Loneliness and Premature Death of Elders



At the top of last Saturday's Interesting Stuff, I told you about Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old musician and oldest Holocaust survivor. The next day, Sunday, she died in a hospital in London after having been admitted on the previous Friday.

Many have remarked that Ms. Herz-Sommer held little rancor for her Nazi captors. The Huffington Post obituary recounts this story:

”She recalled an awkward conversation on the night before her departure to the concentration camp with a Nazi who lived upstairs and called to say that he would miss her playing.

“She remembered him saying: 'I hope you will come back. What I want to tell you is that I admire you, your playing, hours and hours, the patience and the beauty of the music.'

“Other neighbors, she said, stopped by only to take whatever the family wasn't able to bring to the camp.

"'So the Nazi was a human, the only human. The Nazi, he thanked me,' she said.”

The documentary film about Alice Herz-Sommer, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, is up for an award at Sunday evening's Academy Awards.


It is always a treat when theoretical physicist Michio Kaku visits The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and this one was extraordinary as the two men discussed the cutting edge of brain technology.

Pay special attention at just past two minutes into the interview when Kaku explains how British physicist, Stephen Hawking, who is paralyzed, uses a chip in his eyeglasses to mentally type what he wants to say.

That one is not wishful thinking for the future – it is real technology that exists now.


The subjects of these photos are elders but the photographers are not. This skateboard photo of 78-year-old Nancy Irvin with a young companion was made by 18-year-old, Philipa Crampton-Smith.


What I like best about all 16 photos is that they present old people doing what they like doing; they could be photos of people at any age – these just happen to be old. Here's another.

Planting Strawberries

You can read more about the show here and see a slide show of all the winning photos here.


It has been decades since the brilliant comedian Carol Burnett left regular television. Darlene forwarded this video of a skit from her show - a rehearsal with some bloopers and wild lines from the cast.

In the skit, Mr. Tudball (Tim Conway) is looking for a secretary, but his wife (Vicki Lawrence) doesn't like any candidates until Wanda Wiggins (Carol Burnett) shows up.


Do you know what coulrophobia is? Neither did I until I read a weird news story online this week. According to the Independent (U.K.),

”America may soon be bereft of clowns. That’s the claim being made by the country’s shrinking clown-based trade organisations...which warns of an imminent national clown shortage brought on by a decline of interest in clowning, and the advanced age of its existing practitioners.”

Read more at the link above. And coulrophobia? It means fear of clowns which is, apparently, more widespread that I ever knew.


My internet friend, Chuck Nyren, who keeps the Advertising to Baby Boomers blog, wrote a terrific story this week for Huffington Post about 76-year-old Marian Brickner who made the decision in her 50s to become a professional photographer.

Now there is an upcoming short documentary titled, Growing Up Bonobo, about both Ms. Brickner and her specialty photography subject, the endangered species, bonobos. Here is the trailer:

Growing Up Bonobo trailer from Skip Blumberg on Vimeo.

[Yeah, I'm sorry too and this infuriates me. If I had known, when I was writing this item, that the embed code Vimeo provided shows this instead of the video, I would have killed the entire item. By the time I checked, I had other obligations and no time to redo this post. So, you'll need to click the "sorry image" above to see the video.]

There is more information about bonobos, Marian Brickner and the documentary's producers at Chuck's HuffPo story. Please don't hold the Vimeo cheat against him.


It undoubtedly gives away my age that I almost entirely ignore social media. This blog is distributed via Facebook and Twitter, but it is set up to do that automatically and I pay no attention; I hardly ever visit my own pages.

Nowadays there are so many different kinds of social media websites that I no longer even think about trying to find out what they all are.

That should tell you why this image, send by John Starbuck (who hasn't blogged for a long time at For a Dancer) gave me such a good chuckle.


The image originally appeared here on Twitter but credit John for letting me know that.


This brilliant and exciting wildlife video is from Darlene Costner and I'm not giving away too much telling you that the squirrel survives. The YouTube page says the images are from National Geographic but that's all we know about it.

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.


As usual, you jump start my thinking. Thanks.

Imagine what a world we'd have if we all had the generous heart of Alice Herz-Sommer. Our loss.

I think the study of the brain is both fascinating and scary at the same time. It will be wonderful if they are able to reverse Alzheimer's with an implant. It is in the realm of science fiction. Michio Kaku makes it all seem possible.

Owl vs. Squirrel: amazing photography, but in my neck of the woods we would call that bird some kind of hawk.

Right -- it's not an owl. It's a Red-tailed Hawk.

Of course, you are all correct about the owl/hawk thing. I just unthinkingly copied the header from YouTube. Life causes that kind of dumb stuff sometimes.

Loved the photo of Nancy Irvin with the skateboard. Just yesterday I was startled to see a gray-haired man coasting down my street on a skateboard. But now it occurs to me I wouldn't have noticed if he'd been wearing a helmet. So I have to take back the mental kudos I gave him for being on the board.

How can there be a shortage of clowns with a Congress in session?

Thanks Ronni! If any of you folks are bored, search for Marian Brickner, maybe an image search - and you'll find more than bonobos. There's a pic of female bats that's a killer. And look for her on Facebook.

Golly, I miss Carol Burnett.

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