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Happy Halloween 2013

It is, of course, William Shakespeare who gave us so many of the words and images we associate with Halloween in this magic spell cast by the witches in Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I:

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

The beginnings of this holiday go back thousands of years. You may know some of its history, as I did, but there is a lot I didn't know. Here is Part 1 of The Real Story of Halloween from the History Channel.

Follow these links to watch Part 2 and Part 3.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Halloween Memory


What Normal Aging is Like – Part 2 of 2

In yesterday's post on normal aging, we covered the five senses, skin, heart and lungs, stamina and strength along with bones and joints.

Keep in mind that aging is not a disease. It is a developmental process and the normal changes (not those of disease) we experience usually have little effect on quality of life.

METABOLISM Our bodies usually need less energy as we get older so our metabolism slows. That, together with hormonal changes means we get fat. You've known the drill on this all your life: less food, more activity.

A slower metabolism also means the body does not process alcohol and drugs as efficiently as in the past.

KIDNEYS Kidneys decline in size and function so it is important to minimize alchohol, medicines and other toxins that can inhibit their ability to function well. Drink plenty of liquids to help kidneys flush themselves.

URINARY TRACT Incontinence not related to medication or disease show up in women following menopause and from an enlarged prostate in men. It helps to maintain a healthy weight, to not use tobacco and, for women, to do kegel exercises. And, consult your physician.

BRAIN AND MEMORY After age 30, the brain's size and weight decrease but the brain continues to create new connections and networks throughout life.

Forgetfulness becomes more common with age, especially with more recent memories, and it takes longer to learn new things. But elders use both sides of their brains together more than when we were young and some researchers believe this contributes to better decision making in old age.

Eating a healthy diet, physical and mental activity and keeping up social connections all contribute to maintaining a healthy brain.

SEXUALITY In women, vaginal lubrication can decrease. In men, sperm production declines and in both sexes, fewer hormones are produced so that sexual function changes. This can result in discomfort for women during sex and less firm erections in men. Barring disease, there are remedies so see you physician.

So there you are – combined with yesterday's post, the major physical changes to expect with normal aging. Volumes could (and have been) written on each one, not to mention the emotional and psychological changes that I haven't included.

As the experts never tire of reminding us (nor should they), the best way to maintain our wellbeing as we get old is to eat a healthy diet and move around every day. The importance of those two rules increases with each passing year.

I would add to that the importance of accepting the physical changes without succumbing to them.

Here are three of the most accessible sources I used to pull together this information:

Healthy Aging Normal Aging from WebMD
Aging What to Expect from the Mayo Clinic
Healthy Aging – Live Better Longer from WebMD


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Thomas Moore: A Squadie's Lament


What Normal Aging is Like – Part 1 of 2

If you spent any time at all with an assortment of media, you can be forgiven for believing that getting old is a disease. (Some scientists and others believe that's all it is and are working hard, spending billions of dollars, to “cure” aging. But that's a topic for another time.)

All day every day we are bombarded with ads for pills and potions and treatments for a phenomenal number of ailments that, from the appearance of actors involved, afflict only old people.

There is so much of it, you have wonder if there is any such thing as normal aging. Or, to put it another way, what should we expect, barring big-time diseases, from our bodies and well-being as we age into the upper decades of life?

Aging happens as a result of varying combinations of genes, health and dumb luck and in time, certain things will happen no matter how heathily you have lived. In addition, as we often mention here, people age at different rates and in different ways so what happens to one person at 50 may not affect another until age 70. Or, maybe, not at all.

Working to satisfy my curiosity about normal aging didn't take long – there's not much but what there is, is in agreement. Here is an overview of some of the things I've tracked down to expect as we get into our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond.

VISION: By age 40 almost everyone needs reading glasses. By 60, many have cataracts. It is normal for clarity and peripheral vision to decline along with sensitivity to glare and decreased ability to judge distance.

HEARING: One-third of people 60 and older will suffer some amount of hearing loss. Acuity declines, particularly sounds in the high registers. It commonly becomes difficult to hear close-up sounds when there is ambient noise such as conversation at the table in a loud restaurant.

As one source advises, if you are not hearing as well as you did years ago, you're probably okay. If you hearing is worse than a week ago, see your doctor.

TEETH AND TASTE: The number of taste buds declines so flavors are not as strong as in the past. The amount of saliva declines resulting in vulnerability to tooth decay and infection along with receding gums.

TOUCH AND SMELL: The sense of smell and touch both decline. Fingerprints flatten out and sometimes cannot be read.

SKIN: Nails grow more slowly. Skin is drier because less oil is produced so we get lines and wrinkles and sags. Cuts and abrasions heal more slowly.

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM: The heart may enlarge, the walls become thicker and arteries stiffen. Your heart rate slows. With age, we become more vulnerable to hypertension which affects 50 percent of people 60 and older – hypertension defined as blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher.

LUNGS: Elasticity of lungs begins to decline some time in our 20s and ribcage muscles shrink progressively over time. Overall breathing capacity diminishes with each decade.

STAMINA AND STRENGTH: Changes in the heart and lungs along with other factors, affect stamina and strength. Although exercise, stretching and weight training can help, you will lose muscle mass. Walking regularly can help keep up stamina.

BONES AND JOINTS: Most of us are aware that we can become shorter as we age because the discs between our vertebrae become thinner. Recently, a friend told me she is two inches shorter than she used to be.

All during adulthood, our bones become become less dense and therefore lose strength. Risk of osteoporosis (loss of bone density) increases in all elders but especially women.

According to a page at WebMD, most people reach their peak functioning at about age 30. Continuing,

'We shouldn’t think of aging as a failure of our bodily systems,' says Kenneth Minaker, MD, chief of geriatric medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“'Aging is a life-saving process,' he says. 'It is a process of lifelong adaptation to prevent us from developing cancers that would kill us.'”

Obviously, that doesn't always work out well. Tomorrow in Part Two of normal aging, I'll continue with what else to expect as the years roll on.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Just Another Friday Night


Old Time Halloween Candies

At about this time in October when I was a kid, I was getting excited about Halloween. We usually made our costumes and although I don't remember what the sticking points were in the annual argument, I was negotiating with mom and dad about trick or treating.

According to the National Confectioners' Association, 72 percent of all candy spending on Halloween this year will be on chocolate. (More candy stats here.)

That sure wasn't true in my childhood Halloweens. Chocolate was rare but there were a lot of other kinds of fun candies – what we (and, undoubtedly, you) called penny candy.

I spent a little time online looking for some of those old kinds of candy. I found fewer than I thought I would but here are a few reminders. Remember these? I think they're still around.

Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, Necco Wafers

Kits and Mary Janes, if I recall correctly, were both chewie candies but Mary Janes were all one flavor while Kits had several flavors.

Kits and Mary Janes

I suppose candy cigarettes are politically incorrect now but I occasionally see candy on paper.

Candy on paper and Candy cigarettes

Here are a couple of really old fashioned treats – wax mustaches and lips. If I recall correctly, they weren't edible (I could be wrong) but we liked when I was young.

Wax mustache and lips

Those few images don't begin to cover all the different sorts of candy I recall from my childhood. What kind do you remember? What were your favorites?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Dreams Do Come True


ELDER MUSIC: Lead Guitarists

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.


This is probably a column for the Boomers and for those who are interested in rock music; that may exclude some of my readers.

I've written before about guitarists but that was a long time ago (in blog years), back in the early mists of time of my writing these things, so I thought it was time to revisit the topic.

This is something that creates endless discussion so - those who aren't interested I suggest you venture over to Bad Astronomy or somewhere.

Looking at my selections, I found that although I started this to celebrate guitar heroes, it's rather turned into a celebration of unsung heroes - well, little-sung heroes perhaps (with exceptions, of course).

Anyway, we all have our favorites and these are mine.

I'll start by going into grumpy mode and suggest that Led Zeppelin was the catalyst for rock music's downward slide. Really nothing against them – Jimmy Page is one of the finest guitarists around – it's just that they inspired all those heavy metal bands - the thrash metal, grunge and whatever-metal. So, end of the diatribe, let's get to the music.

There are two guitarists that I oscillate between as being the finest in this genre. I'll start the column with them in alphabetical order so you can't read anything into my choice of who I prefer.

Leading off is MICHAEL BLOOMFIELD.

Mike Bloomfield

Michael came from the blues. He was born and grew up in Chicago and as a teenager he'd go along to the blues clubs and jam with the artists. They were mightily impressed with his playing.

He first came to general notice as the guitarist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. After that he played with Bob Dylan – he supplied the guitar on Bob's first electric albums and he also accompanied him on the famous/infamous Newport Folk Festival gig where Bob changed folk music forever.

Later he performed solo and with his friend Al Kooper, who also performed with Bob on record and in concert. Together they produced half of one of the best rock albums ever (Michael went walkabout and didn't perform for the second half). That was "Super Session.” From that, Albert's Shuffle.

♫ Mike Bloomfield - Albert's Shuffle

The other contender is ROBBIE ROBERTSON.

Robbie Robertson

Robbie started his career as a member of The Hawks who backed rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. He later played with Bob Dylan - indeed, taking over Michael's role.

The Hawks later became The Band. No more needs to be said. Robbie was the guitarist and main songwriter for the group, and he wrote most of their classic songs, including this one, All la Glory.

♫ The Band - All la Glory

STEVE CROPPER was a studio musician but he also played in a group.

Steve Cropper

That group was Booker T and the MGs. The studio where he played was Stax and he played with pretty much every great soul singer in the land. He also wrote songs, often in collaboration with his good friend Otis Redding. Others as well after Otis died.

Anyone who has listened to any soul music would have heard him play.

Steve's guitar style is unlike other guitar heroes. He belonged to the "less is more" school and there was not a superfluous note in his playing. Those who are movie buffs will have seen Steve in the Blues Brothers films, the first one especially.

Here Steve, rather uncharacteristically gets (slightly) carried away on Booker T & the MGs' Soul Dressing.

♫ Booker T & the MGs - Soul Dressing

JAMES BURTON is rather similar to Steve. He won't play anything that's not required but what he plays is exactly right.

James Burton

James was also a studio musician but he too played in bands backing fairly famous musicians starting with Ricky Nelson. He was there on all those early hits and in the TV program as well.

Later when Elvis did his comeback concerts, James was an integral part of the band. He was a founding member of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band.

Getting back to the early days with Ricky, this is Believe What You Say.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Believe What You Say

DICKEY BETTS was the "other guitarist" for the Allman Brothers' Band when Duane was still alive.

Dickey Betts

After Duane's death, Dickey took over the role of lead guitarist and I prefer his playing to Duane's. That statement will get the Duane-ists offside but that's the way I call it.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, is a real fan of Dickey's and she suggested Ramblin' Man which she says is a real steering wheel thumper (you know, if you're sitting at a red light and it's playing...)

♫ The Allman Brothers Band - Ramblin' Man

JOHN FOGERTY wasn't appreciated in the sixties by the other San Francisco groups of the time, maybe because he was from the East Bay. How's that for a rather superficial take on things?

John Fogerty

The general public, though, took Creedence Clearwater Revival into their collective heart. I think the problem with the other bands is that Creedence produced really fine, and usually, short songs that were instant classics.

Those songs still sound good today, unlike a lot of those other bands' noodling around. From an early album, one of Creedence's best songs, Lodi.

♫ Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lodi

You may not necessarily know GRADY MARTIN but you will have heard him nonetheless.

Grady Martin

He was yet another studio musician who backed mainly country and pop singers in the fifties and sixties. If you've ever listened to Marty Robbins from that time you will have heard Grady - most particularly, of course, the lovely guitar playing on El Paso.

♫ Marty Robbins - El Paso

ROSS HANNAFORD will probably not be widely known to most readers, except those from the sun-burnt country.

Ross Hanaford

Ross was the lead guitarist for the great Australian band, Daddy Cool. Since then he's been in several bands and played on many records for other musicians and still performs regularly.

Rather surprisingly for such a great and well-known (in this country anyway) musician, he can often be seen busking outside the South Melbourne Market usually with his friend Bart Willoughby of a Saturday morning.

The A.M. and I like to stop and listen (well, who wouldn't? The music is so good) and leave several bucks in the guitar case.

Ross Hanaford

Here's Daddy Cool from 1971 with Come Back Again. Ross Wilson is the lead singer.

♫ Daddy Cool - Come Back Again

ALBERT LEE is my pick as the finest guitarist playing at the moment. I know I've said that before but I'll keep on doing so until you get sick of me.

Albert Lee

For newcomers, Albert was a member of The Hot Band backing Emmylou Harris. He was also a long-time member of the Everly Brothers' backing group and has played with Eric Clapton's band. Indeed, he was once fired by Eric for playing too well and showing him up.

These days Albert has his own band, Hogan's Heroes, and also often plays with Bill Wyman in his group.

On this track, Albert multi-tracks on acoustic and electric guitar. Seventeenth Summer.

♫ Albert Lee - Seventeenth Summer

I'll finish with the first and most important guitarist in rock & roll, CHUCK BERRY.

Chuck Berry

This song has launched a thousand, maybe a million, rocks guitarists' careers. Johnny B. Goode.

♫ Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode

Yes, I can hear you from here. Where's Jimi? Where's Eric? Where's (insert your own favorite here)? The answer is: Not on my list.


INTERESTING STUFF - 26 October 2013


MR. DUCKETT AND DR. JONES

Imagine having loved one another for 46 years, raised a family together but being forbidden to marry. Until now. Finally. Thirty-five states need to think about this very hard.


HERE AND THERE REPUBLICANS SEE THE LIGHT

Texas Judge Carlo Key has announced he is running for re-election next year. No big deal until you know that he has denounced the Republican Party and is running as a Democrat for the first time.

”The party-switch comes...after Key attended a Dem event featuring the beloved Wendy Davis...” [she of the pink-sneakers filibuster].

In a campaign video, Judge Key declares,

"Justice demands fairness [and can only be served] "without prejudice towards race, color, creed, or whom you choose to love."

Take a look at the entire video:

You an read more detail about his decision to switch here and visit his campaign website here.


DEVOUR THE UNBORN

There's are good reasons I decided many years ago to not become a parent. This may be one of them (from the slightlywarped website):

Devour the Unborn


PRISENCOLINENSINAINCIUSOL

Don't even try to pronounce that word; it's not meant to be pronounced, not really. It's a song title. From Italy. In 1992.

The song lyrics are what the English language sounds like to non-English speakers. And it's a pretty good tune, too. Take a listen:

There is a more complete explanation at the Now I Know website.


TO BE BURIED AT HOME

Jim and Patsy Davis met when he was 11 and she was seven. It took only one date as teens to know they were meant for each and they soon married.

Over the next 48 years, they raised five children and then, in 2009, Patsy died. Jim granted her dying wish “by laying her to rest just off his front porch.” Since then,

”From City Hall to the courts, the government of this little railroad town in southern Appalachia has tried to convince Mr. Davis that a person who lives in a town cannot just set up a cemetery anywhere he likes. On Oct. 11, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a judge’s decision saying as much.”

Davis has suggested to the court that he dig up his wife, cremate her and place the remains in the same gravesite on his front lawn. The city attorney admits there is no law against

”...tombstones or the placement of ashes, but he insisted that the coffin and the vault be removed. So if Mr. Davis fully complies with the city’s order, the yard will end up looking exactly as it does now, only with an urn rather than a coffin underneath.”

It's a love story with a Halloween-ish twist that gets more interesting with additional details. Go read more about the matter at The New York Times.


DAD'S RESPONSE TO KID'S TANTRUM

What to do when a kid just screams and screams and screams? This dad found a solution that at least made him feel better and amused his other child. Before you see the video, listen to the wife and mom:

”My six-year-old daughter had been in her room wigging out for about an hour and there was no talking her down. I was getting fed up, so my husband decided to lighten the mood.

“For the record, she's not typically a beast child - she's actually a pretty awesome little kid who was having a rough day.”


THE VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION

The Virginia gubernatorial election is getting a lot of national press primarily because another antediluvian Republican wants to gain control of women's bodies.

That Republican, Ken Cuccinelli, opposes abortion in all cases except the life of the mother, he supports new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state and as state attorney general, tried to revive Virginia's anti-sodomy laws.

In support of McAuliffe, posters like this one turned up on the campus of Norfolk State University:

Virginia posters-1013-xlg

Another read: “Get your head in the game.” Pretty funny. But as a friend who sent me the image wrote in his email:

“For a while, the poster pictured was up on some walls, till the Democrats chickened out. Pity."

No kidding, a pity. The Dems are so consistently such wimps. More about the incident here.


TEAPARTY INSULT GENERATOR

Let's keep going with politics for one more item. It's so bad these days we may as well laugh when it's possible.

Since the government finally reopened, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is trouble with the tea party. Someone started a webpage of tea party insults against him. Things like this:

Yellow-bellied dickheaded sell-out

Paid-off fascist traitor

Gutless fascist communist

Even though these epithets are on the level of the kid in the film E.T. The Extraterrestrial who called his brother “penis breath,” they are real insults that appeared on Boehner's Facebook wall.

You can find more of them at the Tea Party Insult Generator website.


A DOGGIE RUBE GOLDBERG CONTRAPTION

Darlene Costner has sent a video that is a wonderful antidote to all this political nastiness. Yes, it's a commercial. For Beneful. And it is a load of fun.


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.


Adapting to Retirement

Some people plan the end of their working years. Others, like me, are forced into it before their time. The latter has been especially true for older workers following the financial crisis of 2008.

Many who were let go then never found work again; suddenly retired against their will.

The biggest personal loss with retirement, however it comes about, is identity. Before 2004, I was introduced (or introduced myself) as a television producer and, later, managing editor of the CBS News website, among similar job titles.

I clung to that description of myself for a year of job hunting until it became apparent that I would never again be hired for anything resembling the kind of work I had done all my life.

And then I had to learn to say “retired.”

It wasn't easy; I choked on the word for a long time because – as it cannot have escaped the notice of any retiree – retirement is not a concept the rest of the world, the younger world, cares about or, more particularly, is interested in knowing people who fit the category.

In time, you make peace with being retired, of leaving the workforce behind, but that's not the same thing as coming up with a new identity - not necessarily for others but for yourself. Who am I now that I'm not a teacher anymore or an engineer, pharmacist, truck driver, shop owner?

Maybe some people have no need to find a description for their retired selves. That's probably healthy but I'm not sure everyone is at ease with that. I'm not.

One way of finding a new identity is asking yourself what, without a job to go to, gets you out of bed in the morning? What's your passion? How will you spend the hours from now on that you once filled with work?

There may be things you spent a 40- or 50-year career telling yourself you'd do when you retire. Following one or two of those can become your purpose and identity - or a good part of it.

Maybe there's something you always wanted to study so you become a student again – formally or on your own. If there is time and money, you could become a world traveler to all the exotic places you've dreamed of.

You're not too busy anymore to learn a language, watch all the movies you've missed through the years, read all those books you didn't have time for or you could even write one.

Of course, there are a gazillion things to do with your retirement, including nothing at all and who is to say that isn't a perfectly good choice.

But no one can do the choosing for you and it's not necessarily easy, even as you take on a volunteer job or plant a garden, to emotionally work it into an identity that fits comfortably and feels right.

It's creating a new way of being yourself after decades of being something else so it won't happen over night.

Me? It happened gradually that as I wrote this daily blog over the first three or four years, I morphed from a kind of field reporter on the age beat into an advocate for elders. It took several years and I didn't notice how I had changed until my new self already fit like second skin.

How are you doing in adapting to retirement?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Memories of a German Childhood


Elder Money Part 3 – Money Saving Shopping Tips

There are great sales going on in New York City every day. They are so frequent and so big that during the 40 years I lived in Manhattan, my friends and I insisted to one another that we wouldn't bother unless it was at least 25 percent off. And that wasn't too much of a joke.

Sales that big never happened in Portland, Maine during the four years I lived there and I haven't seen anything like them here in the Portland, Oregon area. But that doesn't mean there are not a zillion ways to save money via shopping and living slightly differently.

Paraphrasing Senator Everett Dirksen, save a little here, save a little there and pretty soon you're talking about real money. My list is not meant to be all inclusive and I'm sure you'll have a bunch of other suggestions for saving money.

COOK AT HOME
It's not really hard to do and it saves a lot of money. If you freeze big batches of such things as soup, apple sauce, stews (leave out the potatoes) etc., you always have a fast meal at your fingertips.

Make part of eating at home your morning coffee. I'm astonished that so many people go out for their coffee. It's way too expensive - and those lattes and frappucinos or whatever they are called are packed with sugar, fat and calories – not good.

Save restaurants for occasional treats with friends.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING
If you are retired now, you probably have more time for comparison shopping. Where I live there are an astounding number of nearby supermarkets – low end to high end – and after three years I now know all their quirks and sales.

Use supermarket discount cards. Yes, they keep all that information about you in their database and sell it companies that stuff your inbox and snailmail box with email and catalogs but so what. You lost all your privacy years ago.

Learn which day of the week your markets give a discount – usually 10 percent – to seniors and do your major shopping then.

Make friends with the produce manager. You'll learn a lot about prices and when sales will be coming up. As a bonus, he or she will tip you off to what is and isn't fresh, will happily cut cabbages in half for you and track down items you want from the storage room.

Ditto the fish man and/or butcher. My fish guy often warns me off older fish and points me to what just arrived or tells me that something he knows I like will go on sale in a day or two.

Coupons. If you can tolerate collecting and sorting, they can save a lot of money. I don't have much fortitude for it and most times I forget I have them until after they expire. That doesn't mean you can't be better at it.

Buy paper products in bulk. Supermarkets put paper towels, Kleenex, bathroom tissue on sale fairly frequently at good prices. My goal always for those products is to always spend under a dollar per roll or box.

Know which store brands are good and cheaper. At one market I use, there is only a big-name brand of steel-cut oatmeal for $8 a box. At another store, the in-house brand in a similar, same-size container sells for $5. I can't tell the difference.

DRUGS AND DRUG STORES
Like groceries, there are plenty of sales and discounts on drugs and personal care products if you pay attention.

Some pharmacies in some places sell generic prescription drugs for four or five dollars for a month's supply. This is sometimes cheaper than co-pays on your health plan.

Always check prescription drug prices at several pharmacies. Prices, with and without coverage and even considering preferred pharmacies, can vary widely for individual drugs, generic and brand name.

House brands of supplements and over-the-counter drugs are almost always less expensive. Supplements are not regulated so you're on your own in what you choose. But aspirin is aspirin, as is acetominaphen. There is no need to pay extra for brand names.

The chain drug stores have good sales (often BOGOs) on personal care products several times a year – worth stocking up then.

CLOTHING
Regular readers know I have been on a weight loss and exercise regimen since March and now I've lost so many pounds – coming up on 40 – that I need to replace almost all my clothes. Thank god I don't need anywhere near as many as when I was working.

Over the years at this blog, many readers have talked about shopping for clothes at resale, consignment and second-hand shops and they are a godsend.

Just last week I bought an Irish Aran sweater, a hand-knit that usually goes for $75-$100 for $18 at a local resale shop. I feel great when I come across such a good bargain.

If you buy clothes online, make use of websites' wish lists – set an item aside there and if you are patient, you can often get your choice when the seasons change for much less money.

One example: nearly a year ago, I had bought a pair of pants in the size I needed then – let's just say big. Two months ago it was literally fall off my hips and it was not something that could be easily taken in.

Then, as I was perusing that website one day just to see what they had and to my great, good surprise that very same pair of pants was on sale in my much smaller new size for $20. Believe me, I spent a lot more than that the first go.

ENTERTAINMENT
There really isn't much reason to ever purchase a book or movie again.

As many readers often mention, libraries. Use libraries for books, magazines and DVDs. You may also find that there are free events such as readings, lectures and music performances to enjoy and, perhaps, make new friends.

If you are willing to spend some money on books, do try a Kindle (or some other brand of ereader). I have had one now for nearly three years and have finally figured out how to choose between library, paper and ebook for my needs. If you are purchasing, ebooks are always less expensive than paper and many classics are free.

Movies. For $8 a month, you can stream unlimited numbers of movies and TV shows from Netflix. From Hulu too for the same price.

At Hulu, there are a number of free movies and there are nearly 600 free, streaming classic films linked from the Open Culture website.

The Open Culture website is good too for finding other kinds of freebies online: courses, audio books, classes, language courses and much more.

SENIOR DISCOUNTS
Senior discounts abound. Some people think they are not fair – asking why shouldn't people of all ages get a discount.

I don't have a good answer for that except that there are, as shown above, many ways for people to get discounts and there have, as for elders, always been student discounts. So use them and don't feel bad about it.

In fact, there is a whole website devoted to senior discounts searchable by Zip Code. It's called Sciddy. I didn't expect much when I first discovered it but I've had much better luck with it than Angie's List. Give it a try.

Another one is called – duh! - Senior Discounts.

If you are an AARP member, they have a list of discounts for dining and entertainment, general shopping, home and auto, health and wellness, travel and lately they've added a section of local discounts.

Movie theaters often discount the price of tickets for elders.

Senior discounts are so prevalent and widespread that you should ask anywhere you want to buy something. As I said, don't be shy about asking; discounts are there to be used.

Okay. I've got a zillion more ways to save money but this post is getting way too long and anyway, I'm sure you've got just as many I haven't mentioned. So share them with us below in the comments. We all need to pinch our pennies.

Elder Money Part 1 – Conserving What You Have
Elder Money Part 2 – Cutting Costs


At the Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Farewell Tour


What Was Your First Paying Job?

We are supposed to be talking about money-saving tips today but due to some other obligations I need a blog post I can write more quickly than that so Elder Money Part 3 will appear tomorrow, Thursday.

Recently I ran across a story about celebrities' first jobs. People sometimes forget that bold-faced names were not always famous. Once upon a time they were just like everyone else and they had first – or early – jobs not any different from the kind the rest of us had. Some examples:

Madonna worked at Dunkin' Donuts. It is fairly well known that Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter. Comedic actor Jim Carrey was a janitor and a security guard.

Sean Connery was a body builder who came in third in a Mr. Universe contest. Brad Pitt was a limo driver, Whoopi Goldberg, a bricklayer and Tom Cruise, a hotel bellhop.

None of those are surprising. More interesting are actor Tim Allen who served more than two years in prison for drug trafficking after being arrested holding about a pounds and a half of cocaine, and Inside the Actors Studio television show host, James Lipton, who was a “licensed procurer of a French prostitute” in the 1950s.

So let's find out today what kind of first or early jobs TGB readers had. We grew up in times quite different from today and I'm betting a good number of male elders here had newspaper delivery routes. Fewer people read print papers today so maybe that's not as common.

High school girls' counterpart to boys' delivery routes then was babysitting for neighbors. I have no idea if that is still done or if babysitting has become “professionalized” as so many other jobs have.

It is likely to be more fun if we confine ourselves to “real” jobs – that is, ones that didn't involve nepotism like raking leaves for extra cash from dad or working in an uncle's store. I'm thinking of jobs we had to apply for and from which we got our first paychecks whether during school or following graduation.

I'll go first: it was 1958, just after graduating from high school in Marin County, California. I had been hanging around the house for a week when my mother told me that whether or not I was going to Berkeley in the fall (I hadn't decided), I had to find a job starting that day.

Years later, she told me that she was shocked speechless when I returned home that evening having been hired as a typist to start the next morning at a mortgage loan company in San Francisco. In those days, office jobs were a dime a dozen – if you could type, you could work - and it pains me still to think about how deadly boring it was.

And that story is as boring as the job, so now it's your turn. What was your first paying job?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: People Need Their Orgasms


Elder Money Part 2 – Cutting Costs

Yesterday, I failed to explain the topic well enough that readers could figure out what it was. I'm trying to do better today.

The topic of this post is cutting costs - that is, finding ways to reduce what we spend on expenses we're stuck with. These include household utilities, taxes, insurance, transportation and communications that tend to be fixed without much wiggle room.

Today, we'll try to locate some wiggle room.

(Tomorrow we'll get to shopping, sales, coupons, discounts, saving money, food, etc. Please save those ideas for Wednesday.)

HOUSEHOLD UTILITIES
These expenses seem to increase year by year so it's important to keep them in check as much as possible. Below are suggestions I've culled from around the web and from my own experience. Please jump in with your own ideas.

In winter, turn down the thermostat. Sixty-eight degrees works for me these days along with fuzzy slippers and a sweater. I like sleeping in a cold room with lots of quilts so I set the nighttime bedroom temperature at 64.

A few years ago, I had to re-learn what my mother had taught me as a kid: When I complained I was cold, she didn't turn up the heat; she said, “Put on a sweater.”

In summer, turn the thermostat up. You can probably feel fine at 76 or 77 degrees as at 70 or 72.

Don't heat or cool rooms that you are not using. I turn on heat in the guest room only when I'm expecting a guest and both bathrooms have wall heaters I turn only while I'm showering or bathing.

Check the temperature setting on your hot water heater. It can probably be lower than it is. Another money-saving tip is to attach a timer so that water heats only when you regularly use it.

You can save on water bills by using low flow faucets. Many communities give these away to homeowners for free. Check with your city government but even if they don't, they are a good investment over time.

Unplug small appliances when you're not using them. Some time ago, I was surprised to learn that even when they are off, they leech electricity. Obviously, you shouldn't unplug refrigerators and other big appliances.

There has always been the techie argument between whether it is good for your hard drive or not to turn off your computer when you're not using it. I turn mine off because computers draw a lot of electricity.

Besides lowering your utility costs, some of these changes also help the environment.

TAXES AND INSURANCE
When I looked into this a few years, I found that there is more money to be saved than I would have guessed.

Many states have discounts on or deferrals of property taxes for people older than 60 or 62 or 65. Check with your state insurance commissioners office.

If you have equity in your home, intend to remain there and need some additional income, a reverse mortgage can be useful. They are not the fly-by-night operations those awful TV commercials make them seem but you do need to be certain you understand how they work.

A few years ago, I wrote a detailed series about how reverse mortgages. You can read it here.

As I mentioned yesterday, if at all possible pay your homeowners and auto insurance premiums annually to save carrying charges.

Comparison shop for auto and homeowners insurance every year. It is not uncommon to find the coverage you have at a lower price. You can also reduce premiums by purchasing homeowners (or renters) and auto insurance from the same company.

Depending on your personal emergency fund, you can also increase deductibles to lower your premiums.

TRANSPORTATION
There is not an elder driver alive who isn't terrified of losing that license. It's good to think ahead in case that day arrives.

You can save a lot of money by using public transportation when it makes sense. Of course, it helps if you live in such cities as New York and Portland, Oregon that both have excellent systems. Many cities and most suburbs do not.

When a lived in Manhattan, I never owned a car. When I wanted to drive out of the city, I rented. A friend here is Portland got rid of his car and now uses public transportation exclusively.

When there is an occasional reason for a car in the city, he picks up a Zipcar and he rents, as I did in Manhattan, when he wants to go out of town. Are these ideas possible in your community?

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
We are in the middle of a lengthy transition in communications so telephones, internet and cable TV are more complicated than they ought to be.

Telephone landlines are gradually going away but many people still keep one along with a cell phone. You can save money by dropping the landline but, as some of you have noted in the past, it may be needed for emergency services.

Mobile phones themselves can be expensive or cheap and come in several flavors: prepaid vs. contract vs. pay-as-you-go. Some good news is that the major carriers are dropping the dreaded two-year contract lately so it may be easier to switch – but read the details carefully before you sign on.

Figure out how much time you need for talking, data and texting and then do your homework online. I'm not going to pretend this is easy.

The internet – the broadband version – is much more expensive in the United States than in other developed countries and there is not much you can do about it.

Most broadband is available only through monopoly communications companies – one per city – such as Time-Warner, Comcast, Verizon – so unless you are willing to get by with slower speeds, you're stuck with whatever they charge.

Cable TV is a notoriously expensive. You can cut the chord entirely and rely on the internet (if you've opted for high-speed) for TV shows or buy just the “tiers” you want.

Please be assured that if you like TV, don't be put off by the holier-than-thou who will tell you how how virtuous they are to never watch. There is some excellent entertainment on television these days and no one should be held to another person's smug, no-TV standard. (But it sure saves money)

That said, you probably don't need a premium channel. In my experience they are way too expensive for a small return.

Not long ago, my cable company gave me HBO for free for six months. I'll cancel it when they start to charge me because there is only one series I was interested in that turned out to not be so good, and I've watched two or three movies in five months. Not worth the cost at all.

All the major cable companies “bundle” landline telephone, cable and internet. Supposedly, this saves money.

I get a mailing once or twice a month from my cable company trying to get me to add a landline for the bundle price which is always $20 more than I pay now so I don't get the point.

It may be different with your provider.

Now it's your turn. What's worked for you to save money in the areas above?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Ghosts of Peter Pan


Elder Money Part 1 – Conserving What You Have

UPDATE 8AM: Okay, apparently from the early comments, I was monumentally unclear in this post. It's beyond minor mistake - it's total screw up. A mess.

If I have explained it any better in this short update, it would be nice if anyone else who comments today could stay on this topic. It helps me later - and therefore many other people - to find the information they want if it vaguely matches the headline.

Sorry to have been such a dunce at clarity.


Last week we had a lively discussion about Elders and Their Money, how most old people – indeed, most people of every age – don't have money to risk on investing.

Investing is exactly like gambling and just like casinos, the markets are rigged in favor of insiders - in business and government - not just on the level of returns, but also on the tax end. So it is not for people like me and the majority of elders who cannot afford lose any money.

If anyone reading that last paragraph wants to refute it, go somewhere else to do that. If you are not an insider and have done well with investing, it is far more likely your success is weighted on the side of luck than smarts and luck is not a useful financial strategy.

Today – and one or more days following – we will be more practical here. On that money post last week, TGB reader Jim Harris who blogs at Auxiliary Memory left this comment:

”I'd like to hear advice on cutting costs, living cheap, enjoying free stuff and making do with what we got. I start my retired life next Wednesday.”

Congratulations, Jim, on your retirement and what a good idea – to crowdsource our knowledge of frugality.

Like the majority of elders, I live on much less money than when I was working. The total - Social Security and a small amount of other income – is almost exactly one-fifth of what I was earning during the last few years before my forced retirement nearly a decade ago.

That means I have a lot of practice now at living within dramatically reduced means without scrambling to get by and not feeling deprived. That last part is important to me as I don't want to spend my final years constantly thinking about money – although I am careful. So a plan is needed.

Over these ten years, I have taken what I learned from money mistakes and 50 years of frequent fluctuations in my income together with the best of what other people – experts and ordinary folks - advise and have adapted it all to what works for me.

So you will get that information plus, from past discussions of this sort, I know TGB readers are smart, practical people who have a lot of advice to pass on too.

In reverse, remember that not every idea works for every person so take what you like and leave the rest.

As I was making notes before writing, I discovered that this is a huge topic so I'll spread it over two or three days and please – please stay on topic each day so that my information and yours is organized and easy to find again later.

We will consider not the big issues of down-sizing one's home or moving house or mortgages, etc. Instead, this is about day-to-day living – reducing costs, saving, spending and making do. We start with conservation of funds.

BUDGET
If you don't have a budget – that is, if you do not know what your fixed monthly expenses are compared to your total income - make one now or you might as well stop reading. None of the rest of this will be useful without a budget.

Don't forget to include in your budget annual expenses such as insurance and property taxes and work out how much you need to set aside each month to have the cash to pay them when they are due.

You can save some money here by paying taxes, insurance and, sometimes, even Medicare Part D premiums annually rather than semi-annually, quarterly or monthly.

For example, I get a three percent discount on property taxes for paying in full each year. If I did not pay my auto and homeowners insurance in full, I would be charged between $24 and $60 above the premium for choosing installments.

Be sure to include in your budget any automatic deductions from your checking account and/or automatic charges to your credit cards.

Generally, I don't like checking account deductions because it makes disputing charges more difficult if that should become necessary. But I get a $24/year discount on my Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) policy by allowing that deduction and I am unlikely to need to challenge that insurer.

I keep automatic, monthly charges to a credit card as low as possible. Currently those are Netflix's streaming service, a newspaper and the company that supplies my blog statistics.

The list of fixed expenses lets you know how much money remains for other necessities and extras. (On another day we'll discuss how some other fixed expenses might be reduced.)

HANDLING MONEY
Some of this stuff I'm including today seems simplistic but it is amazing how many people I've come across who don't know or haven't thought about it and who get by only hoping everything comes out even at the end of the month.

Everyone's different, but I would be terrified to live that way especially because there is no one for me to fall back on if I run into financial trouble; I know I'm not alone in that.

If you have credit card or other revolving debt, make a plan now to pay it off and stick with the plan until you have done so.

Pay all bills on time and in full. That way you don't get dinged with interest or carrying charges.

Pay credit cards in full every month. That means don't charge more than you can pay off each month.

I use my main credit card mostly for online purchases and a few other conveniences such as gas for the car. Everything else, I pay cash.

Pay cash whenever possible. Okay, this doesn't work for everyone but it does for me. Here's why.

Every two weeks I withdraw the amount of cash I have determined I can spend over that period of time for food, household and personal items, cat food and litter, entertainment, etc. It works because I can always see how much money is in my wallet and loosen or tighten the purse strings depending on that.

Many people use debit cards for these daily expenditures but I determined a long time ago that I could not track what I was spending and too often overspent.

Use a cash back credit card. Or whatever reward system you like – it's free money. I buy a lot of different kinds of items from Amazon so my card of choice gives me points to use at that website. Just yesterday, I reduced a $26 purchase to less than $11 because I had accumulated 1566 points worth $15.66.

Also be sure you have a no-fee credit card. There are zillions of them to choose from if your credit rating is good or even just decent.

Every week or two, put your extra change into a jar. It adds up to more than you think and before it gets too heavy, I drag mine to the local bank that has a change counter.

I just checked my statements and so far this year, I've deposited $352.54 to my savings account this way. Given my income, that's a lot; maybe it's because I buy so much with cash and get a lot change.

Keep a savings or other kind of account separate from your regular checking account as it will make it at least slightly more difficult to spend more than you should.

I use mine to set aside the money I need for annual property taxes and insurance premiums plus as much extra as I can save as an emergency fund. It's also for my long-term project to renovate a bathroom. (That's not going to happen any time soon but the amount grows steadily if slowly.)

Now it's your turn. Remember, today's topic is budgeting and conservation. Tomorrow we'll expand into cutting costs, living frugally, finding free or discounted stuff, and making do.

This is important because we won't get much help from Social Security next year. The announcement of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014 has been delayed due to the government shutdown but it is understood by experts to be about 1.5 percent.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: The Honeymoon


ELDER MUSIC: 1937

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.


WHAT HAPPENED IN 1937?

  • Merle Haggard was born
  • Margot Fonteyn made her debut in Giselle
  • Nylon was patented
  • The Golden Gate Bridge opened for business
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released
  • America won the Davis Cup
  • Geelong were premiers

1937 was BILLIE HOLIDAY's most successful year.

Billie Holiday

According to Wiki, she had 16 best selling songs in that year alone. I find that a bit hard to believe but would Wiki lie to us?

If that's correct, all I can say is "Take that, Elvis. Take that, Beatles". The song Carelessly was one of those. It hit number one on the charts of the time and here it is.

♫ Billie Holiday - Carelessly

Although BOB WILLS presence is evident throughout this track, it's not a typical Texas Playboys' track.

Bob Wills

It's a lot faster than most of theirs and sounds closer to the regular big bands of the time than the western swing for which he was noted. See what you think of Playboy Stomp.

♫ Bob Wills - Playboy Stomp

BING CROSBY recorded a couple of versions of this next song.

Bing Crosby

I've decided to go with this rather unusual one taken from the film Double or Nothing. What's unusual about it is that there are no instruments. He doesn't sing a cappella; he has a full "orchestra" of women backing him using their voices to suggest instruments. The song is The Moon Got in My Eyes.

♫ Bing Crosby - The Moon Got in My Eyes

Harbour Lights was written by Hugh Williams (or Will Grosz as his folks knew him) and Jimmy Kennedy. The first recording of the song was by FRANCES LANGFORD.

Frances Langford

Since then it's been recorded by scads of artists from Guy Lombardo and Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley and The Platters, and pretty much everyone in between. However, today we're interested in Frances's version.

♫ Frances Langford - Harbor Lights

ELLA FITZGERALD and The Mills Brothers, now that's interesting.

Ella Fitzgerald

Except that she's the only one who's obvious on the track; the Mills are rather relegated to the background. It doesn't really matter - it's quite a nice tune. Dedicated to You.

♫ Ella Fitzgerald - Dedicated to You

I'll just mention the names NELSON EDDY and JEANETTE MACDONALD and you will know immediately what's coming next.

Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald

Here we have easily their most famous song from the musical "Rose-Marie.” Although this is an apparent duet, there's not much of Jeanette, just a bit of “ah ahing” at the beginning. The Indian Love Call.

♫ Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald - Indian Love Call

One O'Clock Jump was COUNT BASIE's signature tune.

Count Basie

The great record producer John Hammond had heard the band on the radio and went to see and hear them live. He was so impressed he insisted on recording them as soon as possible.

He said that the recording session was "the only perfect, completely perfect recording session I've ever had anything to do with.” It's from that session we have the tune.

♫ Count Basie & His Orchestra - One O'Clock Jump

This mob isn't called an orchestra - they are officially TOMMY DORSEY and His Clambake Seven.

Tommy Dorsey

Tommy formed his own orchestra after a split with his older brother Jimmy. He also liked to play a bit of hot jazz so he had a small group called the Clambake Seven and it's this group that supplies the music today.

The song is the old standard (although it was a new standard at the time), The Lady is a Tramp with Edythe Wright on vocals.

♫ Tommy Dorsey - The Lady Is A Tramp

RAY NOBLE was an English band leader most noted initially for working with Al Bowlly.

Ray Noble

He went to America in the thirties where he worked with Edgar Bergen and George Burns and Gracie Allen. None of those are on this record but Howard Phillips is present singing I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm written by Irving Berlin.

♫ Ray Noble and Howard Phillips - I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

Rockin' Chair was written by Hoagy Carmichael and he recorded it a couple of times. However, it was used by MILDRED BAILEY as her theme tune.

Mildred Bailey

Mildred became a blues and jazz singer on the west coast and helped get work for her brother Al Rinker and Al's singing partner Bing Crosby. Bing later got her work with Paul Whiteman.

She often recorded with her third husband Red Norvo. I'm not sure who is backing her on the record, so I won't hazard a guess.

♫ Mildred Bailey - Rockin` Chair

1938 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 19 October 2013


AGEIST OR JUST CHEEKY?

Nobody doesn't like 91-year-old comedian/actress Betty White. Her TV Land series, Hot in Cleveland, is going into its fifth season and she's widely sought after as a spokesperson.

In this new commercial video, White represents Air New Zealand. The treatment of old people makes me squirmy. Maybe I'm wrong. See what you think.


BUBBLE SOCCER

Do you know about this? I didn't – soccer played in bubble wrap. Depending on the country, it might be known as boblefotball, bumperz bubble, zorb ball soccer, loopyball, fussball.

By any name, I AM DYING TO PLAY IN ONE OF THESE BUBBLES. Take a look.

Here's more information from Buzzfeed, with photos.


THE END OF LANDLINE PHONES

It's been almost ten years since I gave up a landline to rely exclusively on a cell phone. Now, in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Sandy, a small island community in New Jersey has been given no choice in the matter:

”...in [resident] Peter Flihan’s view, Verizon Communications has delivered a second blow: the telecommunications giant did not rebuild the landlines destroyed in the storm, and traditional telephone service here has now gone the way of the telegraph.”

There's more information at The New York Times story. However much some people want to hang on to their landlines they will, before too much time passes, be gone. But it is a mixed technology advance.

The upside, of course, is that mobile phones go everywhere with us. The downside is that signal quality never seems to improve. Perpetually, there are dead spots, dropped calls, faint volume and other glitches that never happen with landlines.

Do you still have a landline?


MOST FAMOUS BOOK PUBLISHED IN EACH U.S. STATE

Business Insider has picked the most famous book set in each state. I don't know their criteria and I have, as you certainly will, many objections.

My current state, Oregon, gets Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In Oregon, a location where few books are set, that may be acceptable. But The Great Gatsby for New York? I can name a bunch of equally iconic choices.

They picked Stephen King's Carrie for Maine but any of his novels would have worked as well.

Click the map above for a list of all the states and their books. Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has some interesting commentary on the choices and I'm sure you do too.


AN EMAIL MAKING THE ROUNDS

Nancy Leitz was the first reader to send this email that's gone viral. It made me laugh even if it also makes me furious.

”The Washington Redskins are changing their name because of all the negativity, shame, humiliation, dissent, polarity, adversity, defiance, hatred, animosity, contempt, discrimination, division, violence, counter-productivity, ill-spirit, un-Godliness, and hostility associated with their name.

"From now on they will be known simply as the Redskins."

MUPPETS TRIBUTE TO JIM HENSON

I found out about this because Jon Stewart on The Daily Show interviewed the author of a new biography of Jim Henson.

It's been 23 years since the Muppets creator died but his creatures are as fresh as the day they were born. This lovely piece of television is their tribute to Jim Henson. It was the climax of the Henson memorial broadcast around the world soon after his death and features more Muppets than you can shake an Elmo at.

I dare you to not tear up.

You will find many other bittersweet moments from the memorial here.


FITTING IN

I'm pretty sure that at sometime in their lives, almost everyone feels that they don't fit in. Take a look at this from ZeFrank:


10 COOL TECH THINGS YOU PROBABLY DON'T KNOW

I was fortunate enough to spend the last decade of my working life side-by-side at websites with young techies and designers who made sure I was as up to date as they were.

So I thought I didn't have anything to learn from this video. Wrong! The New York Times's tech reporter David Pogue has ten handy-dandy tips most of which you probably don't know but will make your computer life easier.


BELLA AND BUBBLES

I publish a lot of interspecies friendship videos here because - well, they seem so marvelously unexpected and I never tire of them. (This one is from 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.


Girls Scouts and Elders Playing Games Together

Before I get into this, let me give you the backstory.

I have never been a kid person. As my biological clock ticked toward 40, I carefully considered childbearing and realized I had never had the overwhelming desire that apparently comes naturally to most women.

Maybe I'm missing the mommy gene (she shrugged).

Children, I think, are kinda cute but only in short bursts and only for as long as they are clean and well behaved which for me means relatively still and not loud. I cannot stand that high-pitched screeching noise they – mostly little girls – make.

Further, even if they meet my kid criteria, I have no idea what to say to them. I mean, the weather probably wouldn't be as reliable an ice breaker as it can be with adults and I don't know what interests children.

So it's hard to figure what possessed me agree to attend a “Board Games and Brownies” event last Monday at which some old people would play games with nine-year-old Girl Scouts who had baked the treats themselves. Oy.

I was a few minutes early, checking blog comments on my phone when, at the appointed hour, a gaggle of chattering little girls burst into the room.

Immediately, a bunch of them surrounded my chair. One announced, “Hi, I'm Sophia,” and we shook hands as I told her my name.

Thus we proceeded through 10 or 12 little girls - Mary, Hayden, Selina, Pam, Casey, etc. (Most names invented due to short-term memory lapses on my part.) Toward the end of the formal greetings I heard again, “Hi, I'm Sophia.”

“Didn't you and I already do this ritual?” I asked her.

“Just being sure,” said Sophia with a mischievous grin, and we all – the whole gaggle and I who had been quite serious until that moment - burst out laughing.

Three or four of the girls, including Sophia, and I found a table and they selected a game – Hed Banz – which, I quickly learned, is a form of 20 questions. There are plastic head bands into which cards are placed so that the wearers can't see what image is on the card.

Then, each in her turn, asks yes and no questions to figure out what she is. Nevermind. Here's a short video that explains it better than my long-winded description would.

It's a much more fun and funny game than that video indicates, particularly when everyone talks at once, no one keeps score, no one cares about rules and couple of players insist on giving easy-to-guess clues – all with great, good humor.

When it took too long for someone to work out the answer, the remaining crew got frustrated. In one set, when a girl couldn't come up with “Am I a hammer?” after 20-odd questions, the player who gave away the answer most often just mimed pounding a hammer on the table so the game could move on. And we all laughed again.

Sometimes we had to debate the correct answer - all talking on top of each another, of course. We took a good deal of time working out whether ketchup is a vegetable. (No, I didn't lecture them about the U.S Department of Agriculture, President Ronald Reagan and the school lunch program controversy over that very question in 1980.)

And you probably didn't know that it takes a good deal of discussion to decide if a fly is an animal. You would be amazed how serious a group of nine-year-olds can be about such questions although giggles are big part of it too.

After several rounds of this hilarity, another Girl Scout arrived pushing a trolley with about a dozen kinds of brownies to choose from. I asked who at our table had baked which ones and of course, chose those that my game mates had brought.

You can guess what happened next. It wasn't long before sugar shock sent the volume of 12 little girls' voices (and mine) through the roof.

You'd think we were all drunk. The game got louder and sillier and, apparently, the noise from our group was drawing enough attention that some of the other sugar-charged kids wanted to join us.

Our table swelled to about eight or nine trying to play. We ran out of head bands (hed banz) so they used their hair clips (clever of them) to attach the cards to their hair.

The combination of sugar highs and too many kids (plus one elder) squeezed together at a small table turned the game to chaos – not that we cared. We were just as high on one another, on our own silliness and having a grand ol' time. And a big plus for me was that for all the noise, these kids weren't doing that awful screechy thing I don't like.

So it might have gone for another hour or two but mothers started arriving to pick up their children. The girls and I traded lots of hugs and high fives over what a good time we'd had together.

Don't get me wrong; I won't be running a play center any time soon. But I will attend the next kid/elder event - with eagerness.

I wish more old people would do that. Although the announcement of the event went to a lot of people, only about four other elders turned up and that's a shame.

What an interesting surprise for me to find that I could effortlessly lose myself for two hours with a bunch of nine-year-olds - finding my own nine-year-old self as though 63 years had not gone by since I was that age.

If you get such an invitation, don't let it pass you by.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: The Girl Who Got Away


Elders and Their Money

So as of late last night the U.S. government is back in business - at least until 15 January 2014 and a world economic crisis has been pushed forward to 7 February. Apparently we are supposed to cheer the Democrats for standing fast but all it means is that there will be an identical crisis right after the end-of-year holidays.

This is the new normal. It will happen again and again due to a few deeply stupid members of Congress – all Republicans.

Because I spent a large part of my time advocating for old people, what worried me these past three weeks and worries me still for early next year, is how awful this is for elders – whether retired or near retirement.

Certainly you recall the crash of 2008. I lost more than 30 percent of my already small savings and I heard from readers who lost up to 60 percent of everything they had.

I've earned back just 25 percent of what I lost mainly because I now have no stomach for the slightest amount of risk and have as-safe-as-possible investments that earn hardly anything more than bank interest (.01%). I'm probably not the only old person too terrified still, five years later, to try for anything more.

Two readers emailed this week about financial issues. One asked if I might write about an online class from a well-known professor at a renowned university about retirement financing – pensions, savings, investments, etc.

Another, Lia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe, in responding to an email from me, agreed with my less-than-unique assessment that life seems to be getting progressively worse for all but the richest people in the world. This set her off on an epic rant.

Since I believe Lia speaks for many, it's worth quoting her at length:

”Like you,” she wrote, “I lost a major portion of my meagre savings. A few years later I lost my employment and was more or less forced to become self-employed since there were no other alternatives.

“It has made for many bleak hours of worry. On the outside, I would say I am optimistic about the future, but the endless nights of sleeplessness attest to some deep rooted fears...

“There is a whole horse's tail of citizens from 40 upwards whose savings and retirement plans were shattered...

“We have to figure out short term how to put food on the table and how to keep a roof over our heads. On top of that, it is not just this month or this year, but for the rest of our lives...

“In some ways I was fortunate to have a few very good conversations 20 years ago with a friend of mine who is an economist.

“She did not predict the particulars and extent of the economic madness. Yet, she did say the numbers, even then, did not add up and our generation (we are both now in our mid-50s) might be the first generation since WWII that will not have the option to retire.

“She suggested finding work in a matter where, if we were granted relatively good health, we could continue working a long, long time.

“This is what I am striving to do. Find business customers I can work with a long time. It would be interesting to know what some of your readers who are working are doing in this way.”

I strive here at Time Goes By to increase useful knowledge about what being old is like. I want this blog to be a storehouse of experience, thought and ideas about honest, real, everyday aging – not what the culture and age deniers prefer old people to be.

That means nothing, no topic is, as Washington politicians say, off the table.

Nevertheless, from the first I have avoided discussion of financial information, advice, websites or “experts.” As I explained via email to the first reader I mentioned above, a large majority of retirees and near-retirees have no investments nor will they ever have money for investing.

Investing a rich person's game – for people who can afford to lose. What everyone else has is savings, very little of it, and the rich already have plenty of resources for manipulating their money. Nothing this blog can say would have any meaning for them.

An equally important reason to refrain from financial talk is that all – make that ALL in capital letters - financial consultants, teachers, advisors, etc. contradict one another so there is no way to know whose advice is good or useful.

(Preparing this post, I visited three online retirement finance experts - a large institution, an academic, a self-appointed well-known guru - each of whom has a calculator for determining how much savings one needs to retire. I input my numbers as they were when I stopped working in 2004 and got three different answers ranging from $550,000 to $1,895,000. That's a big spread - who should I trust?)

For as many readers as I heard from after the 2008 crash who lost 30, 40, 50 even 60 percent of their savings and small investments, not a single person wrote to say their advisor/banker/etc. saved them from loss.

So because money is too important and too personal (far more personal than sex) and because, inevitably, some readers take what I say as advice, I never discuss personal finance at TGB. I'm obviously not qualified and further, I'm not qualified to decide which of the gazillion people who call themselves financial experts is qualified (if any are).

Here we are, then, most of us at this blog who – even if we don't literally count pennies - need to be careful with the money we have while bankers, Wall Street, Congress members and their counterparts in other countries continue to manipulate the economies of the world to the benefit only of the already rich.

So we - for today let's call ourselves elders of the 99 percent - are mostly on our own and given how the U.S. government behaves, are in for a bumpy ride to the grave. Lia again from the end of her email rant:

”What options do we have when the financially structures crumble? If corporate practices, responsibilities and ethics are thrown to the wayside, it really is every man for them self. I can't even stand to read about follies going on in Washington.”

I know just how she feels. Your thoughts?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Kaleidoscopes, Penny Candy and Dancing with the Dishtowel


Golden Oldie: What Happened to My Butt

PERSONAL NOTE: I sit here (Tuesday) with television news droning in the background hoping for something smart from Congress to be announced (I know, I know – futile).

My mind is so nearly paralyzed over impending default that I'm not going to write anything cogent no matter how hard I try and it's best that I just give up for today. (The Elder Storytelling Place is, linked at the end, a new story.)

Instead, here is a fun post from two-and-a-half years ago that I hope you'll enjoy again. I've tinkered with it only enough so that you don't need to click to see the video.


We all had some silly fun with the Naked Guys' Balloon Dance in the Interesting Stuff post on Saturday.

UPDATE: Here's the video I was referencing.

I am sure that Marcia Mayo (who blogs at Well Aged With Some Marbling) is not the only one among you who, as she wrote in a comment, “kept trying to watch their crotches” to see if she could “check out their stuff.”

Come on, now. Admit it. You did the same thing. I certainly did.

Even so, I was more interested in their butts or, since they are British, their arses. What a nice collection of round, juicy, pat-able posteriors. Take a look:

Naked Balloon Guys Butts

Aren't they cute? Don't you want to grab them and squeeze?

That isn't common with guys. I remember a boss I had 40 years ago who, in his meanderings around the office, often passed my desk with his fanny directly in my line of sight. It was flat as a pancake, nothing there at all and I used to think that was a shame. He was otherwise such an attractive, interesting man.

Most men have moderately good bottoms – at least some small amount of meat to fill out their trousers – and the lucky few, like the balloon dancers, have spectacular backsides of the sort that show off particularly well in snug-fitting khakis, less so in jeans and hardly at all in suit pants.

Far more women have nice hind ends and although my sexual orientation leans otherwise, I can still appreciate a well-shaped female derriere.

For example, my own. Unlike guys, my tush looked best in jeans, especially men's Levi's 501s, and even better when paired with high-heeled shoes. I took full advantage of that in my younger years.

It's been a long while since I pranced around so attired and anyway, it's no longer possible, with a waist as wide as my hips, to fit into those sexy 501s.

But I still have to ask, what happened to my cute keister? It's not exactly flat now but there is no shape. I know this because – only for the purpose of this blog post, you understand - I checked it in an angled mirror.

There is none of the definition that once made men glance my way as I walked past. And it is not even a particularly fat ass. I am currently on my biennial diet to get rid of the excess weight that accumulates, but it doesn't gather in my rump. My body is more like that of an aging beer-drinker – all the fat goes to my waist and belly.

My hindquarters do not appear to have dropped much either, but the oomph is gone. (By the way, I produced a television show many years ago with the actress Julie Newmar who had invented - and patented - pantihose that lifts your buttocks.)

I can't say much about other elder women's bums but I suspect, since I don't recall having noticed any, that they are generally no more beauteous than my own.

A lot of old men, like that boss I mentioned, have no rear end at all, walking about with nothing to fill their saggy pants. Where do you suppose it goes?

I don't mind my wrinkles or little jowls anymore and I've accepted the crepe that is beginning to drape my neck. But, you know, I miss my quite excellent youthful fundament even though I have no idea what I would do with it if it were still there.

A final note: The English language has an amazing number of names for our bums and behinds. For no more reason than to amuse myself, I've used as many as I can think of without once repeating myself or checking a thesaurus. Have I missed any?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sharon Ostrow: A Question of Profession: Spllitting Hairs


Random Thoughts for Elders (and Others)

SCARY CONGRESS
Still holding my breath over the debt ceiling. Here is the latest New Yorker cover which would be would be funny if it were not so real.

New Yorker Cover

LATE NIGHT RUMINATIONS
• Regarding anti-aging products and other futile attempts to deny old age, doesn't there come a point when it is just undignified to pretend to be young?

• Maybe I should take a page from the LGBT community and start a “coming out” movement for elders: “I'm old and I'm proud.”

• Could it turn the word “old” from an insult into a compliment? Or even better, into just a description?

• Perhaps then we could we stop “honoring” elders with condescension. (The public transportation system in Portland, Oregon refers to elder riders as “honored citizens.” Blech.)

• People claim to be young at heart. What's wrong with old at heart? It sounds to me like someone who has a lot of practice at living and loving.

MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT
Open enrollment begins today for Medicare. Unfortunately, with the government shutdown still in force, Health and Human Services employees are on furlough and the medicare.gov website has not been updated for more than two weeks.

Perhaps, like me, you are looking for a new prescription drug program. You can search around the Medicare website but you will need to telephone the provider to confirm premium, deductible, copays and the formulary you need.

Enrollment is open for just seven weeks and the longer the shutdown continues, the longer it will take to update the website when it ends and the madder the scramble from millions of beneficiaries to find new coverage.

You can thank the rump of the Republican Party for this.

A RESPITE FROM FURY
There's no telling what will happen in Congress later today (Monday) but I have a date in a few minutes with local Girl Scouts for an inter-generational Brownies (yum) and Board Games get-together at the local Adult Community Center. See you tomorrow.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Thomas Moore: Surviving Life


October's Gifts

NovemberWeather3

Will you look at that. According to accuweather.com, there's not a raindrop in sight for the next two weeks. Instead, bright full sun and mid-60s temperatures.

I don't suppose I'm complaining but it wasn't like that on Saturday and in the chilly, gray, misty morning, my thoughts turned to cold days to come.

At the final farmer's market of the season, I stocked up on roots – parsnips, potatoes, multi-colored carrots and beets in red and gold.

Onions too and just-picked apples because the peaches that had been so luscious just a week ago looked tired and bruised now.

In the afternoon I cooked up six pints of spicy apple sauce to take the place in my morning cereal of the fresh berries I have relished all summer.

Then, while writing this post on Sunday, I cooked up a big batch of pea soup - a recipe I've been tinkering with every fall and winter for at least 40 years. I took time, too, to get out for some photos of the glorious fall colors near my home.

In the eastern United States, some people drive hundreds of miles to indulge in annual leaf peeping. I just open the door. This is my path to the trash bins.

Fall Leaves

Not many more steps from my door in the neighboring park is a colonnade now halfway between its summer greenery and the barren vines of winter.

Colonnade

A late Sunday afternoon posting at The New York Times online:

”Leaders at meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said the United States must raise its debt ceiling and reopen the government so as not to cause 'massive disruption' worldwide.”

You can see how early I was out and about on Sunday morning errands.

Yellow Tree and Clock

The malice of Congressional Republicans knows no limit in their determination to harm some segment - any segment - of the American public. Now it's women again according to a Sunday headline at Huffington Post:

”[Paul] Ryan Brings Birth Control into Shutdown Fight”

Certainly there is science to how tree leaves turn colors. Do certain ones become red, others orange or yellow or brown? I have no idea which explains why I was surprised to see so many colors on each tree in this line.

Multicolored Trees

And until Sunday, I had no idea that grasses also take on fall colors. These seem to be on fire.

Grasses in Color

It was impossible Sunday, while keeping an eye on the soup, not to repeatedly check television and internet news to see if Congress is still intent on bringing down the economy of the entire world this week.

The Onion gave me my only laugh of the day. Referencing the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of last week, the faux news website headlined a story, "Psychiatrists Deeply Concerned For 5% Of Americans Who Approve Of Congress."

According to “psychiatrist Dr. Donald Levin,” The Onion “reported”:

”We’re not entirely sure who these people are or where they come from - perhaps they are psych ward patients, or unstable recluses living in remote huts on the outskirts of society - but what we do know is that they are extremely disconnected from reality and in need of immediate attention if they are not already receiving it.”

But it wasn't funny enough to stop my creeping panic as the debt deadline looms. Nor could this gorgeous bush.

Red Bush From Car

The one satisfaction of the day was storing away five quarts of soup in the freezer. If economic apocalypse arrives, at least I won't be hungry.

Pea Soup


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: The Minivan


ELDER MUSIC: Some Divas

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.


This column is just for me. Oh, and for Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. For my sister as well and anyone else who loves great singing.

I don't know why the Three Tenors received all the kudos. Well, I do: it's because they're blokes. I could come up with The Three Sopranos, The Three More Sopranos, The Three Mezzo-Sopranos and more besides who were all at least the equal of the men and I'd like better.

To demonstrate what I'm talking about, here is a column of Divas. I'm also doing it with one hand tied behind my back (figuratively) because to demonstrate the wealth of talent out there, I will not include Cecilia Bartoli, Jessye Norman, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa or Maria Callas - all of whom would be an automatic inclusion in a column like this.

I'll start with ELINA GARANCA who is a mezzo, looks pretty good (well, she's not alone – so much for that nonsense about the fat lady singing) and shares my birthday.

You may think that's why she's included but the real reason is that she's a great singer. Everyone today is a great singer. That's the point of this column.

Elina Garanca

Elina sings from “Samson et Dalila” – you can probably figure out what that is – by Camille Saint-Saëns, Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix.

♫ Elina Garanca - Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix

PATRICIA PETIBON sings Die Welt auf dem Mond.

Patricia Petibon

This is from an opera by Joseph Haydn called “Il Mondo della Luna” or The World on the Moon, Hob. 28/7.

The words were written by Carlo Goldoni and he really put it about a bit as this was the fifth time they were used in an opera. Of course, this is the one that's remembered these days.

It was first performed during the wedding celebrations of Nikolaus Esterházy and Maria Wissenwolf. Nik was the son of Papa Jo's patron, also named Nikolaus Esterházy.

♫ Patricia Petibon - Die Welt auf dem Mond

NICOLE CABELL was from Panorama City, California, and brought up in Ventura.

Nicole Cabell

She wasn't at all interested in classical music when growing up but her mother urged her to join the school choir. She became a success much to her surprise: "People obviously can hear something, even if I can't,” she said.

Nicole then took singing lessons and later went to Julliard (briefly) and was grabbed by the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she was mentored by the great Marilyn Horne.

These days she spends a lot of time performing in London and Europe. Here is Ah! Je Veux Vivre from Gounod's “Romeo and Juliet.”

♫ Nicole Cabell - Ah! Je veux vivre

NATHALIE STUTZMANN is a French contralto. Her mother was a soprano.

Nathalie Stutzmann

Mum was her first music teacher and Nathalie later trained at the Conservatoire at Nantes and later in Paris. She initially specialized in French and German songs and later performed mostly baroque music but not exclusively.

Nathalie 's an all-round entertainer as she also plays piano and bassoon and performs in chamber groups as well as singing. Here is Agitata infido flatu from Vivaldi's “Juditha Triumphans, R 644.”

♫ Nathalie Stutzmann - Agitata infido flatu

NÚRIA RIAL is from the Catalan area of Spain.

Nuria Rial

She initially studied the piano but switched to singing when she won a couple of prizes for doing that. Núria's training in singing was in Germany and she spends most of her performing time in that country but she also performs throughout Europe and elsewhere.

These days she specializes in music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. This is demonstrated by her performance of Georg Telemann's Komm o Schlaf, und lass mein Leid from his opera “Germanicus.”

♫ Nuria Rial - Komm o Schlaf, und lass mein Leid

DANIELLE DE NIESE was born right here in Melbourne (that's the Australian one for any newcomers to this website).

Danielle de Niese

She won a bunch of talent prizes early on and her family moved to Los Angeles when Danielle was 11. She made her debut with the Los Angeles Opera when at just 15.

Although she can sing the full gamut of roles, Danielle is particularly good on baroque music as you will hear when she sings Da Tempest from Mr Handel's “Giulio Cesare in Egitto” (or Julius Caesar in Egypt).

♫ Danielle de Niese - Da tempeste

I'm not really a fan of Rossini's; I don't quite get him. However, this tune isn't too bad so he's in the mix today. Of course, having OLGA PERETYATKO sing his music helps more than a little.

Olga Peretyatko

Olga was originally from St Petersburg (the Russian one) where she performed in a children's choir when she was a whippersnapper. She was later a member of the Hamburg State Opera for quite some time and, besides Rossini whose works she performs regularly, Olga's pretty good on Handel, Mozart and Richard Strauss.

She performs Non si dà follia maggiore from the opera “Il Turco in Italia.”

♫ Olga Peretyatko - Non si dà follia maggiorei

I probably should have included RENEE FLEMING in my list of famous exclusions but I didn't, so here she is.

Renee Fleming

This is one of the better known arias from one of Puccini's lesser known operas, “Gianni Schicchi.” This opera was composed, or at least released to the world, in 1918, and is based on an incident from Dante's Divine Comedy.  The aria is O Mio Babbino Caro.

♫ Renee Fleming - O Mio Babbino Caro

There must be something in the air or water here in Australia but my goodness, we keep producing wonderful sopranos. One of those is CHERYL BARKER.

Cheryl Barker

I was originally going to play something she did as Mimi in “La Bohème” but I decided instead to use the aria Ebben? ne andrò lontana from “La Wally” by Alfredo Catalani.

♫ Cheryl Barker - La Wally

Mozart had to be present on a column of arias and here he is. The singer is CHEN REISS.

Chen Reiss

Chen was born and bred in Herzliya, Israel where she first studied ballet. Fortunately for us, she switched to singing at 14.

She moved to New York when she was 20 and made her professional debut at La Scala. Talk about starting at the top. Pretty much all the great opera houses have been graced by her presence.

The Mozart piece today is the concert aria, Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia, K 582.

♫ Chen Reiss - Chi sa, chi sa qual sia


INTERESTING STUFF – 12 October 2013


TIME'S TRANSFORMATIONS

On one of the webpage that display these moving gifs, whoever DL Cade is writes, “Fair warning, if you’re squeamish about aging, you might want pass on this one.”

Really? Is the culture's preference for youth so deep, strong and pervasive that I am the only one left who is fascinated rather than repulsed by the changes wrought by time?

Anigif_enhanced-buzz-24306-1381158515-25

You can go to DL Cade's website to see 10 of these face transformations individually or you can view them in this video. (Hat tip to Jen Clift)


THE RAISING OF THE COSTA CONCORDIA

Another kind of time lapse is this video – a compression of the 19 hours it took to raise the sunken Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy into 90 seconds. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)

There are some spectacular still photos of the procedure here.


BEST COUNTRIES TO GROW OLD IN

TGB reader Domini Stuart was the first of several to send the link to this map of the best countries in which to grow old.

WorldBestAging

Obviously, the green ones are better for elders. This is a first of its kind measurement of the wellbeing of old people in 91 countries, ranking them in order of quality.

In the overall ratings, Sweden and Norway come in first and second as the best places for elder living. The United States ranks 8th overall but only 36 for income security.

The rankings chart is here (scroll down). There is an interactive map here where a click on any country brings ups its statistics from the survey.


POOPOURRI

Many readers send this video and it is, apparently, a real product. I am at a loss for anything else to say.


COOKIE MONSTER SEA CREATURE

But it is really a trio of purple sea sponges (Alpysina archeri) fused together. Isn't it the cutest thing.

La-caribbean-sea-sponge-mauricio-handler-20130926

The Los Angeles Times story will tell you more about it. (Hat tip to Jim Stone)


HORSE/MULE ROBOT

The developer of this robot calls it the Legged Squad Support System or LS3. I call it a horse/mule robot. According to the YouTube page, it is a

”...rough-terrain robot developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. It is designed to carry 400 pounds of payload and travel 20 miles without refueling. LS3 has sensors that let it follow a human leader while avoiding obstacles in the terrain.”

I think it is amazing how much the gait of the robot resembles that of a horse or mule. (Thanks to Cop Car of Cop Car's Beat.)


TIM MINCHIN'S GRADUATION SPEECH

If you don't know who Tim Minchin is, you should and this is a terrific beginning. Colleen Skinner of Meanderings sent the video of Minchin on the occasion of his receiving an honorary degree from The University of Western Australia.

There are warnings about possible offensiveness, but not to me and hope not for you. Just enjoy and then stick around for Minchin's curriculum vitae when his speech is finished. You'll be amazed at the breadth of his talents and accomplishments.

In three of his past Christmas in Oz posts the TGB musicologist, Peter Tibbles has featured Minchin's music – here and here and here.


TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME

Way back in 1945, there was a summer romance between teenagers Chuck Lewis and Sandy Gutting. Then life intruded – for 62 years.

”They went on to marry others, had families, moved 1,200 miles apart, and didn’t speak for 62 years. Then seven years ago, they met again, and love bloomed once more...

“Although they never spoke, Lewis and Gutting secretly carried a torch for each other over the years. Gutting said she would often show her adult daughters a picture of Lewis that she kept in her closet. And Lewis said he managed to hide his treasured stack of photos from 1945 from both wives.”

Of course the story is more complicated and interested than that. You'll need to go to the San Diego Union to read the rest of it.


BIG MIKE SNEAKS BACK IN THE HOUSE

"before he gets caught," says the YouTube page. Smart fellow, this dog.


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.