Are you wearing green today? How is it, do you think, that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day?

This video doesn't answer all the questions anyone might have about this holiday, but there were a couple of things I didn't know.


Civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond this week became the first woman to be featured on Canadian currency. This is how Desmond's sister reacted to the honor for her late sibling. (Thank you Jim Stone.)

More about Viola Desmond here.


My friend Chuck Nyren (May I call you my friend, Chuck?) posted a terrific blog story last week about his love for actor Helen Mirren:

”I hate it when I love someone everybody else loves. I feel like I’m just a boring, average, celebrity-obsessed dunderhead. But I do love Helen Mirren.

“Not just lately. I remember her in the 1970s (Oh, Lucky Man!), before long she hid out (from me) doing theatre in England, then popped up again in the 1990s. She was great in The Madness of King George.

“Since then Helen’s made a few flicks and TV shows. What she did a few days ago knocked me out.

What she did was allow herself to be photographed sans makeup for the Oscar show with a followup photo after the artists finished their work on her face and hair. And then, AND THEN, she published the photos to Instagram. I would expect nothing less from her because she is as much a favorite of mine, for all the many good reasons, as for Chuck. Here are the before and after:


You can read Chuck's entire post at Advertising For Baby Boomers.


Remember that little creep Martin Shkreli who bought the rights to the drug Daraprim and then increased the price by 5000 percent?

This past week he was sentenced to seven years in prison – but for a different lawbreaking, not Daraprim:

”Martin 'Pharma Bro' Shkreli was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison and a $75,000 fine after he was found guilty of defrauding his investors last year,” reports Huffpost.

“Shkreli, however, is best known for an affront to the American public: hiking up the price of the lifesaving drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent in September 2015.”

But guess what. Even with all the terrible publicity and condemnations, the drug still costs $750 per pill:

”HuffPost contacted a representative Vyera Pharmaceuticals, Turing Pharmaceuticals’ new name. A company representative confirmed that Daraprim still costs $750 out of pocket, with a reduced price for patients who meet certain federal poverty guidelines.”

What makes it even worse is that there is no alternative for Daraprim. You can read more here.


”Gyosen Asakura’s temple is not your average place of worship,” the Youtube page tells us. “Using his training as a professional DJ, Asakura combines Buddhist scripture with techno beats to create a unique experience. His innovative services have attracted a new generation of people with hundreds flocking to witness the DJ Monk bring his temple to life.”

Take a look:


For hundreds of years there has been a secret pub hidden inside the Tower of London. It is private, just for the Beefeaters and their guests. Here's a short video:

Read more about the pub at Atlas Obscura.


Watching harpy eagles being destroyed in the wilds of Venezuela, Alexander Blanco Márquez decided to take matters into his own hands.Now, he’s going to extremes to protect these eagles, often putting his own life on the line.


That's what Jim Stone said in his email sending me this and I agree:


Damian Aspinall and his wife, Victoria, made a special trip to a gorilla sanctuary in Gabon. The Gorillas had met Damian before but they had never met his wife. This is the moment where the gorillas decide if Victoria is welcome or not.

Thank you, Darlene Costner, for this.

* * *

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.

Stephen Hawking 1942 – 2018

Even though I generally can't understand anything about physics, gravity, black holes and all the other challenging subjects physicist Stephen Hawking studied, I've always read everything I came across about him and somehow, even though he had lived with Lou Gehrig's Disease all his adult life, it never occurred to me that he could die.

So I was shocked earlier this week to see the headline that he had died in his home in Cambridge, England, at age 76. Hawking was our generation's Einstein, the loveable genius who had miraculously survived beyond age 24 that doctors had given him, and who made physics sexy.

Leonard Mlodinow, writing in The New York Times following Hawking's death put the same idea more clearly than I did:

”In popular culture Stephen was another kind of miracle: a floating brain, a disembodied intellect that fit snugly into the stereotype of the genius scientist.”

He was/still is one of my top favorite celebrities.

I read his first book, A Brief History of Time when it was published in 1988, and a few years later, The Universe in a Nutshell, believing – at least while I was reading them – that I actually understood. Yeah. Right.

The Guardian published a few of the many accolades from people who knew, loved or admired Hawking:

“'Stephen was far from being the archetypal unworldy or nerdish scientist. His personality remained amazingly unwarped by his frustrations,' said Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, who praised Hawking’s half century of work as an 'inspiring crescendo of achievement.' He added: 'Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time.'”
”Hawking’s children said: 'We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. “'He once said: “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” We will miss him for ever.'”
”The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield lamented on Twitter that 'Genius is so fine and rare', while Theresa May noted Hawking’s 'courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration.' The US rock band Foo Fighters was more succinct, calling Hawking a 'fucking legend.'”

In 2014, John Oliver interviewed Hawking for his HBO program, Last Week Tonight. The encounter was priceless then, moreso now:

Actor Eddie Redmayne played Hawking in the film, The Theory of Everything. If you haven't seen it, you should track it down. Redmayne won the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Hawking.

Here are just a very few of the many accolades and tributes and memories of Hawking from around the web:

Interview about the existence of heaven

Hawking on climate change

Why Hawking was not afraid of death

A brief bio from the University of Cambridge, where he worked

A short overview of his career

And here is a video of 10 memorable quotations from Professor Hawking. The Youtube page is correct: “Some are funny, others are thought-provoking, but all are incredibly wise.”

The world lost one of the greatest men of our generation this week. I feel blessed to have “known” him, even at a great distance.

The Future of Social Security Under Trump

(EDITORIAL NOTE Oops, how did this happen. It's long and wonky again but it's important.)

* * *

Did you know that due to President Donald Trump's dereliction in appointing federal agency heads, the Social Security Administration is now without even an “acting commissioner” due to regulation limits in regard the length of time someone can hold that title?

As the Washington Post reports, Trump has nominated no one for 216 of 640 positions that require Senate confirmation:

“President Barack Obama nominated Carolyn W. Colvin, but she was not confirmed by the Senate. Nancy A. Berryhill held the acting commissioner title from January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, until Wednesday, the day after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled that her service violated the law because she had held that title beyond the permitted time.”

As the Post further reports:

“'If an acting officer is serving after the relevant time periods have run, any attempt by that officer to perform a function or duty of an advice and consent office will have “no force or effect,”' Valerie C. Brannon, a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service, said Wednesday...”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has an excellent page enumerating the many ways Social Security is crucial not just to elders but to almost all Americans. Here are three of them:

”Without Social Security benefits, about 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal. With Social Security benefits, 9 percent do. The program lifts 15.1 million elderly Americans out of poverty.
”About 6 million children under age 18 lived in families that received income from Social Security in 2015.

That number included 3.1 million children who received their own benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as others who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits. Social Security lifted 1.1 million children out of poverty in 2015.
”Social Security...benefits are not means-tested. Indeed, universal participation and the absence of means-testing make Social Security very efficient to administer. Administrative costs amount to only 0.7 percent of annual benefits, far below the percentages for private retirement annuities.”

Just this week, the Census Bureau released its population projections for the years 2020 to 2060. Here is some of the salient information that will affect Social Security:

”Beginning in 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that one in every five Americans is projected to be retirement age.

“By 2035, we project that older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

“Beyond 2030, the U.S. population is projected to grow slowly, to age considerably, and to become more racially and ethnically diverse.”

"In other words, the longer Congress waits to act, the more likely it is your Social Security benefit is being reduced.”

Due to those demographic figures, as Motley Fool recently pointed out (and has been known for many years without action by the federal government), the current Social Security payout schedule is unsustainable beyond 2034:

”...Social Security is expected to begin paying out more in benefits than it's generating in revenue by 2022. Just 12 years later, in 2034, the estimated $3 trillion in asset reserves held by the program at its peak in 2022 will be completely gone...

“The [Social Security] trustees [2017] report estimates that it could result in an across-the-board cut in benefits of up to 23% just to keep the program solvent through 2091. That's a reduction in benefits for current and future retirees.

"In other words, the longer Congress waits to act, the more likely it is your Social Security benefit is being reduced.”

In 1983, during the Reagan administration when lawmakers realized Social Security needed an adjustment to sustain itself, SSA taxes were raised and full retirement age was gradually increased over 40 years from 65 to 67.

Even though it has been well known for at least a decade that Social Security now needs another adjustment, our elected officials have abdicated their responsibilities in this regard.

It is not hard to figure out how to “fix” Social Security. Experts have been telling us what is needed for many years. Among the useful possibilities:

Lift the payroll cap, currently at $128,400 of taxable earnings. All income levels should pay the same percentage rate on all their income.

Gradually increase the payroll tax. You might not think so, but Americans are amazingly open to this idea. As CNBC reported a few months ago:

”According to a survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance, 77% of Americans feel that it is critical to preserve Social Security benefits for future generations, even if it means raising taxes.

“Among respondents, 81% agreed that they don't mind paying taxes into Social Security 'because it provides security and stability to millions.' This includes majorities of every age group, income level, and political affiliation.

Those are only two ideas - two of the reasonable ones anyway - but the only proposals from Congress over the past few years are various underhanded cuts meant to destroy what is the country's most popular federal program.

It is unlikely that Congress will do anything this year about Social Security (or a whole lot of other important issues that require attention). Their session schedule is one of the shortest in history and they are thinking only about the midterm election.

During the 2017 presidential campaign, Trump promised that he would not follow Republican orthodoxy to pursue cuts to Social Security. Now, nearly 14 months into his administration, we know how reliable those promises are so it may be that Congress's inattention is a good thing until after the November election.

It would be an excellent idea, during the rest of 2018, for the Social Security Administration to develop a policy and strategy to fix the shortfall so to have it ready to go in Congress in 2019.

But that's hard to do when the president of the United States neglects his sworn duties and refuses to appoint a commissioner to lead the effort.

Do Dreams Change in Old Age?

PERSONAL NOTE: Apparently it is interview season at TimeGoesBy. There are the ongoing Skype chats with my former husband, Alex; the recent print interview with Debbie Reslock at Next Avenue; and today, an audio interview with Jana Panarites of Agewyz. Scroll to the bottom of this post for our interview.

* * *

It has been many years since I last remembered a dream. Sometimes there are fragments when I wake but they float away before I can grab hold of them.

That's probably just as well because in a lifetime, the single pleasant dream I recall is flying around my bedroom having a marvelous time swooping and dipping, rising again and seeing the room from a whole new angle. It was a load of fun and that happened in about 1960 when I was 19 or 20.

All the other dreams I remember are anxiety- or fear-ridden, like the one that began when I was about six years old. A huge bear was chasing me. I ran into a room, slammed the door shut believing I had avoided him but turned around to see that the bear was still there.

I ran out of the room, found an elevator, punched a button and when I turned around again, there was the bear. And so on.

That dream, which repeated now and then for several years, finally stopped but I have never forgotten it or the fear it induced. Apparently being chased by a bear is a common dream and at least one dream interpreter says this:

”To dream that a bear is chasing you and you are running away in fear, this means you are avoiding a big issue in your life, and it is time to deal with it.”

I don't have any truck with dream interpretation to begin with an it feels like a stretch to apply an adult psychological concept to a first-grader.

This and a few other dreams impressive enough to not forget came to mind while reading an Aeon essay about how dreams change throughout our lifetimes. I hoped part of it would be a good discussion of how elders' dreams are similar or different from younger people's but there was only this:

”Older adults tend to dream more about creative works, legacies and enduring concerns, while the dreams of dying people are filled with numbers of supernatural agents, other-worldly settings and images of reunions with a loved one who has died.”

Nevertheless, the rest of the piece, written by Patrick McNamara, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a professor at Northcentral University, dropped some fascinating information on me:

”...amputees very often dream themselves intact,” he writes. “They might not experience the loss of their limb in dreams even years after the amputation, and even if the physical handicap was congenital.

“Similarly, dreams of the congenitally deaf-mute or those of the congenitally paraplegic cannot be distinguished from those of non-handicapped subjects. It is as if the dream has access to the whole dreamer who is a different person from the individual anchored in waking consciousness.

“Dream reports from deaf-mute individuals involve them talking and hearing normally. Patients with varying degrees of paraplegia report themselves flying, running, walking and swimming. The dream is accessing somebody different from the waking individual who is having the dream.”

And on a historical note, this:

”Dreams differ...dramatically across historical epochs. The dreams of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and indeed the dreams of most peoples of the ancient world, were viewed as direct portals into the spirit world and the realm of the ancestors and gods.

“Ancient peoples (and traditional peoples even today) often experienced dreams as the place to conduct a transaction with a spirit being who could significantly help or hinder you in your daily affairs.”

I probably could have used a good spirit guide for this dream that, even after 25 years or so, I remember in detail:

I was a contestant on a television game show. The host and I were on one side of a stage facing the live audience and cameras. A wall divided the stage in half and on the other side of it stood two men, I was told, with hand guns poised and if I got the next question wrong, they would come around the wall and shoot me.

It was a yes-or-no question and although I don't remember what it was, I do recall pondering that I had a 50/50 chance of dying in the next minute or so and no way to change the odds.

The only chance I had, I told myself, was that this was a dream. It didn't feel like a dream, I didn't believe it was a dream, but I had nothing to lose if I tried to awaken myself.

And I did, breathing heavily, scared to death – so to speak – and I sat in bed that night with the light on for a good, long time.

Professor McNamara concludes in part:

”The huge variety of dream states suggests that dreaming is just as important as waking life for biologic fitness, and very likely has multiple generative mechanisms and functions. For example, dreaming about scary threats likely helps us to avoid those threats during the daytime...”

You can be sure I will never appear on a TV game show.

There may not be much in McNamara's story about dreams in old age but there is a lot more information about the purposes of dreams which you can read here. Plus, there are several more pieces on the topic of dreams at his website.

Have your dreams changed as you have grown older?

* * *

A couple of weeks ago, I spent about an hour on the phone with Jana Panarites. She is the founder of Agewyz Media Group, created in 2014 to raise awareness in the media about the plight of caregivers in the US and to promote healthy aging across the generations.

The Agewyz Podcast, Agewyz Media’s main property, explains Jana, is an online radio program distributed weekly on multiple platforms including iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music, in addition to the nationally syndicated Speak Up Talk Radio Network.

I had a fine ol' time with Jana that day. Here is the interview or, you can listen to it on her website which, in any case, is worth a visit.

ELDER MUSIC: Classical - Various 3

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.

* * *

Here are some classical compositions selected seemingly at random, but more that they caught my fancy when I was writing this column (well, actually, collected along the way in anticipation of the column).

Scholars have unearthed many gems from the Baroque era in recent times and JAN ZELENKA is one such.

Jan Zelenka

He was a contemporary of J.S. Bach, and old J.S. held him in high esteem and invited him to stay at his home and play music together. Jan's style is very daring with inventive harmony and complex counterpoint. He really was a towering figure of his time, only recently being restored to his pedestal.

This is the second movement of the Trio Sonata for oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo No. 3 in B flat major, ZWV 181/3. This will get your toes a'tapping.

♫ Zelenka - Sonata No.3 in B-flat Major (2)

In complete contrast to Jan's tune, here is a lullaby by AMY BEACH.

Amy Beach

Amy was probably the first successful female composer, born in 1865. She was also a highly acclaimed concert pianist and wrote works for the instrument as well as symphonies, choral works and chamber music.

Her husband, 24 years her senior, disapproved of all this music nonsense and restricted her somewhat. She blossomed as a composer and performer after he died. Her lullaby is called Berceuse, Op. 40, No 2, and it's scored for piano and cello.

♫ Amy Beach - Berceuse Op. 40 #2

If you mention LUDWIG BEETHOVEN in connection with an instrument, most people would say piano.


That's not surprising as he wrote the best piano music in history. However, in his first paying gig playing music, he played both violin and viola. Contemporary reports tell us that he remained a superb violinist all his life.

It's that instrument that we ostensibly feature today: the first movement of his Violin Sonata No 3 in E flat major Op. 12.

Getting back to my initial statement, to my ears, this sounds like a piano sonata or some other piano piece with a bit of violin thrown in for good measure. That's not to denigrate it – the piano part is superb.

♫ Beethoven - Violin Sonata in E flat major Op. 12 No. 3 (1)

FREDERICK THE GREAT, or Frederick II of Prussia was a military leader of some renown, but he was also considered quite an enlightened ruler for his time (middle eighteenth century).

Frederick II

He had a real passion for music and collected the best composers and performers of the time to play with him. It seems that he was a skilled flute player and he also wrote music that was really quite good. Of course, who was going to tell him that it wasn't?

On the basis of his compositions, which are elegant, sophisticated and demonstrate considerable imagination, we have to assume he played as well as he wrote. Here is the first movement of his Flute Concerto in C major.

♫ Friedrich II - Flute Concerto in C major (1)

Whenever anyone mentions ERIK SATIE, the thing that first springs to mind is Gymnopedies, and the next is probably Gnossiennes.

Erik Satie

There's more to Erik but like the previously mentioned works, it's pretty much all to do with the piano. What we have today is called Je Te Veux, which has also been turned into a vocal piece as well, but here's the original played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and it'll have you waltzing around the kitchen.

♫ Satie - Je Te Veux

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH wrote round about 220 cantatas.

JS Bach

These are some of the finest music in history and I like to listen to one every week or two, maybe more if I'm in the mood. The one for this week is called J'ai mis Mon Coeur et Mon Esprit, BWV 92, the first movement.

♫ Bach JS - Cantata BWV 92 mis Mon Coeur et Mon Esprit (1)

JUAN CRISÓSTOMO ARRIAGA was a child prodigy. Well, he had to be as, unfortunately for us, and even more unfortunately for him, he died at age 19 (probably from tuberculosis).

Juan Crisostomo Arriaga1

He was often called the Spanish Mozart. In his short life he managed to write an opera, a symphony, several string quartets, a number of works for the church, a nonet and quite a few other things. Here we have the first movement of his String Quartet No 2 A Major.

♫ Arriaga - String Quartet No 2 A Major (1)

Speaking of WOLFGANG MOZART, here is another violin sonata, with some similarities to Beethoven's.


It's the last one he wrote and the one respect in which it resembles Ludwig's is that the piano is dominant and the violin plays a lesser role. Indeed, Wolfie suggested that it be called a sonata for piano with violin. Anyway, its official title is Violin Sonata No. 36, F Major K. 547. This is the first movement.

♫ Mozart - Violin Sonata No. 36 F Major K. 547 (1)

CARL MARIA VON WEBER apparently was a brilliant pianist and his compositions for the instrument had a profound effect of Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn.

Carl Maria von Weber

His compositions for wind instruments, particularly the clarinet and French horn, were equally influential. He is loved by bassoon players as he wrote for that instrument too, something few others have done.

However, it's the clarinet we're interested in today, and in particular the third movement of his Clarinet Concerto No 1 in F minor, J 114 Op 73.

♫ Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor Op 73 J1140 (3)



According to the YouTube page:

”Over the last 12 years, David Deutchman has held and soothed over 1,200 babies at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital. He’s a 'baby buddy,' a person who spends time comforting babies who are delivered prematurely or who may require special medical attention.

“Nicknamed 'the baby whisperer' by nurses, David’s nurturing support has become a godsend for parents while they are away at work or caring for children at home.”


Don't forget to “spring forward” tonight by changing your clocks by one hour as daylight saving time begins.


Most of us loathe this ritual each March and November – I certainly do - and the state of Florida is trying to do something about that:

”Lawmakers in Florida are tired of the whole fall back and spring forward rigamarole. So they've approved a bill to keep Daylight Saving Time going throughout the year in their state,” reports CNN.

“It took the state Senate less than a minute Tuesday to pass the "Sunshine Protection Act." There were only two dissenters. (The House passed it 103-11 on February 14.)

“The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott -- but it's far from a done deal after that, Even if the governor approves, a change like this will literally take an act of Congress.”

But it's a step in the right direction. Maybe more states will join in to convince Congress it is time to let go of this irritating semi-annual ritual. You can read more about Florida's move here.


The Mental Floss website, ever eager to pass on obscure information, historical and contemporary, gives us seven ways people woke up at the hour they wanted before there were alarm clocks. Here are two of them:

The Knocker-Up
“The Knocker-Up (also referred to as a Knocker-Upper) gained prominence during the Industrial Revolution, using a long stick with wire or a knob affixed to the end to rouse customers at a desired time. Clients would agree verbally in advance, or simply post a preferred time on doors or windows.

“For a few pence a week, clients could rest assured knowing their Knocker Upper would not leave until he (Knocker Ups were almost always men) was certain a person was awake. Larger factories and mills often employed their own Knocker Ups to ensure laborers made it to work on time.”

Bladder Control
“Early man drank tons and tons of water if he needed to wake up before the sun. Why? Well, if you're over the age of 30 or so, you probably know what getting up in the middle of the night to urinate is all about. The custom of 'over-drinking' before bed was even utilized by Native Americans well into the 20th century.”

You can read about five more early wake-up systems at Mental Floss.


On his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver explores the weird world of NRA-TV (National Rifle Association). As always, he has most of the best political jokes of the week and it is definitely worth the investment of your time.

If you're interested in checking out NRA-TV for yourself, you will find it here.


In honor of International Women's Day this past week, toymaker Mattel released three new “inspiring” Barbie dolls along with 14 Shero dolls. Here's a video report from a local TV news program in Columbus, Ohio:

You can see each of the 17 new Barbies side-by-side with photos of their real-life counterparts at Bored Panda.


TGB reader and friend, Darlene Costner, sent this video of 20 designs for modern homes, mostly space savers that are quite cleverly thought out. They may not all be to your taste, but be sure to stick around for the last one: so silly.


As reported in these pages a couple of weeks ago, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, filed a ruling to take effect on 23 April that will reverse the net neutrality provisions put in place to protect consumers by the Obama administration.

Go to the link above to get the full story on why net neutrality is so important to consumers and to the the country.

Several states had threatened to sue and now a judicial review panel announced that challenges to the rollback will be heard by a San Francisco appeals court. Reuters reports:

”The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation said it randomly selected the U.S. Ninth Circuit hear the consolidated challenges. The FCC declined to comment on the decision.

“A dozen challenges have been filed by 22 state attorneys general, public interest groups, internet companies, a California county and the state’s Public Utilities Commission seeking to block the Trump administration’s repeal of landmark rules designed to ensure a free and open internet from taking effect.

“The suits were filed in both the Ninth Circuit and District of Columbia appeals court. Of the Ninth Circuit court’s 24 active judges, 18 were appointed by Democratic presidents and six by Republican President George W. Bush. There are six current vacancies and President Donald Trump has nominated two candidates.”

You can read more here about this important challenge to one of the many Trump administration efforts to curtail public access to information.


On Tuesday, Trump revoked another Obama administration ruling disallowing import of wild animal trophies from Africa. Here is an NBC News report about the change:

You can read more details here.


Most Saturdays I end this Interesting Stuff column with a cat or, at least, an animal video. There is no dearth of such material on the internet so that I am never at a loss for something new to show you.

Sometimes, however, a repeat is more than worth it. This video of a cat watching a horror movie was the number one viral video of the year in 2016, so I am certainly not alone in laughing out loud no matter how many times I see it.

* * *

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.

Living and Dying: A Love Story

At the bottom of this page is the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show – a conversation between me and my former husband, Alex Bennett, that we recorded on Tuesday.

Early in the recording, Alex (who lives in New York City) asked about Oregon's Death With Dignity Act – that is, physician-assisted suicide – and as serendipity sometimes has it, later that day as I was looking around the web, a documentary about an Oregon married couple's choice to die together in this way turned up.

Living and Dying: A Love Story is powerful and poignant, sad and uplifting and by the end, you know this couple, Charlie and Francie Emerick, made the right choice for them.

The couple's daughter, Sher Safran and her husband, Rob, asked permission to record her parents' final days and hours, and also gained their approval to share the video publicly.

Both Charlie and Francie had been diagnosed with less than six months to live and they are thought to be the only couple to take the drugs together. Kaiser Health News (KNH) reports,

”The pair, early members of the 1980s-era Hemlock Society, had supported the choice for years, and, when their illnesses worsened, they were grateful to have the option for themselves, family members said.

“'This had always been their intention,'” said [another] daughter Jerilyn Marler, 66, who was the couple’s primary caretaker in recent years. 'If there was a way they could manage their own deaths, they would do it.'”

And so they did, taking the state-prescribed medication together on 20 April 2017. Kaiser Health News again:

Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.

“'They had no regrets, no unfinished business,' said Sher Safran, 62, one of the pair’s three grown daughters. 'It felt like their time, and it meant so much to know they were together.'”

But that is only the bare bones of the story. Sher and Rob, using mostly cell phone video, have produced a remarkable record not only of her parents' long (66 years) and loving marriage, but of the procedure involved with using the Death With Dignity Law in Oregon that so many of us are curious about.

Here is a trailer from the Safrans' 45-minute documentary, Living and Dying: A Love Story.

You can see a short, 20-minute version of the documentary at the Safran's website, Share Wisdom Network, where the longer, full version is also available to view online. (Scroll down to get to them.)

It is astonishingly brave to make this choice of controlling one's death – choosing time and day and making preparations. I've always said that I want to die in my sleep although I'm told most people say this and that it doesn't happen often.

Physician-assisted suicide is, to me, a good alternative when you know there is no chance of recovery and that your life will become considerably more difficult and/or painful toward the end. I would hope, in that circumstance, I would make the decision Charlie and Francie Emerick did.

Here are a couple of links that may interest you:

Wikipedia overview of U.S. states that allow assisted suicide.
Oregon Health Authority's section on the Death With Dignity Act with answers to your questions.

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The Alex and Ronni Show
Recorded Tuesday 6 April 2018.

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 on YouTube or Vimeo.

Crabby Old Lady Watches the Academy Awards

Did you watch the Academy Award show last Sunday? Crabby Old Lady did. There wasn't much else on the tube then and it's the sort of program Crabby can watch here and there that doesn't much disturb the reading she's doing in between.

If you didn't watch, don't go getting all snobby about it. The Oscars are an American tradition – admittedly fading, probably with Crabby's generation – but still kind of fun to see the pretty ladies all dressed up in ways almost no one does anymore.

And having produced a lot of TV shows in her past, Crabby likes watching the production values on a program that's more lavish and complex, especially live, than most of what's on television.

This is an eye candy type of show. It doesn't take any special attention or thought – just let it wash over you. Or not.

It was heartening to Crabby from the start to see the diversity and inclusion of the landscape: Muslims, immigrants, a better mix of skin colors than usual and (drum roll) women, lots of women. Crabby thinks that might be something we can thank Harvey Weinstein for.

And then Sandra Bullock showed up as a presenter. Until that moment, it hadn't occurred to Crabby to think anything one way or another about old people's participation.

Bullock is 53 years old. She looked wonderful – gorgeous, in fact. So why did she think she had to say this?

“Wow, it’s bright,” she said. “It’s really bright. Guys, the set looks amazing, everything looks really great. The lighting is really well lit, but can we just dim it just a little bit so I can go back to my 40s? A little lower, 39, keep going, 38, 38, 38, no, 35, now that's the sweet spot!"

Did she think that was funny? It wasn't to Crabby Old Lady. It could have been if we lived in a different world, if old people were generally treated with the same respect as Ms. Bullock is at mid-age. But instead of inclusion, Bullock chose the opposite.

This disparagement of elders didn't stop with Bullock. In fact, it had started at the top of the show.

Host Jimmy Kimmel's digs at 88-year-old, best supporting actor nominee, Christopher Plummer, began with this gem directed at Plummer sitting in the first row: “How does Lin Manuel-Miranda compare to the real Alexander Hamilton?”

And Kimmel (age 50) didn't let up on age jokes directed at Plummer throughout the rest of the broadcast.

Crabby sat up at attention yet again when Jane Fonda (age 80) and Helen Mirren (age 72) took to the stage together. Mirren opened with, “Jane and I are very, very honored to have been asked to present together on Oscar’s 90th birthday.”

Okay, that's nice enough for an awards show but then Fonda responded, “Yeah, especially when we found out he’s older than we are. Right?”

No, Fonda, you're wrong. Crabby Old Lady thinks she looked lovely at the Oscars but ruined it the moment she opened her mouth.

Having spent several hours in the company of Hollywood actors on Sunday evening, Crabby could rant on about how plastic surgery plays a big part in perpetuating ageist behavior toward old people, but she will hold on to that thought for another day.

Even with all the age “jokes,” there were some magnificent bright spots involving old show biz folks. Start with Rita Moreno, age 86, who showed up wearing the same dress she wore – wait for it – 56 years ago, in 1962, when she won the Oscar for her role in West Side Story. Here's a little video of Moreno in that dress from the red carpet:

(That's Rita Moreno's daughter standing next to her.)

Ninety-three-year-old Eva Marie Saint was stunning in all ways as she presented an award - and she didn't make any ugly age jokes.

Agnes Varda, 89, was among nominees for best documentary feature, and James Ivory, also 89, became the oldest Oscar winner of all time for best adapted screenplay, Call Me By Your Name.

So Crabby response was mixed. She was pleasantly surprised at the diversity in general and specifically at the number of old people featured at the 90th Oscars. But she was terribly disappointed at the entrenched ageist beliefs that even some old people themselves won't let go of.

And don't go thinking this is a small thing. That it happens throughout the country in media and in everyday life thousands of times a day is what makes it so awful, these small insults aimed at old people - their looks, their behavior, their supposed slow-wittedness.

Every incidence of it perpetuates the indignities and makes it safe for others to join in. Crabby no longer believes this will change in her lifetime.

Small Pleasures

As many TGB readers noted on the posts I wrote about my cancer, small pleasures are closely related to the idea of living in the moment.

We usually develop an appreciation of such commonplaces throughout our lives but are so busy in our midyears that we hardly recognize their importance.

Nevertheless, they accumulate over time. Here are a few that never fail to please me.

Hot showers. Twice in my life, men I was dating thought it was a sexy idea to shower together. Hmmmph. They both suffered from the same malady: to me, what they called hot felt like jumping into a flowing river in January.

But alone, ahhhh - the hot, hot water pouring over my head and shoulders and down my body from above, perhaps just a tad too hot so that it becomes almost a meditation. It is sublime and best of all, I get to do it every day.

A great perk of being retired is snuggling in bed on a cold, winter morning. Even though in retirement there is nowhere I need to be, I still feel a little giddy, like I'm getting away with something, and the bed (why is this?) is never more comfortable than just before rising.

Cat watching. As much time as they spend sleeping (some say 17 hours a day), cats are busy little creatures when they are awake.

There is a lot of “laundry” to do keeping their fur groomed and if you pay attention you will see that they pause now and then to stare into space – as though the licking maybe makes them high.

Cats are especially fascinating when they don't know you're watching but even then, it's hard to catch them doing anything that isn't as graceful as a ballerina. Which is, of course, what make it so funny when they miscalculate a jump.

It's even funnier when they know you've caught them being ungainly and they try to pretend they planned it that way.

Full moon. For reasons I don't know, it seem more beautiful in winter than summer; I never tire of seeing a full moon etched against the dark sky on a cold, clear night – like someone hung it up there just for me.

What a pleasure it is to have a book you can't put down and strain to keep your eyes open while reading in bed at night, eager to find out what's next. Even better is looking forward to getting back to such a book later after you did fall asleep while reading.

Ice cream. Need I say more?

New-fallen snow early in the morning. I will quote myself on this one as I wrote it 12 years ago:

”Is there anything better than waking in winter to the special hush a new snowfall brings to the big city? It is different from silence. Listen carefully and you will find that the sound of the quiet can be heard, especially at dawn.

“It is irresistible then to bundle up in layers, pull on a fur hat and go out into the street just as the sky is turning from black to sapphire blue - and be the first on my block to make footprints, and even an angel, in the snow.”

That worked in New York City and I miss it now. We don't get enough snow in northwest Oregon to be able to hear the silence, and certainly not to make a snow angel.

The first crocuses. What you can take pleasure in in Oregon, however, are the first crocuses that surprise me every year when they peek their purple or white heads up when you think it's still too early for them to bloom. They always makes me smile.

Here is a little video dissertation I found on the importance of small pleasures.

When small pleasures really pay off, I think, is in our late years when natural decline or illness can prevent our grander pleasures, especially physical ones.

What are your favorite small pleasures?

ELDER MUSIC: Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News

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.

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Ronni was the inspiration for this column. I hope she doesn't mind. (Ronni here: Of course, I don't mind.)

I'll start with the song that provided the column's name. The song isn't actually called that, it's part of the lyrics, but I'm sure that if asked, most people who know the song would refer to it that way. It's by ROBERT PALMER.

Robert Palmer

The official title is Bad Case of Loving You, but you can call it anything you want. I know I do.

♫ Robert Palmer - Bad Case Of Loving You

The two best albums THE BEATLES recorded were "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". From the latter one we have Doctor Robert.


I always think of them as part 1 and 2 of the same album because I didn't buy them when they came out. It was later when I got them on CD at the same time, thus my conflating them that way. Here is that song.

♫ The Beatles - Doctor Robert

It seems only fair that we follow that one with the ROLLING STONES. Something from their best album "Beggars Banquet".

Rolling Stones

It's far from the best song on the album but it fits this column’s requirement. The song is Dear Doctor.

♫ Rolling Stones - Dear Doctor

Unlike everyone else today, RAY CHARLES doesn’t need any medical advice.

Ray Charles

Ray says that I Don't Need No Doctor. Well, I suppose he doesn’t anymore.

♫ Ray Charles - I Don't Need No Doctor

From very early in his career, indeed from his first album, JACKSON BROWNE gives us Doctor My Eyes.

Jackson Browne

This made the pointy end of the hit parade (something that seldom happened for Jackson) and besides that, it was covered by quite a few other artists, so it turned into a nice little earner for him.

♫ Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes

I thought of Doctor Jazz before I even started searching for songs. I remember back in the fifties’ and sixties’ trad jazz revival it was almost de rigueur to include it in every concert. I knew I had quite a few versions. When I spotted JELLY ROLL MORTON, I decided it had to be the one.

Jelly Roll Morton

His was the earliest version I have. It was written by King Oliver in 1926 and Jelly recorded it the same year. As far as I can tell this was the first recording of the tune.

♫ Jelly Roll Morton - Doctor Jazz

JOHN D. LOUDERMILK was mostly a songwriter, he wrote many hits for others in the fifties and sixties.

John D Loudermilk

He also liked to record some of his own songs, several of which did really well on the charts. One of those, in our category today, is Callin' Doctor Casey. Those who watched TV in the early sixties will know of whom he sings.

♫ John D. Loudermilk - Callin' Doctor Casey

I’m quite a fan of MILLIE JACKSON, so I was surprised to find I have only included her in a column once before. So, here she is again.

Millie Jackson

This is far from her best, but even ordinary Millie is well worth a listen. She’s calling for a Love Doctor.

♫ Millie Jackson - Love Doctor

Rather surprisingly, I was unfamiliar with the GUY CLARK song I selected. I thought I knew them all, but there it was on one of his albums ("Old Friends").

Guy Clark

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist didn't know it either but when I played it we both agreed that it should be included. Well, we pretty much think that anything Guy did was okay with us. The song is Doctor Good Doctor.

♫ Guy Clark - Doctor Good Doctor

Rather than, as with everyone else, going to the doc, MUDDY WATERS has decided that he’s one himself.

Muddy Waters

I don’t know if I’d want him to operate on me, but if he played and sang for me I’d be all for it. Here he is telling us that I'm Your Doctor.

♫ Muddy Waters - I'm Your Doctor

...and last and certainly least we have DAVID SEVILLE.

David Seville

This was the recording name of Ross Bagdasarian who was a noted songwriter. He was also responsible for the Alvin and the Chipmunks songs, films, TV programs and what not. Let's hope that Ronni doesn't visit the Witch Doctor.

♫ David Seville - Witch Doctor