Not By Muscle, Speed or Dexterity
ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Burt Bacharach

INTERESTING STUFF – 22 February 2014


Tamar Orvell, who blogs at Only Connect, sent this video that is nominated for an Academy Award next month. It concerns 110-year-old Alice Herz Sommer who is the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world.

As the Youtube page tells us, Alice

”...discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life...It tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music.”

This is an 11-minute clip from the 38-minute documentary.

You can read more about Alice in this Haaretz story and there are more clips from the documentary here. And you can rent or purchase the entire film here.


It's been a long time since I've featured Henri, the depressed French cat who is now a big star with his own published book and cat food commercials. Here is a video titled, The Cat is Sat. Any cat owner will recognize Henri's point of view.


Like me, you probably believe that the red stop light is always at the top of a traffic signal – red, then yellow, green at the bottom. Except not in Syracuse, New York where some Irish immigrant teens objected to red being at the top:

”These teens didn’t like the idea that British 'red' was positioned above Irish 'green,' and started throwing rocks at the traffic light, ultimately breaking it,” explains the Now I Know website.

“The city replaced the traffic light but out came the stones again, and the second light met the same fate as the first. This process repeated an untold number of times, with the red lights falling prey to stones each time.”

Eventually, the city got tired of replacing the light and

” this day, the traffic light at the intersection of Tompkins and Milton is green at the top and red at the bottom.”

Here a screen grab of it from Google Maps. Looks weird, doesn't it.



Last Monday, President's Day, late night host Jimmy Kimmel sent a video crew out onto Hollywood Boulevard to ask random people for their reaction to the news the President Franklin Roosevelt had died that morning.

Hilarity or, perhaps, sadness ensues:


Ninety-three-year-old veteran sports writer and New Yorker essayist, Roger Angell, has hit a home run in the most recent issue of that magazine with his tour of life in the tenth decade.

I say that even if he does take a whack at the word I most like and promote to use in place of senior and other misguided terms:

"We elders," he writes, "what kind of a handle is this, anyway, halfway between a tree and an eel?"

But I quibble. Many are calling the piece an instant classic and you will be glad you read it. It is available online even to non-subscribers.


I don't travel much anymore – it's so damned hard and tiring but if it comes up again, Huffpost published some terrifically clever packing ideas I'll use:

Use an empty eye dropper bottle for toothpaste:


Or an old eyeglasses case to hold electronics chargers and earbuds:


How about a contact lens container for small amounts of semi-liquid cosmetics:


There are a lot more more good ideas here.


Darlene Costner sent a “lifespan calculator from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (my first ever employer at age 17).

By answering 13 multiple choice questions, you can watch your age span go up and down as you move through the questions. I don't believe for a minute that I'll live to 101.

See what the calculator tells you about your lifespan here.


Actor Kevin Spacey has been all over the talk shows this past week promoting season two of House of Cards, his wildly successful Netflix series in which he stars as the devious politician, Francis Underwood.

When he stopped by David Letterman's program on Monday, he did most of the interview impersonating the voice of Bill Clinton. Funny and fabulous.


If cats did not already own the interwebs, I think goats might be a good substitute. Until goat videos came along I had no idea they were so playful, so cute and, apparently, so fearless.

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.


Loved the "Lifespan Calculator", but if it's correct I guess I'll be saying "goodbye and thanks for everything".

Loved the goats, especially the Billy goat standing around watching.

All super stuff this week. Henri is a hoot - must find more of his moaning. And Roger Angell wrote a wonderful piece which I'm going to print out.

Well, Ronni, you can write my eulogy...I'll be checking out at 94 apparently!

The Roger Angell piece was excellent, shows a lifetime of practicing his craft.

If the Lifespan Calculator is correct I think I need to find a job.

Love the Henri! I have missed him.


My recollection is all traffic lights looked like this in the 'olden days'.

The technology then was, there was only three lights in that box: Top, middle, and bottom.

Each side of the box had a set of colored lenses that would then display a stop or go situation; simultaneously. A Red on one side would be a Green on the adjacent side.

This system was still in use in Tucson, AZ in the early 60s. I had a B-I-L that was blue, red, green color blind. I asked, How can you tell which color is which?". Since he couldn't tell . . .

He said he'd, look in the rearview mirror at the last light to see which (shade of gray) and move accordingly.

I guess they changed this old technology once it was known that some could not decipher the old system.

Did the stoplight story remind anyone else of the childhood mnemonic "Red on top and green below; one says stop and the other says go"?


Ah, Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, indeed I know the site well. On the west side of town where a large Irish population lived. I lived in and around Syracuse for a number of years and the Tipperary Hill dwellers were so proud of that traffic light. It was a rallying point on every St. Patrick's celebration.

This whole segment of Interesting Stuff was delightful. And Henri is always a welcome cat.

The video on Alice Herz Sommer was a real joy....I am always amazed at the strength of the human spirit...What a beautiful woman!! Thank you for that day brightener, Ronni!

I read Roger Angell's piece in it's entirety and I have to confess that it left me slightly depressed. I have been unaware that I have been missing something. Maybe, knowing that I had to adjust to life as it is, I brainwashed myself. I must have convinced myself that I do not miss that warm body next to me. As I read the post I realized that I had probably done just that.
Then I laughed at Henri's depression and mine left me.

Wow what a collection of goodies. The Old man and his new dog were especially wonderful. Then again, I cannot imagine that I'm going to live so far int my 90's.

Good, rounded selections! Have read in the past about goats making great pets, mostly in poorer, rural world areas, where they also provide a needed food source. I have a thing for cows, all kinds. So this reminded me of how, sadly, we've become distanced from not just wildlife, but animals other than cats and dogs, squirrels, etc. Loved and laughed seeing Henri and his latest!

Since you brought up Kevin Spacey and his hit series, House of Cards, (a must see for everyone BTW) thought I'd mention that scene in one of them where his character, Francis Underwood, gets a pair of cuff links on his birthday from his body guard with his initials on them, FU.

There are always these subtle little surprises like this interspersed throughout the dramatic episodes

I love Saturdays because I know I'll be amused, educated, charmed, etc. by your offerings. This one was especially fine. I was so engrossed in Roger Angell's wonderful prose that I forgot I was on battery and went black on the last page. That's one to share with friends for sure.

What a treat to see a new Henri episode. And the trailer for the documentary was incredible. What an extraordinary woman, and yet, how unremarkable she presents herself. The goats were delightful; all that was missing was a troll beneath the bridge. Thanks Ronni!

Alice Herz Sommer is a beautiful soul. What a gift to the world, not just her talent but her spirit. It's amazing to see how people react to such incredibly difficult circumstances in their lives. I met a couple about 40 years ago who had both been the single survivors of large families in Auschwitz. They were in their 60s, which seemed old to me then. They were joyful and nothing ever seemed to get them down.

One day I asked her how, with their history they had managed to go on and not be crushed under grief and despair. She said, "God spared us, and now we have to live the joy that all who died were denied. We live their joy as a sacred trust."

It sure puts my whining about every hangnail into perspective. Oh, to live the joy of Alice.

But it's very hard because we have two cats who like Henri, feel very hard done by when offered the same flavour of Fancy Feast two meals running, want our chairs for their naps, and find us irritatingly unreliable at getting up on time in the morning. They lead very difficult lives.

Goats do make lovely pets, we have had several. They are smarter than most dogs, good conversationalists, excellent climbers (your garden fences are useless), they mow your lawn, and will come inside if the door can be nudged open. They can be relied on to stand (in a group!) on the roof of the brand new car of visiting "missionaries" you haven't been able to dissuade politely from visiting every weekend. Their milk is lovely too, as long as you have no billy to musk it up. I highly recommend two or three does to anyone with a hobby farm (they don't like being alone).

Oh man. Now I want a goat!

Just so you all know, cute as they are, when mr. Goat want get Mrs. Goat's attention he covers himself with urine. It can a tough time for goat owners. Just sayin...

R.I.P., Alice - what an inspiration you've been and will continue to be for countless beings.

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