A Question of Organ Recitals

Friends

A few days ago in a comment, a reader made an approving reference to a friend who refused to take part in groups of old people who indulge in “organ recitals” - that supposedly clever but disparaging phrase for discussion of medical problems.

(It is always applied to elders. Young people who talk about their health are never accused of being boring but we'll save discussion of that kind of ageism for another day.)

Certainly we have all known people who carry on at mind-numbing length or go through the details of their surgery at inappropriate moments – Thanksgiving dinner comes to mind. But there is another side to this issue.

A couple of weeks ago, on a post here in which Crabby Old Lady was writing about her cancer, reader Rina Rosselson who blogs at age, ageing and feature films, left this note in the comments:

”Thanks for your crabby post. At 82 I still have not heard what my friends had been going through when struck by a serious illness. There is such reluctance and fear to communicate and share these feelings. Your posts make it easier to talk about these changes.”

Rina is right. As much as some organ recitals can be excessive, plenty of other people go too far in their silence about serious medical issues. It helped me a lot, eased my mind to a degree, especially when I was first diagnosed, that people I know – in “real life” and on this blog – passed on what they had experienced during cancer treatment.

Conversation

Even if it would not closely match my experience, it helped me understand how difficult or easy my treatment might be and, most important, that those people had got through it - a real question when facing so much that is frightening and new.

Here is another thing that happened – to me, anyway – after the surgery and during recovery from it; even as I desperately wanted to not become a “professional patient” and wanted to hang on to my pre-diagnosis life, cancer is insidious in at least one additional way beyond the physical attack on the body:

Over time, and not all that long a period, it creeps into every cell of your brain. Trying to read a newspaper or a book? The mind strays to cancer. Watching a movie on TV? Next thing you know you're wondering if the chemo will actually work, and you've lost the thread of the film story.

Even washing dishes or making the bed, you suddenly worry that you forgot to take your pre-meal pill at lunch.

But perhaps the worst? Those ubiquitous commercials for various cancer treatment centers scattered in cities around the U.S. that always imply that they can cure cancer.

They enrage me. As much as I suspect a generally positive attitude is helpful in treating cancer, I resent being lied to as though I'm incompetent. And although, if you listen carefully to every word, they don't promise a cure, few of us pay that kind of close attention and it sounds like that's what they are saying.

Either way, there you go down the cancer rabbit hole again.

One thing I've noticed is that too often when I've told people about my diagnosis, they don't know what to say – they are stunned - understandable - and I think part of that is our general reluctance to discuss such things at all.

So I'm with Rina. I think discussing details of our serious diseases and conditions (appropriately, for sure) is a big help in reducing fear in everyone involved – friends and family as well as patients. Talking about these dramatic changes, when they hit us, with loved ones goes a long way to finding a way to live with them.

I am reminded of the large number of doctors and nurses I have been dealing with through these months. They answer every question with the truth, even the hard truths, with compassion, understanding and a good deal of humor. The rest of us should be doing that too.

Friends Having Lunch


What Medigap Changes Mean For Elders

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Today's post is a bit wonkier than I usually publish but it is important for U.S. readers who will become eligible for Medicare in the next two years, and for current beneficiaries too. It shouldn't be hard to follow.]

Since my pancreatic cancer diagnosis three months ago, I have blessed President Lyndon B. Johnson every day for his part in creating Medicare. With the price tag for my surgery and ongoing care already into high six figures, without Medicare I would be doomed – as many old people were before Medicare.

Now, there are some changes coming to Medicare that will make it more expensive for elders while also reducing coverage. This involves changes that Congress passed in 2015 to the supplementary (or “Medigap”) coverage.

(We are talking about traditional Medicare today, not Medicare Advantage plans.)

Medicap policies pay most of the 20 percent or so of doctor and hospital costs that Parts A and B of Medicare do not cover. The choices of Medigap insurance plans are labeled by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N. As the Chicago Tribune explained the coming changes recently,

”In 2020, people who are on Medicare and don't already have what's known as Plan F or Plan C Medigap insurance won't be able to buy it because the federal government will close those plans to new participants.

“That means that when people go onto Medicare at 65, or if they switch Medicare-related insurance during the next couple of years, they are going to have to be diligent about scrutinizing insurance possibilities before some of those doors start to close.”

Plans C and F are, according to The Trib, the most popular Medigap choices for good reason. Plan F, which I chose when I signed up for Medicare in 2006,

”...is the most comprehensive. It doesn't cover dental, vision, or medicine [no Medigap plans do], but if retirees pay their monthly premiums they shouldn't have to pay anything else for doctors, tests or hospitals. Even medical care overseas is partially covered.

“In other words, at a time in life when medical issues can pop up suddenly and cost a fortune, Plan F is predictable. Plan C is popular for the same reason, although it isn't as comprehensive as Plan F.”

When Congress enacted this coming change, the goal was to save money on Medicare. So as of 2020, the Part B deductible will no longer be covered by existing Medicap policies and Plans C and F will no longer be available to new enrollees.

People currently on Plan C or F, like me, will still

”...be able to shop your coverage. If another insurance company offers it at a better price down the road, you can apply to change to that insurance company’s Plan F policy...” reports Forbes.

“However, over time we can probably expect Plan F premiums to slowly rise, since the total number of people enrolled will be shrinking annually.”

Meanwhile, it is not clear that this change will reduce Medicare costs. As Reuters reported when the legislation was passed in 2015,

”Numerous studies show that exposure to higher out-of-pocket costs results in people using fewer services, [Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation] says.

“If seniors forego care because of the deductible, Medicare would achieve some savings. 'The hope is people will be more sensitive to costs and go without unnecessary care,' she says.

“'But if instead, some forego medical care that they need, they may require expensive care down the road, potentially raising costs for Medicare over time.'”

There is more detailed information at all the links I've provided above.

FIRST LOOK AT NEW MEDICARE CARDS
You can be forgiven if, thanks to the Experian Equifax data breach affecting 143 million Americans, you think this is too little too late. Also, the theft is so large, just assume you are affected.

Next year, all Medicare beneficiaries will receive new Medicare cards with a new kind of numbering system – no more Social Security numbers. Last week, Medicare released a first look at the new card:

Medicare_Cards_Identity_Theft680

There are all kinds of things to know about this change you can find at cms.gov.

And if you haven't done anything to secure your stolen data from being used nefariously, here is a good instruction piece from The New York Times. It will cost you $20 or $30 to set up credit freezes and fraud alerts. And here is a later report from The Times answering reader questions about the data breach.


ELDER MUSIC: 1925

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

No introductory notes for 1925 as it was 20 years before I was born so I don't remember anything from that year.

FRANK CRUMIT was the first person to play the ukulele in a musical on Broadway.

Frank Crumit

Frank was originally going to be a doctor but switched to electrical engineering. That career didn't last long as he discovered music along the way. He thought of going into opera but that didn't work out. Somewhere he discovered the uke.

Here is probably the best known song about the instrument, Ukulele Lady.

♫ Frank Crumit - Ukulele Lady


From the ridiculous to the sublime, the great BESSIE SMITH.

Bessie Smith

Oh my goodness, this is superb: Careless Love Blues, a song that's been performed by countless people but none better than this.

♫ Bessie Smith - Careless Love Blues


There have been many really good versions of the Rodgers and Hart song Manhattan. This isn't one of them. It's by BEN SELVIN & THE KNICKERBOCKERS.

Ben Selvin

I can't think of anything positive to say about Ben's version except that it came from 1925.

♫ Ben Selvin & the Knickerbockers - Manhattan 1925


ETHEL WATERS was the first person, but far from the last, to record the song Dinah.

Ethel Waters

Apparently Ethel had a horrible childhood (she said she didn't have one really), and was married at 13 to an abusive husband. She got out of that and joined a vaudeville troupe.

After a bit she was performing with Bessie Smith who insisted that Ethel must not sing blues (we wouldn't want to upstage her), so she sang mostly pop songs and the like.

Eventually she found herself in New York and was a leading light in the Harlem Renaissance at the time. There's a lot more to her story, but we'll have to wait for another day.

♫ Ethel Waters - Dinah


THE HAPPINESS BOYS was a radio program in the early twenties that featured Billy Jones & Ernest Hare.

The Happiness Boys

They also recorded under that name which is why they are present today. Billy and Ernie were both trained opera singers and they would occasionally sing opera in a burlesque manner on their program. Their group name is from the fact that they were sponsored by the chain of Happiness Candy stores.

The song they sing today is still quite well known, it's Don't Bring Lulu.

♫ The Happiness Boys (Billy Jones & Ernest Hare) - Don't Bring Lulu


MARIAN ANDERSON recorded Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen in this week's year.

Marian Anderson

However, for once I'm going against my policy of only using songs that were recorded, or released, in the particular year. I have that version but it's really scratchy.

This was another Marian made some time later and she is such an important musician, and person if it comes to that, that I feel you should hear how the song really should sound.

Marian Anderson - Nobody Knows the Trouble I See


JOHN MCCORMACK died the day I was born and obviously his singing talent passed on to me.

John McCormack

People who know me are now rolling around the floor laughing about that (including me, I hasten to add). John was an Irish tenor who later became an Australian tenor. He was a noted opera singer, but many of his recordings were of popular music, including this one, When You and I Were Seventeen.

John McCormack - When You and I Were Seventeen


VERNON DALHART was born Marion Try Slaughter. No wonder he changed his name.

Vernon Dalhart

Vernon received voice training at the Dallas Conservatory of Music and later he saw an advertisement for singers to record so he decided to check it out. He was auditioned by Thomas Edison himself and got a gig recording light classical pieces and dance band music.

The Prisoner's Song doesn't really fit into either category, so I guess he recorded other stuff as well.

Vernon Dalhart - The Prisoner's Song


We have two hugely important musicians this year, three maybe. The next one is PAUL ROBESON.

Paul Robeson

Paul was one of the most significant people of the 20th century and you don't need me to tell you about him. The only thing I'll say is that he was the first person to sing at the Sydney Opera House. That was when it was still a building site – he sang to the workers.

Today he sings the old spiritual, Steal Away.

Paul Robeson - Steal Away


MARION HARRIS was billed throughout her career as a jazz and blues singer.

Marion Harris

Perhaps things have changed over the years but she doesn't sound to me like either of those. She seems to be more a straight pop singer. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that when we've had Bessie and Ethel, she rather pales.

Anyway, she does a decent job of I'll See You In My Dreams.

♫ Marion Harris - I'll See You In My Dreams



INTERESTING STUFF – 16 September 2017

PETER TIBBLES' BIRTHDAY

Today is the birthday of TimeGoesBy's inimitable Sunday musicologist. I'm not sure which one exactly but it's in the area of early 70s. His musical knowledge is phenominally wide and deep, and he's funny too.

Let's start the celebration singing along with a short version of the standard birthday song sung, in this case, by The Beatles, supposedly before they were well known.

Peter and I have known one another now for at least nine years; he and his assistant musicologist, Norma, have visited me twice. In between internet chitchat about his columns, Peter is wont to send me funny or messed up news stories from his local, Australian press.

This is his most recent from the Sydney Morning Herald. It's a serious story about a sex offender but someone screwed up the image beside it big time:

PeterCowSexOffenderStory

I have a fondness for fireworks on birthdays so here, Peter, is a video of one of the most creative and beautiful ones I've ever seen:

But no birthday is right without the obligatory cake and I found one that Peter will defintely approve of:

Birthdaycake

So wish Peter a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and don't forget to visit his music column on Sundays.

PARTHENON OF BANNED BOOKS

In Kassel, Germany, at the very site where Nazis once burned over 2,000 books by Jewish and Marxist writers, one artist has built a colossal tribute to free speech.

“The 'Parthenon of Books', YouTube tells us, is a giant temporary replica of the famous Greek temple in Athens. The installation is covered by more than 100,000 books that have been banned at various stages throughout history.

“Created by Argentine artist Marta Minujín, the exhibit is meant to spark debate over censorship in literature. Once the exhibition is over, these books will be handed out to allow the banned to enter literary circulation once more.

As far as I am concerned, there is no book that should ever be banned. Even the hateful and incorrigible should be retained to impart an understanding of evil and as warnings.

SPYING ON WILDLIFE WITH ANIMAL ROBOTS

As YouTube explains:

”Filmmaker John Downer has spent much of his life capturing footage of wildlife, but it wasn’t until he and his team created robotic animals with built-in spy cameras that he was able to record rare footage of animal behavior in the wild, essentially from the perspective of the animal.”

The robots are so realistic that at first I thought it wasn't nice to fool animals this way but then I changed my mind. Take a look:

UNALASKA BELL RINGERS

Remember when I posted a video about eagles in a tiny town in Alaska called Unalaska a few weeks ago? Apparently, for such a small place, a lot of things of interest go on there.

Here is a video about Unalaska's bell ringers:

TRUE NEW YORKER

It has been 11 years since I left New York City and as I tell anyone who is willing to listen to me, I miss it every day. This week, I ran across a website called Women that held a little quiz titled, “Can You Finish These 16 NYC Phrases West Coasters Just Don't Get?”

Of course, I took the challenge and here's my result:

TrueNewYorker

I'm pleased to know I haven't lost my New York chops. You can try the quiz here.

CAT CAFE ON A MOVING TRAIN IN JAPAN

It has been more than a decade since Japan's first cat cafe opened and they are so popular, many countries have adopted the idea. Just recently, one stationary cafe in Japan expanded to include a cat cafe on a train:

You can read more about this cat train at Atlas Obscura.

THE NEW YORKER COVER IF CLINTON HAD WON

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been all over television this week talking up her just-published book about the 2016 election campaign titled, What Happened. Here is the cover the The New Yorker had ready if she had won the presidency.

NYorkerisClintonhadwon

EXTENT OF OREGON'S EAGLE CREEK FIRE

With all the horrendous hurricane damage thse past two weeks, there has hardly been any reporting on the many large and terrifying wild fires throughout the western United States.

One of them in Oregon, named the Eagel Creek Fire, has taken out much more area than I'd realized from local new reports. As of Thursday, it had been confirmed that the fire was started by kids setting off fireworks. Here's what the YouTube page says:

”This Google Earth flyover integrates infrared scanning data to highlight the Columbia Gorge landmarks threatened by the Eagle Creek fire including the Bull Run watershed, the source of the Portland area's drinking water.

“Areas shaded in orange are inside the fire perimeter; red spots indicate intense wildfire heat. The approximate ignition point has been confirmed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and eyewitnesses.”

The fire is still raging.

TRIBUTE TO RESCUE DOGS

Last Monday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11 when terrorists (successfully) drove airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania killing everyone aboard all three planes.

Here is a tribute to the rescue dogs that helped recover the injured and dead at the Twin Towers.

All working dogs, but especially rescue dogs, awe me with their selflessness and eagerness to help humans.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


And Chemo Begins

Chemotherapybags

On Wednesday, my first chemotherapy session took place and I was happy to have a friend do the driving and stay with me because I was more apprehensive than I had been going into surgery three months ago.

Part of the reason, I think, as I told you recently, is that I read the stacks of material the chemo staff gave me (a whole binder of information, and enormous Powerpoint deck and a variety of other printed matter) three times while making and organizing notes to myself because there is so much to remember.

[NOTE: Before I go any further, I must remind readers that what I am telling you is my experience and mine alone. If you are facing chemotherapy, your experience will be different for more reasons than I can count. So take this as only a general overview that might or might not be useful to you.]

THE FIRST CHEMO SESSION
In a pleasant room with lots of windows, I was settled into a lounge chair. My first visitor was the RN who numbed the port that was surgically placed in my upper chest about three weeks ago, then drew blood for immediate testing.

Twenty minutes later, he returned with the chemo infusion bags and set me up. I'm lucky, mine takes only about an hour. And what an hour! I had expected to spend the time chatting with Joseph. But nooooo. I have a lot of team members.

After the RN, the nurse practitioner, who will oversee my chemo treatment during the six-month duration, came by. We had a chat about my treatment and then, because he had studied medicine at NYU in New York, we talked about our neighborhood there. He misses it too.

Almost as soon as he left, the social worker showed up. She's concerned about my emotional and mental wellbeing and I did my best to reassure her. But I'm glad she's there just in case.

Then there was the nutritionist whom I already know. We talk a lot because I dislike my extremely limited diet so much I'm always pressing her to allow more and different foods.

My next visitor was the pharmacist who went over my current drugs with me and added three more so I am making a new chart for myself or I'll never keep up.

By then the infusion was finished and I was free to leave.

REACTION TO FIRST CHEMO SESSION
Apprehension had been growing over several days leading up to the first chemo and by the time Joseph arrived to pick me up, I was in a terrible state. But then he showed me the teeshirt he was wearing and I started feeling better right away:

CancerTeeshirt

And guess what? He had one for me too.

I can't wear it for chemo treatments because it prevents the nurse from getting to my infusion port, but I wore it when I picked up the new medications and the pharmacist commented. He liked it.

By the time my first chemo was finished, I was in a great mood. It helped to have a friend with me and the attention from all MY team members whom I will see each week is as terrific as my surgical team was in the most important way: they make me feel safe.

Every one of them is knowledgeable, concerned, helpful, caring, warm and patient with me. I will get through this to a large extent because of them.

HOW MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW
As it turns out, the chemo infusion is easy compared to what I must do every day for these next six months - most of it is meant, as much as possible, to help reduce the incidence of the nearly two dozen possible side effects:

Rinse mouth with baking soda/salt solution four times a day to try to forestall mouth and tongue sores

Rub a special lotion on feet and hands four times a time to try to forestall hand-and-foot syndrome

Use only luke warm water for baths, showers, hand-washing dishes (winter is coming, folks; this is hard to face)

Wash hands constantly (luke warm water) including each time after touching the cat

Use gloves to clean litter box

Wash fruits and vegetables extra carefully

Stay away from people with colds, coughs and fevers

There's more but you've got the idea. It's not that any of it is hard to do; it's that it's so time consuming along with the need to be constantly checking the clock and keeping track of the schedule. One thing or another is due to be done about every two hours.

But there is no choice for me. All the anxiety and apprehension before the first infusion was directly related to the side effects I had been reading about and I'll go to almost any length to do what I can to avoid them.

So far, there have been no signs of side effects but chemo effect is cumulative so I doubt I'll get through this scott free.

Eventually there will be side effects. But nobody can say which ones, how severe or if they will happen at all. If I'm lucky and I've been diligent with the prevention measures, maybe it will be light.

The best news is that with all the wonderful OHSU people and Joseph being with me, I won't dread my visits to the chemo unit again. Good thing, since this goes on almost every week until March 2018.


Finding New Friends in Old Age

EDITORIAL REMINDER: One of the reasons Time Goes By is such a friendly place to have a conversation is that from day one, no commenter has been allowed to personally attack me or anyone who posts a comment.

Disagree about ideas? Fine. Assail others? Never.

On Monday's post, one reader attacked my research abilities and my thinking skills. That person's comment has been removed and he or she is now permanently banned from commenting here. No recourse.

That's how it's done at TGB. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.

* * *

Senior-loneliness

A quick search around this blog reveals that about once a year we discuss loneliness among elders including all the terrible statistics related to people who feel lonely.

For example, Medical News Today recently reported that

”Two new meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT, reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50 percent.”

We could discuss that again (and probably will in the future), but last week a new reader, Albert Williams, left a comment on a 2014 post about friends in old age that interests me:

”Whew! I'm glad I found this site,” wrote Williams. “I was beginning to think that I was the only person with such problems, and that, perhaps, there was something wrong with me.

“However, after a bit of introspection, I realize that this is not completely true. (Completely? Try old, ugly, curmudgeonly, short-tempered, cynical, and a few more applicable adjectives...)

“Time has, indeed, taken its toll. I am now an old man. Most of my life-long friends are gone. I've never had any kids; I've outlived two wives; and almost all of my family on both sides have already died.

“I find it very easy to make new acquaintances, but these seem to never develop into the deep, trusting, abiding friendships I had when I was young. Loneliness, apparently, has become a permanent part of my remaining days, and my best friends nowadays are my dogs and my computer.”

That is a familiar thought for me. Most of my “deep, trusting, abiding friendships” of many years have died or live far away and the people I enjoy spending time with where I live now haven't crossed to that special status yet although two or three are heading in that direction.

It's close enough to true to say that all websites aimed at elders repeat the same, facile solutions on this subject: join a senior center, make use of online groups, figure out local transportation options if you don't drive anymore.

But none of that gets to the more ephemeral problem that Albert Williams is talking about and they don't discuss the reasons this happens to so many old people.

Here are a couple of my disjointed thoughts about how this happens:

Disability, health conditions and just plain being more tired than when we were young keep many of us at home. I know that it has been years since I have booked social engagements two days in a row and I sometimes need more days in between.

We no longer have careers and children in common as a starting place for new friendships. In fact, the only thing we can be certain of sharing in old age is our health which, as a reader noted recently, many are reluctant to talk about and too many others are guilty of oversharing.

Social media – texting, Facebook, etc. - have taken a toll on friendly telephone conversations. Remember when the phone would ring at random times and a friend was on the other end seeking to make a dinner appointment or just chat for awhile?

Few people I know do that much anymore. We make appointments – actual appointments – via text or email to chat on the phone. I appreciate that with my far-away old friends but I miss the serendipity of telephone visits with people nearby even as I have become accustomed to making these appointments.

No one can decide to make someone a friend. The thing about friends who fit like an old shoe is that it takes time - and the effort to keep in touch between in-person visits.

Always, a new friendship has surprised me even back in the days when it seemed easier than now. After some period of time, usually several months, I think, I realized one day, “Hmmm. When did Tom, Dick or Mary become a friend? I didn't see it coming but here it is and I am glad for it.”

It happened while we were going to movies together, sharing stories about ourselves, recommending books to one another and becoming comfortable enough together that we came to relax together in ways we can't until we have come to trust.

Those opportunities seem to diminish as we grow older. Albert Williams is not alone and the problem of elder loneliness, according to researchers, is increasing. I'm pretty sure some of you have plenty to say about this.

(There is a new-ish category of friends, online friends we have never met in person or only once or twice that I believe are important to our well-being and expand our lives in important, lovely ways. But that conversation is for another day.)


You and Me and Flu Season

EDITORIAL NOTE: Several readers suggested I replace the far right photo in the banner with a screen grab from the video interview I posted on Saturday. I thought that was a pretty good idea, so I did it. See above.

* * *

Flu vaccine

God knows my memory could be off but I'm guessing I began getting an annual flu shot sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Before then, a week home in bed with the flu was a winter ritual.

Only once in the 30 to 40 years I've taken the vaccine, did I forget to do it – but I will never forget the flu I suffered that year, and I do mean suffered.

It happened about 15 years ago, so let's say I was age 60 or so and I was in bed for two full weeks with all the awful symptoms – fever, muscle aches, headache, chills, sweating, fuzzyheadedness, etc. and it took a month after that before I was at full capacity again.

During those two weeks, I had little sense of time passing, just horrible discomfort and then, finally, the pain and fog lifted. I was well and functional again. But it has puzzled me ever since that in the kitchen that day I found two empty gallon jugs of water.

I had never bought water. There is no need in New York City which regularly wins awards for the best tap water in the United States. Yet there they were, those two empty jugs.

Had I gone to the corner bodega to buy them? If so, why? I didn't remember then, I don't remember now and I don't recall anyone visiting me who might have brought them although there is nothing to say those things didn't happen. It's not a big deal; just one of the small mysteries of life but forever attached to the word “flu” for me.

So here we are at the beginning of the 2017/18 flu season and even though people 65 and older are at high risk for the flu itself and at greater risk for preventable complications than younger adults, nearly one-third of those between the ages of 65 and 74 skipped the flu shot last year.

A couple of other worthwhile statistics: 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 and older as do 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations.

Almost all elders should get a flu shot each year and there is a special, high dose vaccine for old people called Fluad. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

”The 'high dose vaccine' is designed specifically for people 65 and older and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production).

“Results from a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants showed that adults 65 years and older who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine.”

The vaccine is a good health investment and in fact, for most us requires no monetary investment. For those with original Medicare, Part B covers the shot with no copay - that is, free. If you have Medicare Advantage, check with your insurer.

If you have an allergy to eggs, you should consult with your physician about the flu vaccine and here's something new I learned recently: if you are receiving chemotherapy, you should talk with your physician before getting the shot. With approval from my doctor, I got mine, Fluad, two weeks ago, about three weeks before my chemo begins.

In my old age, a bad cold feels too much like the flu so I don't want to even imagine what a flu would feel like to me nowadays.

Oh, and here is one more reason to get the flu shot. It is estimated that people 65 and older who skip the flu immunization increase U.S. health care costs by $4.8 billion a year.

So you can contribute to Medicare's solvency too when you get a flu shot.

Here is the CDC's extensive website section on the flu.


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Gas Part 7

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

I thought this series, named initially by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to highlight lesser known composers who are seldom heard on radio or in concert, would end after two or three, but that's not the case. There are always interesting composers around that aren't very well known.

Giacomo Puccini is one of the most famous classical composers; he created a bunch of the best loved (and best) operas ever, so he doesn't belong in this column. I just mentioned him because his dad was a bit of a composer as well.

Dad was MICHELE PUCCINI.

Michele Puccini

The only thing I have of Mich's work is a Concertone for flute, clarinet, horn and keyed trumpet so I'll use that (well, that's pretty obvious).

The first two movements of this sound awfully like the overture to an opera. Maybe that's where young Gia got his inspiration. Instead, I'm using the third movement of that work. Actually, parts of this one also sounds a bit like opera music too.

♫ Michele Puccini - Concertone for flute clarinet horn and keyed trumpet (3)


Speaking of Puccinis, here's another one. This time it's DOMENICO PUCCINI.

Domenico Puccini

Dom was Mich's dad and his music is more in the mold of late classical – Haydn and early Beethoven – than the later operatic style of son and grandson. He was pretty much a contemporary of Beethoven's, although Ludwig outlived him by a bit over a decade.

Dom's contribution is the second movement of the Piano Concerto in B-flat major.

♫ Domenico Puccini - Piano Concerto in B-flat major (2)


Continuing the theme (which is a rather grand term for what is really a loose association), the next two composers were both princesses of Russia. I suppose if you were one of those you needed something to pass the time, particularly if you have the talent for it.

They both wrote singing things and we have the same singer in each case and the same instrumentalists as well. Not too surprising as they came from the same record.

Starting with NATALIA IVANOVA DE KOURAKINE (or Kourakin or Kourakina, take your pick). She hung around from 1755 to 1831, and apparently didn't stand still long enough to have her photo taken or picture painted.

Nat started out as Natalia Golovina and she married Prince Aleksei Borisovich Kurakin (when she was 16, but I guess that was the thing back then). He was a bigwig in the administration of Tsar Paul the first (until he fell out with him).

Nat was very well educated, spoke several languages, played the harp and guitar and sang. She also composed music, usually vocal with those two instruments accompanying.

Today we have Je Vais Donc Quitter pour Jamais. The soprano is ANNE HARLEY, guitarist OLEG TIMOFEYEV and violinist ETIENNE ABELIN.

Anne Harley & Oleg Timofeyev & Etienne Abelin

♫ Natalia Kourakine - Je Vais Donc Quitter pour Jamais


VARVARA DOLGOROUKY was also a Russian princess of some sort and lived from 1769 to 1849. That's about the sum total of information I've been able to find. Also, no picture of her either.

Her music is called Thémire Fuit and it has the same performers as the previous one.

Varvara Dolgorouky - Thémire Fuit


You'd think there was a connection between the next two, after all, they both have the same surname, both were born in Germany about roughly the same time, but that's it I'm afraid. No relation that I can find, but I'm including them both anyway.

The first is GEORG SCHNEIDER, born the same year as Beethoven.

Georg Schneider

Georg's main instrument was the horn, but he was proficient on others, particularly the violin, as well. He started out as court composer for Prince Frederick Henry Louis of Prussia, but when Napoleon invaded, he (Georg), fortuitously, was in Vienna where he decided to stay.

In spite of being contemporaneous with Beethoven, his music is much closer to the earlier composers Haydn and Mozart. That's fine by me. This is the first movement of his Flute Quartet in G minor, Op. 69 No. 3.

♫ Georg Schneider - Flute Quartet in G minor Op. 69 No. 3 (1)


The other is FRIEDRICH SCHNEIDER.

Friedrich Schneider

Boy, old Fred looks like a rock musician from the sixties. He was an organist and a pianist, and he played piano at the premier performance of Beethoven's fifth piano concerto (the Emperor).

He wrote music for the piano, operas, masses, cantatas and symphonies (amongst a lot of other things). From his Symphony No 17 in C minor, this is the second movement.

♫ Friedrich Schneider - Symphony No 17 (2)


You'd imagine that poor old ANTON FERDINAND TITZ would have been teased mercilessly when he was at school, he certainly would have been if he lived in Australia or America.

Ferdinand Titz

However, we're above that sort of thing. So, old Titzie (sorry, I mean Anton) was from Nuremburg and he started out as a painter. He switched to music and became the organist at the local church. He also played the violin and viola d'amore.

For the last 40 years of his life he lived in St Petersburg where he was in the employ of Catherine II. A lot of his music has been lost and little of the remaining has been recorded. This is one of those, the fourth movement of the String Quartet in C minor, Op. 1 No. 4.

Ferdinand Titz - String Quartet in C minor Op. 1 No. 4 (4)


Now we have an interesting pair of instruments, the horn and cello. The person who put those together is FRÉDÉRIC DUVERNOY.

Frederic Duvernoy

Fred hit his peak around the time of the French revolution, probably not an auspicious time to do that. However, he survived and was in the orchestra that Napoleon had for his delectation along with his brother (that's Fred's brother) who played the clarinet.

He wrote quite a bit of music, mostly concertos and chamber works, but others as well. Here is the third movement of his Sonata No. 1 for Horn & Cello

Frederic Duvernoy - Sonata No. 1 for Horn & Cello (3)


You can tell by all the consonants in her name that MARIA SZYMANOWSKA was Polish.

Maria Szymanowska

Rather surprisingly for the time (late 18th, early 19th century), she made her living as a concert pianist and toured extensively throughout Europe. She eventually retired to St Petersburg where she spent the rest of her life composing music, performing and giving piano lessons.

Her compositions were mostly for the piano, and often quite short. Here is an example, Waltz No 1 in E-flat major.

Maria Szymanowska - Waltz No 1 in E-flat major


ANTONIO XIMÉNEZ was born into a family of musicians in Spain. Sorry, we don't know what he looks like. He toured extensively playing violin for an opera company, but they got into trouble because they were considered too frivolous.

Antonio wasn't affected by this and he was invited by King Carlos III to play for him. He remained there for the rest of his life, playing and composing. One such composition is his Guitar Trio No. 1 in D major, the first movement.

♫ Antonio Ximénez - Guitar Trio No. 1 in D major (1)



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 September 2017

ALEX BENNETT INTERVIEWS WIFE No. 2: ME

From 1965 to 1971, I was married to Alex Bennett, a radio talk show host who now does an interview program on the internet and on Wednesday, he interviewed me.

This is a screen grab from the interview; I'm posting it because I don't like most photographs of me and I do like this one.

Ronni with Alex2017_09_06_680

Below is the full interview, about 30 minutes. We recorded it with Skype and had trouble with the audio/video sync so my voice lags a bit; I hope it doesn't bother you too much. Plus, I know the length at the bottom of the video reads 1:56:36, but the video stops at 32.25 where my interview ends.

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests after me, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or YouTube or Vimeo.

SHRINKING THE WORLD 87 TIMES SMALLER

Something called Gulliver's Gate are creating miniatures of the world's most famous sites. Here is a short video about them from The New York Times 360 series. (Hold down your left mouse button and scroll around to view the images from other angles.)

You can see much more about the miniatures of Gulliver's Gate at the website.

ANARCHIST ANIMALS

As the Bored Panda site tell us, these are “bad-ass animals that won't follow your stupid rules” and it's really funny how they fool us humans. Two examples:

Bird Repellent

This second one needs a bit of explanation: Someone tried to fool a squid by putting it in front of a background that its camouflage can't possibly handle. No problem, said the squid, and just made itself transparent. So there!

Squid transparent

More at Bored Panda.

HOW FOOD AFFECTS OUR BRAINS

You probably know most of the information in this video about what we should eat but I was interested in how each kind of nutrient affects our brains and, therefore, our bodies.

JEAN ROBERTSON ON HAVING A SOUTHERN ACCENT

Now be honest: all you northerners, like me, think that southern accents sound kind of funny and signal that the person speaking might be none too bright. We're wrong, of course, but it happens.

Here, then. is comedian Jean Robertson on how her southern accent went over in Lansing, Michigan:

FOR OLD PEOPLE ONLY

TGB's Sunday TGB musicologist, Peter Tibbles, sent this Nonsequiter cartoon:

Nonsequiter Cartoon

ECO-FRIENDLY HOBBIT HOMES IN WALES

As the YouTube page explains:

In Pembrokeshire, Wales, the cutest, handmade houses have been popping up around the county. These wee homes, made of natural, locally sourced materials and scavenged bits from the surrounding countryside, embody low-impact living.

“What exactly does that mean? It means that the inhabitants who built these houses, like Simon and Jasmine Dale, grow and cultivate the vast majority of what they consume.

“The two have been living in their very own hobbit-sized house since 2003. And now, they're helping others build similar homes in the Lamma community—the country's first eco-village.

HOW WILL HISTORY JUDGE PRESIDENT TRUMP?

Six historians each take a whack at answering that question in the current issue of Vanity Fair.

It's a long read but worth your time plus the caricatures by Barry Blitt, Edward Sorel, Ross MacDonald, Darrow, Andre Carrilho and Steve Brodner are delightful. Here's one of them, by Carrilho:

Carrilho Trump

You'll find the full story at Vanity Fair.

MAGIC WHEELCHAIRS

Ryan and Lana Weimer celebrate Halloween all year round: The couple from Keizer, Oregon, runs a nonprofit called Magic Wheelchair which the two founded in early 2015 to build elaborate—and free—costumes for kids in wheelchairs.

503613-Magic Wheelchair

Magic Wheelchair—which is funded by individual and corporate donors—relies on teams of local volunteers around the country who work together to build costumes for children in their communities. To be considered for a costume, families fill out an online application, which provides the nonprofit with a kid's biography and a description of their desired ensemble.

Here is a video about the organization:

You can read more at Mental Floss and visit the Magic Wheelchair website.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Some Advantages of Being Old

Advantagetobeing102

Crabby Old Lady and I have spent a lot of time here in the past couple of months writing about one of the big downsides of old age, serious medical problems. Let's do something different today.

Here is a list of some of the advantages to growing old. I forgot to note where this came from so apologies to whomever I've cribbed it from.

Oh, and if you think some of these are ageist, don't. It's okay among ourselves as you'll see when you realize you're nodding in recognition at each one.

You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

It's okay to talk to yourself.

You can't remember when you last laid on the floor to watch television.

You can nap whenever you feel like it.

You can reread old books because you've forgotten the ending anyway (similarly for TV shows and movies).

Your eyes won't get much worse.

Your secrets are safe because your friends' memories are no better than your own.

Almost all the difficult, major decisions in life are behind you.

You can stop trying to keep up with technology.

You could call that list a bunch of silliness, but admit, you've had these thoughts yourself.

The list came to mind recently when I read a story at Lifehack titled 6 Benefits of Getting Older You Probably Never Expected.

You can tell from the headline that it is written for people who are much younger than you and I and in fact, there is nothing in the article that I didn't already know.

But it is good thing nonetheless because it is important that young people and American culture at large be repeatedly reminded that life doesn't end at age 40 or 50 and often gets better as the years pile up.

Noting that no one escapes growing old and that young people's fears of old age are not necessarily invalid, they probably have not considered the advantages. Here are writer Devon Dings' six benefits:

1. We Have Much Clearer Priorities
As we grow older, we are able to differentiate our needs from our wants while focusing on the matters and goals in our lives that are relevant.

2. We Don’t Care As Much What Others Think
It is when we realize that others’ judgment isn’t fatal that we will finally be able to start taking the chances and risks that we’ve held back from.

3. It’s Easier to Manage Our Emotions
We realize how little the opinions of others really affect us, and are able to transform the anger and sadness that we receive into motivational thoughts.

4. Headaches Are Fewer and Further Between
At the start of the study [in 1994] all patients claimed to suffer from one to six migraines a month. When Dr. Dahlof followed up with the patients in 2006, at least 30% of them had not experienced a migraine within the last two years.

PERSONAL NOTE: I never suffered migraines but I had a headache several times a week for most of my adulthood. They diminished as I got older and disappeared entirely 10-15 years ago.)

5. We Have Higher Sense of Self-Worth
At this point in time we have proven over and over that we can do it, and that there isn’t a better way to learn than by failing.... We base our choices [now] on what we can do, or are interested in achieving.

6. We Can Learn From Our Children and Grandchildren
Our children and grandchildren, who have grown up in this new world, will have the capability to assist us and fill in any information gaps. We will have taught these individuals the necessities of living, and the skills required to survive, now they will assist us to do the same.

You can read Dings' full explanations for each one at Lifehack and I am wondering what you would add to his list. Let us know below in the comments.