Dear Annie: My son's best friend, "Travis," has started to call me by my first name. For as long as I can remember, I was "Mrs. Thomas." But yesterday, when I brought over lunch for the boys, Travis said, "Thanks, Susan." I thought it may have been a joke and chuckled a little and put down the plates. But the next day, I drove Travis and my son to hockey practice. When he got out of the car, he said, "Thanks for the lift, Susan." It appears that this is the new normal with him. Later that evening, I asked my son whether he had noticed that Travis had called me by my first name. My son said yes. He said that Travis' dad told him that because he got a job at a local bookstore and gets a paycheck, he can call adults by their first name. I don't want to tell anyone how to parent, but that rule strikes me as ridiculous, especially because they are 15 years old and he had always been respectful up until that point. Should I tell Travis that he needs to call me Mrs. Thomas, or am I being too old-fashioned? -- His Elder
Dear His Elder: You're not being old-fashioned; you're simply being aware. Anytime you notice a change in the behavior of your teenage son or his friends, it is important to take note.
Now that you know that it's his father's wish that he use the first name, you know this new habit isn't from a lack of respect. That said, you have every right to be called what you like to be called, especially in your own house and when you are driving the kids around. Next time Travis calls you Susan, smile and say, "Travis, I preferred it when you called me Mrs. Thomas."
Dear Annie: The following is an open letter to my husband.
After over 40 years of marriage, I realize I am like a trained dog. Old-fashioned me always believed that any marriage was valuable and all problems could be worked out. I can't remember the year when we last went out for dinner or even out for just a fast-food sandwich. I really can't remember the most recent time we went anywhere together. We've never taken a vacation, but that's OK. I've almost begged just to go for an afternoon drive or to tag along when you have to run errands. You ignored my requests, and seeing as I never ask anymore, I guess you figure all is well.
I've forgiven you for your affairs, but I haven't forgotten. The hurt is still there. Do I trust you? No. Do I love you? I do, but I doubt your love for me.
Your thoughts are that I am so lucky because you provide and you don't physically or verbally abuse me. The silent abuse is emotional abuse, which may be the worse pain. You believe I am a strong woman, because I never complain. You think there are no problems. Well, because you don't like talking about them, I've learned to handle them myself. You have said, "I can't read your mind." But when I do try explaining that I am unhappy being on my own, nothing changes.
I don't want sympathy, because I knew all these years that I would keep getting what I was taking. And I didn't want to be a failure by giving up and divorcing. If only I could go back 40 years! -- Older and Wiser
Dear Older and Wiser: An open letter's not very open if it's kept secret from its addressee. You need to tell your husband how you feel and either work together to rectify things or move on. Life is way too short for grudges.
The Lion in Winter: Comedic in tone and dramatic in action, this show is a family drama of royal proportions showing at Beatrice Community Players, 412 Ella St. Friday April 6 and April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday April 7 and April 14 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday April 8 and April 15 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets $18 for adults, $12 for students For tickets, call 402-228-1801 noon to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit www.beatricecommunityplayers.com
Community Fellowship Dinner & Bingo Night: Saturday at the Beatrice Senior Center, 101 N. 25th St., Beatrice. Food fun and prizes. 4-6:30 p.m. Free will donation. Rides available. 402-223-9292.
Cortland museum benefit: Baked potato and ham dinner and the trimmings., 5-8 p.m. freewill offering at the Cortland Community Center.
Veterans Of Foreign Wars: Post #1077 & Auxiliary Meetings, 7 p.m. at the Beatrice Veterans Club. All members welcome.
Weight Watchers: 8:30 a.m. weigh in, meeting at 9 a.m. at the Villa at Flowing Springs, 2211 Sunset Drive, Beatrice. For more information, go to www.weightwatchers.com or www.facebook.com/wwbeatrice.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 a.m., Big Book study at the Salvation Army, located at Seventh and Market streets in Beatrice.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. meeting at the Salvation Army Community Center, located at Seventh and Market streets in Beatrice.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. at the Beatrice Mennonite Church, located at 12th and Summit streets in Beatrice.
Children and Adult Immunization Clinic: noon – 4 p.m., Parkview Conference Center, 1201 S. Ninth St., Beatrice (east side of the building). Appointments are necessary, please make one by calling 402-223-2366. Bring you insurance or Medicaid card to the appointment. The clinic is sponsored by Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center.
Al-Anon: 8 p.m., St. John Lutheran Church, 701 N. Sixth St., Beatrice. This is a support group for spouses, families and friends of alcoholics.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. closed meeting at the Salvation Army, located at Seventh and Market streets in Beatrice.
Children and Adult Immunization Clinic: 3-7 p.m. at Parkview Conference Center, 1201 S. Ninth St., Beatrice (east side of the building). Appointments are necessary. Call 402-223-2366. Bring insurance or Medicaid card to the appointment. Sponsored by Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center.
Warren’s Community Table: 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. free meal at Christ Church Episcopal, Fifth and Lincoln streets, Beatrice. Feeding ministry sponsored by the Christian community. Open each Tuesday evening. Call 402-223-5538.
AARP Smart Driver Course: Jefferson Community Health & Life will offer the AARP Smart Driver Course on April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the JCH&L conference room. The four-hour course is offered by JCH&L Sterling Connection. Membership is not required, though all participants must bring their driver’s licenses to the class. The course will cost $15 for AARP members or $20 for non-AARP members. Pre-registration is required by April 13. To register, call Lana Likens at 402-729-6855.
Weight Watchers: 5:30 p.m. weigh in and meeting at 6 p.m. at the Flowing Springs, located at 2211 Sunset Drive in Beatrice. For more information, go to www.weightwatchers.com or www.facebook.com/wwbeatrice.
Prayer Group: New Hope Community Outreach will host a community prayer group and faith-based movie showing every Tuesday at 4 p.m. The event will be held at 625 Court St. in Beatrice. If you have questions or need a ride, call 402-806-5300.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. STEP meeting at the Salvation Army Community Center, located at Seventh and Market streets in Beatrice.
Alcoholics Anonymous: noon open meeting at First Presbyterian Church, 321 N. Fifth St., Beatrice (use west entrance).
Narcotics Anonymous: 6:30-7:30 p.m. meeting at St. John Lutheran Church, 701 N. Sixth St., Beatrice.
New Liberation Group of Alcoholics Anonymous: 8-9 p.m. open meeting, 1200 Summit St., Beatrice.
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club: 6 p.m. weigh-in, 6:30-7 p.m. weekly meeting and program at Parkview Village, 1200 S. Eighth St., Beatrice. Call 402-228-2557.
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) 796: 9 a.m. weekly meeting at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 114 Lavelle St., Diller. Call 402-793-5396 or 402-766-3780.
Beatrice Fiscal Fusion BNI: meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Good Samaritan Society, located at 401 S. 22nd St. in Beatrice.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. meeting at the Salvation Army Community Center, located at Seventh and Market streets in Beatrice.
Al-Anon: 8 p.m. meeting at Centenary United Methodist Church in Beatrice.
Children and Adult Immunization Clinic: noon-4 p.m. at Parkview Conference Center, located at 1201 S. Ninth St., Beatrice (east side of the building). Appointments are necessary. Call 402-223-2366. Bring insurance or Medicaid card. Sponsored by Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center.
Burwood Books/Mother to Mother Ministry: will have story time at 10 a.m. for children in pre-school through kindergarten. Prizes are awarded after ten times in attendance. Call 402-223-6042 for more information.
Bob Krist, candidate for Nebraska governor: Krist will speak at Valentino’s at 7 p.m. Those wishing to eat may do so at 6 p.m.
Marine Corps League, Homestead Leathernecks Detachment 1430: Monthly meeting will be held at the Veterans Club 601 Dorsey St. Beatrice, at 7p.m. All past and current Marines and FMF Corpsmen are invited to attend.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 8 p.m. First Presbyterian Church (use west entrance), 321 N. Fifth St., Beatrice.
Beatrice Undergrounders Narcotics Anonymous: 8:15 p.m. in the basement of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, located at 19th and Garfield streets in Beatrice.
Beatrice Toastmasters: 7-8 a.m. in the chamber office of the Carnegie Building, located at 218 N. Fifth St. Visitors are welcome. Ron Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about Toastmasters’ club, visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.
Wymore Community Coffee: 10-11 a.m. at the Welsh Centre. The public is always welcome.
Alcoholics Anonymous: 7:30 p.m. meeting at the Good Samaritan Event Center, 401 S. 22nd Street, Beatrice (use east entrance).
Beatrice Guardian Angels: 8 p.m. at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, located at 19th and Garfield streets in Beatrice.
Guardian Angels Narcotics Anonymous: 8-9 p.m. in the basement of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, located at 19th and Garfield streets in Beatrice.
Dear Doctor: My son just got a job working construction in Houston, which means he's surrounded by noise pretty much all the time. A family friend says he read that all that noise might be bad for my son's health, including his heart. Just how strong is the connection between heart disease and noise pollution?
Dear Reader: When it comes to noise being bad for us, your friend is correct. Decades of research have suggested a strong connection between ongoing exposure to noise pollution and a host of adverse health outcomes. These range from feelings of annoyance and tension, to increasingly significant problems like sleep and anxiety disorders, depression and cognitive impairment, particularly in children. Now, after an analysis of years of existing data, researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany confirm what previous studies have suggested -- that hypertension and cardiovascular disease also belong on the list.
Inquiry into the physiological effects of noise dates back at least to the 1980s. Those earlier studies focused solely on the effects of traffic noise, including road sounds, horns and sirens. Later studies added the effects of aircraft and railway noise into the mix. Scientists found that exposure to noise pollution resulted in an increase of blood and saliva concentrations of cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline in the study subjects. Chronic high levels of these stress hormones are known to play a role not only in heart disease, but also in immunity, hypertension and stroke. Individuals appear to be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of noise pollution at night, during sleep.
In this most recent review paper, published earlier this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers connected seemingly minor responses to noise pollution to the most serious outcomes. Each honk of a horn, scream of a siren or screech from a train track is met with a corresponding spike in stress hormones, heart rate and blood pressure. Even when individuals become outwardly inured to the ongoing sounds of traffic or aircraft, their bodies are mounting a stress response. Over time, the thinking goes, the cumulative effect takes a toll on the body at the cellular level.
When it comes to your son, he faces the effects of noise pollution at his workplace and, if he lives in the city, at home. While he's at work, he should use a hearing protection device like ear plugs, or ear muffs with soft cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups to help block out sound. If his construction company doesn't supply either of these, he should invest in high-quality gear of his own. This will safeguard his hearing as well as offer a measure of protection against the constant barrage of noise.
At home, using a white noise machine at night can help filter out some of the sounds that would otherwise produce a startle reflex. Noise-canceling headphones -- the technology has become advanced enough that you can create a virtual cone of silence -- can also offer protection.