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Who Could have Stopped the FAA Sequester Exception?

Did you know -

• the Meals on Wheels program for homebound elders is being cut by an estimated 19 million meals?

• thousands of elder cancer patients are being denied needed chemotherapy treatments due to Medicare cuts?

• 140,000 low-income families – mostly disabled elders and families with children - are losing rental assistance vouchers?

• 7,000 children are being kicked out of Head Start programs?

These cuts and others are already in progress and will increase in the coming months due to the “sequestration” law (the Budget Control Act of 2011) that went into effect on 1 March this year requiring across-the-board, mandatory cuts to the military and all federal agencies and programs.

Now, did you know this:

Last week, Congress – both houses – fast-tracked their individual bills to exempt the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from its share of sequestration cuts?

What happened that got Congress in such a tizzy to actually do something (and it's even bipartisan) is that a lot of air traffic controllers were furloughed on Monday 22 April resulting in a slow-down at airports throughout the U.S. inconveniencing business travelers along with members of Congress who fly to and from their home states a lot.

Following that first day of furlough, it took Congress just two days to prepare legislation to get those air traffic controllers back on the job and pass it by the end the week.

In case, given the above list, you are disgusted by Congressional priorities, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained at a press briefing last week that if passed, President Barack Obama would sign the legislation because:

“This is causing unnecessary harm to travelers around the country.”

So on Thursday, the Senate passed S.853, Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 by what is called “unanimous consent” which means there was no roll call vote.

After some minor back and forth on Friday, the House passed an identical bill (H.R. 1765) 361-41 with 30 not voting. Only 29 Democrats voted against the bill.

My representative, Democrat Kurt Schrader, voted yea. I wonder if he knows this is a deal breaker for me in next year's election. You can see how yours voted here.

Although President Barack Obama had been expected to sign the legislation on Friday or Saturday, that had to be postponed due to a typo - a missing "s" - in the bill's text. He is now scheduled to sign it today. But that missing signature didn't stop the bill from going into effect immediately:

Even if we despise Congressional preference for their own convenience over food and health care for millions of Americans, at least the House voted fair and square by rules we understand and we know who voted which way.

The 100 contemptible Senate wretches, however, didn't even take a public vote. They hid behind that “unanimous consent” stuff.

That led me to wonder how it works and if any of the senators – were they to have a backbone and care about the vast majority of Americans who can't afford to travel by air – could have stopped unanimous consent passage of the bill.

As it turns out, it would have taken only one senator, just one, to bury this shameful legislation. Courtesy of a lucid explanation from Republican Senator Tom Coburn, here's how it goes. (By the way, there is no counterpart to this maneuver in the House.)

Bills to be passed by unanimous consent are said to be “hotlined.”

A “hotline” is an informal term for a request to members of the Senate to agree to allow a bill or resolution to be approved by the Senate without debate or amendment,” writes Coburn. “A measure that is 'hotlined' is recorded in the Congressional Record as being agreed to by unanimous consent (UC).

The majority and minority leaders of the Senate decide together to hotline a bill. All the senators' offices are then notified of the hotline and if they object [called a 'hold'], they are asked to contact their leader's office. Without any holds, however,

”In practice,” writes Coburn, “instead of requiring explicit unanimous consent to pass a bill, the hotline process only requires a lack of dissent...

“In some Senate offices, the hotline, or request for unanimous consent to pass a measure, may never even reach Senators, and the decision to allow a bill to be approved without debate is determined by staff. Staff may also place a hold on a bill without the knowledge of a Senator.”

That's bad enough. But wait. Get this:

”A 'hold' is placed when the Leader’s office is notified that a Senator intends to object to a request for unanimous consent (UC) from the Senate to consider or pass a measure.

“A hold may be placed for any reason and can be lifted by a Senator at any time. A Senator may place a hold simply to review a bill, to negotiate changes to the bill, or to kill the bill. A bill can be held for as long as the Senator who objects to the bill wishes to block its consideration.”

Personally, I think it's a dumb rule to allow one senator (anonymity allowed) to withhold a bill from the Senate floor indefinitely. But as long as we are stuck with it, it could have been used this time to stop a repellent bit of unwarranted favoritism.

Judging from past performance and publicly professed ideology, I would have thought there are several senators who coulda/woulda/shoulda stopped this legislation: Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), maybe even my two Oregon senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

But no. Not one senator (nor even the president) took a principled stand for needy elders, children and their families not to mention Medicare cancer patients denied chemotherapy drugs, some of whom will die as a result. (Yes, they will.)

But never mind. Congress members and rich people will not be caused "unnecessary harm," (as Carney so helpfully explained) by airport delays. This is the country we live in now.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: The Will to Live


Growing Old with Long Gray Hair

It was about three-and-a-half years ago that we had a terrific discussion about long hair on elder women. I went back to re-read it over the weekend because I was delighted with this comment that arrived on Saturday from a reader named Catherine.

”Just came across this and agree with the story. I have worn my hair short and 'neat' since the age of 25, was lucky to be one of those that just ran their fingers through and it was done. However, I hit 51 and broke loose.

“My hair has been growing wild for a year now and before I hit a very stressful period it was growing thick and curly as it had done when I was little, I am lucky that it still has a lot of its own colour but there is grey becoming more obvious now [and] this funnily enough bothers other people more than me.

“The stress has caused some loss and lack of lustre but it will recover. I love it, I love feeling the hair on my back and I love the way the wind makes it look wild and messy and I am longing for the day when I have a head of white curly hair.

“I don't care that it will age me. Why? Because I will be old and finally me, without needing to conform to the expectations of others. I love my hair, I am proud of my hair. It's part of me.”

Doesn't Catherine make you feel good? Her enthusiasm for her wild and messy, graying hair blowing in the wind rubs off. And her attitude toward her future elderhood is something I wish I could bestow on everyone alive.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, I.S. Kipp: Fun Baba, Funny Baba or the Green Smoothie


ELDER MUSIC: Centuries

PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


You’ll probably think I’ve finally gone completely round the twist and I must say that I’d agree with you. I have written columns on hours, days of the week, months, years and decades.

I won’t link to the years as there are too many of them, however, if you’re interested, they consist of nearly half of the columns from 2011. The next logical step is to do songs from various centuries.

My choices today aren’t necessarily indicative of the times; I’ve just chosen something, pretty much at random, from the particular era. Don’t read anything into it.

I’ll work backwards, starting from where we are in the 21st century and this could be difficult as I pretty much stopped listening to new music around about 1975, so this is not as easy as it seems. But I’ll manage somehow as I seem to trip over some interesting performers now and then.

One of the really interesting singers I’ve discovered is MARIAN CALL.

Marian Call

Marian lives in Alaska these days for some reason best known to herself. However, she tours now and then and I imagine it’s to escape the cold. Here she performs It was Good for You Too.

♫ Marian Call - It was Good for You Too

The 20th century is more than a bit problematic, as you can imagine. What single tune could I select?

After a bit of thought, I decided to go for something around about the middle of the century, an artist whose roots lie in the music of the early years but whose style presaged the rest of the century. The one who fits that bill is T-BONE WALKER.

T-Bone Walker

T-Bone could play jazz guitar with the best of them; he was a blues player and his music has distinct rock overtones, years early.

Chuck Berry said he was his main influence and pretty much every rock guitarist, whether they acknowledge it or not, owes a great debt to T-Bone. Not just rock musicians either; jazz and blues guitarists too. Probably some classical ones as well.

The track I’ve chosen is I Wish You Were Mine and I think it encapsulates what I want. This is an alternate track to the official one and at the end, T-Bone says that he messed it up.

It sounds all right to me and I prefer it to the officially released version.

♫ T-Bone Walker - I Wish You Were Mine

The 19th century had too many bombastic composers for my taste. Fortunately, there were others who didn’t follow that trend so I’ll be able to come up with something I like and I hope you’ll like as well.

I originally thought of Scott Joplin, but his best works were from the next century, so he missed out unfortunately.

One composer who was mostly on the other end of the bombastic scale is FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN or Fryderyk Chopin to give him his Polish birth name.

Frederic Chopin

Fred’s dad was French and he moved to Poland. Fred reversed that trend and spent the second half of his (rather short) life in Paris. He was only 39 when he died; he’d always been a sickly lad.

He was a child prodigy on the piano and most of his compositions involve that instrument, the vast majority for solo piano. This is one of them, the Mazurka, Op. 24, No. 1 in G minor.

♫ Chopin - Mazurka Op. 24 - No. 1

The 18th century is certainly my favorite musically, although I sure wouldn’t want to live there or then.

Considering that at the start, there’s J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Mr Handel and Telemann. Then later there’s Haydn, Mozart, Johann Christian Bach and the young Beethoven towards the end. Lawdy mama, what an array of talent.

It reminds me of the music of the sixties (that’s the 1960s). There was Bob

Dylan and The Beatles and all the rest were in their shadows. However, it meant that all the rest were aspiring to improve their music because of those towering figures.

The Beach Boys were an example of this and they had a bit of a rivalry going on with The Beatles. John Lennon said that he was looking at what Bob was doing and trying to beat him.

Back in to 18th century I can see the same thing happening. There are many composers who, it strikes me, were influenced by the greats of the time and produced works that they might not have under different circumstances. I’m thinking of Dittersdorf, Pleyel, Boccherini, Saint George and many others whose work I love.

I’m going for one of the biggies though, my main man, JOSEPH HAYDN.

Joseph Haydn

Papa Jo bestrode the century, being born 18 years before J.S. Bach died and living into the 19th century, befriending Mozart and teaching Beethoven along the way.

He was one of the most prolific composers who ever lived and all of his compositions are really fine and some the work of genius. He had a sense of humor that often showed up in his compositions, particularly the symphonies (the “Surprise,” the “Farewell,” the “Palindrome” and others).

I’ll play something from a type of composition he pretty much invented, the string quartet. Okay, nitpickers will aver that this was around before him but he pretty much made it his own and created something that composers still use as a model to this day.

Here is the third movement from the String Quartet in C Major, Op. 1 No. 6.

♫ Haydn - String Quartet Op 1 No 6 (3)

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI was the link between the music of the Renaissance and the development of the Baroque. He was probably the most important composer of the 17th century.

Claudio Monteverdi

Like Haydn in the next century, he took a rather undeveloped type of music, the madrigal, and created a full-blown style. Until he was 40, he worked on nothing else.

Later in his life he composed other forms including a number of operas. He was certainly the first major opera composer. Notwithstanding all that, I’m going to play a duet sung by Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb called Chiome d'oro.

♫ Monteverdi - Chiome d'oro

The 16th century is rife with composers. There were Thomas Tallis, William Mundy, Christopher Tye, Orlando di Lasso (generally known as Lassus) and a considerable number of others. However, I’ll eschew those big names and go for CIPRIANO DE RORE.

Cipriano de Rore

Cipriano was probably born in a small town in Flanders. It’s not known where he received his musical education but it is known that he had a long term thing going on with Margaret of Parma, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor at the time.

She married into the Medici family and he decided it was best if he went elsewhere. That elsewhere was Ferrara where he spent some considerable time composing and performing.

He returned to his homeland a couple of times but revolution was in the air so he returned to (what we now know as) Italy, settling eventually in Parma. He was influential in the early development of madrigals. This is one of his, Musica dulci sono.

♫ Rore - Madrigali, Musica dulci sono

GUILLAUME DUFAY was born near Brussels around about 1397, so he spent pretty much all his life in the 15th century.

Guillaume Dufay

Some say that Willy was the son of a priest and Marie du Fayt. She took him to Cambrai where she had relatives and his musical talents showed themselves very early on. While still a teenager he had several positions in the local cathedral.

Later he lived in several cities in Italy and eventually became a priest. He was the main musical man for a couple of popes, Martin V and Eugene IV. There was some considerable turmoil at the time so he and Gene got around a bit.

Popes and anti-popes were coming and going and Willy decided to head for Turin where he completed a law degree so he could become a canon. He later went to Burgundy and ended his days back in Cambrai.

Here is an actual recording of his from the time (just kidding), La dolce vista.

♫ Dufay - La dolce vista

GUILLAUME DE MACHAUT was a French poet and composer who was generally held to be the most important composer of the 14th century. He is also one of the first composers about whom we know quite a bit.

Guillaume de Machaut

He was a poet of considerable skill and greatly admired by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Willy attached himself to King John of Bohemia and travelled around with him for a while until John got himself killed in some war or other. By then, Willy was famous and many nobles and popes and other such big-noters vied for his services.

Several of those died in the Black Death but he survived and spent his final years in Rheims composing and writing his life story.

This is a musical setting of part of one of his poems, Le Livre dou Voir Dit, a piece of work that goes on for 9,094 lines arranged in octosyllabic rhyming couplets. Yikes.

I got that information from the booklet that came with the CD. I haven’t read all of the poem (only the bits in the booklet). The hunk of it I’ve chosen is Sans cuer dolens.

♫ Machaut - Sans cuer dolens

The 13th century gave us, among others, COLIN MUSET who was from Lorraine in what is now France.

Colin Muset

He lived around about either 1210 to 1250 or 1230 to 1270, no one is quite sure. He was a bit of a troubadour and wandered around Champagne (well, who wouldn’t?) singing and playing the vielle.

That instrument is like a violin but bigger and fatter and has five strings. It looks a bit like one of Bo Diddley’s guitars.

He wrote a bunch of songs about love and life on the road. Nothing has changed in 800 years. Surprisingly, quite a number of his songs have survived.

This is one of them, Trop volentiers chanteroie, sung by Margaret Philpot.

♫ Margaret Philpot - Trop volentiers chanteroie

There’s no one other than HILDEGARD OF BINGEN that I considered for the 12th century.

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard was an author, counsellor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist, poet and all-round polymath. She was the head nun at the nun shop where she worked. She also wrote music, quite a lot of it.

Mostly, her compositions are for voices but here is a rare instrumental track called Instrumental Piece (snappy title). It sounds to me as if Hildegard also invented bluegrass music.

♫ Hildegard - Instrumental Piece

And finally to 1066 and all that. Well, maybe not that specific year but sometime in the 11th century.

Music from this time is a bit thin on the ground in my collection but I found a couple of options. One piece was by Pierre Abélard, he of Héloïse and Abélard fame. Pierre also lost a piece of his anatomy when Héloïse’s uncle Fulbert found out about their affair (all the males reading have just crossed their legs).

Pierre’s music, unfortunately, is far too long for a column such as this so I’ll go with the other one. This is by that most famous of composers, Anonymous, and it’s a French carol from about 1090 called Planctus Guillelmus.

♫ Anonymous - Planctus Guillelmus


INTERESTING STUFF – 27 April 2013


A BABY HUMMINGBIRD IN NEED

TGB reader Nana Royer send this video of a rescued hummingbird.

There is an update on the YouTube page that says in part:

”When she thought she was ready to leave, she flew off to her favorite patch of the back yard and her instincts instantly kicked in. Now she's just like all the other hummingbirds. She is thriving and has even successfully migrated and returned back to my yard.”

AFTER HUNDREDS OF YEARS RUSSIAN SOLDIERS GET SOCKS

Socks are pretty much a necessity or, at least, that's what you would think. But not to a Russian soldier. Only this year have they been ordered to wear socks instead of the portyanki they have been required to wear for 300 years. Take a look:

You can read more here.


A BOSTON PHYSICIAN'S MARATHON STORY

Dr. Sushrut Jangi had volunteered in the medical tent at Copley Square for the Boston marathon this year. And then two bombs exploded. He wrote about his harrowing experience for The New England Journal of Medicine.

”I almost fled, thinking there might be more bombs nearby. There was an exit onto Dartmouth Street, where the crowds were swiftly moving away. But from within the tent I heard [medical coordinator] Andersen's voice, an echo of my own conscience: 'All medical personnel stay with your patients.'

“...when I saw the first of the wounded, I was overwhelmed with nausea. An injured woman — I couldn't tell whether she was conscious — lay on the stretcher, her legs entirely blown off. Blood poured out of the arteries of her torso; I saw shredded arteries, veins, ragged tissue and muscle.

“Nothing had prepared me for the raw physicality of such unnatural violence. During residency I had seen misery, but until that moment I hadn't understood how deeply a human being could suffer...”

We should all know what it's really like when bombs explode. You can read Dr. Jangi's full account at the NEJM; it is not behind a firewall.


YOUNG COMEDIAN WOWS BRITISH CONTEST JURY

Fourteen-year-old Jack Carroll is one of the bravest stand-up comedians I've ever seen. The jury at Britain's Got Talent TV show thought so too when he made his cerebral palsy part of his act and effortlessly made it okay to laugh.

You can read more about Jack here.


NANCY ALTMAN TELLS CONGRESS ALL ABOUT CHAINED CPI

Nancy Altman wrote the book on Social Security – the best one there is, The Battle For Social Security – From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble. It's my bible for all things SSA on this blog.

Last week she testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in Congress about chained CPI. Here is the video or you can read her statement here [pdf].


A LOVELY ACT OF KINDNESS

There's no point in telling you anything about this; it explains itself. No one I can find knows who the good Samaritan is.


THE FULL TIME JOB OF GROWING OLD

TGB reader P Hallet-Mainguy sent me a CBC video of 85-year-old Joe Schlesinger, correspondent emeritus at CBC News, talking about what it's really like to get old.

It was easy to see, watching the video, why Schlesinger is beloved by Canadians, and what he says about aging is smart, enlightening and inspiring.

I intended to show it to you today, all seven minutes of it and worth every second. But the CBC has removed it from YouTube and as of Friday when I was writing this, they've also blacked it out at their website.

In the interests of delicate sensibilities, I'll not say what I think about the CBC doing that.

UPDATE:The video is now available from YouTube again. Here it is.

Schlesinger, who gets around in a wheelchair these days, tells us that he has an “army” of more than 15 medical specialists along with “oodles of pills” but he's not complaining.

”OK, so I have some false teeth and wear eyeglasses. Yup, I've needed the care of nurses at times. But I assure you, no later-life mewling or puking from this quarter.

“Still, it takes patience to be a patient.”

After a decade of insisting here at this blog that the internet arrived just in time for my old age and that it is a godsend for elders in general, my grin nearly split my face when I read this from Schlesinger:

”Once upon a time I used to do things like jumping out of a helicopter in Vietnam as it hovered over a landing pad under enemy fire, climbing a sacred mountain in North Korea, crossing the famed Khyber Pass on foot from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and riding an elephant with an army patrol chasing Khmer Rouge troops through rice paddies in Cambodia. (I fell off the elephant, but never mind.)

“I can no longer do these things, but, thanks to the internet, I can get around to distant places and events by letting my fingers do the walking. And I do.”

You really should read the whole story at the CBC. It's not clear if this is a transcript of the video, but it seems, to my memory from a few days ago, to be close and it is a trustworthy report from the midde of one man's ninth decade by a life-long accomplished journalist.

You'd better go read it now – there's no telling when the CBC will snatch even the print copy off their website.


SCIENCE LESSONS FROM THE SPACE STATION

Another Canadian, astronaut Chris Hadfield, is the commander of the International Space Station. He's been answering questions from Canadian school kids about how things work in space. Here's one about how astronauts brush their teeth.

Hadfield has answered a whole lot more questions about life in space. You'll find them here.


CAT SHOWER

Yeah, yeah, I know - wasting water. But you gotta admit it's funny.


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 probably 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 have one.


2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 4

Today's is the last report of the Elderblogger Survey covering personal finance and politics. I haven't posted charts for all the questions or even mentioned some. If they put me to sleep, I have no doubt you would feel the same. You're not missing any important information.

As with all parts of the survey results, these caveats apply:

  • It is not balanced against the general population

  • It is not balanced against even the elder population

  • Respondents are self-selected, so not a representative sample

  • Therefore, the survey has no statistical validity

Also, please note that the capital letter “R” does not show up well when it appears in a label on the horizontal axis (it's a free, online chart service, and I don't know how to fix that). Total of percentages may be slightly off due to rounding.

What is your annual gross income (in U.S. dollars)?
This chart looks pretty nice, solidly middle class and comfortable. Let's not forget, however, the more than 20 percent who undoubtedly are scrimping by.

The numbers in the horizontal axis represent thousands of dollars.

Income

What are your sources of income?
This was as multiple choice question with the problem I explained in other parts - the percentages in the charts reflect the percentage of all the answers chosen rather than of the number of people who answered. There are 996 choices represented in this chart.

IncomeSources

What percentage of your income is from Social Security?
Horizontal axis is percentage of income; vertical axis is percentages of respondents.

SSpercentofIncome

Have you ever or do you now skip meals because money is tight?
Of the people who answered this question, about 30 say they sometimes skip meals.

SkippingMeals

Have you ever or do you now skip medications and/or not fill prescriptions for financial reasons?
More than go hungry skimp on medications – about 50 people in this survey. This should never happen in our country.

SkippingMedications

Did you lose money in the financial collapse of 2008?
Wow. Look at that number. Seventy percent of us.

LoseMoney2008

If you answered yes to the question about losing money in the 2008 financial collapse, have you recouped those losses?
I'm part of the 24.3 percent in this chart who haven't recouped. I lost so much money that I have never regained my stomach for even the slightest risk. I know this is stupid, but I can sleep at night.

RecoupedLoss2008

What are your political leanings?
It's obvious that I'm speaking to choir here on political issues. The truncated labels in the horizontal axis are:

Democratic Party member
Republican Party member
Green or other party member
Liberal/Progressive
Moderate
Conservative
Independent

PoliticalLean

Have you contributed money to a political party or candidate?

PoliticalContributions

Do have have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of President Barack Obama?

ObamaOpinion

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Congress?
When professional pollsters ask this question, they often follow up by asking about each respondent's own representative and senators. The surprise (to me) is always that nearly everyone approves of their representatives. Given the number of lawmakers who vote against the people's interests, I am baffled by that.

But in general, Congress better look out for the TGB crowd in the next election.

CongressOpinion

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court?
I'll bet this would look quite different if I had asked about individual justices.

SupremeCourtOpinion

How concerned are you about the political sustainability of Social Security?

SSConcern

How concerned are you about the future of Medicare?
I'm surprised how close the numbers are on these two questions. Personally, I am hugely more concerned about Medicare than Social Security.

MedicareConcern

Do you contact your Congressional representatives about Social Security and Medicare issues?
Apparently, we are an activist group in this regard. The two yes answers are modified by “frequently” and “occasionally.”

ContactCongress

Social Security can pay 100 percent of benefits for about another 20 years. After than, it can pay about 75 percent if nothing is done.There are several small fixes that would keep Social Security solvent for 75 years. Which do you prefer?
This is the last multiple choice question. It includes the problems cited on all the previous ones. In this case, there are 860 answers. The abbreviated labels in the horizontal axis mean:

• Increase the Social Security tax by one or two percent
• Eliminate the salary cap
• Raise the salary cap but don't eliminate it
• Collect Social Security tax on additional kinds of income, not just salaries
• Gradually raise the full eligibility age to 69 or 70
• Apply a means test
• Other

There are two charts to include all the answer choices.

SSSolvency1

SSSolvency2

And that chart brings us to the end of thie 2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey. I'm glad some of you enjoyed it and as unscientific as it is, it's given me a general sense of who reads Time Goes By. Thank you all who took part.

2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 1
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 2
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 3


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: The Good Old Days


2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 3

Today we will take a look at what the survey tells us Time Goes By denizens relate to the computers, the internet, blogs and electronic gadgets.

Think about that: for most of us at this blog, nothing much but the telephone and radio were available when we were growing up. It's all new to us compared to the digital natives – the ones who are about 25 and younger. For them, this is the only world they have ever known.

As with all parts of the survey results, these caveats apply:

  • It is not balanced against the general population

  • It is not balanced against even the elder population

  • Respondents are self-selected, so not a representative sample

  • Therefore, the survey has no statistical validity

Also, please note that the capital letter “R” does not show up well when it appears in a label on the horizontal axis (it's a free, online chart service, and I don't know how to fix that). Total of percentages may be slightly off due to rounding.

What kind of telephone(s) do you use?
This was “select all that apply” question and as I explained a couple of days ago, the percentages in the charts reflect the percentage of all the answers chosen rather than of the number of people who answered.

The total number of responses to this question is 414 with no way to know how many people made that many choices.

Phones

Have you given up your landline?
According to one survey published last December, more than 35 percent of American households have switched to mobile phones only. Here is our percentage:

Landlines

Have you given up cable television?
When it comes up for discussion here now and then, a lot of commenters tell us they have given up cable television, mostly due to high prices from the mostly monopolist providers in the U.S.

CableTV

What kind is your primary computer?
I keep reading how sales of desktop and laptop computers are declining in favor of tablets and smartphones. I suppose that works if you don't do anything but poke at the screen. But if you do any kind of writing more complex than a text message, I don't see how the two newest instruments are useful.

Computer

How did you learn to use a computer?
Children, very small ones, take to computers so easily that I've joked for years they are born with little, tiny mice in their hands. (I think I need to update that joke to “born clutching a teeny, tiny smartphone.)

Baby boomers are probably the last generation of whom it makes sense to ask this question. (Sphone on the chart means smartphone and there's that damned R problem in the label for the yellow bar: it means Friend/Relative.

LearnComputer

What is your level of computer proficiency?
Zero newbies here.

ComputerProficiency

What other electronic equipment do you use?
This is another multiple choice question. If you skipped it, see the explanation of the the problem above.

The total number of responses to this question is 2156 with no way to know how many people made that many choices. It takes two charts to make the choices readable and I'm pretty sure you'll be able to translate the labels on the horizontal axis.

ElecEquip1

ElecEquip2

What social media do you regularly use?
Multiple choice again with the same problems as noted above. Total number of answers is 807. The truncated labels in the horizontal axis are:

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Google+
Other
None

SocialMedia

How do you spend your personal (non-work) online time?
Multiple choice once again and the need for two charts to show all the selections. 3226 total answers. The truncated labels mean:

Email
General Research
Blogs
News
Shopping
Banking
Investing
Health research
Watching Video
Games
Twitter
Facebook
Skype

OnlineTime1

OnlineTime2

How much time do you spend reading/commenting on blogs?
I'm surprised at the high number for daily.

TimewithBlogs

Why do you read blogs?
Yes, another mutliple choice, this one with 1313 total responses. The labels mean:

Stay informed
Connect with friends
Enjoy the community
For fun
For work
For inspiration
Other

WhyReadBlogs

If you keep a blog, how long have you been blogging?
The largest percentage do not blog. It's interesting how long the second largest group has stuck with it.

HowLongBlogging

[For bloggers only] On average, how often do you post to your primary blog?

HowOftenPost

[For bloggers only] Why do you blog?
Another multiple choice. Total number of responses equals 487 with two charts to accommodate all the answers. The labels mean:

Enjoy writing
Fun
Personal journal
Friendship
To tell stories
Community
Share experiences
Persuade
Promote your business
To make money
Other

WhyBlog1

WhyBlog2

Tomorrow the last batch of charts will be published covering personal finances and politics.

2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 1
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 2
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 4


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Thanks a Lot!


2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 2

Following along on results from the 2013 Elderblogging Survey, today we'll look at health and related end-of-life issues. The usual caveats for this kind of survey apply:

  • It is not balanced against the general population

  • It is not balanced against even the elder population

  • Respondents are self-selected, so not a representative sample

  • Therefore, the survey has no statistical validity

Also, please note that the capital letter “R” does not show up well when it appears in a label on the horizontal axis (it's a free, online chart service, and I don't know how to fix that). Total of percentages may be slightly off due to rounding.

Do you have any chronic illnesses?
This question included whether such conditions restricted mobility or limited life in other ways.

 Conditions that Restrict

How do your health problems limit or restrict your life?
This was an open-ended question to which respondents wrote their answers rather than choosing from a list. About 135 answered but due to complexities and overlaps of responses, there are no numbers or percentages. Most of the problems reported are common among elders.

Pain – chronic or intermittent and severe to mild - from varieties of sources were mentioned most frequently. Arthritis is the biggest culprit. A lot of foot and knee pain limits the ability to walk for many and back pain keeps some readers at home more than they would like.

Breathing problems including COPD, asthma and others plague more than a few. There was less mention of back pain than I would have guessed.

Several people mentioned that they tire easily, that their energy and stamina are reduced from when they were younger which we've discussed in these pages from time to time. Quite a few report diabetes.

While a lot of people shared the above-mentioned diseases and conditions, this one was unique:

“Bullet to the hip – re-learning how to walk smoothly and efficiently.”

I'm pretty sure I know how this happened and am so glad the person is here to do the re-learning.

In general, how is your health?
Even with all those impediments in the question above, just over 80 percent of us rate ourselves quite healthy.

Rate Your Health

Do you drive a car?
I'm impressed with how many of us drive. Only two people in the question about health restrictions mentioned that they can no longer drive.

Drive

If you no longer drive, how to you get around?
The "Public" label means public transportation.

Travel Without Car

Do you have a will?
Let me say right away that on this question and the three following, I'm impressed with how many of us have prepared for our demise by having the documents our survivors will need.

Will

Do you have an advance directive?

Adv Directive

Do you have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order?

DNR

Have you appointed a health proxy, sometimes called a health advocate, who will make decisions for you if you are unable to do so?

Health Proxy

Are you a full- or part-time caregiver?
I'm surprised that less than 10 percent are doing this right now. I think (?) that's a good thing.

Beginning with this chart, the label "percentage" does not appear on the left. My mistake and I didn't have time to re-do the charts.

Caregiver

If you are currently a caregiver, whom do you care for?
The yellow bar is labeled Other Relative.

Care For Whom

What is your employment status?
On the chart, FT means full time away from home; PT means part time away from home.

Employment

If you are employed, how many hours a week do you work?

Hours Worked

Do you volunteer? If so, how many hours per week?
Another mistake: I forgot to provide a choice for “no.”

Volunteering

If you keep pets, what kind do you have?
I mentioned yesterday that I cannot get correct percentages on questions like this one that allowed multiple choices. 319 people answered but we don't know how many of them selected more than one answer. Sorry.

Pets

More charts tomorrow.

2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 1.
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 3
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 4


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Broken Sleep


2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 1

Among the irritating events plaguing me since last week is this damned Elderblogging Survey. I am sorry I started it and believe me, it won't happen again.

It began with my admission in the post announcing the survey that I can't find the notes about mistakes I made in the first survey in 2008 that I wanted to avoid in the future. This, apparently, was taken as permission by readers to second guess and Monday morning quarterback me starting about two minutes after it was published and continuing for days.

In comments, and many more via email, I was criticized for not including other, different questions and/or not providing different answer choices, particularly extremely detailed ones such as: why isn't there an answer for four children, three adopted, each from a different country, one six feet tall, one with curly red hair and one a Rhodes scholar.

Okay, that's an exaggeration but it's not far off from what several people argued that I should have included. Here's my answer: do you own damned survey.

Next, a few days into the survey, the servers of the online provider went down. There is no phone number for tech support at QuestionPro so I phoned sales and it took ten minutes making a jerk of myself to get the person to track down information about when repairs might be finished. (I AM paying for the service although at a low level.)

It was most of a day before the servers were up and running again and the service was wobbly through the next day; some respondents were thrown off the survey before they were finished.

As I began sorting results over the weekend to create charts, I discovered that for questions allowing multiple answers, the service unhelpfully provides the total number of answers chosen but not the percentage of respondents who selected each answer. You would think that would be a basic requirement for a simple survey, but guess what:

After working my way through the help section and a long menu that would supposedly reveal the percentage of respondents, THEN a message told me that to get that information, I must upgrade by $84. (Shades of yesterday's post.)

I won't do that so when I get to those questions, I'll show you the information I have. Not that it will actually help us know anything.

So I apologize for the deficiencies in the survey but there is little I could have done to change anything. The personal result is that all my enthusiasm got sucked out of the project and it has become a chore, rather than the fun I anticipated, to do the reporting.

For those of you who said I should chart 2013 answers together with those from 2008, that's more work than I will do now. If you are that interested, here is the link to the 2008 survey.

Here now are the first batch of charts. The usual caveats for this kind of survey apply:

  • It is not balanced against the general population

  • It is not balanced against even the elder population

  • Respondents are self-selected, so not a representative sample

  • Therefore, the survey has no statistical validity

Please note that the capital letter “R” does not show up well when it appears in a label on the horizontal axis (it's a free, online chart service, and I don't know how to fix that). Total of percentages may be slightly off due to rounding.

We start today with Personal Data.

What is your gender?
This spread is about what I expected given my general impression from email and comments.

Gender

What is your ethnicity?
My god we're a white group. Among “all others” are two Asians, three blacks, one Latino and 4 Other.

Ethnicity

How old are you?
Although I had set this up only for people age 50 and older, a handful of under 50s snuck through the door.

Age

What is your level of education?
If you exclude me with only a high school diploma, we're an extremely well educated group.

Education

What is your marital status
I have had to truncate some answer labels to fit the chart. On this one, NM means never married. Sorry to those who complained that I omitted such choices a civil union and partnered. The point was to count committed people not separate gay ones and if I've been politically incorrect, so be it.

MaritalStatus

How many times have you been married?
A friend who falls into the “4 or more” category of this question had me recalling that Elizabeth Taylor, when an interviewer expressed surprise at her nine marriages, said, “But I married them all instead of just having sex with them.”

Number o fMarriages

How many children do you have?

Number of Children

How many grandchildren do you have?
This chart shows grandchildren only. 8.8 percent, in a separate question, reported great grandchildren.

Granchildren

What country do you live in?
As much as we are an almost all-white constituency, we also overwhelmingly live in the United States. "Aus" means Australia, not Austria.

Country

Among the 1.8 percent “Other” on the chart are one each in:

Algeria
Azerbaijan
France
Irish Republic
Mexico
Spain

What size city do you live in?

City Size

What kind of housing do you live in?
If you have trouble reading them, the third and fourth bars are labeled Retirement Community and RV.

Housing

Do you own or rent your home

Own_Rent

If you own your home, do you have a mortgage?

Mortgage

With whom do you live?
I should have included parent(s) in this one but I forgot. For anyone who is touchy about “spouse,” “partner” was included in the question but didn't fit on the chart.

Live With

More charts tomorrow.

2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 2
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 3
2013 TGB Elderblogging Survey Results – Part 4


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Favorite Movie Reviewed


Deception, Trickery and Chicanery Aimed at Elders

Wanna know why I skipped writing a blog post for Friday last week? I mentioned then that it was an accumulation of a whole lot of a small irritations that finally added up to too much at once. This is one of them.

Not long ago, we discussed elder susceptibility to scams, swindles and fraud. God knows, there are enough of them aimed at old people (check the FBI page) and although most are illegal, that is not often easy to prove.

There are other kinds of deception, trickery and chicanery that are not necessarily unlawful but they are certainly dishonest. I got caught in one of them last week.

It had started 10 days earlier when an email arrived from AARP that included a link to their website with a 45 percent discount on membership with Angie's List.

Over the years, friends have recommended Angie's List to me. They had had great success, they said, finding reliable help for anything from a handyman to a dentist or physician and lots of services in between.

I had never joined because the monthly charge seemed high for the two or, at most, three times a year I might use it and there are, after all, other resources that are free.

But by the time the AARP email arrived, I had amassed a list of half a dozen specialists I need (spring cleaning and fix-up, you know) so in that circumstance, the discounted annual price of $21.45 seemed reasonable.

I signed up and here is how it went.

Three of my window blinds need re-stringing. A search at Angie's list brought up local window replacement companies, window soundproofing services and window repair experts, none of which listed blinds repair or re-stringing.

There were also a couple of general handymen who listed installation of blinds and curtains among their services but again, no repair or restringing of blinds. Plus, I had already found all the businesses at Angie's List in Google searches so Angie's List was no help because in either case, I would need to telephone to see if restringing is available.

So far I couldn't see what I had paid for.

Next, I tried hair stylists. I have a need for a particular kind of help that not every stylist can supply (you will undoubtedly hear about this once I've resolved the problem). At first, there were only three or four anywhere near me and I know perfectly well that hair stylists are a dime a dozen in this town.

Then I searched again using “hair salons” instead of “hair stylists.” Now there were many more on the list not one of which had more than two member reviews and most had only one review usually two or three years old. Useless even by Angie's List's own standards.

So I still did not know what I had paid for because I could have gotten a full list of local stylists/salons for free from Mr. Google.

Next I tried a search for a particular health need and got this pop-up:

AngieHealthCapture

Wh-a-a-a-t? Several days previously I had paid $21.45 for what I was led to believe is a membership in Angie's List. No one mentioned restrictions that I could recall so I went back to the AARP description of the discount.

The operative paragraph seems to be this:

”...you can sign in and search for help in over hundreds of home improvement, yard care, auto repair and pet services categories. From housekeepers to handymen, cabinet makers to calligraphers, Angie’s List can point you in the right direction toward highly rated services.”

Additionally, there is a “restrictions” paragraph at the bottom of the page that states:

”The membership discount can only be applied to an Angie’s List Classic membership.”

No mention of doctors, dentists, podiatrists, pediatricians, ophthalmologists, primary care physicians or any other kind of health practitioner. Are they omitted from the “Classic” membership? I couldn't say because AARP doesn't explain.

Since AARP's page is so vague, I followed the link from there to Angie's List where the signup page asks for an AARP membership number but mentions nowhere that there are different levels of membership.

As at the AARP webpage, only such workers as “contractors, landscapers, mechanics and more” are mentioned but it is obvious that those descriptions are meant to be examples and that other kinds of services are available. Given what I have heard about Angie's List for many years, it is not unreasonable to think there are medical professionals and that I could find lists of them.

It's not that I can't afford the additional $11.70 to search the health section of Angie's List. It's that I now I feel foolish and stupid for having allowed myself to be taken for an (old, old) ride.

It cannot be said that AARP or Angie's List lied to me, committed fraud, scammed or swindled me – at least not in the legal sense. But they did trick me. They did bamboozle me into believing I had purchased full access to Angie's List when that is not true.

What makes it worse is that AARP's constituency is people age 50 and older, the demographic that uses more medical services than any other. Yet they partnered for a discount with a company that omitted from the offer the part of the service AARP members would most want or need. This cannot have been an oversight; it was a choice.

What happened to me is one of those fine-print, underhanded dodges that suckers people into paying more for what was implied to be included but wasn't. Not illegal but certainly wrong.

They tried to play me for a mark but I'm not biting. It will be more time consuming, but there are plenty of other ways to find the providers I need.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: Aunt Sestus


ELDER MUSIC: In the Rain

PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


As I was born and bred in a small desert town so wandering around in the rain isn’t something with which I’m overly familiar, although living in Melbourne has made that a slightly more common occurrence.

That’s what we have today. The column came about when I played the first track. I thought, “I know a few other songs with the line ‘in the rain’”. I wondered if I had enough for a column. That proved to be so.

I didn’t want to make it too easy and just have “rain” songs - there are far too many of those and I’ll do that another day.

The topic does rather lend itself to slow, sad songs and so it shall be.

So, Just Walking in the Rain. You all know this song, but are you familiar with the original version by THE PRISONAIRES?

Prisonaires

The Prisonaires, as their name suggests, were prisoners. Some, maybe all of them, were banged up due to rather dubious evidence. They were recorded after Sam Phillips of Sun Records staged a concert in the prison during which they sang.

The state governor liked them and they often appeared at official functions. The members of the group were pardoned at the end of the fifties. Johnny Bragg is the lead singer of the group and he wrote the song.

♫ The Prisonaires - Just Walkin' in the Rain

The song by THE RONETTES is also called Walking in the Rain however, it’s not the same as the previous one, but then they had the word “Just” to begin the title so I really didn’t need to say what I’ve just said.

Ronettes

The Ronettes were led by Ronnie Bennett and once again I’m avoiding the obvious joke. She also had the misfortune to be married to Phil Spector for a while. This is The Ronettes’ version of Walking in the Rain.

♫ The Ronettes - Walking In The Rain

You knew WILLIE NELSON had to be in here somewhere, so I won’t disappoint you (or I will if you’re not a Willie fan).

Willie Nelson

This is yet another track from his “Red Headed Stranger” album. The way I’m going I’ll play the whole thing before long. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.

♫ Willie Nelson - Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

DIANA KRALL is a fine Canadian jazz pianist and singer. She’s also married to Elvis Costello.

Diana Krall

Diana has sold a surprising number of albums for a jazz performer, figures that are generally in pop music territory. It’s good to hear that fine musicians can do that. Here she performs Just Like a Butterfly That's Caught in the Rain.

♫ Diana Krall - Just Like a Butterfly That's Caught in the Rain

Next is RANDY NEWMAN performing against type, pretending he’s a country singer and not doing a bad job of it either.

Randy Newman

Randy must have a thing for rain songs as he will also appear in my future column of rain songs (with a different song, of course). I guess it comes from being born in New Orleans.

Lots of rain there. I know: the last time I was there it threw 15 inches of the stuff at us overnight. Luckily, we were staying at the edge of the Vieux Carré so we didn’t get our feet wet – high ground, unlike the rest of the city which didn’t fair at all well. Here is Rider in the Rain.

♫ Randy Newman - Rider in the Rain

I found this next track when it popped up during a search of my collection. I was surprised that I had anything by Paul Whiteman, a performer for whom I have no time at all.

He managed to sneak in as part of a compilation album of various artists and I hadn’t noticed him before. His name didn’t appear in the credits, the track is listed under the vocal group he employed at the time, the RHYTHM BOYS.

Upon delving into the liner notes, I discovered his presence and that that these gentlemen were Harry Barris. Al Rinker and Bing Crosby. Ah, now there’s a name I know.

The track consists of two songs jammed together for no good reason that I could discern – Mississippi Mud (a song that’s a little questionable these days) and another that fits the bill today, I Left My Sugar Standing in the Rain.

This was recorded in 1927 and the sound quality is remarkable considering its age.

Harry Barris, Bing Crosby, Al Rinker

♫ Bing Crosby (Rhythm Boys) - Mississippi Mud

The EVERLY BROTHERS were an obvious choice as one of their biggest hits fits right in.

Everly Brothers

This was one of the many for the Everlys in the fifties and sixties. It was written by Howard Greenfield and Carole King, Crying In The Rain.

♫ Everly Brothers - Crying In The Rain

Here is a song by MARTY ROBBINS that’s rather atypical of his style.

Marty Robbins

If you didn’t know who it is, you might think that he was a jazz singer. Of course, Marty wasn’t restricted to singing country and pop songs; he was all over the place and the results were usually really good.

Here he performs September in the Rain. I bet you were expecting a different version of this song.

♫ Marty Robbins - September in the Rain

Here's the one you all expected to be here. It may surprise you that I had completely forgotten about it until after I sent this column to Ronni. It wasn't until I heard the song on the radio that I realized my omission.

"Duh," I said, or something like that. A quick adjustment to the column and we have GENE KELLY with Singing in the Rain.

I’ll end with the song that started this column. This version of Just Walking in the Rain is the first I heard and the one I knew for many years before I discovered The Prisonaires.

I imagine most readers would say the same. Like me, you’re probably all familiar with JOHNNIE RAY’s version. It’s quite different from the original up above.

Johnnie Ray

Johnnie was all over the place in the fifties and he was a particular favorite of my sister. I liked him a lot too.

♫ Johnnie Ray - Just Walking in the Rain


INTERESTING STUFF – 20 April 2013


ADORABLE BABY BAT

Is there anything cuter than baby animals? This little flying fox is named Blossom and she was rescued after what was probably a cat attack:

”Blossom...was fed a nectar mix recipe and the occasional milk formula which is fed to other baby flying foxes. Over time she gradually gained weight and began to practice flying during the night. Often Blossom would dart in and out of rooms and even hover above Louise as she slept before retiring to her little brown bag at dawn.”

Blossom was eventually released to the wild but here she is before that.

You can read more about Blossom here.


A SON, HIS MOM AND PETER TIBBLES

There are three people to know in this item:

Millie Garfield was one of the first elders to adopt blogging, way back in 2003. My Mom's Blog is still going and you'll find it here.

Steve Garfield is Millie's son. He got his mom going with her blog and he is a widely known internet video expert. His blog is here.

Peter Tibbles writes the weekly music column on Sundays here at Time Goes By. Watch for his latest one tomorrow.

Now even though Millie and Steve live in the Boston area and Peter lives in Melbourne, a week or so ago all three came together in this video – a peek at life with a son, his mom, a brand new Cadillac and a little bit of musical education. Enjoy.


RIVERBEND RETURNS

In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. In August 2003, a blog called Baghdad Burning was launched:

”I'm female, Iraqi and 24,” she wrote in her first post. “I survived the war. That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway.”

And she continued to survive more war. Her second post gave us our first peek into what everyday life in Baghdad surrounded by war was like:

”The other way to wake up, is to be jolted into reality with the sound of a gun-shot, explosion or yelling. You sit up, horrified and panicked, any dream or nightmare shattered to oblivion. What can it be? A burglar? A gang of looters? An attack? A bomb? Or maybe it's just an American midnight raid?”

From that beginning, Riverbend (her pseudonym) continued chronicling what life for herself and her family was like, when sporadic electricity was available, under the horror of war and sectarian strife that decimated her city.

Like many around the world I followed along until, in 2007, Riverbend was forced to flee Iraq for Syria and she went silent. For six years. Now, suddenly last Tuesday, she returned:

”And what happened to Riverbend and my family? I eventually moved from Syria. I moved before the heavy fighting, before it got ugly. That’s how fortunate I was.

“I moved to another country nearby, stayed almost a year, and then made another move to a third Arab country with the hope that, this time, it’ll stick until… Until when? Even the pessimists aren’t sure anymore. When will things improve? When will be able to live normally? How long will it take?”

Go read her entire returning post at Baghdad Burning and maybe catch up on her earlier chronicles. You won't be sorry.


KMART SHIP MY PANTS

Apparently this is a real television commercial. doctafil at Jive Chalkin' sent it along. It's very funny.


RAT-SIZED SNAILS INVADE SOUTH FLORIDA

I have never liked hot climates, particularly the wet, humid kind and after seeing this news/video report, I've never been happier about being far from anywhere even vaguely tropical:

If you really want to, you can read more here.


90-YEAR-OLD IS INTRODUCED TO VIRTUAL REALITY

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is not availabe for purchase yet. Maybe later this year or in 2014. But if the delighted reaction of Paul Rivot's 90-year-old grandmother trying out the deeply immersive virtual trip to Tuscany is any indication, I want one. (Hat tip to Stan James of Wanderingstan.)

You can find out more about Oculus Rift here.


HIDDEN TREASURES

Hidden rooms and passages, hidden drawers and cubbyholes are treasures to children and I have never outgrown my fascination with them. So when Nikki Lindquist sent this video, I was charmed.

This writing desk is called the Berlin cabinet and was once owned by King Frederick William II. It was built in the workshop Abraham and David Roentgen in the 18th century and was on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City last winter. You can read more here.


PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CHAINED CPI

This is from TGB reader Bev Carney. I don't have permission to post this cartoon so it may disappear if anyone objects. But I think it's worth showing you.

Social securitycartoon


JONATHAN WINTERS: 1925-2011

Many of us who hang out at TGB grew up watching comedian Jonathan Winters' strange and wonderful kind of humor. He died last week at age 87. Here's a short montage of a few of his great moments. There were so many more.


ANOTHER BABY ANIMAL

A gorilla this time. Her mother rejected Gladys and she's being raised at the Cincinnati Zoo by a team of humans each doing their best to behave like a mother gorilla. More adorableness.


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 probably 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 have one.


A Friday Holiday

2013 TGB Survey Banner

NOTICE: The 2013 TGB Elderblogger Survey was scheduled to end Wednesday night at midnight. But the service was down for most of that day so I extended the deadline until tonight, Friday 19 April at 12 midnight Pacific time. This is your last chance. Please participate if you haven't done so yet.


I'm taking today away from blogging. A bunch of small things in a row have gone irritatingly wrong and more than a few unreasonable readers have given me heartburn so I'm backing off for awhile.

I have found over my seven decades that there are periods when you're just out of harmony with the universe and nothing much goes right except the morning coffee (but do be careful with the hot water).

There are those who would say I should be grateful (and I would refute them) that this is not the horrible stuff that can mess up life for a long time and even permanently. But I'm pretty damned good at those big problems; it is strings of little things that defeat me or, at least, wear me down to a nubbin.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sharon Ostrow: The River


Terrible Week for the United States

2013 TGB Survey Banner

NOTICE: The 2013 TGB Elderblogger Survey was scheduled to end last night at midnight. But the service was down yesterday so no one could participate. Therefore, now that it is repaired, I have extended the deadline through Friday 19 April at 12 midnight, Pacific time.


Because Wednesday got too busy for me to write a post, I had intended to give you a rerun of an old story on this page today. But it has been a painful week for the United States in ways that are more than a little reminiscent of 9/11 and I thought, perhaps, we would just like to talk about it in the comments.

As to reruns, if you are so inclined, my New York City 9/11 story may be more appropriate than the other I had selected. It is here, published six years ago.

I'm thinking there will be many personal stories from Bostonians in coming days and weeks. Here is a powerful one from marathon runner, Dave Munger, about his Monday in Boston sent to me by my friend Bill Pederson.

In addition to the Monday bombs, on Tuesday and Wednesday, envelopes filled with deadly ricin addressed to our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. were intercepted: one to Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss), another to President Barack Obama and some suspicious packages found in government buildings as I write.

By the time you read this, there will have been more information if not yet an arrest for the bombings or the envelopes of ricin.

I recall that for many days and weeks after 9/11, it helped a lot to talk with others about what we were feeling. Maybe it's a good idea to do that today in the comments below.

And just to show that like "they" always say, it never rains but it pours - late yesterday our chance at even the most minimum chance at some gun control in the wake of Newtown was blocked in Congress. I am speechless with disgust at these weak, cowardly, shameful legislators.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Trees


One Elder's Weight Loss Plan

2013 TGB Survey Banner

UPDATE: As of 1:15PM Pacific Time, the survey appears to be operable again. If you have not participated yet, give it a whirl. I am extending the deadline to Friday 19 April at midnight Pacific Time.

ALERT: The service that provides the software for the survey is down today and they do not expect to repair the service until late today. This was to be the last day of the survey, but after access is restored, I will extend it for another one or two days. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Although I have some doubts about how the war on obesity is being waged, there is no doubt it is a serious problem – moreso here in the U.S. than in some other countries. Take a look at this chart from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

Oecdcountryobesitychart

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011 an average of one-third (35.7%) of U.S. adults were obese.

Fat is no joke. Obesity contributes to greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and some cancers leading to early death.

Did you notice anything about that list? Right. All those diseases and conditions are also associated with old age.

A top fear among us old folks (and definitely for me) is becoming incapacitated, and the number one contributor to health problems after smoking is obesity, which is medically defined as 30 and higher on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale.

Six weeks ago, my BMI measured just six-tenths of a point below 30. That's certainly a wakeup call. Today it is 2.1 points below the high end of overweight (25 – 29.9). That's because since 4 March I've lost eight pounds.

Online BMI calculators are, by definition, not perfect and further, the CDC notes that in particular they may underestimate body fat in old people and others who have lost muscle. But they do give a useful indication and, if needed, a warning. Here is the CDC's BMI calculator for you to try:

After I retired, I got quite fat and then, finally, lost a lot of weight in 2011. Last year, it had been creeping back and I posted about my new diet then.

That worked for awhile but I got lazy and although some weight returned, at least I can say have never been as fat as I was pre-2011 when I hit 178 pounds. (I'm am only 5' 2” tall.)

I've been gaining and losing weight all my life. In my young adult years, I tried every crazy fad diet there is. None work, most are unhealthy, a few are dangerous and when I started throwing up halfway through one, I got smart about weight control.

Only one thing works to lose weight – eat less than your body expends in energy. That's it. Nothing else will do it no matter what pills and potions and puppy dog tails snake oil salesmen try to foist on you at exorbitant prices.

I've written about how I diet in the past (which may be not for everyone – be sure to consult your physician before beginning any diet) and I won't go through that today. It works for me.

But I recently realized I have been missing another crucial weight control element (again, for me) - a scale.

The actual number on it is not as important each day as the trajectory is. Pounds can fluctuate up or down by one or two over a couple of days without meaning anything. But if it continues in one direction for longer, then it's for real – for good or ill.

I lived by the the morning weigh-in for about 40 years and when I retired I said, “Enough. I will never again allow a little metal box on the bathroom floor determine whether I start the day happy or depressed.”

Now I know I was wrong. If I had continued with the scale, I doubt I would ever have ballooned to 178. So now I have a scale again and I check my weight every day. It's what has kept me eating well and gotten me from 160 pounds six weeks ago to 152 today.

Additionally, I have a 30-minute, home workout routine that involves some serious stretching, cardio and weights that I have been doing five mornings a week for nearly a year. I can't say my upper arms match Michelle Obama's but they're lookin' good these days. For an old broad.

Exercise in general contributes little or nothing to weight loss. But it is vital for a healthy body and mind. Nearly every week, results of yet another study are published that confirm this.

I am never going to like eating as spartanly as I do. Nor am I ever going to like exercise for exercise's sake. Of course, there are no guarantees; plenty of people who do all the right health things have terrible problems befall them. But at age 72 and healthy now, I don't see that I have a choice.

I'm way too old now to be anything but a grownup about my health. If not now, when. I'll let you know how it goes.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Bicycles and Glass Bottles


Elder Personal Ads

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Over the years at this blog, we have spent a lot of time debating what kind of humor about old people is funny or acceptable or not acceptable or hateful, etc. Just yesterday, TGB reader jane d posted this comment:

”Last night I watched Louis C.K. (I'm a fan) make fun of an old woman walking her dog, going into great detail about her ugly legs. Sure, he attacks everything but this made me so uncomfortable.”

I happened to have watched that HBO special of a live performance too for the same reason – I'm a fan. Louis C.K. opened with that story and like jane d, I squirmed. At first. But by the end of it, he was saying that he hopes she dies first because in all probability the dog is her only friend.

Louis C.K.'s painfully honest stories (I've seen old women and old men with legs as battered as he described and so have you, if you're being truthful) can be taken as mean and in the case of elders, ageist, if you want.

But every time I think he's gone too far this time, he meanders to the end of a story where he is always on the side of kindness and tenderness.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here is some elder humor I don't think anyone can object to, written by elders.

Darlene Costner sent these and they are, supposedly, real dating or personal advertisements from The Villages newspaper in Florida. There are several such named papers and I don't know which one these appeared in or if they were published at all.

Maybe it's a viral internet/email story someone invented - it's been posted on a several websites over the past year – but I don't care. They read like they could be real, they are clever and they are funny.

Here you go – enjoy:

FOXY LADY:
Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80's, slim, 5'4' (used to be 5'6'), searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.

LONG-TERM COMMITMENT:
Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband, and am looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem.

SERENITY NOW:
I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, yoga and meditation. If you are the silent type, let's get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times.

WINNING SMILE:
Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy.

BEATLES OR STONES?
I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar. If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let's get together and listen to my eight-track tapes.

MEMORIES:
I can usually remember Monday through Thursday. If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let's put our two heads together.

MINT CONDITION:
Male, 1922, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn't in running condition, but walks well.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Nostalgia


Looking Old

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Over the weekend, I came across a perfectly dreadful essay about how awful it is to look old. The writer starts out reacting to a new film titled The Company You Keep she had recently seen:

”...you could literally feel the collective, though silent, gasps emanating from the audience as soon as Robert Redford fills the screen. HLO! Hopefully, our next emotion is deep respect for this icon's courage in letting every one of those well-earned lines show...

“To Julie Christie! And Susan Sarandon! This is a TLO fest. Let's be brutally honest: one can't quite concentrate on what these still-glorious actresses are saying for awhile. We are too busy calculating their ages, considering work-or-no-work. And asking ourselves, if TLO, how must we look? Now, we are too depressed to watch the rest of the movie...”

[NOTE: As the writer explains, HLO and TLO stand for “he looks old” and “they look old” but leaves me wondering, since they are not standard acronyms, why she could not write out those words.]

I could only think how deeply our cultural worship of youth has warped this writer if the appearance of these long-gorgeous actors is so shocking she loses interest in the movie's story and can't see their new kind of beauty.

All three have been blessed from youth with the kind of good looks our era most admires and they have carried it nicely into old age. Growing old is the definition of life and they are as handsome now - with their decades of living on display - as they were in their twenties.

The article put me in mind Daniel Klein, a philosopher whose wise, little book about searching for a meaningful old age has become my regular companion.

In the first chapter, Klein discusses our culture's growing trend to extend the prime years of life into old, old age during which we are encouraged to opt for whatever it is that will keep us “forever young” such as setting new goals, taking up jogging, enrolling in language classes, signing up for cosmetic surgery and hormone treatments.

“I suspect if I were to take this popularly accepted route,” he writes, “I would miss out on an invaluable state of life...I would miss for eternity ever simply being authentically and contentedly old.”

After taking us through his meandering journey toward finding what that would be, Klein arrives at this:

“All of which is to say that perhaps authentic old age can consist neither of the breathless ambition of the forever youngster nor the unremitting despair of my friend Patrick but something meaningful in itself...focusing on the horrors of old old age before I get there would be a waste of the time I have left.”

On certain days when I catch myself in the mirror, I don't much like what I see but I never wish to be my younger self. Actually, I don't really wish to be anything but what I am and I continue to be curious to see how my face will change as the years continue to go by.

Although the essay writer, in the last sentence, gets around to saying, “we just LO - er and that's okay,” it is certainly not good enough after insisting for 10 paragraphs that looking old is shocking and abhorrent.

”...it's never easy to be the oldest person in a room,” she writes. “You know they may be thinking SLO, and they know that you know that they know. I have put myself in the ultimate such scenario, in that I am back in college after 35 gap years. ”

Perhaps this is something – among others - everyone must get through to eventually find a path to a fulfilling old age.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: The Foreign Exchange Student


ELDER MUSIC: Coattails of the Beatles

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PeterTibbles75x75This 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.


The Beatles

This is one for the baby boomers, that great lump of humanity who were always at my back all the way through school and university pushing me onward. It meant that throughout my education we were always in a construction site as the powers that be prepared all those new buildings needed to house the hordes following.

Sorry boomers, I just had to get that off my chest. I really love you all (literally in some cases over the years).

Anyway, this is the music of those British artists who followed in the wake of The Beatles. I’m excluding the serious ones who went on to forge a career separate from that of their famous predecessor – The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals and so on.

The obvious place to start is with The Beatles’ fellow Liverpudlians, GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS.

Gerry & The Pacemakers

They didn’t actually come in the wake of the fabs in their own country as they actually preceded them on the charts. All of us outside Britain, though, didn’t notice them until The Beatles hit big.

They did a lot of the same things – played the clubs in Hamburg, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, were managed by Brian Epstein, had George Martin as their record producer. In fact, they beat the fab four to number one (several times).

Also, after initially recording covers, they started writing their own material some of which was also recorded by other artists. They called it a day as a group in 1966. Here are the lads with How Do You Do It?

♫ Gerry & the Pacemakers - How Do You Do It?

MANFRED MANN might nearly have made the exclusions but I'm putting them in because I can.

Manfred Mann

They were possibly the most interesting of the groups we have today. They eventually launched into all sorts of territories – blues, fusion, jazz as well as rock & roll and R&B. Manfred himself started as a jazz muso, so it’s not surprising.

I saw them at the Fillmore somewhat later when they had got very weird indeed. They didn't play any of their early hits, one of the best of which was Pretty Flamingo. They recorded that one when they still had their fine lead singer, Paul Jones.

♫ Manfred Mann - Pretty Flamingo

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller are best known to us all as PETER & GORDON.

Peter & Gordon

Peter was the actress Jane Asher's brother. She was Paul McCartney's main squeeze at the time and he presented the group with a Lennon/McCartney song (that the fabs hadn't recorded) which became a huge hit for them.

Anyone who has lasted this far into the column will know the song I'm talking about, A World Without Love.

♫ Peter & Gordon - A World Without Love

Here is a band that seemed to have been a lot bigger in America than they were in their native country or here in Australia, HERMAN’S HERMITS.

Herman's Hermits

The lead singer of the Hermits, Peter Noone, said that they had a couple of musicians in the group who had perfect pitch so that whenever they played live they were always in tune, unlike some others at the time.

I've recently seen footage of them from back then and I can report that this is correct.

He also said that they probably chose the wrong name because with a name like that they really couldn't be taken seriously as musicians even though they were fine players; no one would believe them if they tried to emulate the Stones or the Animals.

Anyway, they were a bunch of fine pop musicians and there is No Milk Today.

♫ Herman's Hermits - No Milk Today

Like The Beatles, THE SEARCHERS started as a skiffle group in Liverpool.

The Searchers

They took their name from the John Wayne western that seems to be in a lot of critics’ best films ever, but I think is complete rubbish.

In their early days, The Searchers had a considerable turn-over of members of the band. Actually, not just the early days; even when they became successful members came and went. I won’t dwell further on them. In spite of that they had several hits.

Here they are with a cover of the Jackie DeShannon song, Needles and Pins.

♫ The Searchers - Needles and Pins

Another duo who, to my ears at the time and even now, sound indistinguishable from Peter & Gordon. These are Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, known to most of us as CHAD & JEREMY.

Chad & Jeremy

Like Herman’s Hermits, C & J were much bigger in America than their home country where they really only had one hit, Yesterday's Gone.

They became something of a fixture on TV in America and appeared on quite a number of programs. They were even going to be stars of a sit-com but Chad became seriously ill. Fortunately, he eventually recovered but the program was shelved and replaced by The Monkees. This is Yesterday's Gone.

♫ Chad & Jeremy - Yesterday's Gone

THE HONEYCOMBS were rather unusual in this milieu as they had a female drummer, rather unheard of at that time.

The Honeycombs

The band had the good fortune of meeting the songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley early in their career and this pair wrote most of their hits. Not just theirs, but many others as well (including a couple for Elvis). They also managed the group.

The Honeycombs were considerably more successful in countries like Japan, Sweden and Australia than they were in their home country where they had only one hit, Have I The Right.

♫ The Honeycombs - Have I The Right

There was something about FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS that made me want to throw the TV out the window whenever I saw them. It was probably Freddie Garrity doing his stupid leg exercises whenever they played. Actually, the whole band did that.

Freddie & the Dreamers

Anyway, if you only listened to them, they were quite a decent pop band and didn’t take themselves seriously which is certainly a point in their favor as far as I’m concerned.There’s really nothing much more to be said about them, except here’s I'm Telling You Now.

♫ Freddie & the Dreamers - I'm Telling You Now

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP had the advantage of having the very young, but already very talented and musically mature, Steve Winwood on keyboards and as lead singer. He went on to fame (and I hope, fortune) in Traffic, Blind Faith, various solo projects, other bands with Eric Clapton and backing musician to many others.

The group also featured Steve’s brother Muff (or Mervyn to his folks) and Spencer Davis of course. Pete York made up the complement.

The Spencer Davis Group

They were a huge influence on bands from the next couple of decades and their songs have been covered by many artists. I could have chosen any of their songs (they possibly could have been in the exclusion category) but I settled on Gimme Some Lovin'.

♫ The Spencer Davis Group - Gimme Some Lovin'

I’ll end with THE FORTUNES who had only one song that impinged on my consciousness, but what a great one it was.

The Fortunes

Hmm, that photo has a bit of resonance with a certain Beatles’ album cover, however, The Fortunes preceded them by several years on that score. I guess if the groups wandered out on to Abbey Road they were confronted by this pedestrian crossing. Of course, I’m not even sure that’s the same one.

Anyway, The Fortunes were from Birmingham, a city that produced at least as many groups at the time as Liverpool did. Here they are with the song I really like, You've Got Your Troubles.

♫ The Fortunes - You've Got Your Troubles

I didn’t know whether to include The Hollies or not, whether they fitted into this category or into my exclusions. In the end, I had enough songs without them so they didn’t make the grade. Similarly, The Zombies missed out even though they really deserved to be present.


INTERESTING STUFF: 13 April 2013

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BIGGEST SCRATCHING POST YOU EVER SAW

Of course, lions, tigers and other wild cats need to hone their claws just like our little house cats but until TGB reader Norma Hall send this video, it had never occurred to me. Take a look.


NATURE'S ROACH MOTEL

Well, not roaches, bedbugs. But bedbug infestations in cities throughout the U.S. in recent years have reached epidemic proportions. Now, an age-old remedy has been rediscovered.

Generations of Eastern European housewives doing battle against bedbugs spread bean leaves around the floor of an infested room at night...

“...the leaves are fiendishly clever in exploiting the insects’ anatomy. Like the armor covering knights in medieval times, the bedbug’s exoskeleton has thinner areas where its legs flex and its tiny claws protrude — like the spot where a greave, or piece of leg armor, ends.”

Now, American scientists are trying to synthetically replicate the bean leaves without much success although they are still trying. I say just grow a lot of those beans and package the leaves.

You can read all about it at The New York Times.


FRENCH PRESIDENT AND CAMELIBALISM

Okay, I made up that word, a combination of camel and cannibalism. The story goes something like this:

In February, French President Francois Hollande was gifted with a baby camel from government authorities in Mali. Hollande and the camel did not bond well and he left the animal in the care of a Malian family in Timbuktu.

”The family, evidently misunderstanding the purpose of the custody arrangement, proceeded to slaughter the camel and feast on it. According to local reports, it was fashioned into a tasty tagine, a regional type of slow-simmered stew.”

Embarrassed by the incident, the Mali government has said it will give President Hollande another camel but this time they will send it to Paris. Oh dear. What could go wrong?

You can read more here and a hat tip to John Starbuck who blogs at For a Dancer.


GREEN LAWN SOLUTION IN PARIS

Do camels eat grass? Maybe President Holland's new camel can join these sheep grooming the lawn at the Archives of Paris. Take a look:


PARIS BEEKEEPING

In our third and final story from France this week, bee hives are being installed on the roof of the National Assembly building in the heart of Paris where the lower house of the French parliament meets.

”The roof of France's National Assembly is ready to buzz with activity after the arrival of three large bee hives this week as part of a project to promote pesticide-free honey...

“Six volunteer beekeepers from among the National Assembly staff will tend the hives, which are nestled together on a raised platform on the roof of a rear palace building.”

The bees are expected to produce 330 pounds of honey annually. Take a look:

You can read more about the French bees here.


DO YOU DESPISE YOUR CABLE TV COMPANY?

In the results of an unscientific poll at the Consumerist website on Tuesday, Comcast was named the third worst company in America after having taken the gold in that category in 2010.

But that doesn't mean other giant cable TV providers are any more loveable. They all force us to pay for hundreds of channels we never watch, each company is a monopoly in the cities they control and they hike fees every year without giving customers additional services.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Anyway, if you hate your cable company, you'll love this video (NSFW or children):


“A SHOCKING ATTACK ON SENIORS”

Sing it with me: Social Security contributes nothing to the deficit and it should not be part of the budget. It exists – exactly as it was designed – entirely off budget.

Generally, Republican (and not a few Democratic) legislators are either ignorant of that fact or deliberately ignore it. But the release last week of President Barack Obama's elder-bashing budget has made some strange political bedfellows.

Take a look at the “shocking” response from Republican Representative Greg Walden of Oregon.

Of course, the ONLY reason Republicans are pushing back against chained CPI is that it is Obama's idea this time. Long before the president got around to it, Republicans liked it and they may yet accept it.


HERMIT CAUGHT IN WOODS AFTER 27 YEARS

Imagine living deep in the woods for 27 years in a tent even through Maine winters when temperatures easily reach 20 degrees below zero and during that time, speaking to another human only once.

That's part of the story of Christopher Knight who disappeared into the northern Maine woods when he was 19 and was arrested this week for burglary. Here's the video:

You can read more here and here.


ONE BABY ELEPHANT + ONE MUD PUDDLE = A SPLASHING GOOD TIME

Human toddlers like making mud pies and this toddler elephant enjoys mud too in this video with his mother and his nanny. They all live at Elephant Nature Park in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Hat tip to Darlene Costner.


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 probably 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 have one.


Facebook/Hatebook

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In my earliest interaction with Facebook in 2007, one of the first things I discovered were dozens of sites devoted to hating old people.

Back then, Crabby Old Lady noted a few examples of the hate speech she found:

sometimes i see old people in wheelchairs and i have a strong urge to push them down the stairs.

Old People Make Me Want To Puke

I like to beat the living crap out of old people

Let us unite and join for a common cause, abolish social security and legalize euthanasia.

Nothing has changed in the intervening eight years. Well-known and respected aging researcher, Professor Becca Levy of Yale University, with colleagues from three other colleges have published the first ever study of age stereotypes that appear on social networking sites – in this case, Facebook.

Here is an excerpt from the abstract of their report published by Oxford University Press (full report is behind a paid firewall):

”...we conducted a content analysis of each publicly accessible Facebook group that concentrated on older individuals. The site 'Descriptions' of the 84 groups, with a total of 25,489 members, were analyzed.

“The mean age category of the group creators was 20–29; all were younger than 60 years. Consistent with our hypothesis, the Descriptions of all but one of these groups focused on negative age stereotypes.

“Among these Descriptions, 74% excoriated older individuals, 27% infantilized them, and 37% advocated banning them from public activities, such as shopping. Facebook has the potential to break down barriers between generations; in practice, it may have erected new ones.”

No kidding. One charming little piece of ugly bigotry said anyone older that 69 should face a firing squad. Another, quoted in the Vancouver Sun, agreed:

”You haven't got much going for you, so my advice is...take the bullet and enjoy your grave.”

I want us to consider what kind of media and advocacy storm would erupt of those statements were directed at blacks, Latinos, Asians, women, etc.

In its policies, Facebook forbids hate speech directed at race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability and disease. Do you see anything missing from that list?

Huffington Post quoted a Facebook spokesperson responding to questions about the age-related hate speech on the social networking site:

”A Facebook spokesman said the company had not yet seen the research, but noted that as of February 2012, one-third (34 percent) of Internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18 percent do so on a typical day.

“The spokesman directed Huffington Post to a University of Arizona study that found using Facebook could improve the memory of people 65 and older as well as help them feel more socially connected.

Uh-huh. Does that mean Facebook thinks hate speech is good for old people?

Facebook spokesperson, Andrew Noyes, was just as oblivious when the Denver Post asked for comment saying that “statements of hate” are removed when they are reported and they violate the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

“We welcome meaningful research on how people connect and share on Facebook,” he continued, “but believe this study paints an incomplete picture of how more than a billion people use the platform.”

Apparently that means Facebook finds it acceptable for 25,000 of their billion members to spout hate-filled diatribes against one certain cohort of people but not those others listed in their policies. Researcher Levy reports that all the ageist Facebook sites they studied were open to the public and easily turned up in searches using common words related to age.

Canadian artist Marja-Leena Rathje emailed me the Vancouver Sun story about the Yale Facebook study. That paper reports:

”Canada's International Federation on Aging is petitioning Facebook to ban age-related hate speech after a recent Yale University study found seniors were targets of bigotry on the social networking site...

“Jane Barratt, secretary-general of the IFA, said it's unacceptable that Facebook doesn't protect seniors from such attacks in its Community Standards on hate speech...”

Hate speech is awful enough when it is aimed at any group at all. But when one group is singled out as an exception to prohibition against hate speech – and, in this case, corporate spokespersons support the exception – the corporation becomes the definition of bigotry.

Again, let me ask about the media storm there would be if, instead of old people exempt from Facebook's hate-speech standards, it were women, gays, people with brown skin and so on.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: If Video Killed the Radio Star, Smartphones Put My Transistor on Life Support


The 2013 Time Goes By Elderblogger Survey

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Five years ago – nearly to the day – the TGB Elderblogger Survey was posted. It was an unscientific but interesting look at who we are, we who spend time at this blog.

(If you are interested, you can see graphs of the results from 2008 beginning on this page.)

Now that five years have passed, it would be good to have an update. As then, the goal is to find out what elderbloggers are like, how we may be similar and how we are different, how we relate to technology, how we came to be bloggers and blog readers, how we feel about it and what our demographics are.

[NOTA BENE: This survey is for elderbloggers and elder blog readers who do not keep blogs themselves. Readers and commenters are as important as bloggers to the community and help equally to make it as lively and compelling as it is.]

Many of the questions in this survey are the same as in 2008, but I have removed others that seem redundant or not useful and added some new ones. I learned a lot about conducting surveys when I did this five years ago and vowed then that I would not make the same mistakes next time.

Well, I didn't make notes and I have no memory of what those mistakes were so I'm probably making them all over again. That's just how it rolls sometimes.

This is a long survey – 75 questions. However, all but one are multiple choice and I think you can get through it in about 10 or 15 minutes.

I wish I could give you the option to stop partway through and return to finish later but that feature costs dramatically more money than I can spend on the service - which is Questionpro and works quite nicely.

The survey, which is open to people 50 and older, will remain available for a week, until midnight Pacific time on Wednesday 17 April. Then it will take me awhile to sort through the answers and make them attractive for presentation before I post the results.

That badge at the top of this page will appear there each day as a reminder until the survey is closed. If you want to post it on your blog, you are welcome to copy it and link directly to the survey. The more the merrier. To do that, you will need this link: http://TGBsurvey2013.questionpro.com

You can click on that now (or the banner above) to begin the survey.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: To the Doctor Who Examines Me