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February 2005

Ronni in the Kitchen

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Ronni in the Kitchen

[1967] Broadcasting became my calling when station executives, blind to the additional work for a talk show compared to record-spinning, refused to hire a producer for Alex’s program. So I planned the shows, booked the guests and while Alex was on the air, cleared the telephone calls. I thought I was just helping out in a tough situation, but in time it led to the career I had been seeking.

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COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
av_producer @ 2003-09-05 said:
Love the poster ... so appropriate for this post.

zinetv @ 2003-09-07 00:25 said:
Out of the kitchen and into the fire. . . so to speak.


Alex at the Radio Station

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Alex at Radio Station

[July 1967] Alex became the radio talk host he ached to be. In a short few months, he made his anti-war, rock-and-roll show on KILT-AM number one in its timeslot, as well as the most controversial broadcast Houston had ever heard.

Someone made it abundantly clear that he or she disagreed with Alex’s liberal politics by shooting up the exterior of the radio station building – real bullets - while the program was on the air and which scared the whadiddy out of me. A band of Hell’s Angels came to the rescue on their Harleys, escorting our car from home to the station and back each night.

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Social Security - Part 9: The Past Week

Crabby Old Lady is pleased to see that a couple of people on the “Older Bloggers” list have taken up the privatization of Social Security issue. Be sure to read Cop Car about the effect on women, and check out Elaine at Kalilily Time for her colorful rants.

Republican Support Waning?
Equally terrific to Crabby is news that a growing number of important Republican legislators have reservations about President Bush’s misleading campaign for privatization. Of course, politicians change their minds every day, but Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said last Sunday on CNN saying she is not convinced Social Security is in crisis, as Mr. Bush insists.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Bill Thomas, a Republican from California, told Meet the Press, also on Sunday, that he wants to investigate other ways of financing Social Security, throwing out one idea about a value-added tax - a consumption tax - for Congress to consider.

Do not take these Republican misgivings as a reason to slack off. 60 Senate votes are required to pass any Social Security legislation and there are 55 Republicans. In case some misguided Democrats think privatization is a good idea, some Republican votes in opposition will be needed.

AARP Survey
AARP released a major survey this week of 1500 adults age 30 and over. 66 percent of respondents would prefer to strengthen Social Security with as few changes as possible. Only 18 percent support privatization if it means borrowing $1 trillion or more in transition costs. [Transitions costs are the money needed to meet current benefits payments if two percent of millions of accounts are diverted to private accounts.]

On the other hand, a poll from the Tarrance Group and Public Opinion Strategies, which is being presented to House Republicans today, is said to report that 55 percent of voters older than 55 believe “major changes” [read: privatization] to Social Security are needed.

The President
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush continues in his single-minded pursuit of privatization, which he prefers to reference as “personal accounts.” And keep your eye on the media in the verbiage war; already The New York Times and NBC have adopted the president's phrase instead of privatization or "private accounts." The coin of persuasion is language, so pay attention.

In his news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Bush again used the scare words “bust” and “bankrupt” to describe Social Security. And he reiterated his refusal to consider raising the payroll tax although he did not mention, pro or con, raising the salary cap, currently at $90,000, which could be one of the painless fixes to help ensure Social Security benefits long term.

Several times in the past week, the president disingenuously tried to make the public believe that former President Clinton is a supporter of privatization. Don’t you believe it. Although Mr. Clinton said, during his administration, that the “…fiscal crisis in Social Security affects every generation,” he never suggested it needs radical surgery nor advocated Bush’s style of privatization. More importantly, he urged making use of the budget surplus accumulated on his watch:

“Before we spend a penny on new programs or tax cuts, we should save Social Security first. I think it should be the driving principle…Do not have a tax cut. Do not have a spending program that deals with that surplus. Save Social Security first.”

But, of course, President Bush has spent all that surplus and then some. Even though it is traditional for former presidents never to critizice sitting presidents, Crabby will be disappointed if Mr. Clinton does not soon speak out on Mr. Bush's misleading interpretation of his words.

Additionally, Mr. Bush repeatedly stated in the past week that benefits for people age 55 and older will be not be affected or reduced by privatization. That may or may not be true if whatever legislation is approved includes shifting benefits calculations from the current wage index to the inflation index. If that shift is applied to all retirees, benefits for people older than 55 will be reduced.

This repeated statement is an attempt by the president to remove seniors from the privatization debate. Don’t let that happen. Social Security seems so far in their future to younger people that many do not pay close attention. Crabby reminds you to let the president and your Washington legislators know what you want. You can do that at this website. Do it today and do it often. Keep telling them until they believe it.

Coming Up
Next Wednesday, 2 February, President Bush will deliver his State of the Union Address. He said in the press conference two days ago that he will reveal details of his Social Security proposal in that speech and then barnstorm five states to promote it. You can guess what Crabby Old Lady will be writing about next Friday.

...to be continued...

Social Security Privatization Series Index


Busting Age Stereotypes

category_bug_journal2.gif There are two new reports this week that help puncture stereotypes about old people. One applies to women.

Women Are Happier as They Get Older
Contrary to conventional wisdom, life gets better with age.

“When you’re in your 20s, 30s – and even 40s – it’s common for women to put their lives under a microscope and feel like they’re not living up to their full potential in terms of work, home and family,” said Carrie McCament, senior director, Frank About Women. “By the time she reaches her 50s, she’s really hit her stride. She is happy, she is confident, and she is financially astute.”
- Yahoo Finance, 24 January 2005

In a survey of 1155 women ages 20 to 97, conducted by Frank About Women, only 42 percent of women in their twenties reported themselves to be “extremely” or “very satisfied” with their overall wellness. It rises to 46 percent for women in their fifties, and to 50 percent of women in their sixties.

And when women grow older than 70, the percentage jumps to a whopping 66 percent.

So take that, anybody who thinks a perfect young body with no wrinkles is the holy grail.

Infirmity May Be Treatable
Symptoms commonly attributed to old age may not always be normal and can be corrected. Long-time medical columnist, Jane Brody, reports on the fascinating Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging which has tracked 1,000 people, since 1958, age 20 to older than 90. She says:

“Too often, older people and their relatives dismiss or ignore early symptoms of what may very well be a correctable problem because they wrongly assume that the changes are to be expected as one grows old.”
- Independent Record, 25 January 2005

As people's bodies age, explains Brody, they do not respond to drugs in the same way as younger people which can lead to confusion, dizziness, falls, pain and other symptoms. Drugs may not leave the system at the same rate of speed as younger folks or may build up in body fat so that the usual dose is inadequate.

“Complicating matters further is the fact that symptoms of an illness in older adults can differ from those in younger people. For example, a young adult may run a high fever with a serious infection, but the naturally lower body temperature of an older person, along with diminished ability to mount an immunological attack against an invading organism, may result in no noticeable rise in body temperature.”

The story, linked above, contains an excellent list of common symptoms old people experience that may be caused by a treatable medical condition and not just old age.

Brody concludes with a word about the most common mental health problem in older people – depression:

“Many lay people and health professionals alike expect the elderly to feel tired and sad and show little interest in life. But in fact, most older people enjoy life, and failing to recognize and treat depression can deprive the elderly of continued joy and satisfaction.”

Read this important story. Print it out for yourself for reference in caring for your aged parents. Give a copy to your children for your own old age. And find a physician who understands these things.


Ronni, Alex’s Mom and Alex

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Ronni, Alex's Mom and Alex

[August 1966] We had moved to Houston and Alex’s deejay show on KILT-AM was soon rated No. 1. His face was plastered on billboards all over town, he emceed The Beatles and Rolling Stones concerts when they played the Astrodome and pretty girls younger than I thought Alex was almost as hot as the rock stars.

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COMMENT FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
yolima @ 2003-09-05 said:
Alex’s mom looks like a fun person without inhibitions. I like her laughing face.


Winter Age

category_bug_journal2.gif It feels like a winter age since last there was a decent snowfall in New York City, so I waited eagerly for the weekend. The street in front of my home looked like this on Saturday as what was being called the “Blizzard of ‘05” began:

First Snow on Bedford

So many complain throughout winter, a season to be only endured, they say, ignored if possible, until spring bursts forth again - and none too soon.

Not me. Spring and summer and fall have their charms, but no seasonal phenomenon makes me grin like a big snowstorm in winter. It is the transformation that excites me, I think, when winter dresses up the ordinary in her magical winter-white attire, and age has yet to dim my anticipation of an approaching storm.

The weather guys overdid it a little on Friday and Saturday, almost hysterical at having a real blizzard to report. Expect 12 inches, they said at first. Then 18. And with voices rising, no, it looks like we will get two feet over the next 24 hours.

Mayor Bloomberg warned of life-threatening danger outside. Stay home, he said. Stay home, the weather guys repeated. This is a real nor'easter, a blizzard. Wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour. White-out conditions. Snow-emergency rules. No telling how high the drifts will be.

By evening, with the storm so far living up to predictions, my block glowed in the snowlight.

Snow on Bedford at Night

I went to bed dreaming of snowdrifts as high as my shoulders, eager as an eight-year-old for the clock to make its way to dawn.

Snow still fell, though lightly, in the early hours of Sunday, but I was disappointed at how little accumulation there was – certainly less than a foot.

Morning Snow on Bedford

One of the best things about New York City snowstorms is that dress-up factor I mentioned. But wind had blown away too much of the snow leaving little to accessorize the fire escapes in white outlines against brick and brownstone facades.

Fire Escapes on Downing Street

So much smaller was this storm than promised that by the time I bundled up to be the first to make footprints on my block, the plows had already cleaned our one-lane street and though shivering a bit, neighbors were passing the time of day in front of the Blue Ribbon Bakery restaurant."

Neighbors in the Snow

The "Blizzard of '05" was a bust and I will have to wait for what already feels like another winter age to make an angel in the snow.


Ronni and Alex

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Ronni and Alex Wedding

[18 September 1965] When I wept through the wedding, they thought it was joy. Wrong. I wanted to back out, but was too timid, too mid-century proper, too concerned with what others would think to halt the ceremony. In the same circumstance today, I’d just turn around, tell everyone I’d changed my mind and have the party anyway.

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COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
lauratitian @ 2003-09-03 said:
I`d like to go to that party.

ronni @ 2003-09-03 said:
Yeah, laura, Ive wondered how a party in that circumstance would turn out.

frisjes @ 2003-09-05 said:
Like the stories you tell next to the pictures.


Ronni, Alex’s Dad and Alex

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Ronni, Alex' Dad and Alex

[1965] I loved them equally. Since the older one was long spoken for, I married his son.

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COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
frisjes @ 2003-09-02 said:
The younger one is handsome, so I would say a good choice........

av_producer @ 2003-09-02 said:
Wonderful Flog. Well done, I grew up in Greenwich Vilalge/Soho and thought everyone was a drama queen! Thanks for sharing.

lauratitian @ 2003-09-02 said:
you`re a doll!

zinetv @ 2003-09-03 said:
Looks like a good choice, since all the other contenders were not in color.


To Hell in a Handbasket

It has been traditional for as long as I can remember for the oldest generation to believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. “The good old days” were always a better place to gramps even if he didn’t have an indoor toilet as a kid, never heard of vaccines and the airplane was barely a glimmer in anyone’s eye.

We all know that in personal terms, we in the first world are generally healthier, richer and endowed with a multitude of labor-saving and life-enhancing devices undreamed of by those who lived a hundred years ago, but this is not to belabor the remarkable advances of the 20th century.

Instead, it is to explain that having congratulated myself throughout a lifetime on being thoroughly modern, up-to-date and intolerant of wistful nostalgia for times past (things change; get over it), I’ve come to believe, like gramps, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

It is not the nuts-and-bolts of life - not technology, which delivers unto us daily new marvels of convenience and well-being - that convinces me of this state of affairs. It is the decline of the state of the world on a large scale:

  • Pollution in our rivers, lakes and oceans grows unchecked.
  • Global warming presents a frightening future of diminished sunlight and breathable air, and nothing is done.
  • Agribusiness develops sterile seeds and convinces government they won’t mutate to sterilize other plants because, apparently, the wind does not blow on farms.
  • Corporate executives grant themselves compensation a thousand times larger than their average workers’ salaries, which have increased in real dollars by no more than one percent in more than a decade, and then cry poverty as they cancel health coverage for their employees.
  • The government invades a foreign country on false pretenses, subverts the separation of church and state, removes limits on government and corporate intrusions into private life, mortgages the future with the largest deficit in history – and that’s just for starters - with the singular goal of enriching the top one percent of the citizenry while impoverishing the rest.
  • The “free press,” correctly recognized by the founding fathers as essential to providing a brake on excessive use of government power, is itself now owned by the multinational corporations which share excessive power with the government.
  • The educational system is so ineffectual that few coming of age in the past 20 years have the knowledge to understand or care about any of the above.

And finally,

  • The culture is so subsumed into the false values of youth, (unreachable dreams of) wealth and 24/7 entertainment, any such as I who wave a flag of “Danger Ahead” are dismissed as cranks.

When I was young, the idea of leaving the world a better place than it was when one arrived was our ideal. We believed that in tandem with our private pursuit of life, liberty and personal happiness, we could do that. We believed, if we were not talented enough individually to cure cancer or feed the starving children of the world, we could affect our leaders’ decisions in those regards by the speech, press and voting booth guaranteed by the Constitution – and anyway, even accounting for partisan ideologies, we believed our leaders shared our ideal.

Now, however, when every corporate leader’s venal pursuits are ratified by every political leader they have bought and paid for, ideals are for fools - even when the survival of individual freedom, of life on earth and of the planet itself are at stake.

This time, I fear, the world really is going to hell in handbasket and mine will be the first generation to leave that world demonstrably worse off than we arrived.


Social Security – Part 8: Misinformation, Distortion and Deceit

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
Dick Cheney – 26 August 2002:
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

George W. Bush – 28 January 2003:
"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

Donald Rumsfeld – 30 March 2003
"We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."

AP – 12 January 2005
"The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has quietly concluded without any evidence of the banned weapons that President Bush cited as justification for going to war, the White House said Wednesday."

SOCIAL SECURITY
George W. Bush – 16 December 2004
"One of my charges is to explain to Congress as clearly as I can: The crisis is now."

George W. Bush – 18 December 2004
"By the time today's workers who are in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt."

Dick Cheney – 13 January 2005
“…the system is on a course to eventual bankruptcy.”

George W. Bush – 15 January 2005
“The system is broken, and promises are being made that Social Security cannot keep.”

Crabby Old Lady doesn’t like to think her government is deliberately blowing smoke, but she does see a pattern here: Manufactured fear of WMDs took us into a quagmire of an unnecessary war and now, manufactured fear of Social Security’s demise could lead to the destruction of the most successful social policy program in the history of the United States.

The Bushies pulled out their big guns in the past week – including the president, Treasury Secretary John Snow and Vice President Dick Cheney - spreading out over the nation to put the fear of old age destitution into the populace. And it doesn’t stop with administration officials.

“The Republican National Committee is putting together a war room on the issue, organizing workshops and town halls around the country, placing advocates on regional radio and deploying a rapid-response team in Washington.”
- Time, 24 January 2005

And to Crabby Old Lady’s utter dismay, the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the federal government, is being corrupted to shill for the president’s privatization agenda. As Robert Pear noted in The New York Times on Sunday,

“A communications and marketing plan developed by the Social Security agency says…managers should ‘discuss solvency issues at staff meetings,’ ‘insert solvency messages in all Social Security publications’ and ‘place articles on solvency in external publications.’”

The administrators of the government agency older Americans trust more than any other did not think up this shady campaign on their own. If it didn't sound so paranoid, Crabby Old Lady would think it is a move to diminish the integrity of the Social Security Administration so that the country will look to "daddy-knows-best" Bush's guidance on his privatization scheme.

Whether that's a Crabby Old Lady nightmare or not, you will be seeing those "messages" in upcoming Social Security mailings. Unlike the $40 million inaugural celebration this week paid for by multinational corporations seeking (and getting) influence in Washington, the cost is coming out of your Social Security payroll contributions.

Taken together with the power of the presidential bully pulpit to gain headlines and influence, all of these moves - and there are more to come - are as formidable an offensive as the creation of a phony scare to gain public support an unnecessary war.

Trust Crabby Old Lady: the nation doesn’t need another shamefully skewed PR campaign of misinformation, distortion and deceit. What is needed is plain talk, accurate information and willingness by everyone in Washington to do the most good for the largest number of people.

It’s time for Americans to demand that of the president and their legislators in Washington. It sounds like a puny effort against the might of a determined administration, but there is power in numbers: Make your voice - and your friends' and relatives' voices - heard in Washington.

You can do that at this website.

...to be continued...

Social Security Privatization Series Index


Aunt Edith Age 68

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Aunt Edith Age 68

[December 1963] For Aunt Edith, there were never gender barriers. For the rest of us, 1963 is a watershed year in which an event, then overshadowed by the Kennedy assassination in November, would prove to be the instigation of one of the most critical social, political and economic shifts of the 20th century: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published.

So densely written that it is nearly unreadable, the book was nevertheless devoured by young women. We soon threw away our girdles, burned our bras and began kicking down the doors of establishment America.

Young women today who shun the label feminist should remember to celebrate Ms. Friedan anyway. She is the godmother, directly responsible for the fact that any career women can imagine is theirs to achieve. Aunt Edith notwithstanding, that wasn’t so when I was starting out.

[Aunt Edith's full story begins here.]

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COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
hillspan @ 2003-09-01 said:
Ah ha, your captions are beginning to get longer and longer ... I started out History with short little captions too, now I can`t post anything with out a long story. You`ll see ... Hillspan=History

ronni @ 2003-09-01 said:
Only when I occasionally get on my soapbox, Hill ;-)

mrsdeen @ 2003-09-01 said:
Amen, sister!


Memory Lapses

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ITEM: Shortly after I got a new kitten at the end of October, I bought a special pair of scissors to clip his claws. I recall, when Ollie’s first manicure was finished, thinking I needed a storage place for this new piece of feline equipment, somewhere easy to get to once every week or two. Since then I’ve torn the house apart trying to locate those scissors and haven’t found them yet.

Really irritating and a monumental waste of time searching for them.

ITEM: A few days ago, I had an attack of computer tidiness and cleaned up my desktop. Here’s a screen grab of the new positioning of programs to which I want quick access.

Computer Deskto

That center grouping contains the programs I use almost every day. Others are organized by type of program. A day after I rearranged everything, I clicked one image to open a browser, stepped away from the desk to refill my coffee cup and returned to see PhotoShop open.

My first thought was, “What the f*** is wrong with the computer now and how long is it going to take me to fix it?” It took a few moments to realize I had clicked an icon newly in the position on the screen where I had previously stowed the browser icon. Habits die hard. Precisely the same sequence of events happened the next morning. That time, at least I remembered the mistake from the day before, and I've not made it again.

ITEM: When I searched my own blog, I found THREE pages of links to entries containing the word “memory.” A few were duplicates and some were in context of something else, but I was surprised to see I’d forgotten how frequently I’ve written about age and memory loss, particularly short-term memory. But it’s on my mind again. If I’m boring you, move on; there are millions of blogs on the world wide web.

One of the most common fears among older folks is memory loss, and those recent events led me to a trip around the web to read again about age and short-term memory. It is heartening to know that

“Memory loss isn’t limited to older people. Studies show that various types of memory failures are common in young and middle-aged people as well.”
- Today’s Senior Network

Reasons for Short-Term Memory Problems
Different researchers have a host of reasons for our minor and short-term memory lapses:

“…by midlife, there may be difficulty accessing a memory because one has accumulated a lot of memories. It’s hard to get ‘through’ because all the lines are busy.”
- Health and Age
“[Forgetting a word you know]…is usually just a glitch in your memory. You’ll almost always remember the word with time.”
- familydoctor.org
“Short-term (working) memory: Storage here depends on how alert you are when you receive information. Most short-term memories are erased in a minute.”
- Today’s Senior Network
“Many things other than aging can cause memory problems. These include depression, other illnesses…side effects of drugs, strokes, a head injury and alcoholism.”
- familydoctor.org

Aids For Short-Term Memory
It is interesting to read that physical activity may sharpen the mind and memory. A new study carried out over ten years with elderly men found that those

“…who decreased the duration and intensity of their physical activity level…experienced a greater decline in cognitive skill, such as attention, memory, and language skills, than men who maintained the intensity of their physical activity.”
- WebMD

Because stress releases the hormone cortisol which is harmful to brain cells, reducing stress with exercise and meditation will help preserve mental acuity, and awareness helps too:

“If you want to remember something, work at it. Pay careful attention to what you are trying to learn…practice or repeat the information and associate it with other ideas. These strategies can help you consolidate information so that it passes into your long-term memory.”
- Today’s Senior Network

According to the experts, memory problems are serious only when they affect daily living – when you forget how to do things you’ve done many times, how to get to a place you frequently go and have trouble doing things in steps such as following a recipe.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And none of that helps me find Ollie's expensive nail clippers.


New ElderBloggers

The ElderBloggers list over there on the left doesn’t change much. Some of that is laziness on my part, but it is also due to a lack of over-50 bloggers. Even though we older folks are the fastest-growing demographic online, there aren’t many who blog compared to other age groups.

I do have a longer, private list of ElderBloggers I check in with. I’m not fond of long blogrolls so I keep mine as short as possible because I consider it to be recommendations and I list only those I consider exceptional. I don’t find many.

However, just since the turn of the year, several have turned up who meet that standard and to which I want to call your attention. Almost all found me rather than the other way around.

Always Question
This 57-year old is a new blogger whose About section tells us that he is:

“…of the Class of '65, but I seem to have missed most of the fun of that largely due to the needs of the Navy and the United States of America. Now I try to see if I can make sense of what you people are doing, and how I might contribute.”

I particularly like his first entry in December titled, An Urge to Say Something:

“There are things that bug me. I try to let them go but I just can't. How did George Bush get reelected in preference to anyone? How does Donald Rumsfeld live with himself after throwing off a line like "you go to war with the army you have" as though the war in Iraq was not entirely of our choosing?

"I need to articulate some of these things, work through them in my own mind. Read them, don't read them, agree, disagree. These are just my musings. This isn't literature.”

Since then, he has been asking - and sometimes answering – some excellent questions, and you gotta love a guy who publicly admits he’s been married four times.

Blowin’ in the Wind
This man is stuck working in Singapore while his wife and child are far away at home in India. The subtitle of his blog is “Get a life? Gotta blog” and he just started on 6 January. How’s this for setting a scene:

“It's almost daybreak now. The darkness is gradually melting away into the flush of dawn. The morning shows have already started, the music interspersed by the deejays' chatter about road conditions to help early commuters. Traffic is beginning to build up into a steady rumble. Soon the mystery of the night will dissolve into the clear light of day. It could happen within minutes now. Time to give the blog a rest.”

There’s was no way I wouldn’t return after reading that. He also has a thoughtfully eloquent photo album of worthy "icons."

Kalilily Time
Long before I started TimeGoesBy, I was reading Elaine, the self-styled “resident crone of blogdom,” but I had lost track of her.

She writes about her family and personal circumstances, and she is also a passionate political advocate who minces no words as in this final line from her recent post on Social Security privatization:

“Don't let Bush succeed in overwhelming us, yet again, with his drivel and dung.”

I always enjoy reading first posts and Elaine has been blogging, thanks to her son, longer than most of us. Here’s her first entry from 29 November 2001:

“We are all shadow and light. Death Mother. Lilymaide. I leap into the abyss of cyberspace. The children lead us.

"On and off, I read through the weblogs linked from my son b!X’s blog. I might as well live on another planet.

"My mother lives across the hall from me - a situation I swore would never happen. But life happens, and death beckons, and sometimes the better parts of us win out after all. But she still drives me crazy.”

the Bright Field weblog
Tom Cunliffe, who lives in England, isn’t new to blogging, but he found me after he inaugurated his latest blog in December. He says he’s going to try something a little different this time:

“…my main aim in starting this new journal is perhaps to be a little more serious than I have been so far. I'd like to write about things that matter, and while day to day things will inevitably surface from time to time, I'd like to think that this site is going to be more interesting than the assorted trivial incidents that comprised most of my earlier efforts.”

Tom is also an artist and I found this watercolor of Westminster from Waterloo Bridge stunning.

Veritas and Venustas
John Massengale calls himself a “recovering architect.” He writes a lot about New Urbanism, and he kindly published my lengthy email rant to him on my neighborhood becoming, to my disgust, a “retail destination.”

If your interests fall to architecture and urbanism, this is a terrific blog, but John has a much wider range of interests than how he makes his living, including what to see in Rome if you have only one day, movie reviews and food tips:

“Need a little vacation from New York but don't have time to go anywhere? The Café Petrossian near Carnegie Center, is the anti-Starbucks. The croissants and atmosphere make you feel like you're in Paris."

And he’s done a rant or two that are worthy of Crabby Old Lady. Here is one from nearly a year ago:

"Does anyone like those 'blow-in' cards that fall out of magazines every time you pick one up? Magazine publishers claim the cards bring in so many subscriptions that they have no choice but to use them.

"At Staple today, I saw a sign promoting stamp pads with any message made in less than a day. I bought one that says,

Stop Dropping
Your Trash
On My Floor

"Cards that fall on my floor will be sent back to the publisher with that message in place of the address."

You won't go wrong adding these sites to your blog reading. Stop by and welcome the new additions to the TGB ElderBloggers list.


Ronni and Ken

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Ronni and Ken

[6 April 1963] Nice enough guy, that Ken, but he was 20 years older than I and answered every question I asked with “Whatever you want, dear.” What was I thinking? I soon came to my senses and cancelled the wedding.
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COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
rosarosa @ 2003-09-01 said:
Wow. What a story!

ribena @ 2003-09-02 said:
Look at you! SO beautiful. I’m catching up after the long weekend; what a treat.


Paul

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Paul Age 14

[27 August 1962] At 14, my brother was showing signs of growing up into a handsome man. Because he lived in Portland with Dad and Aunt Edith, we visited infrequently and it is a sorrow to me that, through the years, we have not closed that distance much.

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Social Security - Part 7: Bush Fear Mongering

President Bush took his Social Security privatization campaign to the public on Tuesday. As with his election campaign, the “public” was a hand-picked group of several hundred Republican supporters who need no convincing to go along with the president. In his speech, Mr. Bush warned:

“If you’re 20 years old, in your mid-20s, and you’re beginning to work, I want you to think about a Social Security system that will be flat bust, bankrupt, unless the United States Congress has got the willingness to act now.”
- Washington Post, 12 January 2005

Crabby Old Lady is outraged that a president - any president of the United States - would state such a falsehood. The truth is that although Social Security needs fixing to ensure full benefits to retirees after 2042, it will never be "bankrupt." On that date, even if no changes are made, Social Security will pay 73 percent of benefits.

Mr. Bush's appearance on Tuesday, billed by the White House as a “conversation on Social Security,” was just one event in the politically intense marketing effort to sell the public on the virtues of privatization.

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was trotted out to Wall Street for three days this week to sell the plan there, while Vice President Dick Cheny and White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten have been giving speeches this week too on the Bush Social Security proposal. And scarifying advertisements, paid for by the National Association of Manufacturers and others, about Social Security have been running on CNN and Fox News.

A lot of people who disagree with the president and his cohorts are beginning to speak up about his tactics. Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future told reporters:

“The biggest crisis facing Social Security is the president’s plan to privatize it. Social Security is President Bush’s new ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction.’ He is manufacturing a crisis…”
- U.S. Newswire, 11 January 2005

Speaking with the same reporters Democratic Representative Sander Levin of Michigan said:

“Mr. President, don’t scare out nation into wrecking Social Security. Our first task is to make sure the American people have all the facts. The Bush Administration can not be allowed to distort and exaggerate a truly American success story.”
- U.S. Newswire, 11 January 2005

Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, spoke up on Tuesday in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, saying the Bush campaign to reshape Social Security was being pushed through the “politics of fear.”

”We have an administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis,” he said. “They did it on Iraq, and they are doing it now on Social Security.
- The New York Times, 12 January 2005

And according to Congressional Quarterly on Wednesday, Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, is sending letters to her constituents saying she opposes

“…diverting money from the Social Security program to establish private accounts.”
- UPI, 12 January 2005

Crabby Old Lady sincerely hopes her Senator will do more to stop privatization than send a letter to Crabby, who has no power to affect the issue. Social Security does need some tweaking and Crabby is waiting none-too-patiently to hear details of other proposals.

Among the items said to be on Bush’s privatization plan is a shift in calculation of future benefits to price changes rather than wage changes as is done now. Most analysts say this will severely cut benefits because wages generally grow faster than inflation.

“Who campaigned on price indexing? Who campaigned on cutting future benefits?" asks Peter Ferrara, a conservative Social Security analyst. “They campaigned on personal accounts. It’s a bait-and-switch to say now we’re gonna go to [benefit cuts] price indexing.”
- Washington Post, 12 January 2005

It is good news to Crabby to see the opposition beginning to defy President Bush on this radical plan that she believes is the first Republican step toward killing Social Security altogether.

More good news is that in a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released on 11 January 2004, 55 percent of Americans said they believe that investing their Social Security taxes in the stock market is a bad idea. But that doesn’t mean we can relax.

President Bush sold the United States and the world on a pre-emptive war in Iraq based on fear mongering about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, which proved to be false. Now he and his neocon handlers are trying the same move with Social Security. Don’t let the PR campaign fool you.

Crabby doesn’t expect everyone to keep as close a watch as she does on the Bush administration maneuvers to shove privatization down America’s collective throat. But if you check in here every Friday, she will sort out the details for you.

...to be continued...

Social Security Privatization Series Index


Ollie the Sheet Surfer

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Oliver and the Globe

Wow. Look at me! Don't you think I'm handsome?

That cellophane I'm carrying is the good stuff I was telling you about last time. The crinkly sound makes it more fun that some silly, soft store-bought toy. Like I said before, if you've never chased cellophane around your house, you should try it some time - you'll like it.

I can jump really high now. Two days ago, I knocked everything off the top of the refrigerator. I didn't actually mean to do that - it just turned out that way when I landed up there. Ronni wasn't happy about it, but I sure was. It made a great crashing noise and I got watch all the stuff roll around on the floor from the top of the refrigerator. Then I jumped down to chase it around the house. I stashed a vitamin bottle under the bed that Ronni didn't find until two days later. Heh, heh, heh. It's fun to tease her.

Oliver2005_01_10_05bedxtrasm That reminds me - yesterday Ronni and I changed the bed. There's nothing like sheet surfing, skidding along under the sheet and popping up for a peekaboo and back down under, then up and out again. Whoo-ee. The sheet gets all wound up and snarled and that gets me all giddy and silly and feeling so good. Why don't humans like to do that, I wonder.

Hey, did you notice I can use the Shift Key now? I watched Ronni very carefully and it's not hard at all. I hope that makes it easier for you read my imortant updates.

On Thursday, I'll be a whole five months old and that's the day Ronni says I get to go see Dr. Mary for my surgery. I like Dr. Mary a lot. She's a nice lady and she takes good care of me, but I don't know what this word "surgery" means...

Olliebath2005_01_04sm Here's a picture of me taking a bath on the sofa. It's a cozy spot because even though you can't see it in this photo, I'm right next to the warm fire - perfect place for bath. Don't you think my belly spots are beautiful?

Your blogging friend,
Oliver


Total Web Animal

About 15 or 20 years ago, when Crabby Old Lady still worked in television, those little channel identification bugs began to appear on TV screens. It started with the broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC – embedding them in the video to ensure that no one stole their footage for unauthorized use.

At first, they appeared willy-nilly, in all four corners and although the bugs were irritating at first, it wasn’t too hard to ignore them once the network guys reached a consensus to put them in the lower right corner.

Soon, all the local and cable channels added their logos and that remained the status quo for a while.

Static Strips
Then, about seven or eight years ago, Crabby’s eye was distracted one day when a channel introduced a promo for an upcoming program stripped across the entire lower fifth or so of the screen. It sat there for a ten or fifteen seconds before it faded out, an irritating development particularly when it covered what, in the business, is called a “lower third” – identifying information usually in a documentary or news program.

Soon, however, every channel was promoting their next programs throughout the current show with those annoying strips. But that was nowhere near the end of the evil.

Screen Clutter
It was about this time that the cable news channels divvied up the screen into more sections than Crabby is capable of counting:

  • The channel identifier
  • The news crawl
  • The time and temperature
  • A map with a photo of a correspondent in some far-flung location with no video satellite
  • Not one, but two or three stock tickers
  • And probably more Crabby can't recall…

…leaving the upper right corner for what is supposed to be the main attraction – the anchor, now reduced to the size of a cell phone screen.

This is when Crabby first heard of folks who permanently taped over the bottom of their screens - the sane ones who understood (unlike idiot television executives) that the human brain can listen to a person talk or it can read a news crawl, but it is not capable of both simultaneously. Or perhaps it’s just Crabby’s old brain because this didn’t stop those craven executives, hell bent on turning every program into a wall-to-wall commercial, from finding new uses for more parts of the screen.

Video Strips
The latest and greatest inventions of distraction are promos and even advertisements now that move and use audio. Yes, if you haven’t noticed for yourself, those strips have grown to take up a third of the bottom of the screen. They swoosh in from either side, wiggle around and although Crabby has yet to hear words spoken, music is now included, perfectly timed so that the viewer misses the most crucial audio of the program.

The Final Insult
The most recent (literal) eyesore that convinced Crabby that television is no longer worth any effort whatsoever happened a few days ago when a channel stripped over the English subtitles of a foreign-language film she was watching. “That’s it,” she exclaimed, as she restrained herself from putting her foot through the screen, snapped off the tube and stowed her remote in the nether regions of a drawer. “I’m done with television.”

Crabby has always been an inveterate radio listener and because her one television set is in the bedroom, she wasn’t much of a viewer anyway except for the occasional movie and some news or an old episode of Law and Order, now and again, to put her to sleep.

Crabby's Solution
With a few tweaks of her excellent computer music program wherein more than 8,000 tunes are stored, she now has available, at the click of her mouse, dozens of live radio stations from around the entire world. She has two or three handfuls of DVDs of her favorite movies, and there is a superlative video store just a block and a half from her home. With thousands of newspapers and magazines online, not to mention millions of fascinating blogs, who needs television? If she feels she simply must see the latest news video, it's not hard to find on the web.

Crabby will keep the TV set in its bedroom corner for occasional DVD viewing but beyond that, she’s done with old media. She’s a total web animal now.


Ronni at Office Parties

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Ronni at Office Parties

[1958 – 1960] Don’t let the faux, 50’s glamour fool you. Nights and weekends I was a full-blown Beatnik in Cleopatra eye-makeup and white lipstick, a habitue of the Old Town Coffee House in Sausalito where I could be found reading Howl! and Siddhartha, listening to jazz and debating existentialism into the wee hours. I wish I had a photo.

Next...


COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
closerlook @ 2003-08-27 said:
Ronni, your pictures and stories are captivating. You convey so much using so few words.

moonpenny @ 2003-08-27 said:
great triptich...time traveling

bytefactory @ 2003-08-27 said:
wow Ronni!!!, interesting juxtapostion of images, and even more interesting story behind them.

zinetv @ 2003-08-28 said:
So there you were listening ot sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass by day and by night listening to Ginsberg and Davis. A very popular theme in the late 50`s early sixties. There was this book and tv show about a man who led two or three lives. One as average guy, one as communist agent and one as a FBI counterspy. It would really be great to see those other photos.

albumyolima @ 2003-08-29 said:
Those were the truly "glamorous" days!

binky @ 2003-09-14 said:
I love the dress in the first photo.

ronni @ 2003-09-14 said:
Oh, binky, that was such a beautiful dress; sapphire-blue satin.