Now that it’s fall—don’t! Please stay upright, fellow Missourians. We were shocked to learn that falls are the most common cause of injury or death for Americans 65 and older, and that Missouri is 31 percent over the national average in these mishaps. The first in a series of metro events geared to help keep seniors on their feet, a free community wellness fair called ‘Grounded for Life,’ was held recently at Kirkwood Community Center. Free screenings and activities to improve balance and to make seniors aware of helpful changes at home were featured. It’s no surprise, I hope, that exercise is one of the best ways to improve your balance, strength and flexibility. Older adults also were able to learn about changes in Medicare for 2016 at the event, another confusing boondoggle for most of us. The session on Sept. 23 was made possible thanks to a $558,000 grant through the federal Administration for Community Living, with a goal of increasing participation in evidence-based programs to reduce falls over two years. The Kirkwood event was the first in a series to be held across the Show-Me State. Until the next free session is announced, you can get your equilibrium on for a modest price Oct. 19, at a Better Balance session sponsored by OASIS Institute at BJC WellAware Center, 600 S. Taylor Ave. No. 110. Later, on Nov. 17, a session will be held at Crown Center, 8350 Delcrest Drive. Keep calm and stay vertical, people.

Comfort food is nature’s most imperfect sustenance, as a quick look down at my burgeoning midsection proves. I was chagrined when the Church’s Chicken joint at Manchester and Southwest in Maplewood got boarded up, but there’ve been some mighty appetizing developments there since then. You wouldn’t recognize the place at 7260 Manchester Road, which has reopened as Robata, a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t even cook some of its selections before serving them up. Even though I’m one of those who’d prefer even my garden salad deep-fried, this sushi spot looks pretty appealing. There’s ramen and yakitori, too. A lover of tempura and teriyaki, I’m sure to darken their door soon. Robata is open for dinners only. Maybe lunch will be added in the not-too-distant future? For the time being, we can enjoy the 35 seats inside or revel on the patio at dusk.

[city of st. louis]
TT-StL,10-7-15aWith all this talk from at least one lunkhead about building a wall between the U.S. of A. and our neighbors to the south, it’s refreshing to see that The Lou isn’t quite so xenophobic. Or, as the cranky candidate with the horrid comb-over has been described by another neighbor to the south, a New Zealander, as ‘casually racist.’ All things considered, many would argue that we’re doing pretty well here in the metro. Ethnic St. Louis is a fine new hardcover volume that talks about our town as the melting pot it has been for more than 250 years. From long-established French, German and Irish communities, through the African-American community and the more recent arrivals of Vietnamese and Bosnian immigrants, this book covers a broad spectrum of groups that have shaped St. Louis history and daily life. Photo-illustrated vignettes convey why each of these communities settled here, how they changed through the years, and how they’ve contributed to local progress and growth. Written by three St. Louis scholars, the 224-page book demonstrates the importance of diverse communities to our city’s rich past, its complex current identity, and interconnected future. We can bet that the Greeks, Italians and (Insert Your Ethnicity Here) aren’t overlooked.

Woof Works is the wondrous name of a business right up the ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ alley. As a pair of Chesterfield brothers were working with a laser etching machine and, since man’s best friend couldn’t come up with the brilliant idea, the light bulb went on for the Martin sibs—Alex, 16, a junior at DeSmet, and Sebastian, 13, an eighth grader at Incarnate Word (pictured, above). The budding entrepreneurs have ‘kickstarted’ a line of products: custom accessories for dog lovers that have a favorite canine’s photo etched into the surface. Leather luggage tags, wood smartphone cases, marble plaques affixed to bamboo boxes, perhaps to store dog knickknacks like a leash or treats …‘Woof!’ (OK, treats.) With the help of some talented family members and friends, many of whom are of an advanced age (i.e., older than the boys added together, which is all of 29, for Fido’s sake!), these guys have a Kickstarter campaign well on its way toward a modest $12,500 goal, set to expire mid-month. Different products and special offers (want to visit with the co-owners and watch them work the laser?) are rewards for ascending donation levels, from $5 to several grand. Alex and Sebastian aren’t just trying to build a retirement portfolio for their dogs Cosmo and Nike. They really care about critters— both teens volunteer at a shelter for abandoned and abused animals, and Woof Works donates a portion of its proceeds to shelters. The startup ships its custom creations all over North America … ‘Meow?’ Yes, feline fanciers, high-resolution photos of cats—or your beloved angelfish, turtle, parakeet or thoroughbred— also could be a suitable subject.

[webster groves]
Remember the party game Telephone, in which someone whispers a couple of sentences into a neighbor’s ear, then the second person tries to repeat it verbatim to the third, and so on until it circles back to the original speaker? Information can be incomplete, embellished or just plain wrong. In the age of social media it happens like lightning, and by the same token what some people report may be distorted or incorrect. But when school administrators hear of shots fired, it is better to err on the side of caution, which is the wise decision made Sept. 25 by the Webster Groves School District. For about an hour, schools went on ‘modified’ lockdown,
which administrators initiate “to isolate student and staff inside the school from potential dangers outside.” Police told school officials that there was no danger to staff or students. Still, the district acted swiftly based only on being alerted by police of a report they had received.

Indeed, there had been a domestic dispute and assault at a residence near Hixson Middle School, but reportedly there was no gun involved. The suspect remained at large. Rumor control, as it were, can take such info and run with it, without letting the truth get in the way of a good story. Meanwhile, in such a fluid situation, do you wait until it all plays out? Of course not. Sarah Riss, district superintendent, sent an email to families afterward; voice messages were sent to thousands of parents when the lockdown was put in place and after it had all panned out. An excerpt from the Riss email: “We intend to use this experience as an opportunity to discuss procedures and communication in a crisis. We live in a digital age, and many parents and residents heard about the lockdowns from texts and electronic postings before school communications reached them. News outlets, which listen to police scanners and sometimes run with incomplete information, present another challenge. The first priority here in what can be chaotic situations is the safety of children and staff. We take care of our students first, then focus on gathering information for accurate communications.” Bravo. ‘Better safe than sorry’ couldn’t be a more apt aphorism nowadays.

Pictured: Alex & Sebastian Martin of Woof Works