Monday, 30 March 2015
There are days in life, it is said, that will become so troublesome there is no point in getting out of bed. I say nay. I say there are entire weekends in that category and now I know they can spill over into the following week.
After losing half of last week to what was a bad cold or light flu – take your pick – and mainly recovered by Sunday, I intended that day to catch up with a pile of email and other computer chores.
But among the surprises are two technology problems involving this blog and my email – big problems. I won't bore you with details but neither are simple fixes and unlike many necessary tasks that are only irritating and/or tedious, these are also crucial, detailed and difficult.
Well, difficult for me but not impossible. That's unfortunate. If they were impossible, I could justify spending money for someone else to do it. But (another) nay. I'm just half-smart enough to do this.
I understand the general idea for each and I've fixed similar issues in the past but not for a long time so they require a lot of reading, testing, time. Like all day. Maybe two days. Maybe more. Who knows what will go wrong or what I'll screw up and have to figure out how to fix before I can fix the original problems.
This sort of work requires a lot of cigarette breaks. Oh, wait. I haven't smoked tobacco in years. Damn.
You can probably tell that this kind of stuff, the kind that can go wrong with just one misplaced keystroke, makes me really bad-tempered. Yes, I know that doesn't help but it's baked into my nature so I've packed Ollie the cat's bag and sent him on vacation for a few days.
Well, not really but before I'm finished, he'll undoubtedly wish I had.
Heh. Look at that. I intended a short note to have a place to post the link (below) to today's Elder Storytelling Place story and got carried away. I'll shut up now.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sharon Ostrow: A Muse
Sunday, 29 March 2015
ELDER MUSIC: 1973
This 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.
What happened in 1973?
- Rufus Wainwright was born
- Richard Nixon told us he wasn't a crook. Yeah right
- Gravity's Rainbow was published
- Pablo Picasso died
- The Sting was released
- Richmond were premiers
1973 brought us STEVIE WONDER's finest recorded moment with the album “Innervisions.”
The centrepiece of the album is the song Living for the City. This song has very tough lyrics suitable for a song about the times we were living through then.
You can hear Stevie's voice getting angrier as the song progresses. It's not a pretty song but it demands to be heard.
DAVID BOWIE was going through a bit of a strange period in 1973. Okay, that doesn't narrow things down too much.
This was the time of Ziggy Stardust and the song is Space Oddity. The song was actually recorded and released in 1969 and re-released in 1973 to cash in on the new persona.
Mentor Williams wrote the song Drift Away and it was originally recorded by John Kurtz. No one took much notice until DOBIE GRAY had a go at it.
It proved to be a great success and has been covered many times. It's also used by a lot of bands to finish their gigs. Ace session guitarist Reggie Young plays the wonderful guitar parts in the song.
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS was a family affair – the Pips consisted of Gladys's brother Merald (or Bubba) and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest.
Rather surprisingly, many of their hits were written by a country music songwriter (and occasional singer), Jim Weatherly. This is one of those, Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).
Over the previous few years VAN MORRISON had released five of the finest albums of the era.
This year saw "Hard Nose the Highway" which wasn't quite up to the standard of the previous ones but was very good anyway. Van had recorded more than enough for a double album (with songs left over) but was convinced to release a single one.
A few of the tracks popped up on the next album but most didn't appear for years when a double CD of unreleased tracks was unveiled to the public. Many of those were so good we wondered why that hadn't seen the light of day before. But that's Van.
The song today is Snow in San Anselmo, which is all about snow falling in San Anselmo (a rare event).
JIMMY CLIFF wrote the song Many Rivers to Cross in 1969 and it did nothing at the time.
Later, Jimmy had the lead role in the film The Harder They Come and the song, along with other songs of his, was featured in it. More especially, it was on the fine soundtrack album which became a big seller (and is one of the finest soundtrack albums ever).
There are many cheating songs out there, it's a staple subject of country music, blues and, well, any sort of music really.
This one though is a little unusual as it's from the perspective of the cheaters. Okay, I know a couple of others but not too many. The singer on this is BILLY PAUL.
The song is Me and Mrs Jones. If you listen carefully to the introduction, the sax player plays a brief bit of Secret Love. Very tongue in cheek.
This was some year for ELTON JOHN.
Not only did he release the monumental "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album earlier this same year, he also put out "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.”
Artists these days seem to take years to produce albums (and they don't come up with anything near the quality of these two). The song Daniel is from the latter mentioned album.
Tina Turner wasn't a songwriter generally but she did write this one about the town where she grew up. Not surprisingly, given their history together, this was the last song that AND TINA TURNER recorded together.
Ike didn't play guitar on this track; it was Marc Bolan who was a fan of the duo (but especially Tina). The song is Nutbush City Limits.
JIM CROCE's song, Time in a Bottle became a number one hit a few months after his death in a plane crash.
The song was used in a TV tele-movie and the next day the TV network was inundated with calls wanting to know what the song was and was it available as a single.
It wasn't but that was soon rectified. The words gained greater poignancy with his recent death.
1974 will appear in two weeks' time.
Saturday, 28 March 2015
INTERESTING STUFF – 28 March 2015
MORE DATING FOLLOWUP
You will recall we discussed elder dating in three posts over the past week or so. Darlene Costner send one more update for us. Enjoy:
Daughter: Daddy, I am coming home to get married. Take out your cheque book. I'm in love with a boy who is far away from me. I'm in Australia and he lives in the UK. We met on a dating website, became friends on Facebook, had long chats on Whatsapp, he proposed to me on Skype and now we've had two months of relationship through Viber. Dad, I need your blessings good wishes and a big wedding.
Father: Wow! Really!! Then get married on Twitter, have fun on Tango, buy your kids on Amazon and pay through Paypal. And if you are fed up with your husband, sell him on eBay.
Easter's almost here. Maybe that's what accounts for this story that surfaced yesterday in Portland, Oregon.
CLARKE AND DAWE
This note and video arrived a few days ago from Peter Tibbles, the TGB music correspondent who holds forth here on Sundays. Here's his introduction:
”John Clarke and Bryan Dawe are [Australian] national treasures. Each Thursday for two minutes just before the news they do an 'interview' – Bryan interviews John as a government or opposition member or some other prominent figure.
“Here is last night's piece and it will show how the country is going far better than any lengthy article.”
Ronni here: Not to mention that their bit pretty well explains U.S. government too.
JOHN OLIVER ON MUNICIPAL VIOLATIONS
One of the minor funny things about John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is how often the titles of the essays – that is, the names of the topics - are so snooze inducing that if you didn't know who John Oliver is and what his crew can accomplish, you would skip right past.
This is one of them: municipal violations. Ho-hum. Go ahead and think that if you like, scroll past to the next item. You will have missed something funny, wonderful and important.
EVEN IN NURSING, MEN EARN MORE THAN WOMEN
As Kaiser Health News reported this week, even in a career where women outnumber men 10 to one, men make more money – a lot more.
”...even after controlling for age, race, marital status and children in the home, males in nursing out-earned females by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals.
“The biggest disparity was for nurse anesthetists, with men earning $17,290 more.”
One of the things about living in the northwest that can either amuse or irritate depending on one's mood is how many people, even natives, bitch about the rain. Hul-lo. It's not like the weather and reputation for it are secrets.
Seattle has an equally wet climate and reputation but an artist there with the wonderful name of Peregrine Church has used it to charming advantage. Take a look:
You can see more examples of Peregrine's (just HAD to sneak in that terrific name again) rain-activated art at his website, Rainworks!
A GUNSHOP IN NEW YORK CITY FOR FIRST-TIME GUN BUYERS
Hardly a day goes by without a horrific report of a child killed or accidentally killing another with a gun left lying around the house. And there are plenty of other deaths and injuries among adults that would not have happened without easy access to guns.
From the website of GWH (Guns With History):
States United to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non-profit organization working to decrease gun death and injury and build healthy communities by supporting and strengthening state gun-violence-prevention organizations and nurturing new state organizations.
“Together with our 28 state affiliates – and our combined 200,000 grassroots supporters – we are dedicated to making our families and communities safer through stronger laws, community education, and grassroots action.”
Take a look at what happened when, to foster their goals, they opened a gun shop in Manhattan. (Hat tip to Jim Stone)
You can find out more at Guns With History.
IRONY LOST ON SENATOR TED CRUZ?
Has there ever been a senator as disingenuous and irritating as Ted Cruz. Take a look at this:
DOG WANTS A KITTY
It's amazing the genres of humor the internet has spawned. Where could this possibly have happened before the World Wide Web came along. (Hat tip to Bev Carney)
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” in the upper left corner 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 .
Friday, 27 March 2015
Old People and Weather
[PERSONAL NOTE: I've not been feeling well for a couple of days – a bad cold or mild flu (this year's vaccine missed a strain or two) – so when I take a few minutes off from napping, I'm writing easy stuff. Translation: no thinking involved.]
When I was young – I'm pretty sure that means when I was a kid and young adult but you never can tell at my age with how time passes – it irritated me that all the old people I knew were overly interested in the weather.
Not “old” like my parents, more like grandparents' ages, retired people or those getting close to it.
They discussed a coming rain storm and what that would mean for the garden. Or that a big temperature drop was expected so be sure to wear a sweater tomorrow.
They seemed to talk a lot, too, about past weather. “Remember of blizzard of '29? Now, THAT was a winter to remember.”
“And who can forget the Vanport flood.” (I may or may not have heard exactly that but it was a real flood in Portland when I was a kid.)
Over Sunday dinners, at holidays and anywhere more than one or two old folks gathered, weather appeared to be their main fascination and for whatever reason, it exasperated me so much I recall vowing that when I got old I would never bother with weather beyond knowing if I needed an umbrella or boots.
Cut to now. I'm old. At least as old as many of those old people in the 1940s and 1950s.
Right here on my computer is a link to a wonderful weather website. It allows me to bookmark any number of locations all around the world. So when I fire up the laptop every morning, I first check what weather to expect in my vicinity for the day.
Then I check Melbourne (where Peter Tibbles and the Assistant Musicologist who do the Sunday music column here live) where it is always night when I wake up along with, of course, being the opposite season from my home in the U.S.
Then it's on to New York where there remain many friends from the 40 years I spent in that city. Phoenix and Tucson, too, where for some reason quite a number of TGB readers live.
San Francisco and Los Angeles matter for friends and blog readers who live there along with London, the Washington, D.C. area, Boston and Portland, Maine where I once lived for four years.
If some spectacular weather is going on somewhere, the website usually has some excellent video. The amount of snow in Boston this winter was amazing to see - at least for someone who didn't have to drive or walk in it.
It is not lost on me that my interest in weather around the globe first thing in the morning as my coffee is steeping is just an updated version of all those old people who made me nuts about the weather when I was a kid.
Are you with me on this? Whether (weather?) you are or not, I'm pretty sure I'm correct about old people and weather in general. Why do you think that is?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Deb: No Milk, No Cookies
Thursday, 26 March 2015
Can You Trust Online Health Information?
Or, for that matter, any other kind of information? There are some general rules of thumb that anyone with even minimal critical thinking skills probably uses:
• Who is doing the writing? What are his/her credentials? (If there is no author name AND link to the author's bio, reject it.)
• Who sponsors or owns the website? That is, who pays the bills to keep it running and updated? (For health information, a commercial enterprise or an individual is a yellow alert. Check further.)
• How is the information sourced? (These could be links to research material or not. At good health sites, often the physician writing the article is the expert.)
• Who, if any, are the advertisers and what is the physical relationship on the pages to the stories? (Nothing wrong with advertising to help keep the doors open but if, for example, an ad for a prescription drug is placed next to an article about the condition or disease it treats, alarm bells should go off.)
• Does it pass the smell test? (If a health information website is selling miracle cures or a one-pill-cures-all nostrum, leave.)
Those are just a few tests and you probably know them.
About a week ago, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the institutes and centers of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), published what they call an Age Page with guidelines on how to tell if health information online is reliable.
It is a useful checklist, as far as it goes. They suggest some of the same items I do (above) along with reminders to check for privacy protections and suggest that health sites of the federal government, medical schools and large professional or non-profits are the most reliable.
I don't agree that those are the only trustworthy health websites and until I find out otherwise, I would question “large professional and non-profits” for an agenda of their own.
Another requirement for a trustworthy site to me and to the NIA is dated articles.
An amazing number of websites don't date their stories which, aside from the headline, is the first thing I look for. Then (if it's not just a silly website for vegging out to cat videos) I check for an author name and if all three are present, I read. If one is missing, I leave.)
Whether it is news or any other kind of information, it cannot be assessed without knowing when it was written. That doesn't mean older dates make information useless (depends on the topic) but you will think differently about a story on, for example, nutrition if it was written before the newest research on salt and sugar intake began circulating.
Dating articles is crucial and I rank it with misspellings and poor grammar as an instant alert to suspect material. For me, every page of a website must have a published date.
As I was beginning to prepare this blog post and although I am reasonably familiar with NIA website, I checked the About Page, probably for the first time. No date. Plus, it states that the 65-plus population of the United States is 39 million. That seemed off to me, and it is.
I checked with the U.S. Census Bureau and the most recent semi-annual estimate, from last July, was 44.7 million; it hasn't been 39 million since before 2010.
You could say a undated About Page is unimportant but it's often the first page newcomers read and out-of-date information is a big red flag calling an entire website into question.
Does that mean I believe the NIA website is dubious? Absolutely not. They produce an large amount of good health information (even if you do need to wade through a lot of professional material not intended for consumers like you and me).
And all the health and medical stories I checked include dates, author names and links to their bios. I've not used this website frequently but I've bookmarked it now although I am partial, as a first but not only stop for general information, to the non-governmental WebMD.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Spring Whispers
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Driving While Old
Whenever there is an auto accident involving an elder driver, there are hysterical calls to snatch licenses from people when they turn 65.
What makes me laugh (ruefully) is that U.S. elected officials are eager to raise retirement age for Social Security and eligibility for Medicare because, they say, we are healthier in old age than past generations so we should work longer. But apparently, for some of them, that doesn't mean we are healthy enough to drive.
Not necessarily, say the people who track driving statistics for a living at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation. They tell us health matters more than age.
And that tells me that unlike elected representatives, the NHTSA is doing its homework and knows that people manifest negative signs of ageing at dramatically different rates. In some cases, a 50-year-old is too debilitated to drive; in others, a 90-year-old is capable; with all the variations in between.
Here are some recent statistics about teen drivers and elder drivers from the Insurance Information Institute website. First, teens:
”Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
“In 2012, 1,875 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 died in motor vehicle crashes and an additional 184,000 young drivers were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
And here are some similar numbers for elder drivers from the same source:
”In 2011, there were 35 million licensed drivers age 65 and over according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“5,560 people age 65 and older were killed and 214,000 were injured in traffic crashes in 2012.
“In 2012 drivers age 65 and older accounted for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Of course, what's missing from these numbers is information on who is at fault for the accidents and their ages.
Even so, a study reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety a year ago indicates that driving is becoming safer in all age groups:
”At the beginning of the study period, drivers 80 and older had by far the highest fatal crash rate, at nearly twice the rate of drivers ages 35-54 and 70-74. By 2012, the fatal crash involvement rate for drivers 80 and older improved to 1.4 times the rate of the other two age groups.
"'Older drivers are not only less likely to crash in recent years, they also are sharing in the benefits of newer and safer vehicles. It also helps that older people in general are more fit than in years past, with better access to emergency services and health care,' McCartt says.”
Also, elder drivers tend to self-police their capabilities which younger people may not. Here is a chart showing conditions under which men and women age 65 and older avoid driving:
I've been avoiding night driving since I first got my license at age 16. I never have been able to drive confidently with car lights from the opposite direction blinding me. And nowadays, I'm not fond if highways at any time of day.
None of this means that one day, some of us won't need to turn in our car keys for our own safety and that of everyone else. And yes, it is frightening to contemplate losing the independence cars provide especially for those of us who do not live in cities with good public transportation.
In the past when I've written about elders and driving, the reasons we might have difficulties have been vague – reaction times slow, vision fades, etc., but nothing specific.
Recently, however, I ran across some short videos from the NHTSA about how specific health conditions can affect driving quality. Here is the general overview video:
As I said at the top, it is one's health that matters more in regard to driving than age. Here are links to other short videos with information about driving and specific medical conditions most commonly seen in elders.
In addition to these links and the others above, the National Institutes of Health website has a large, useful section on elder driving. And the Centers for Disease Control has a good fact sheet about elder drivers.
Not every old person will need to stop driving but I believe we all have a responsibility to monitor ourselves as the years go by and make plans for alternatives to driving before they become critical.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Packing It In at 75
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Yes, Another Elder Online Dating Post – Part 3 (Unplanned)
Yesterday's post, Part 2 of this series, was supposed to be the end of it. But two pertinent things happened that make it worth extending for a day – especially because I think the topic of elder dating deserves a bit more depth and humor than my experience gave it.
Over several years, I have accumulated a modest collection of DVDs about old age. A few are documentaries but what I am more interested in are dramas, in how filmmakers approach the subject and how well they carry through either in interpretation of what I already know or enlightening me anew.
Sunday I rewatched a Peter O'Toole movie from 2006, Venus. O'Toole plays Maurice, a London actor in the twilight of his years who falls for Jessie, a pretty enough but slovenly, education-impaired 20-something from the provinces sent by her family to care for Maurice's declining friend, Ian.
As A.O. Scott observed in his New York Times review, the movie provided the filmmakers with a “rare opportunity to show how complicated, how impetuous, how alive older people can be.”
And so O'Toole/Maurice is. His desire for Jessie (whom he renames Venus after his favorite painting) arrived unexpectedly, late in life after his career and fame have waned. A diagnosis of cancer shadows his attraction for the young women but not the joy she brings him as he shows her around his London, showering her with gifts and his longing.
The film is beautifully written, magnificently acted, a poignant meditation on old age, desire and love of living. David Ansen described it well at the time in Newsweek: “A heartbreaking comedy that is simultaneously funny and sad, raunchy and sweet, funky and elegiac.”
Here is the original trailer:
Venus is available to stream on Netflix and can also be found to stream, rent or purchase at Amazon, Itunes, YouTube, Google Play and other venues.
O'Toole received a slew of best actor nominations for Venus including the U.S. Academy Awards. He died in 2013, leaving us with a library of great films portrayals that will always be there for us to watch again.
My second find turned up yesterday. I don't remember from whence (you know how it goes clicking around the web). This is an entirely different mood and is, unlike O'Toole's movie, specifically about elder dating.
First you need to know about Australia's annual Tropfest, said to be the world's largest festival for short films. It began in 1993 and now involves venues in 33 countries, according to Wikipedia.
This little film, titled Makeover, won second place at the 2014 Tropfest. Even though you, like me, will probably figure out what's coming, that doesn't make it any less funny and wonderful.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: TV Baseball