AG Sessions Aiming For Marijuana Prosecutions

Today's story is an update of one from 23 October 2017 titled Cannabis and Chemo about my first visit to a marijuana dispensary to see if I could find relief for my insomnia.

Over-the-counter sleep aids don't work for me and my doctors are reluctant to give me prescription sleep drugs but one of them suggested weed (I live in Oregon where both medical and recreation marijuana are legal).

I'm expanding on this story because in the past two weeks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear he intends to find a way to agressively prosecute marijuana growers, distributors, sellers and users. He believes marijuana use is "only slightly less awful" than heroin addiction.

Oh, please.

”Sessions argued that the DOJ's hands need to be untied when it comes to prosecuting marijuana dispensaries, 'particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.' reports Amanda Marcotte in Salon.

“There is, of course, no evidence,” she continues, “that marijuana use is contributing to the opioid crisis and, in fact, there's a significant link between legalized medical marijuana and a decrease in opioid overdoses.”

First of all, opioids are about 50 times more addictive than heroin and they are the cause of the current epidemic. Rolling Stone magazine reports that early in 2017,

”...the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering released a landmark report determining that there is conclusive evidence that cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain.

“What's even more promising is that early research indicates that the plant not only could play a role in treating pain, but additionally could be effective in treating addiction itself – meaning marijuana could actually be used as a so-called 'exit drug' to help wean people off of pills or heroin.”

The reason this is of great interest to elders is that they are the fastest growing group to adopt cannabis for medical reasons.

Motley Fool reports that a recent Gallup poll shows

”...a record 64% of Americans now want to see pot legalized nationally. That's up from 60% in 2016...Support for medical weed is even higher, with a separate survey from Quinnipiac University in April 2017 finding 94% support for legalization.”

But even as old people are fast adopting marijuana especially for medical use, even growing their own in some cases to cut down costs, their acceptance of legal weed lags significantly behind young people's. Motley Foolagain:

“In the combined 2003 and 2005 analysis, Gallup found that only 29% of seniors supported the idea of legalizing weed. By 2016, as noted, this was up to 45%.

The magazine notes that it's hard to tell if elders are increasingly embracing the use of pot or if younger adults are growing into the elder age category.

However - different polls, different results. In October of 2016, The Pew Research Center survey demonstrated widespread support for sensible cannabis laws in nearly every demographic.

”The poll, conducted in August, shows 37 percent against legalization. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed, Pew reported.

Millennials – those ages 18 to 35 – are more than twice as likely to support legalization of marijuana as they were in 2006 (71 percent today, up from 34% in 2006), and are significantly more likely to support legalization than other generations.

Among Gen Xers — ages 36 to 51 — a majority (57 percent) support legalization, a considerable jump from just 21 percent in 1990.

But even Baby Boomers— ages 52 to 70 — are seeing the light: 56% percent support legalization, up from just 17 percent in 1990.”

Obviously, legalization is a trend that can't be denied.

As I noted in my previous pot post, marijuana is useful for helping to treat and/or alleviate many of the symptoms of the “diseases of age” - cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, arthritis, depression and glaucoma among many others.

I use it for sleep, having switched from cannabis candies to tincture. I have noticed – as I did in all the decades I smoked pot for fun – that there is, for me, a mild hangover the next day. I feel slightly sluggish physically and mentally so I use it only every second or, sometimes, third night.

Eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use while 29 states and the District of Columbia have done so for medical use. In 2014, Congress passed The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment which bars the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute people buying or selling medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.

Last Friday, that amendment would have expired leaving AG Sessions free to prosecute except that Congress renewed it even over objections from Sessions. However,

”Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice told Salon, 'Every time, there’s sort of a dance around whether it will actually get cut this time or not."

“It’s reasonable to be at least 'a little concerned,' Grawert said, that Sessions' pressure will eventually convince congressional Republicans to dump the amendment.

In response to that, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, and a bipartisan group of 24 other lawmakers earlier this year introduced a new piece of legislation, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would prevent the federal government from prosecuting any marijuana users, growers or distributors who are in compliance with state laws.

With all the real troubles in our country you would think the attorney general would have better things to do than chase down people whose health benefits from cannabis along with a business that brings in billions of dollars in taxes to states where the drug has been legalized. I sure don't want to lose my sleep remedy now that I've found it and I'm pretty sure millions of other elders feel the same way about the reasons they use marijuana.

You might want to let your representatives in Washington, D.C. know where you stand on this issue – even if you don't use marijuana. You can find their contact information here.



Rethinking Ageism

There has been a surge recently in the number of print media stories about ageism. Two I've seen are important.

In November, Joseph F. Coughlin, who is founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab, noted in Time magazine that old people even have their own town in Florida, The Villages. (Not that similar places don't exist elsewhere.)

At The Villages, there are a 157,000 residents age 55 and older who have developed their own culture, norms and lifestyle, says Coughlin, and he sees a “troubling possible future” where old and young segregate themselves from one another:

”The way this could happen is simple,” he writes. “Society fails to recognize the needs, desires and aspirations of older people, treating them as invisible — or, worse, as a problem to be solved.

“We continue to write a story of old age that retires people away from everyone else, rather than finding ways to engage them, to activate their talents. In response, it’s only natural that older people would choose to cloister themselves away.”

Actually, we – meaning young and old - are way ahead of Coughlin. Many of the majority of elders who do not live in Villages-style communities find other ways to isolate themselves from younger generations. And if they won't do it themselves, those younger people will do it for them.

In a recent issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Tad Friend looked into the intractable endurance of ageism quoting, at one point, four psychologists who wrote the book, Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons.

”[...they] point out that many people preserve themselves from 'death thought accessibility' by shunning 'senior citizen centers, bingo parlors, nursing homes, golf courses, Florida, and Rolling Stones concerts.'

“The authors dryly conclude,” notes Friend, 'Another way to avoid older adults is to keep them out of the workplace.'”

No kidding. A lot of us on this blog who had every intention of working longer know all about that how that works, and Friend takes Silicon Valley to task for the tech industry's patently ageist hiring practices.

As it turns out too, according to Friend, the widespread belief that Eastern cultures treat their elders with more kindness, care and understanding than our Western culture does just isn't so:

”A meta-analysis by the academics Michael S. North and Susan T. Fiske reveals that Eastern societies actually have more negative attitudes toward the elderly that Western ones do...”

And further, say North and Fiske, efforts to make old people more understandable to the young,

”'...have yielded mixed results at best.' Having students simulate the experience of being old by donning weighted suits and vision-inhibiting goggles, or exposing them to 'intergenerational contact' – actual old people – doesn't lead to kumbaya moments.

“'Such approaches do not appear to incite a long-term desire among the young for interactions with elders,' they regretfully conclude, 'and contact can backfire if older adults are particularly impaired.'”
"

It doesn't help that, as Friend writes, we tend to caricature elders into only two categories: "raddled wretches and cuddly Yodas", denying them full, rounded humanity as the young are automatically granted.

As Friend notes throughout his piece, it is fear of death that drives ageism which is what probably makes ageism unavoidable.

”If ageism is hardwired, how can we reprogram ourselves? Greenberg and Co. suggest three ways:

⚫ Having the elderly live among us and fostering respect for them
⚫ Bolstering self-esteem throughout the culture to diminish the terror of aging
⚫ Calmly accepting our inevitable deaths.

“They note, however, that 'all these directions for improvement are pie in the sky, particularly when we think of them at a society-wide or global level of change.' So ageism is probably inevitable 'in this potentially lonely and horrifying universe.'”

Or, from cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker:

”The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”

Personally and however fearful it may be, I'm working hard to live every moment I have left to its fullest.



ELDER MUSIC: Various Classical

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.

* * *

PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY sure could write a good tune.

Tchaikovsky

The one I have today will be guaranteed to get you up waltzing around your kitchen, bedroom or wherever you happen to be listening. I have selected the Waltz from the start of the second act of his opera “Eugene Onegin”. Set those tootsies free.

♫ Tchaikovsky - Waltz from Eugene Onegin


GEORGE HANDEL was born the same year as J.S. Bach, as well as geographically quite close to each other too. However, there's no evidence at all that the two giants of Baroque music ever met.

Handel

J.S. was somewhat of a homebody and George liked to get about a bit, first around what is now Germany and then to what is now Italy. He was much taken by the Italian style of music and started writing music in this manner.

He returned to Hanover where he encountered another George: the Elector of Hanover. Both Georges went to England where they stayed for the rest of their lives. Our George became one of the greatest composers of all time and the other one had a minor role as George the First.

One of our George's compositions is the secular cantata “Apollo and Daphne”, HWV 122. From that we have Felicissima quest'alma, sung by JULIA LEZHNEVA.

Julia Lezhneva

♫ Handel - Apollo e Dafne HWV 122 ~ Felicissima quest'alma


CHARLES AVISON was an English composer who spanned the Baroque and Classical periods.

Charles Avison

He was born in Newcastle to poor parents. Not much is known of his childhood, but he landed in London and studied with Francesco Geminiani, whom he greatly admired. He was mainly an organist but wrote for many different instruments.

He later returned to Newcastle where he stayed for the rest of his life. Charlie did okay for himself as he died a very rich man and he left the loot to his three surviving kids. Here is the fourth movement of his “Concerto No.6 in D major.”

♫ Avison - Concerto No.6 in D major (4)


FELIX MENDELSSOHN visited Britain many times.

Mendelssohn

Quite a few of his compositions were inspired by his visits or he actually wrote some of them there. He seemed to like Scotland and several of his works reference the country. Probably the most famous of which is the Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56, also known as the Scottish Symphony.

On his last visit before he died, he conducted that symphony and among the gathered throng were Victoria and Albert (the people, not the museum). Here is the second movement.

♫ Mendelssohn - Symphony No.3 in A minor op.56 'Scottish' (2)


CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI is one of the major figures in music – he's up there with Beethoven in the changes and developments he made.

Monteverdi

He is the first person that we know of who wrote operas; certainly his operas are the earliest that are still performed today. He took a little bitty thing called the madrigal and fleshed it out to become wonderful, exciting pieces of music. It's one of those that we're having today.

From his fifth book of madrigals this is Quel sguardo sdegnosetto. See if you can pronounce that early in the morning. The wonderful DANIELLE DE NIESE sings it.

Danielle de Niese

♫ Danielle de Niese - Monteverdi ~ Quel sguardo sdegnosetto


IGNAZ PLEYEL was the 24th child of an impoverished school teacher. No wonder he was impoverished, especially as Iggy was nowhere near the last – there were 38 kids in all. The mind boggles.

Ignaz Pleyel

Fortunately, Iggy was good at music and he caught the ear of some rich noble man who paid for his music education. He was taught by Johann Vanhal, a friend of both Mozart and Haydn, and Iggy went on to a career in music, that alas, is largely forgotten these days.

He was also a music publisher and piano designer and maker. He ended up quite rich. In his day he was considered a rival to both Mozart and Haydn, and his music is in a similar style to both of those. See what you think of the first movement of his String Quartet in D Major, Ben. 337.

♫ Pleyel - String Quartet in D Major Ben. 337 (1)


I have mentioned the birthplace of BERNHARD CRUSELL before, but it's such a wonderful name I'm going to do it again. He was from Uusikaupunki in Finland. Indeed, that town has a Crusell Week each year.

Crusell

Bernie's family moved to Sweden when he was a lad and both countries like to claim him as their own. He was apparently a really fine clarinet player and wrote many compositions for the instrument. Although not devoted entirely to the instrument, it certainly features prominently in the first movement of the Divertimento in C major, Op.9.

♫ Crusell - Divertimento in C major Op.9 (1)


ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK was a Czech composer who also travelled extensively, most notably to Britain and the United States about which he wrote several of his best known and loved compositions.

Dvorák

I'm not using any of those today. What I have is the second movement of one of his Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano, B. 150 (Op. 75).

♫ Dvorak - 4 Romantic Pieces Op.75 (2)


GIUSEPPE JACCHINI was an Italian cello player and composer in what's now Italy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Giuseppe Maria Jacchini

His skill on the cello and his many works for the instrument put it on the map – he was one of the earliest composers to feature it. He also wrote many works for the trumpet and we're going out with a bang with one of those. Here is the first movement of his Sonata D Minor.

♫ Giuseppe Maria Jacchini - Sonata D Minor (1)



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 December 2017

CHRISTMAS WINDOWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

The New York Times has a beautiful collection of department store Christmas windows from around the world:

Saks Fifth Avenue, New York City:

Saks03HOLIDAYWINDOWS2

Selfridges, London:

SelfridgesHOLIDAYWINDOW2

Many more to see at the NYT.

10-YEAR-OLD UNLOCKS MOM'S IPHONE

When the Apple iPhone X was released a few weeks go, a big deal was the facial recognition to indentify the owner and unlock the phone.

Apparently, it is not quite as secure as advertised as the parents explain:

”We were sitting down in our bedroom and were just done setting up the Face IDs, our 10-year-old son walked in anxious to get his hands on the new iPhone X. Right away my wife declared that he was not going to access her phone.

Acting exactly as a kid would do when asked to not do something, he picked up her phone and with just a glance got right in.”

Here's a re-creation of the event with mom and the kid:

More explanation at the Wired magazine story.

AMERICAN ELDER HEALTH CARE VERSUS OTHER COUNTRIES

According to the 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults 65+ in 11 nations finds those in the U.S. are the sickest and most likely to face economic hardship.

The survey focuses on the challenges that adults 65 and older face in 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Here's the salient chart:

CommonwealthChartElderHealthcarebyCountry

Even with Medicare for this age group in the U.S.,

”A disproportionate share of U.S. elderly face economic challenges,” states the report.

“One-quarter reported they often worry about having enough money to buy nutritious meals or pay for necessities like housing. Rates of economic vulnerability are lowest in Norway (3%) and Sweden (4%).”

See more of the health discrepancies among the 11 countries at the Commonwealth Fund website.

THAILAND'S AMAZING, DANGEROUS RAILROAD MARKET

As the YouTube page explains,

”In Samut Songkhram, about an hour outside Bangkok, is Maeklong Railway Market, one of the largest produce and seafood markets in Thailand. But beyond the selection of fresh fruit and fish, the market has become infamous for one thing—the train that runs directly through it.

“In 1905, the Maeklong Railway built a commuter train line through the center of the popular market. But rather than move, the vendors adapted to the new conditions, working around the train that passes through eight times a day, seven days a week.”

Here's a video of it:

INTERESTING DISCUSSION OF TRUMP'S BEHAVIOR FROM BRAIN SPECIALIST PHYSICIAN

There has been a lot of agonizing in the news medis among psychiatrists about whether they are allowed to diagnose President Trump without examining him in person.

It seems to me that one doesn't need a medical degree to know something is not right with the president, but then I ran across this article not by a psychiatrist, but a physician who is a neurologist, a specialist in the diseases of the brain.

Here is part of his overview:

”In turning my attention to the president, I see worrisome symptoms that fall into three main categories: problems with language and executive function; problems with social cognition and behavior; and problems with memory, attention, and concentration.

“None of these are symptoms of being a bad or mean person. Nor do they require spelunking into the depths of his psyche to understand. Instead, they raise concern for a neurocognitive disease process in the same sense that wheezing raises the alarm for asthma.”

Read the whole article at Stat.

WHY DO WE KISS UNDER MISTLETOE?

The biology and mythology of the Christmas mistletoe tradition from TEDtalks.

WILDLIFE IN DECEMBER

This doesn't need an introduction – just enjoy.

THE POLITICAL POWER OF JOHN OLIVER

When the big threats to net neutrality emerge every now and then, the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight show, John Oliver, has stepped in with a forcible rebuttal:

“Oliver’s net-neutrality pieces speak to one of the HBO comedian’s strongest qualities: his ability to inspire passion even around the most arcane of subjects,” writes Laura Bradley at Vanity Fair. “Oliver’s explanations,” she continues, “always replete with humor and gimmicks like the creation of the Web site “gofccyourself.com,” help combat apathy. That might be why he and his viewers have seemingly managed to crash the F.C.C.’s website both times he addressed the subject.”

That's just one short take from Bradley's about the renaissance in 2017 of late-night talk shows – much to the betterment, in my opinion, of needed public political discourse.

Read the whole article at Vanity Fair.

RACCOON RESCUE

From the YouTube page:

”This is just an awesome rescue of a raccoon by some kindhearted individuals who came across him on a Jeep Club outing.

“It appears that the raccoon got trapped when a tree fell and pinned him to the ground. They used the jack from their jeep to raise the tree and free the raccoon. The raccoon appears to OK as he scampers off and climbs another tree.

Here's the video:

* * *

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.


Six Months Into Cancer Treatment

It's been six months now, half a year since they told me I have pancreatic cancer. I've recovered from the huge Whipple Procedure surgery, made peace with the medications I need to take for the rest of life and am enduring chemotherapy which continues until March.

image

One of the things I mentioned in early notes here about this cancer is that I would not allow myself to become a professional patient. Oh, please – was I really that naive? My every day now is ordered by the needs of the disease.

MEDICATIONS
Most obvious are the meds. I count them out once a week into one of those little plastic containers divided into AM and PM. But that's not the full story. There is one pill I must take for before every meal, every snack, essentially every time I want to put even a bite of food or cookie or a piece of candy in my mouth. Hard to remember sometimes.

Two others that are each prescribed for morning and for evening cannot be taken together. And of course, these and all the others never need refills all the same time. It's an ongoing daily chore to be sure each med is being taken correctly at its time of day with the proper accoutrement. I screw up now and then even with a chart taped to a kitchen cabinet.

MEAL PLANNING
Because part of my stomach was removed in the Whipple Procedure, I now eat several small meals a day. It takes a lot of planning, shopping, organizing before I even get around to cooking and I'm still learning that I cannot eat nearly as much as I once did at a single meal.

I think about food a lot – what to have for the mid-morning snack (don't forget the pill), the need to prep vegetables for the lunch-time meal, the midday snack (don't forget that pill). And clean up the kitchen after each meal.

None of this is nearly as much fun as having regular three meals a day that I used to enjoy cooking. Not so much now.

CHEMO SIDE-EFFECT PREVENTION
There are all kinds of potential side effects that come with the territory of chemotherapy. Fatigue is the most common affliction but the list is way longer than that, although no one gets all of them.

So I rinse my mouth several times a day to prevent sores there. I rub a special cream into my feet and hands four times a day in hope of preventing a really gruesome side effect.

To help prevent infection due to what is called a “compromised immune system” during chemo, I always use medical gloves to clean Ollie the cat's litter box twice a day and I wash my hands constantly which, of course, requires more lotion after each washing.

At my monthly meeting with the oncologist yesterday, the oral chemo pills of which I have been taking two twice a day since the infusion chemo began was removed from my regimen. It caused the sudden, dramatic drop in my red cell count that required four units of blood a couple of weeks ago. It also has contributed to the ongoing anemia.

These are much more serious than the hand-and-foot syndrome that the same oral chemo probably helped cause to turn up in the past few weeks. Fortunately, it's not progressed to that gruesome effect So if all goes during December as the doctors expect, I'll be relieved of these difficulties.

The downside is that European studies over several years have shown that combining this oral chemo with the kind of infusion I get weekly extends three-year survival rate of pancreatic Whipple and chemo patients by about 15 percent to 70 or so percent.

But the doctors believe that the extraordinarily sudden drop in red blood cells is serious enough that preventing it happening again is crucial and this move should do that. I have gone along with them.

MANAGING FATIGUE
When I remember to use the tincture of cannabis, I sleep much better – “better” meaning longer than three hours. Even up to seven sometimes and then the fatigue, which builds during the three weeks of chemo before a week off, is more manageable.

MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS
Interspersed with all the daily cancer responsibilities are chemo infusion appointments, occasional tests doctors want, check-in with my primary care physician every few weeks not to mention surprises like the overnight hospital stay for the recent blood transfusions and endoscopy (which came out clean).

How come no one told me how futile it is, with a cancer diagnosis, to try not to become a professional patient? There are so many different things to do and to keep track of to treat this insidious enemy, it is a full-time job.

I try to get through these chores each day without thinking about the big, fat, ugly reason for them. I save that for when I'm worn out toward the end of the day – or, rather, that's when the thoughts none of us ever want to have erupt on their own. A few:

Will I be here at this time next year?
What will the prognosis be when chemotherapy ends?
What if the chemo doesn't work?
How will I die?
Do these negative thoughts affect how well treatment works?

And so on.

It's not always that bad. Sometimes I feel a close-to-joyful acceptance of what I believe is the natural and normal order of life: "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Just not yet, please. I still have a few things I want to do.

From the first day after diagnosis and for reasons I don't know, I abandoned my usual head-long, deep dive into research when something new happens. In this case, I have limited myself to just the basics of pancreatic cancer and its treatment but few details and no research studies.

Instead, I rely on the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at OHSU who have been dealing with this disease and treatment plan to answer my questions and I do my best to follow what they advise and prescribe.

I know how lucky I am to have been eligible for the Whipple Procedure. When the surgeon first described it to me six months ago, I asked what would happen if I rejected it (it was as awful in his description as it is for real). “You'll be dead by the end of the year,” the surgeon said.

That certainly focuses one's attention. I did the surgery and I'm still here at the end of the year. But mostly I am both too busy with daily maintenance and personally indisposed to see this as a “battle” against cancer - unless the fight consists in this now-professional patient keeping track of all the cancer chores.

Which, apparently, leaves it to you and others to “battle” the cancer, to stay positive for me which you are doing in abundant numbers according to your comments and emails. And don't think that I am not impossibly grateful to you all.


Crabby Old Lady's State of the Union

Today's post isn't precisely about ageing but Crabby Old Lady needs to get some of this off her chest and suspects a lot of you may want to also.

Have there ever been so many different things going wrong – painfully, horribly, terrifyingly wrong all at once - in the U.S. than now? It's not even possible to list them all.

Biggest of all is the ongoing confrontation with North Korea. Crabby hasn't been this frightened of the potential reality of nuclear war since she hid under her desk at school in the 1950s. How does it not make it worse to taunt the Supreme Leader with juvenile name-calling?

TAX REFORM BILL
The tax reform bill has made it clear as never before that the Republican Party philosophy is simple: more for me, less for you. And now they've doubled down on it by openly admitting that adding $1.4 TRILLION to the deficit is a deliberate decision made to be able to claim the necessity to make deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That's big too. The Pay-Go law may require $25 billion in cuts to Medicare the moment Trump signs the bill into law which would cut back care and treatment for millions of people.

There has been some reporting on that but not enough that anyone not dependent on Medicare would notice. (According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, only 29 percent of Americans approve of the tax reform bill; 53 percent disapprove.)

NORMALIZING TRUMP
Remember how, right after the November election, many reporters and pundits were admonishing the public to not normalize Trump's behavior?

Guess what? Everyone, including those pundits, not only accepts presidency by tweet storm now, we expect it on a daily basis and the pundits analyze his every Twitter utterance as though it is a policy announcement.

Which it has become. Who needs Congress or even Executive Orders? The president tweets and it instantly becomes policy. If, in Trump's ignorance, the tweet goes wrong, he can just have his lawyer take the fall for his mistake as happened this week.

There are a lot of people in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere – Republicans usually – for whom Trump's word is their marching order. Case in point, supporting an accused pedophile for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming Alabama election. No Republican will now disavow Roy Moore.

ADMINISTRATION LIES
Can anyone count the number of lies from this administration? It's hard to keep up when it's every day, and when any given lie is no longer convenient he and his aides just make up another and refuse to acknowledge if it contradicts the first one.

NATIONAL PARKS
And how do you feel about the cuts Trump made to national parks earlier this week? Trump reduced Bears Ears National Monument area by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante by about 50 percent which, according to The New York Times is the “largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.”

This move opens about two million acres of wilderness to potential commercial development. Crabby had no idea until now that a president could just do that, all alone without Congress.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Then there the continuing story of alleged sexual misconduct among mostly famous men in glamour businesses. You know the list: Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Garrison Keillor, Jon Conyers, Roy Moore among many others.

There is a fuller list here which, like all the other lists, does not include the predator-in-chief, Donald Trump.

Speaking of lies, earlier this week, he tried to say that was not his voice on the Access Hollywood tape. Billy Bush set the media straight on that.

Most women Crabby Old Lady knows have been sexually harassed at work, including Crabby herself. Pats on the butt, inappropriate jokes and suggestions. In some places Crabby worked, women made note for one another of which men to keep a distance from in order to avoid unwanted touches.

There was never any question of complaining. Everyone knew they would be the ones to be fired.

Some think, thanks to so many women coming forward, those days are gone. Many are claiming this is a watershed moment for women, that workplace sexual harassment will end now.

Don't count on it. Crabby hopes she is wrong but news stories fade, the public gets jaded (see “normalization” above) and the media is always chasing the next new thing.

VENTING
And here's a question for you: how is it that the president's every single cabinet appointment is the worst possible choice. Worst, that is, if you are idiot enough to believe that the country's leaders are there to run a government by, of and FOR THE PEOPLE, and not to (further) enrich themselves.

Given how ignorant, uninformed and erratic the president is, Crabby Old Lady worries every day about what terrible predicament he will get the country into.

It's not like Crabby has any solutions. She just felt the need, on this otherwise single-topic blog, to acknowledge a problem (well, a large set of problems) that are more important than growing old.

It helps to vent now and then, and to give everyone here a chance to do that too.


How the Tax Bill Harms Elders

BarbaraLeeTweet

I'll get back to that tweet from the California Congress member in a bit. First:

In case you slept through the weekend, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted along party lines 51 to 49 to pass their version of H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the sweeping tax reform bill that pretty much steals money from everyone else and gives it to corporations and the very rich.

Many different senators were adding and subtracting and changing items in the bill – often hand-written in the margins - until about two minutes before the vote took place. Here is Montana's Democratic Senator Jon Tester:

No one, not a single person in that legislative body had read the entire bill, let alone had any time to understand it or weigh the consequences before voting.

And don't apply any “what-about-ism”. Do not let the fact that Democrats have done this same thing in the past deter you from heaping contempt for those 51 yea-voting Republican senators, nearly every one of whom lied to the public about who will benefit and who will lose from the bill.

There are only three reasons, all of them corrupt, to vote for a bill that will affect every American and crush tens of millions of them:

To appease the Trump base who scare the crap out of Republicans who are up for re-election in 2018

To deliver on legislative promises to their rich and powerful campaign donors

To have this one and only thing to show the public that they did something this year besides sit on their thumbs

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now goes to the conference committee to iron out the differences between the Senate version that passed on Saturday and the House version that passed on 16 November.

When that work is done and the bill is reconciled, it will be voted on in both chambers of Congress. Over the weekend, some pundits predicted that could be as soon as this week.

WHAT'S IN THE BILL “FOR” ELDERS
There are painful shockers in H.R. 1 for just about everyone who is not in the top one percent of wealth holders but we are concentrating on elders here not because I think they are more important than the poor, working and middle classes but because that's who we are at this blog.

With the caveat that especially with all the late-night, last-minute alterations, no one yet knows or understands the entire bill, here are some of the reported changes that will affect old people if the bill becomes law.

AUTOMATIC MEDICARE CUTS
Sarah Kliff, writing at Vox, notes that H.R. 1 is really a health care bill that affects more than 100 million Americans who rely on the federal government for their health insurance. The bill, she writes,

”...includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.”

(Can you tell how terrified I am right now about that?)

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) explains in more detail why this would happen:

”...the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the tax bill would trigger an automatic $25 billion cut to Medicare, as required by the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO).

“In response, the President’s Office of Management and Budget would be required to cut Medicare payments to health care providers...”

SOCIAL SECURITY COLA REDUCTION
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would replace the standard cost-of-living index currently in use (CPI-U) to calculate COLA adjustments to Social Security, military and federal civilian retirement benefits with the more slow-growing chained CPI. As the NCPSSM notes:

”According to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, three years after becoming law, calculating the COLA based on the chained CPI would decrease Social Security benefits by about $130 per year (0.9 percent) for a typical 65-year-old.

“By the time that senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut would be almost $1,400, a 9.2 percent reduction from currently scheduled benefits.”

REPEALING THE OBAMACARE MANDATE
Among the reasons AARP opposes this tax bill concerns people who are not quite old enough for Medicare, those between age 50 and 65:

” Eliminating the mandate would leave 13 million additional Americans without health coverage over the next decade, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

“Repealing the mandate would also drive up premiums by roughly 10 percent in the health insurance marketplace; 64-year-olds could see their tabs jump by an average of $1,490 a year.”

THE MOST FRIGHTENING CUT OF ALL
The most insidious cut in the tax bill is the stealth move (by design?) to eventually eliminate Social Security, Medicare and other social programs that stupidly uninformed legislators and partisans refer to as “entitlements” instead of earned benefits. It goes like this:

Because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the tax bill will balloon the federal deficit by an unfathomable $1.4 trillion, the bill will become the Republicans' reason to enact their long-term, dearest wish – to kill these programs altogether.

Newsweek explains how Republicans intend to play out this goal:

”[Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and] Other key Republicans have hinted that after the tax bill passes they’ll take on welfare and entitlement programs.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he wants Republicans to reduce spending on government programs in 2018, and last month President Donald Trump said that welfare reform will, 'take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.'

“Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday that 'liberal programs' for the poor were wasting Americans’ money.

"'What's coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,' said Senator Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) 'Republicans are already saying “entitlement reform” and “welfare reform” are next up on the docket.

“'But nobody should be fooled—that's just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.'”

Again, as California Representative Barbara Lee tweeted on Friday,

BarbaraLeeTweet

President Donald Trump wants this bill on his desk before Christmas. All the “in-the-know” people are saying it will sail through Congress and into law without a hitch.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't complain, shouldn't tell our senators and representatives to vote with the American people and not against them.

Do it. Find their contact information here. Polls show that only about 25 percent of Americans want this bill, so make a nuisance of yourself with your Congress people, and do it today.


ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Frank Loesser

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.

* * *

Frank Loesser wrote songs in the usual manner of tin pan alley, but he also wrote musicals for Broadway – both music and lyrics – "Guys and Dolls" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" are the couple that spring immediately to mind.

He managed to gather a Tony Award, a Pulitzer Prize but only managed a nomination for an Oscar. Although Frank's dad was a piano teacher, he didn't teach him as even by the age of four he could play by ear pretty much any music he heard.

After dad died Frank had to go out and earn a living in non-musical pursuits. He eventually got hired to write songs and his future was assured (with some bumps along the way).

Let's get to the music itself, starting with the "Divine One", SARAH VAUGHAN.

Sarah Vaughan

It's been said by some that Sarah could have been an opera singer if the opportunity had arisen. We'll never know. She sings a song that many others have also tackled, but few as well as she. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year.

♫ Sarah Vaughan - Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year


Another song that many have performed – okay, I think you'll be able to say that about everything today – is Baby, It's Cold Outside. I considered a number of versions, but the one that tickled my fancy was by WILLIE NELSON and NORAH JONES.

Willie Nelson & NorahJones

Willie and Norah are admirably suited to the laid back nature of this song.

♫ Willie Nelson & Norah Jones - Baby It's Cold Outside


Here is MILES DAVIS with his classic early quintet.

Miles Davis

That is John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland piano, Paul chamber bass and Philly Joe Jones drums. It really doesn't get any better than that. Their contribution is If I Were a Bell from the musical "Guys and Dolls".

♫ Miles Davis - If I Were a Bell


From one of the musicals mentioned at the beginning, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", ROBERT MORSE sings to himself.

Robert Morse

This is from the scene when he is in the loo with a bunch of others and he serenades himself in the mirror. If you get a chance to see the film it's worth it for this scene alone. Robert assures himself that I Believe in You.

♫ Robert Morse and Co - I Believe in You


We have another film tie-in, this time it's "Thanks for the Memory" – that's the name of the film. You can probably guess who the singers are, but that's not the song we're using (although it was in the film, as you can imagine).

First, for those not familiar with that particular song I'd like to say that the singers are BOB HOPE and SHIRLEY ROSS.

Bob Hope & Shirley Ross

The song is Two Sleepy People. Frank had the help of Hoagy Carmichael for the lyrics on this one.

♫ Bob Hope and Shirley Ross - Two Sleepy People


Another musical/film is "Guys and Dolls", already mentioned, and from that we have the song, A Bushel and a Peck. This was all over the hit parade at the time, with multiple versions.

I listened to a bunch of them (that was a bit of a trial), and the one that least offended me was by FRANKIE LAINE and JO STAFFORD.

Frankie Laine & Jo Stafford

Here's what they sound like.

♫ Frankie Laine & Jo Stafford - A Bushel And A Peck


"Greenwillow" is not a musical with which I'm familiar, but I'm not a big musical fan so it's not too surprising. Lesser Samuels and Frank Loesser wrote it and Frank wrote all the songs for it – about two dozen of them.

One of those is Never Will I Marry, which has been recorded by a bunch of people. I'm not going with one you're probably familiar with, instead here is ANDREA MOTIS.

Andrea Motis

Andrea is a Spanish musician and on this track she not only sings, but plays trumpet as well.

♫ Andrea Motis - Never Will I Marry


I originally had Chet Baker pencilled in at this spot, but I heard BILLY ECKSTINE sing the song and changed my mind. It's pretty unusual for me to throw out Chet, however, I know that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, will approve of my including Billy.

Billy Eckstine

Billy really did have one of the finest voices in music. I wasn't keen on all those strings, but it was the fashion back then. Hear what he makes of I've Never Been in Love Before.

♫ Billy Eckstine - I've Never Been In Love Before


Frank's songs seem to lend themselves to jazz treatment, and the next is no different. In this case it's by BILL CHARLAP.

Bill Charlap Trio

Bill came from a musical family, his mum sang on Perry Como's TV program and dad was a Broadway composer. Bill plays piano and has his trio along to perform On a Slow Boat to China.

♫ Bill Charlap - On A Slow Boat To China


This is the sort of material that's really suited to MEL TORMÉ, so of course, he gets into the act as well.

Mel Torme

Mel's version of Once in Love with Amy is pretty well known, but it's always good to hear it again.

♫ Mel Tormé - Once In Love With Amy



INTERESTING STUFF – 2 December 2017

BEFORE WE GET STARTED TODAY...

Last Saturday I mentioned that Marianna Sheffer, proprietor of Hattie's Web, was in hospice. Today the news is no less sad for not being unexpected – Hattie died on Tuesday. Her daughter Alice wrote:

My mom died peacefully in her sleep last night with my sister Julia and my father Terry by her side. There will be details about a memorial gathering to take place some time in December. I will post those details here once I have them.

“I don't have any eloquent things to say but I do know that you all and this blog were an important part of her life.”

Many of the same people read Marianna's blog and this one and we will all miss her. You can leave messages at Hattie's Web.

* * *

THE FIRST INTERNET MEME – 1996

Do you remember the dancing baby? That strange, horrid, creepy dancing baby?

It was the first meme to take over the internet and it first appeared – I would never have guessed it was this long ago – more than two decades ago. Here is its history:

HOW FRIENDS CAN HELP FRIENDS SURVIVE CHEMOTHERAPY

Research tells us that 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and I doubt the statistics are much different in other countries.

That means if it's not you, it will be someone you know – probably more than one over time – and, also probably, someone who is close to you.

Jan Adams, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?, sent a link to this story by Malkia Cyril, with some “real talk” about how friends can help friends through chemotherapy. A couple of examples:

”Support the agency and self determination of those battling cancer. Sometimes you may feel you know best, but the person fighting for their life and those closest to their care are the ones who know best what is needed. Make offers to help in ways that feel right to you, but don’t pressure survivors or their caregivers to accept help they may not want or need.

Wash your damn hands. No, really, personal hygiene is the most important part of helping your loved one survive chemotherapy. Chemo can kill some bone marrow, lowering the body’s resistance to infection...And, don’t just rinse them, wash the shit out of your hands and carry some hand sanitizer around. Especially if you are coming to my house. Do it, often.

The entire list is worth reading and committing to memory. You'll find it here.

HOW AUSTRALIAN EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS REPRESENT TRUMP

The U.S. has some excellent editorial cartoonists. I greatly enjoy them especially when they are on my side of the political divide.

But you haven't seen nuthin' until you've seen some Australian editorial cartoonists and their harsher takes on President Trump. A couple of examples, the first by freelance cartoonist, Judy Nadin:

JudyNadinFreelance

This one if from David Rowe of Australian Financial Review:

DavidRoweAustralianFinancialReview

The Washington Post has collected about a dozen more Australian editorial cartoons about Trump here.

ARE BANANAS GOING EXTINCT?

As the Washington Post reported recently:

”An insidious fungus known as fusarium wilt has wiped out tens of thousands of acres of Cavendish plantations in Australia and Southeast Asia over the past decade. And the fungus recently gained a foothold in Africa and the Middle East, hitching a ride on the boots of workers helping to establish new plantations.

“Scientists say Latin America, the source of virtually all the bananas eaten in the United States, is next.”

I've been reading these warnings for at least a year. Bananas are my favorite fruit. Besides how good they taste and how they go with so many other foods, they come in their own nice, neat packaging, they don't drip down your chin or arm like peaches, oranges and some apples, and they are as sweet as any fancy dessert.

Cavendish is the name for the banana most of us know, the one banana producers have grown almost exclusively for many years and the one that is succumbing to disease:

”William Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food, one of the largest producers and importers of bananas, said in an email that the company is 'looking at how to develop a disease resistant banana through crop improvement and plant breeding methods,' but he didn’t go into specifics.

“Requests for comment from the three other top banana producers went unanswered,” reports the Washington Post.

There is additional information about how we have come to point of possibly losing bananas altogether at Wired.

MEGHAN MARKLE'S TV FIANCE REACTS TO HER ROYAL ENGAGEMENT

You can't have missed the news that an American actress, Meghan Markle, is engaged to marry into the British royal family, Prince Harry to be specific.

For the past five years or so, Markle has played Rachel Zane on one of my favorite TV dramas, Suits. I got a good laugh at what her co-star Patrick J. Adams (who plays her TV fiance, Mike Ross) tweeted when he first heard the engagement news:

PatrickResponsetoMarkleTweet

Later Adams sent this further message on Twitter and Instagram:

“Playing Meghan’s television partner for the better part of a decade uniquely qualifies me to say this: Your Royal Highness, you are a lucky man and I know your long life together will be joyful, productive and hilarious. Meghan, so happy for you, friend. Much love.”

Here is a very short vid of the official engagement announcement:

WHICH CAME FIRST, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?

Here is part of one answer to that age-old question, and it's been a long time since I've heard anyone have as much fun with wordplay:

”How would I tell you, for example, that one of my chickens seems depressed? I might say she’s brooding, that she’s cooped up because she’s no spring chicken. Same thing I might say about your or me of course, but with my broody hen getting her feathers ruffled there is no metaphor involved. When I tell you I get up with the chickens, I mean it!”

You can listen to or read the transcript of Dan Libman's full answer here.

Reed Scherer made a rebuttal to Libman's argument. Here is part of it:

”The classic question you claim to answer was directly stated: 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The question is not, "Which came first, the chicken or the chicken egg?' Given the explicitness of the language, there is in fact an unequivocal answer.”

You can read or listen to Scherer's entire rebuttal here. I find Libman's answer much more persuasive - or, anyway, more fun.

Thank TGB reader Cathy Johnson for this edifying debate.

CAUSE OF NETWORK PROBLEMS

Time was that I was fairly good at figuring out what had gone wrong when my email or web browser wasn't working.

In recent years that has changed – I'm not as good at techie things as I used to be - and I think this Wizard of Id answer, which TGB's Sunday music columnist Peter Tibbles sent, is as good as any other when computer things go wrong.

NetworkProblemscartoon2

Many more cartoons at GoComics.

LUNCH ATOP THE SKYSCRAPER

The name of the construction workers in this iconic photograph are not known, nor is the name of the photographer who was brave enough to get the shot.

Here is the story behind the famous image of these men having lunch 800 feet above the ground.

OSCAR AND PIPI

Here we go again - I cannot resist cross-species friendships.

As the YouTube page tells us, a dog and a pigeon might seem like unlikely friends, but Oscar and Pipi are inseparable when they go for walks by the beach.

That's because Oscar the pigeon was hand-raised by documentary maker Barry Ion and now thinks he's a human, even treating his own kind with “disdain.”

There is more to know about Oscar and Pipi at the Daily Mail, and thank Cathy Johnson again today for this item she send in addition to the one above.

* * *

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.


The Amateur Cancer Patient

Aside from a flu now and then, and a mystery illness 40 years ago that was never diagnosed but involved 11 days in hospital, I have never had a serious disease or condition until now.

Throughout my adult years, when I felt sickly or was overly tired there was a reason: too little sleep, too much to drink (when I was young and stupid), too many social evenings back to back. In regard to the last one, I've always had a rule to not be out and about two nights in a row, but that wasn't always possible to keep.

Things are different nowadays. The evening schedule is easy to keep without as many social obligations as when I was working and I have hardly had a bad day in these 12 or 13 years since I retired.

That is, if you don't count a couple of colds. In my old age, a cold feels as bad as a flu did in my younger years and have required bed rest. But I haven't had one if five or six or more years.

Generally, I'm amazed at how good I feel – in fact, enough so to fantasize now and then that someone has made a terrible mistake and I don't have cancer. Of course, that's not true but my sense of it reinforces the point that until now I had no idea one can have a frightening disease and feel normally healthy.

But now I cannot count on that every day.

On Tuesday, I had a 9AM appointment for an interview with a local reporter. I'm at my best both physically and mentally early in the day. I'd had a restful night's sleep and should have felt as good as I do on my best days. But my ass was dragging and all I really wanted to do was go back to bed.

Why should be this be? Chemotherapy might be a reason: in addition to the infusions I undergo each week, I take oral chemo pills twice a day and this week was at the end of the 21 day cycle before a week off.

That's a guess although the nurses told me early on that fatigue would probably become a problem during the six months of chemo treatment and would increase as time passed. But aside from the short period of low red blood cell count a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't noticed.

Maybe the cancer itself causes me to be tired although I like to think that the chemo treatments are killing off those bad cells.

Or perhaps it's how busy having such a big-deal disease keeps me (which I wrote about here). And the daily cancer chores seem to increase as time passes – one of them being more nap time because the chores wear me down.

The fact is, I'm not just an amateur at cancer treatment, I'm also an amateur at anything less than good health, and not feeling entirely well is a new experience I have not integrated into my life yet.

I've always been able to count on feeling good enough to do whatever I have planned or comes up on a given day. No more. Learning has been my most trusted life-long companion – always a joy. What I hadn't counted was the need to learn some not-so-joyful lessons.