveland International Hall of Fame inductee Irene Morrow, Polish Cultural Garden delegate Connie Adams and others shared their favorite packzki traditions and memories. What are yours?

Learn more about paczki and read the memories

Rest in Peace Les Levine

Cleveland sports media legend Les Levine passed away Wednesday evening February 3, 2021. He was 74.

His daughter, Dr. Jame Levine Daniel wrote: “After a protracted battle with diabetes and Parkinson’s, our dad @LesLevine passed away at 9:23 pm with my brother and me holding on at his side. He fought so hard for so long, and went out on his own terms.”

Les in front of OSU posters

Les Levine

See the official ClevelandSeniors profile of Les Levine from 2003

A Trip down Memory Lane with ASCII Art

The Great Lakes Geek discovered a few old treasures on a recent cleaning spree. Young people cannot know the excitement of printing out pictures (on dot matrix printers!) using just ASCII characters. They really were works of art. I found a Mona Lisa and an Alfred E. Newman but there were a lot more like George Washington, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and others.

Here is my Alfred E. Newman (What Me Worry?)

Alfred E. Newman ASCII art

Alfred E. Newman ASCII art

See some more ASCII art at

ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange and it was originally developed from telegraph code.

ASCII reserves the first 32 codes (numbers 0-31 decimal) for control characters: codes originally intended not to represent printable information, but rather to control devices (such as printers) that make use of ASCII. For example, character 10 represents the "line feed" function (which causes a printer to advance its paper), and character 8 represents "backspace."

Codes 20hex to 7Ehex, known as the printable characters, represent letters, digits, punctuation marks, and a few miscellaneous symbols. There are 95 printable characters in total. Those characters in the standard ASCII character set could be displayed on most computer monitors -even on early desktops/terminals incapable of displaying digital images- and could be printed on most printers. It could be created using nothing more than a text editor.

Mona Lisa ASCII art

Mona Lisa ASCII art

Early printers lacked graphics capabilities so you couldn't print images. But you could use the characters in clever arrangements to create outlines and shading. That's ASCII art.

Of course you wanted to use the wide greenbar paper and if you were lucky enough to have access to a 24 pin dot matrix printer they could really look good (if you squinted).

If you are old enough to remember sharing bulk printers than you will recall how print jobs would be separated from one another with ASCII art to print large banner pages, making the division easier to spot so that the results could be more easily separated by a computer operator or clerk.

And of course since it just used ASCII characters, the images could be sent in e-mail before you could embed pictures. Yes, young people there really was such a time.

Rest in Peace Henry 'Hank' Aaron

Hammering Hank Aaron was arguably the greatest to ever play the game of baseball. Home Run Champ, RBI leader, perennial All Star and so on. But he was also a great man outside of the diamond.

What brought baseball Hall of Famer Henry "Hank" Aaron along with former Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavaliers to Solon, Ohio on a Friday night in 2009? The Yoder Brothers Memorial Scholarship Foundation dinner hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Dolan and the Cleveland Indians.

Henry 'Hank' Aaaron (photos by Debbie Hanson)

Hank Aaron

Debbie Hanson was there and got some great photos of Hank and the others.

See the Hank Aaron keynote event in Cleveland

Cutii companion robot for isolated seniors at CES 2021

Cutii is a Companion Robot for isolated seniors. Cutii is designed for friendship. It's a "live-in companion" that learns the design of the senior's room. Seniors communicate directly with Cutii. It's 100% voice activated and offers 2 way calling and text messages. Cutii can entertain and occupy the mind and body with live activities like Yoga, Tai Chi, poetry reading, games, trivia and so on.

And, of course, Cutii can call for help in the event of an emergency.

Covid Vaccine

Those 65 and older (group 1B) can now sign up for the vaccine on the Cuyahoga County Board of Health website.

Stay safe!

Fun with Maps - Madagascar

IIn this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at what has been called the 8th continent - Madagascar. The map shows how isolated Madagascar is from the rest of the world and that makes it a hotbed of biodiversity - 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. It has varieties of plants and animals that do not exist anywhere else. You've probably seen lemurs (endemic to Madagascar) but there are thousands of other unique animals and plants such as the fossa, chameleon, the baobab tree and more. Dan also shows a quick look at the Spiny Desert of Madagascar exhibit in the Cleveland Botanical Garden

See more Fun with Maps videos

Remember When?

Check out this menu from Manners back in the day. Big Boy anyone?

Old Manners Big Boy Restaurant menu

Old Manners Big Boy Restaurant menu - 1

Old Manners Big Boy Restaurant menu - 2

Old Manners Big Boy Restaurant menu - 3

Old Manners Big Boy Restaurant menu - 4

Ethnic Holiday Traditions

We asked community leaders of various ethnic heritages to share some holiday traditions of their culture. Boy did they come through. Look for traditons and stories from Argentina to Ukraine.

St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz - Slovenian Christmas

Slovenian Santa Claus, St. Nicholas and Dedek Mraz

See the ethnic holiday traditions

Pundemics - Humor to get you through the Coronavirus

Every week we send out a free eBlast to thousands of subscribers that tells about upcoming events in the 120 or so different ethnic groups represented in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Sign up for the free e-newsletter here.

When the Coronavirus hit, events were cancelled, except for a handful of virtual events. So we evolved the eNews to include some interesting facts about our multicultural city. We also added a joke about being quarantined. Of course we realized the severity of the pandemic and did not want to diminish the deaths and suffering that many were enduring by joking.

But the feedback was overwhelming. People enjoyed the puns and asked for more. Many still write each week and ask us to continue and ask to reprint some in their newsletters, bulletins and so on. So we have continued them.

So here are many of the (hopefully) funny lines we have been sending every week.

In the meantime, take the advice of the Dante statue in the Italian Cultural Garden and wear your mask.

Dante Statue with Mask

Miss Cultural Gardens

Did you know that the Cleveland Cultural Gardens used to select a Queen?

Here is a photo of the 1963 Miss Cultural Gardens at the Columbus Day parade in 1963. Recognize her? It's Ingrida Bublys, Honorary General Consul of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Ambassador.

Miss Cleveland Cultual Gardens 1963

Miss Cleveland Cultual Gardens 1963

Miss Cleveland Cultual Gardens 1963 - Ingrida Bublys

Ingrida Bublys - Miss Cleveland Cultual Gardens 1963

The 7 Dwarves of Old Age

7 Dwarves of Old Age

Cleveland Indians Ray Chapman - Killed by a pitch 100 years ago

Ray Chapman was a shortstop who played his entire career for the Cleveland Indians.

Ray Chapman

Ray Chapman

Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays on August 16, 1920. The game was played at the Polo Grounds. Chapman died 12 hours later. He remains the only Major League Baseball player to have died from an injury received at a major league baseball game.

His death led to Major League Baseball establishing a rule requiring umpires to replace the ball whenever it became dirty, and it was partially the reason the spitball was banned after the 1920 season. Chapman’s death was also one of the examples used to emphasize the need for wearing batting helmets (although the rule was not adopted until over 30 years later).

Thousands of mourners were present for Chapman’s funeral at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. In tribute to Chapman’s memory, Cleveland players wore black arm bands, with manager Tris Speaker leading the team to win both the pennant and the first World Series Championship in the history of the club. Rookie Joe Sewell took Chapman’s place at shortstop, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

Ray Chapman grave at Lakeview Cemetery

Ray Chapman grave at Lakeview Cemetery

Ray Chapman is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio, not far from where his new home was being built on Alvason Road in East Cleveland. It is common for fans who visit the grave to leave baseballs, mitts, Cleveland Indians gear and other memorabilia.

The grave is at Plot: Section 42, Lot 51493

Fun with Maps - Lebanon

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the historic country of Lebanon. Though small in size the influence of Lebanon and its people is huge. Tragically, the capital of Beirut was devastated by explosions in August 2020.

In this episode Dan looks at the major cities, culture, geography, the cedar tree, famous Lebanese people and some fascinating history from the Phoenicians to the present.

See more Fun with Maps videos

Murder in the Cultural Gardens

"It just didn’t seem right to DJ. A body found bludgeoned in a place known for “Peace through Mutual Understanding.” But there she was, crumpled behind a bust of composer Franz Liszt in the Hungarian Cultural Garden. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911. “What is the nature of your emergency?” the dispatcher queried. With a suddenly very dry mouth DJ managed to get out, “There’s been a murder in the Cultural Gardens.”

That's the beginning of the recently published first novel by Dan Hanson.

Murder in the Cultural Gardens book cover - Franz Liszt statue

The whodunit, titled Murder in the Cultural Gardens, takes place in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens and all 30+ gardens are featured during the mystery. You may even recognize some of the characters.

Click the link above to learn more or to purchase in paperback or Kindle version from Amazon. Or contact Dan via the Murder in the Cultural Gardens webpage to have a signed book delivered.

Fun with Maps - New Zealand

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at New Zealand and the Lost Continent of Zealandia in Oceania. New Zealand is home to the Maori people, terrific rugby like the All Blacks team, the haka dance, the beautiful scenery as the setting of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Milford Sound and much more.

Modern technology is allowing us to see more of the huge lost continent of Zealandia underneath New Zealand, 94% submerged under the ocean.

See more Fun with Maps videos

Interview with the late Jerry Stiller

Who would have imagined that George Costanza's father and Doug Heffernan's father-in-law would turn out to be such a wonderful, soft-spoken, interesting person? That was Debbie Hanson's reaction after interviewing Jerry Stiller in 2010.

RIP Jerry

Jerry Stiller in Hallmark's Ice Dreams 2010

Jerry Stiller interview, pic and comments about Cleveland, the Browns and more.

Sewing Masks in Memory of her Mother

Oanh Loi-Powell has sewn over 700 masks that she has donated to UH Pediatrics, Cleveland Clinic Cardiology, the VA Hospital, several doctors' offices, urgent care centers in the Lake County area, Highland Pointe Rehab, nursing homes and hospices. They have gone out to many families, friends, neighbors.

Oanh Loi-Powell at her sewing machine

Oanh Loi-Powell at her sewing machine

Oanh has a special person in her mind as she sews.

Read about it and her memory of the refugee camp after leaving Vietnam

Life is not cancelled because of the virus

We could all use some laughs during these times.

Check out these COVID-19 virus funnies.

Stay Home, Stay Well, Stay Busy

We are assembling a list of online resources you can try while you are homebound. Take a look.

Local Restaurant Takeout and Food Delivery Suggestions

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has virtual classrooms

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame free learning

Cleveland Metropolitan School District has learning resources

Day by Day Projects to keep kids reading, thinking and growing

Cleveland Orchestra online learning

Cleveland Orchestra Teacher Workshops

20 virtual field trips that you can take with your kids

Math Card Games

Cleveland Museum of Art resources

Cleveland Institute of Music concerts

Shaker Lakes Junior Naturalist Activities

Daily Mass online from the Catholic Diocese

Learn or brush up on 40 different languages (including Latin, Navajo and Klingon!)

Cleveland Museum of Natural History new digital series, CMNH@HOME

Virtual Tours of 12 Famous Museums

Cleveland Opera Theater - Opera For All Online

Cleveland Hungarian Museum Virtual Exhibits

Learn to Code, Build Projects, Earn Certifications

Entertaining Math Videos

Web Development Crash Courses

Learn multiple languages from videos from Polyglot Pablo

More multiple languages from Eko Languages videos

Learn a language with free podcasts from CoffeeBreak Languages

Crash Courses on a variety of AP high school curriculum topics

Khan Academy - free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere

1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

Access 2500+ Online Courses from 140 Top Institutions.

Alison Free online courses from the world’s leading experts.

Stanford University Online Courses

MIT OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content

Learn to Code with CodeAcademy

TED-Ed@Home - Online learning based on TED Talks

Nation Geographic learning for Kids

Is God Angry With Us?

The COVID-19 virus is a threat and scare for all of us. However, taking all that I have read and heard in review, I read very little about God. I read few emails that discuss prayer and petitions for help and mercy against the virus. This hushed denial and reluctance to bring up God is not just a temporary thing, nor a minor momentary forgetfulness.

Read the rest of Joe Meissner's column

Salute and Praying

Gia Hoa Ryan set up a corner flag salute for all, especially patients in hospitals struck by the virus and all the medical heroes.

Gia Hoa Ryan and flags

Gia Hoa Ryan

Gia Hoa Ryan and flags

Joe Meissner and flags

Joe Meissner

Joe says "Get out your flags. Fly them high. Ohio Governor encourages us all to fly our flags as a sign of hope and unity, And pray to God for all of us."

Beatitudes for Friends of the Aged

Blessed are they who understand
My faltering step and palsied hand.

Blessed are they who know that my ears today
Must strain to catch the things they say.

Blessed are they who seem to know
That my eyes are dim and my wits are slow.

Blessed are they who looked away
When coffee spilled at the table today.

Blessed are they with a cheery smile
Who stop to chat for a little while.

Blessed are they who never say,
"You've told that story twice today."

Blessed are they who know the ways
To bring back memories of yesterdays.

Blessed are they who make it known
That I'm loved, respected and not alone.

Blessed are they who know I'm at a loss
To find the strength to carry the Cross.

Blessed are they who ease the days
On my journey Home in loving ways.

Senior citizens hands

Do you know what this is?

Rebecca didn't until she found a certain page on

See what Rebecca has

Rebecca's bedpan

How old is Grandpa?

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandfather about current events. The grandson asked his grandfather what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The Grandfather replied, "Well, let me think a minute, I was born before:

  • television
  • penicillin
  • polio shots
  • frozen foods
  • Xerox
  • contact lenses
  • Frisbees and
  • the pill
There were no:
  • credit cards
  • laser beams or
  • ball-point pens
Man had not yet invented :
  • pantyhose
  • air conditioners
  • dishwashers
  • clothes dryers
  • and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and
  • space travel was only in Flash Gordon books.
Your Grandmother and I got married first,... and then lived together.

Every family had a father and a mother. Until I was 25, I called every woman older than me, "ma'am". And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, "Sir". We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Bible, good judgment, and common sense. We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege... We thought fast food was eating half a biscuit while running to catch the school bus.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

Draft dodgers were those who closed front doors as the evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.

We listened to Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios. And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.

If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan' on it, it was junk.

The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of. We had 5 &10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Ford Coupe for $600, .... but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:

  • "grass" was mowed,
  • "coke" was a cold drink,
  • "pot" was something your mother cooked in and
  • "rock music" was your grandmother's lullaby.
  • "Aids" were helpers in the Principal's office,
  • "chip" meant a piece of wood,
  • "hardware" was found in a hardware store and
  • "software" wasn't even a word.
And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby.

How old do you think I am?

I bet you have this old man in are in for a shock!

Read on to see -- pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

Are you ready?????

This man would be 72 years old today.

72 years ago was 1947.

New technology can take some getting used to

Alexa play Mozart joke


Adult injuries

A Senior Prayer

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, The good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Do you need help paying your Medicare expenses?

If you are a low-income Medicare beneficiary, the Medicare Premium Assistance Programs (MPAP) may help you pay some or all of your Medicare cost-sharing expenses (premiums, copays, and coinsurance). MPAP is part of the Ohio Medicaid program. MPAP is sometimes called the “Medicare buy-in” or “Medicare savings” program.

Learn more about help paying your Medicare expenses

Who Needs Advance Directives about Medical Care?

Advance directives help ensure that you receive the medical care you would want even when doctors and family members are making decisions on your behalf. There are two different types of advance directives: Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will.

Learn more about Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Wills

Elder Abuse: What Is It and How to Get Help

It is difficult for people to accept the notion that adult abuse occurs in the elderly, but the sad fact is that it occurs everyday. Last year in Ohio over 16,000 incidents of elder abuse were reported to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In Cuyahoga County alone, over 3,000 incidences of elder abuse were reported to Cuyahoga County Department and Senior Adult Services, Adult Protective Services.

More about Elder Abuse

Should you purchase prepaid funeral arrangements?

Many people do not like to think about death or funeral arrangements, but some people do make plans for when they pass. For example, some people choose to purchase “pre-paid funeral contracts.” These contacts allow you to make decisions about your own funeral, and pay for it ahead of time. These pre-paid contracts give some people peace of mind. But before purchasing such a contract, keep the following issues in mind.

More about prepaid funeral arrangements

How can seniors learn more about benefits available to them?

BenefitsCheckUp is a web-based service that helps seniors. It is especially helpful for those with limited income and resources, their family members and, social service organizations. It connects people to over 2,000 public and private programs. Many adults over 55 need help paying for basic needs. Some of the benefits screened for are health care services, prescription drugs, rent assistance, in-home services, meals, heat, and energy assistance, and transportation.

Learn more about Benefits Checkup

Grandparent POAs and Caretaker Authorization

Grandparents sometimes find themselves caring for a grandchild unexpectedly. This often happens without any formal court order giving the grandparent custody or guardianship. Without custody or guardianship, the grandparent will face problems getting medical care for the child or dealing with the child’s school.

More about Grandparent POAs and Caretaker Authorization

How do I name a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney can be one of the most helpful estate planning tools a person uses, but it can also be very risky. A durable POA gives a person (who is called an “attorney in fact”) legal authority to act for another person in a variety of matters, including banking, benefits, housing, taxes, real estate, litigation, and more. (The durable POA is different from a Health Care Power of Attorney, which is the form used to appoint a person to make decisions about health care.)

Learn more about Durable Power of Attorney

Are Wills Really That Important?

:When my mother died in 2012, we discovered that her will was from 1959 and had not been updated to reflect the many changes in her life since then: she had four more children, she bought a house, furniture, an automobile, jewelry, and a dog. As a result, my mother died without a valid will. Following her death, bills had to be paid, property sold, her furniture, jewelry, the car divided, and someone had to take in the dog."

Read more about the importance of Wills

Recommended For You (popular with other Cleveland Seniors)

ClevelandSeniors.Com Book of the Week
Before You Leap

Before You Leap starts on screeching tires, literally—an interstate bridge, a police chase, three men trapped in a car, driving at full speed. The two in the front are arguing, one is brandishing a gun, and the third is bleeding profusely in the backseat. You can’t help but be immediately hooked and wonder, Who are they? And how on earth did they get here?

The novel then takes you back a few days. Greg Cole’s quiet and secluded life is about to be thrown into chaos when he learns that his dead sister’s convicted murderer has been released early.

Before You Leap is absorbing, thought-provoking, and psychologically riveting. I was struck by how the author is able to delve into Greg’s psyche and express his grief over the loss of his sister—and the inner turmoil that overtakes him—with such clarity. What you’re left with is a poignant, complex, nail-biting novel where you watch in a stupor as someone’s life and sanity shatter. And as it crescendos, the story pulls the rug from under your feet and delivers the most unexpected twist—one that took my breath away and left me reeling.

Before You Leap

Free weekly eNews

Every Tuesday evening we send an e-mail message to people who are interested in upcoming (the next week) events that have an ethnic or cultural connection. So it may be Opera in the Italian Garden or Puerto Rican Day Parade or Slovenian Kurentovanje or...

If you are interested in receiving this free weekly e-mail just sign up for the free eNews.

You can also sign up to receive more specific free eNews for any groups or groups you may choose (Irish, German, Polish, Chinese, etc.)

It's easy and free and will let you know every week about fun and interesting events that are coming up in the next week.

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Whether you are a Boomer who's just turned 50 (and don't think of yourself as a Senior) or part of the "Greatest Generation," you can learn about issues that are important to you and your family right here on from Cleveland area experts.

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