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The Technology Elders Use – And Don't

When, a few months ago, I saw a new primary care physician, of course he drew blood for a bunch of tests. Two days later, I was delighted to receive an email from the large health provider with which he is affiliated linking to the test results online.

Not only were the results numbers listed, so was the normal range so that I could tell immediately if there were red flags. That is light years better than waiting for days, as in the past, until the doctor got around to telephoning me – if he or she ever did.

The health and medical community has been threatening “telehealth” for years and it is slowly coming into being. There are places where you can meet with a physician online in a Skype-like call but not many.

For all the reasons that are obvious, it is my belief that for routine monitoring, video visits with doctors should arrive in our lives sooner rather than later.

A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Internet Project released its most recent Older Adults and Technology Use survey. The big news is that the percentage of adults 65 and older who go online is increasing. Here is their chart on that:

Pew Percent Online

Like it or not, the internet is where things get done these days and I don't think it's nearly enough for the elder participation to have grown from 14% to 59% in 13 years. In fact, the number is even lower if you don't count highly educated and affluent elders. As Pew notes,

”Younger, higher-income, and more highly educated seniors use the internet and broadband at rates approaching - or even exceeding - the general population; internet use and broadband adoption each drop off dramatically around age 75.”

(Personally, I think it is an error to count broadband adoption as an indicator of advanced internet use. There are many communities, particularly outside big cities, where broadband is not available so it not a choice; people in those places are stuck with dialup still.)

Overall however, according to the study, the 65-plus group is falling behind the rest of the population in technology adoption. Take a look:

Pew Tech Adoption

Here is what Pew has to say about smartphones as a subset of cellphone adoption by elders:

”...even as cell phones are becoming more common among seniors, smartphones have yet to catch on with all but small pockets of the older adult population.

“Just 18% of seniors are smartphone adopters (this is well below the national adoption rate of 55%) and their rate of smartphone adoption has been growing at a relatively modest pace.

I detect a whiff of disapproval in that statement that older Americans aren't doing their part to enrich the mobile hardware purveyors but I think there is a good reason.

All this week, the news has been telling us about two Supreme Court cases to be decided about whether police should be required to get a warrant to search cell phones.

Those opposed say that smartphones contain just about every personal detail there is about their owners and there should be a compelling legal reason for agents of the government to access that much private information.

I happen to agree but that's not my point today. Younger adults juggling their careers with raising children in a busy modern world have a lot to keep track of and having it all on one hand-held device is easy and convenient.

But I don't think old people, particularly when retired, have anywhere near as much reason to have a smartphone with a zillion apps. So why pay hundreds of dollars for all that extra power when a clamshell with a big-number keypad does the job? (Contrary to conventional wisdom, elders aren't stupid.)

As the current elder generations die off and the young boomers grow into the upper age categories, they will bring their smartphones with them and then marketers can complain that they aren't buying whatever the next latest gizmo is.

Another question that interested me was about the elders who don't go online and don't think they are missing anything. In case the font is too small in this image for you to read, it is: “% of those 65 and older who agree with the statement: People without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing.” Here's the chart:

Pew Not Missing Much

This is the Pew commentary on that chart:

”Seniors who do not currently go online, on the other hand, are much more divided when it comes to the benefits of technology. Half of these non-users (48%) agree that people lacking internet access are at a disadvantage and missing out on important information, with 25% agreeing strongly.

“But 35% of older non-internet users disagree with the assessment that they are missing out on important information — with 18% of them disagreeing strongly.”

As we have discussed at great length just in the past two days, there are amazing practical and life-enhancing reasons to be online but I doubt that there is a way to convince most of that 35 percent to join us.

As a kind of addendum, here is a related video from Pew about how people with chronic health conditions use the internet.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Learning Experiences


The Possibilities of the Internet

Marc Leavitt keeps a blog, is a regular contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place and is one of those TGB readers who has become an email friend.

We live a continent apart so we are unlikely to meet in person unless, as you will see below, I visit the east coast which, given the pain and exhaustion of air travel these days, is not something I easily do.

In response to yesterday's post here about the importance of the internet to elders' health and well-being, Marc sent a compelling note about how he lives today in retirement and the wonderful things the internet gives him.

In the most positive way, he explains how impoverished his life would be without it. So with Marc's permission, I am reprinting his note here:


It’s 8:49AM here in central New Jersey. The kitchen, where I have my computer set up, is filled with early morning sunshine, the windows are open and the only sounds are the twitter of birds and the hum of the refrigerator.

I revel in the silence and peace. If I believed in the Invisible Man in the Sky, I would say that I am blessed; since I don’t, I’ll just say that I am content.

If I have learnt anything on this journey, it is that I have learnt to forgive myself for not being, doing and trumpeting all that others expect of me. I spent many years trying to please parents, wives, friends and strangers. Now I please myself and often, I’m successful.

In Candide, Voltaire’s hero sets out on a voyage of discovery and after many vicissitudes, returns home enriched by the knowledge that, “Il faut cultiver nos jardins” (We have to nourish our own patch of ground).

It’s a hard lesson that most people never learn. The world is a large and various place; if we can make a small dent, based on our own abilities, not those others say we should have, then we’ve done well.

Another Frenchman, Joachim du Bellay, wrote a poem some four hundred years ago, in which he said, “Heureux, qui comme Ullysse, a fait un beau voyage.” (Happy is the man (woman), who like Ulysses, has had a beautiful trip). I’ve always remembered that, especially under adverse circumstances.

That’s a long preamble to say that I agree with you.

I live alone today and like you and a myriad of others, most of my first family (parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts) have died. And friends and acquaintances drop off the planet in increasing numbers.

Because of a fall resulting in a broken neck, my ability to do all of the things retirees tell themselves they’ll do in retirement (travel, audit courses at nearby Rutgers University, go out to dinner, attend plays, concerts, the opera, train into the City to walk the streets and visit exhibits at the museums) are largely activities I engaged in in the past.

(Think getting on a train with a cane or walker, negotiating the stairs and concourse at Penn Station, getting on and off the subway or standing on line for a taxi, getting into the Metropolitan and walking through the exhibit hall and then reversing the process on my way home.)

Yes, a lot of that is still possible with careful planning and alternatives but do I really want to do that?

Here’s a thumbnail of how my life would be without the Internet and how I would fill my time:

Daily reading – fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines. Writing - poetry, prose. Painting and drawing. Listening to my extensive library of LPs - classical, folk, Broadway. Television and last but not least, talking to myself (I have a gift for accents - I can be British, Irish, Scottish, French, German...)

The internet provides an alternate universe of possibilities and an opportunity to meet a variety of people such as yourself in a virtual reality which, after all, in some ways is no different from meeting at a pub or coffeehouse or talking on the telephone or writing letters.

And the internet also gives me (us) the opportunity to select out the type of people I (we) wish to associate with.

For example, I’m very interested in linguistics and the whole universe of language (I speak four languages with varying degrees of fluency). Without the internet, I would have to work very hard to find people with similar interests. With the internet, they’re only a click away.

Since retiring in 2010, I’ve made friends (or at least, friendly acquaintances) of people in England, Ireland and across the U.S., all of whom are interested in the fine points of language.


Ronni here again. As I mentioned to Marc in a return email, his note about his interest in language reminded me of my first taxi ride in New York City many decades ago.

When I told the driver I had just moved to town, he told me that if what you care about is one in a million, there are seven more people in New York City just like you.

As we now know, on the internet, there are even more of them just like you to choose from.

After reading Marc's note, I wondered what opportunities and possibilities you have found online that were difficult or non-existent before you discovered the internet.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Close Encounters of the Baby Garter Snake Kind


Depression, Elders and the Internet

Throughout the decade-long history of this blog, I've written about the importance to elders of blogging and of the friendships that develop at a time in our lives when we have left behind the camaraderie of the workplace, when old friends and relatives move away or die, when our ability to easily get out and about may become compromised.

Of course, I don't mean just blogging. It's the internet in general – the places where we choose to hang out and interact with others. It can be blogs, the dozens of social media sites, special interest websites where we can find people with whom we share a passion.

Numbers of studies over these years show that the internet helps relieve loneliness and isolation and now, depression too. From a recent research report:

“Late-life depression affects between 5 and 10 million Americans age 50 and older. This new study shows that the Internet offers older Americans a chance to overcome the social and spatial boundaries that are believed to fuel depression...

"With other factors constant, the authors found that Internet users had an average predicted probability of depression of .07, whereas that probability for nonusers was .105. Based on the difference, Internet use led to a 33 percent reduction in the probability of depression."

Yes, yes, I know - chance, predicted, probability – the usual weasel words of scientific reports, particularly psychological ones.

We are no longer allowed to trust our own intuition and experience, and nothing is concrete until a pink neon sign repeatedly flashes the word “depression” (or whatever is being studied) on the screen during a brain fMRI.

Nevertheless, I accept the results of this study for all sorts of good reasons, the best one being what happened to me last week during the several days of the blog blackout that was the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on my blog host, Typepad.

All comments to this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place are sent to my email inbox and I have them color-coded to stand out from other email so it's easy for me to keep up with what you are all saying throughout the day.

Some of you have become friends with whom I email or speak on the phone and in some cases, we have met in person. There are others of you, regular commenters, whom I've not met in person or via email but have come to know astonishingly well through your comments alone.

Often, when I'm writing a post, I can (and do) predict to myself how some of you – email friends and not – will respond. “XX is going to hate this.” “YY will have a good story related to this.” “ZZ will make us all laugh about this.”

I've become so familiar with the habits of some regulars - frequency of comments or the time of day for example - that I smile when your comment arrives right on schedule and I fret a bit when you don't show up as expected, then issue a sigh a relief when you return.

So last week when the blogs were down and there were no comments, I found myself feeling lonely.

Even though a zillion of you emailed to ask if I was dead (well, you were too polite to say it outright but I can read between the lines), that's not the same as our daily conversation and I missed you.

What I've come to see is that among whatever else I do every day, I am grounded by this blog and most specifically by you who stop by to have your say.

Depending on the topic I laugh, I cry, I nod, I wonder sometimes what you've been smoking and as time goes by, I keep learning more about each of you, my blog friends.

Except that this all takes place in the ether of the internet, I no longer see how it's much different than if we all lived down the block from one another and hung out at each others' homes like our parents and grandparents did.

So during the big blog blackout it was as though my friends disappeared. Poof. And although I can't say I was depressed – after all, I did know the reason and that the problem would be fixed before too long - I missed having you around, missed your familiar voices.

I realize all those researchers have their jobs to do and they are important but I already knew from my own experience, confirmed by the blog blackout, that the internet is where some of our best friends are and they are as important to our mental and emotional well-being as exercise and healthy food.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Do You See Us?


ELDER MUSIC: 1950 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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 1950?

  • Stevie Wonder was born
  • First TV remote control was marketed
  • Diners Club issued credit cards for the first time
  • Rashomon was released
  • Essendon were premiers

The first time around for 1950 I had ANTON KARAS play the theme from that great film, The Third Man.

Anton Karas

Anton had more than one hit; admittedly, they were all from that film. Here is The Cafe Mozart Waltz. I can still picture the scene. Well, I've seen the film so many times that's not unusual.

♫ Anton Karas - The Cafe Mozart Waltz

We have quite a diverse lot of music today. To illustrate that, here's PERCY MAYFIELD.

Percy Mayfield

Percy was a major writer of blues and R&B songs. He was also a pretty good singer. Unfortunately, he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1952 that put paid to his performing.

He kept writing songs though. There is a great cover of Please Send Me Someone to Love by Fred Neil but this is Percy's version.

♫ Percy Mayfield - Please Send Me Someone To Love

TERESA BREWER started out singing pop and novelty songs. She later got serious and turned her voice to jazz.

Teresa Brewer

Speaking of banned records, which we did in these columns quite some time ago, several radio stations banned Music Music Music because they thought it was naughty. Can't see it myself, but then I can't figure out why any song is banned. Make up your own mind.

♫ Teresa Brewer - Music Music Music

I'm keeping the changes coming. Here's MUDDY WATERS.

Muddy Waters

Muddy's tune today is called Rolling Stone. This is the actual song after whom a rather successful musical combo was named. Brian was playing this record when a promoter asked for the name of the group. They didn't have one at that stage and -

♫ Muddy Waters - Rolling Stone

YVETTE GIRAUD's song may sound familiar to those of us who listened to music in the fifties.

Yvette Giraud

This is yet another example of a European, usually French, song given English lyrics. It actually started out as a Portuguese song – not surprising given its title. It then had French lyrics attached to the tune and later still, English ones. Probably other languages as well.

The version today is called Avril au Portugal which even folks who can't speak French can probably translate.

♫ Yvette Giraud - Avril au Portugal

Be My Love was written by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodzsky for the film The Toast of New Orleans. It was sung by Kathryn Grayson and MARIO LANZA. Kathryn and Mario sang some bits from opera in the film as well. David Niven, who was also in the film, didn't sing anything.

Mario Lanza

Mario then recorded a solo version (well, except for that choir warbling in the background).

♫ Mario Lanza - Be my Love

Here is the Queen of Rhythm & Blues, RUTH BROWN.

Ruth Brown

Ruth brought a bit of pop sensibility to R&B or maybe vice versa. The song Teardrops From My Eyes established Ruth as a performer in that genre and was on the charts for some considerable time. It was also the first tune that Atlantic records released as a 45 (remember them?).

Before this song, Ruth was considered a torch singer and she was initially reluctant to record it but was talked into it.

♫ Ruth Brown - Teardrops From My Eyes

I was surprised I hadn't included this next song in my column for this year the first time around. I'm glad I didn't as I can have it today. PATTI PAGE is the singer. Tennessee Waltz is the song.

Patti Page

Nothing else needs be said, except that that's Patti singing with herself – one of the earliest instances of double tracking.

♫ Patti Page - Tennessee Waltz

Here is a really smooth 12 bar blues. That's almost an oxymoron but in this case it seems to work. The singer is IVORY JOE HUNTER and he sings his own song, I Almost Lost My Mind.

Ivory Joe Hunter

It was later covered by that notorious coverer of R&B tunes, Pat Boone, who made the charts with his version. Not a patch on Joe's though.

As an aside, Joe might be the only person who performed at both the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Grand Ole Opry.

♫ Ivory Joe Hunter - I Almost Lost My Mind

I'll finish with another French song, another you might recognize. The singer is the famous actor YVES MONTAND.

Yves Montand

Yves sang the song Les Feuilles Mortes (The Dead Leaves) in the film Les Portes de la Nuit. Johnny Mercer later got hold of it and wrote English lyrics to it and called it Autumn Leaves.

♫ Yves Montand - Les Feuilles Mortes

You can find more music from 1950 here.

1951 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF - 26 April 2014


MARRIED 70 YEARS, THEY DIE A FEW HOURS APART

Imagine being married – to the same person - for 70 years. Some people don't even get to live that long. This is the sweetest story:

”A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

“Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, [Ohio], died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning...

“Although both experienced declining health in recent years, [their daughter] Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other. 'That's what kept them going,' she said.”

You can read more and see a photo of the Felumlees here.


IS A HOT SAUCE FACTORY A TOWN MENACE?

The Huy Fong Food company has been making Sriracha hot sauce in Irwindale, California for 32 years. But recently, some residents have complained and the city took action:

”Irwindale filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong last October saying the smell of peppers being crushed at the plant was causing headaches and irritating the eyes and throats of nearby residents, forcing some to remain indoors.”

Here's a report from a local TV station:

Sriracha is my favorite hot sauce. There's a half-used bottle sitting in the cupboard right now. You can read more about the dispute here.


ENTIRE BRITISH PATHE NEWSREELS NOW ONLINE

Your grandchildren won't but certainly you remember newsreels at the local movie theater when you were a kid. Now, British Pathe has released its entire library to YouTube for everyone to see and some of it is fascinatingly old.

This a series of London street scenes from the late 19th century:

Here is some footage of Nazi bombers attacking British ships in the English Channel in 1940. The footage was shot from the cliffs of Dover. The announcer's old-fashioned delivery brings back Saturday matinee memories for me.

The British Pathe channel at YouTube is here with what they say is 85,000 historical films.


TOP U.S. FINANCIAL WORRY

According to a recent Gallup poll, 59 percent of Americans list “not having enough money for retirement” as their top financial worry.

”A strong majority of Americans, particularly those aged 30 to 64, worry about having enough money for retirement, and this concern has regularly topped the list of Americans' top financial problems.”

The second spot on the worry chart is “not being able to pay medical costs in the event of serious illness or accident” - 53 percent.

You can read the entire story at Gallup.


DEER RESCUE

The YouTube page tell us:

”James saw a Facebook post about some deer stuck out on the ice in the middle of Albert Lea Lake, so he called up his dad and they broke out the hovercraft. It's a father son rescue mission unlike anything you've ever seen.”

Hat tip to Darlene Costner for the video.


WHERE JOBS GO

Darlene sent this video too – a nicely done animation about where American jobs have gone and how to get them back.

As Darlene noted in her email:

While I agree with this video, I want to ask where you can find things that are made in America anymore. If the product was constructed in America the parts were probably made in Bangladesh or Viet Nam or China or some other country.”

She's right you know and the only “Made in USA” article I could find in a quick search around the house was a travel water bottle. Darlene continues:

“The best way to stop this in my opinion is to tax the h--- out of those corporations who manufacture their clothing, appliances, etc. in another country - thus making it unprofitable for them to outsource jobs.”

PLAY BY PLAY COLONOSCOPY

My friend Chuck Nyren is a funny guy. He has been writing for HuffPost50 channel lately and he recently posted a play-by-play of – wait for it - his colonoscopy.

”On a stretcher and gussied up for gut-wrenching, I'm wheeled to the Endoscopy Suite. Nurses are all over the place, rummaging around. I'm told that I'll be half-awake during the procedure, probably in a state of bliss. It ends up more a state of 'I don't care!'

“I recognize the Doctor, had watched a few online videos of him on the hospital web site. Huge smile, white teeth blinding me. Maybe this is where that hackneyed phrase comes from, the one about a grin - no, I'll skip that gag.

“Off I float into the cerebral mush, they ask me to roll over on my side, and I feel something - but I don't care.”

All of Chuck's play-by-play is here and although it's fun to read, especially if you've been in his – um, position, it's also serious business and he includes a batch of good links for more information.


CLASSICAL MUSIC COMEDY TEAM

The translation at the YouTube page tells us:

”Hamburg-based classical quartet Salut Salon performs their signature comedic 'instrumental acrobatics' in the hilarious and impressive performance entitled Wettstreit zu viert.

At first, I was thinking, "hunh?" And then it got funnier and funnier. Stick with it. Hat tip to Nana Royer.


BRILLIANT BADGERS

TGB reader Alan Goldsmith sent this amazing video of a very smart honey badger.

The full program is available online for another three weeks or so but only to viewers in the U.K.


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.


The M Word

It was 31 years ago that my doctor “diagnosed” me (if that's the word” with menopause. I was shocked. I had never much thought about it and when I did, I sort of maybe guessed it happened to women in their sixties – not something I needed to know about yet.

But there it was and the doctor said it was not uncommon to begin menopause at 42, especially for women like me who had started menstruating later than average. I was 15.

We lived in different times three decades ago. Menopause was not something mentioned in public and seldom even among women – well, not the ones I knew who were mostly in their late thirties or early 40s and unlike me, not yet concerned with it. So I muddled through on my own. It took ten damned years to be finished.

There were night sweats that I thought were kind of amusing and I kept a big beach towel in bed with me to roll over onto when I soaked the sheets. I gave up wearing white altogether because periods became so erratic that they might gush at any moment, anytime, anywhere.

Daytime hot flashes forced me to give up wearing silk. As I've mentioned here in the past, my mother came up with a brilliant replacement solution.

She dyed pieces of lace to match the various colors of about ten lightweight sweatshirts and sewed the lace onto the front of the shirts – blue on blue, green on green, etc. I could wear them under suit jackets and they were subtly elegant enough for me not look more casual that was expected at work in those days.

I don't recall memory problems or crying jags and other kinds of emotional outbursts. I regarded menopause as not much more than a nuisance but from what I have heard over the years from friends when their body changes caught up with mine and from the more open discussions in the media in recent years, I got off easy.

Enter The M Word from writer/director Henry Jaglom. It's a movie. It's about menopause. It's funny. And oh my, it is real.

As with most of the few movies I feature on this blog, I intended to give it a short mention on Saturday's Interesting Stuff if I liked it. But I had so much fun, you're getting this full post.

Set in a struggling – one might say, truly awful – television station in Los Angeles, it opens as big guns arrive from network headquarters in New York apparently intent on cutting staff.

And so they try, except that Moxie, a kids' show actress at the station, leads the strike of dozens of the mostly female, mostly menopausal women on the staff who all refuse to leave when the firings are announced.

But that's just the framework on which Jaglom hangs what is a sort-of double documentary about the experience of menopause: one that Moxie talks the New York honchos into allowing her produce and the one that is this film.

Which is, of course, what Henry Jaglom has always done and does so well – documentaries without the deadly earnestness or, what “reality shows” would be if they were about reality.

Take a look at this trailer. I dare you not to empathize with these women and, probably, recognize yourself among them:

As you can see, this is not your average adolescent daydream of a film; there's not a slick special effect or comic book hero anywhere in sight. It's ragged at more than the edges - in the way Jaglom films are - that nicely mirrors the women's unsettled emotions. And there is even a poignant appeal from one of men about the idea of male menopause.

The M Word opens in Los Angeles and New York next Wednesday, 30 April with wider distribution to come. You can learn more about the movie here and I urge you to put it on your don't miss list. It's a load of fun and great to see the topic handled so well.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Gee Whiz


Dementia Fear

Back in the stone age when we were little kids, it was called senility. Probably, like me, you knew an elder or two – perhaps family or maybe a neighbor – who fit that bill.

Mostly, in my memory, they were just a little “off.” In one case, a neighbor was sometimes, but not always, confused about who he was or who I was. In another case, a friend's grandfather often lost his way while out walking and didn't recall where he lived.

Whoever found him – everyone in the neighborhood knew and understood his difficulty – walked him home and he seemed grateful for the help.

Without any facts whatsoever, all these years later I am guessing that anyone with less benign symptoms was kept at home or placed in an institution.

Nowadays, we call it dementia and too often use the name Alzheimer's disease as a synonym when, actually, it is the name of one kind of dementia; there are others. But for today's purposes that doesn't matter. We are talking about brain diseases that cause progressive loss of memory and cognitive ability.

Dementia is a terrifying thing to contemplate and it gets worse every time some well-meaning “expert” tells us that anyone who lives to be 85 has an almost 50/50 chance of becoming demented. Here are some other awful things they tell us:

A new case of dementia is diagnosed in the U.S. every four seconds

One-third of elder deaths are caused by dementia

Old age is a risk factor for dementia

Women are at greater risk for dementia than men

Lots of experts quote that last statistic but I question it. Women generally live longer than men so it could easily be that men, who might otherwise become afflicted with dementia, die before it happens to them and therefore both men and women are equally at risk.

All this along with the reports and research on the toll the disease takes on family caregivers makes dementia more terrifying than cancer – at least for me.

But frightened or not, I am always curious about it; I go out of my way to read books and new study results about it, and to see such movies about dementia as The Notebook, Away From Her, Amour, Robot and Frank, among them. There are more than you would think.

What none of those movies and research can tell us, however, is what dementia is like from the inside.

A few weeks ago, a simple little video game titled ALZ appeared online. Its creation is credited to a 21-year-old animator named Dylan Carter who writes at the game website that it is

”...an experimental short film in ever-so-slightly interactive of a format. Enjoy your walk. Interact with your surroundings. Or don’t. Have a forgotten, but hopefully not forgetful, experience.”

Nowhere can I find anything online to explain why Carter would know anything about the personal experience of dementia or even if it resembles what little is known about that experience. But is seems plausible to me.

Here is a screen grab of the opening scene:

ALZ Screen Grab

I can't embed the game so I'm sending you to the newgrounds game site where it lives. If, like me, you are only vaguely familiar with how to operate games online, here are some easy instructions (this won't be difficult for you):

  1. Click the word “play” when it appears
  2. Hold down the right arrow key to move the character forward. Or tap it to go more slowly
  3. When [space] appears in the upper left corner, hit the spacebar to read the internal commentary of the character. Do this more than once to see the several thoughts in each instance.

Before you click over, let me mention that the video game is beautiful in its own, little way. And it is unutterably sad too.

Here again is the link to the video page. When you're finished, come back here let us know what you think.

By the way, if you are so inclined (as I was) to look for this on YouTube, please do not. Some #$%^& jerk has posted it there with his own commentary on top of the music that completely ruins the creator's work and the viewer's personal experience of the game.

Big hat tip to Steve Garfield for letting me know about this video game.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Piano (and other Life) Lessons


Blog Blackout

Since Thursday 17 April, Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place have been offline. For the first day or two, the outages were intermittent and the two blogs were sometimes available. By Saturday or Sunday, nothing appeared when anyone visited the blogs except a notice of “unknown domain.”

This is due to a criminal and malicious DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on Typepad, the blog host I use. All Typepad blogs have been affected.

It is odd for a blog hosting business to be targeted for such a vicious take-down. Usually they are aimed at banks, credit card companies, other kinds of large businesses and they are common in online gaming.

Beyond that, if you are interested in technical details, you're on your own. I'm not going to do the work necessary to explain it.

When this happened, I was already on a personal hiatus from blogging, posting only small items to have a page each day on which to link to new stories at The Elder Storytelling Place. So before we get back to business as usual here, let's play catchup.

This page and the links below are being posted at both Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place so you can easily choose what you want to read from the blackout period. If some seem familiar, that's because the first two or three days of the attack resulted in only intermittent outages so some of you may have been able to read some of these.

Thank you for all your messages of concern via email while the two sites were down. I was able to respond to some of you but when the volume moved into dozens and then hundreds, I had to give up.

TIME GOES BY
Mental Health Day No. 5

Mental Health Day No. 4 – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Elder Music - Triskaidekaphilia

Interesting Stuff – 19 April 2014

Mental Health Day No. 3 - Hand Wave

THE ELDER STORYTELLING PLACE
Vladberry Pie by Steve Kemp

Water Witching Science and Voodoo in Bib Overalls by Dan Gogerty

Oh, No! Not Grandmom by Nancy Leitz

How to Make Your Own Luck by Clifford Rothband

If Typepad has been able to lock down everything in normal mode, regularly scheduled blog posts will resume tomorrow. If there are additional outages, please be patient. This was a horrendous attack.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Riding the Rails to Mexico


Mental Health Day 5

Tom Delmore of crowsperch sent this little image.

I think that for almost everyone it takes a lifetime to not only understand that what others think of us doesn't matter but to learn the greater truth, how you see yourself is everything.

Or, it is entirely possible that I am speaking only for myself and the rest of you are way ahead on this issue.

HowOtherSeeYou


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp: Vladberry Pie


Mental Health Day No. 4 - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

[EDITORIAL NOTE: For the past two days, this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place have been unavailable for long periods of time due to a denial of service attack at the host. It is being worked on. Such is the way of internet these days.


Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez died last week at age 87. More important than his Nobel and other prizes, I believe, is that he was beloved by uncounted numbers of readers. For good reasons.

I was amazed to find out that One Hundred Years of Solitude has sold more than 30 million copies.

A long-time friend emailed about the master storyteller and included this excerpt from another of Marquez's novels, Love in the Time of Cholera:

“Contrary to what the Captain and Zenaida supposed, they no longer felt like newlyweds, and even less like belated lovers. It was as if they had leapt over the arduous calvary of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love.

"They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion; beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.”

All elders should know this passage.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Water Witchings, Science and Voodoo in Bib Overalls


ELDER MUSIC: Triskaidekaphilia

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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.


Or Triskaidekaphobia, take your pick.

I'm always amused by the number of buildings in the United States that lack a 13th floor (although the sensible Empire State Building is an exception I know of). Do the owners think that they'll get attacked by the boogie man or some such?

Thirteen is a rather ordinary number but it does have some interest. It's a prime for a start, one of an infinite number of those and there's an elegant proof of that statement that I won't bore you with today.

It's also one of a prime pair, sharing that with eleven. That is two primes separated by two. There is a conjecture that there is an infinite number of prime pairs as well but that hasn't been proved yet.

I'm not investigating it; I'm writing these music columns instead. Besides, maths research is a young person's game. Thirteen is also a part of the Fibonacci series. I'd better stop here before you all fall asleep.

It's not all 13 today because for the first time I did this the wrong way round. Normally, I collect the music and then write about it. This time I started writing, assuming I'd have enough to play, and found only four "thirteen" tracks and one of those I rejected as not good enough to include.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and a bit of a mathematician herself, suggested I use prime numbers. After all, I'd already been rabbiting on about them. So it shall be.

The first two thirteen songs I'm including probably came out about the same time, but they couldn't be more different. Leading off we have CHUCK BERRY.

Chuck Berry

Chuck's song sounds quite atypical of his usual style. It's as if it came from the Caribbean islands or a sea cruise around them or some such. It is Thirteen Question Method.

♫ Chuck Berry - Thirteen Question Method

Next up is JULIE LONDON.

Julie London

Julie is always welcome around these parts. This is from an album she recorded with a song for each month of the year, plus an extra one - this one in fact, The Thirteenth Month.

♫ Julie London - The Thirteenth Month

This is a much later thirteen song but by someone who was performing around the same time as Chuck and Julie and that person is JOHNNY CASH.

Johnny Cash

The song is from one of the series of albums Johnny made towards the end of his life with producer Rick Rubin. When all the other record companies had gone on to other glitzier, trivial stuff, Rick contacted Johnny and suggested he record him, usually with the simplest of backing.

Those of us who like good music can only applaud this. Even at the very end when Johnny's voice is gone, there's still power and dignity present. Johnny's song is just called Thirteen.

♫ Johnny Cash - Thirteen

Well, that's put paid to thirteen - now on to the other primes.

Here are a couple of seventeen songs, followed by a nineteen. Those two are another example of paired primes. First up is MARTY ROBBINS.

Marty Robbins

Marty's song was from fairly early in his career when he was trying to appeal to the teenagers. The song is She Was Only Seventeen.

♫ Marty Robbins - She Was Only Seventeen

The second seventeen is by THE CRYSTALS.

The Crystals

The song, What A Nice Way To Turn Seventeen, was taken from their first album and their second album. After the success of the song, He's a Rebel, the Crystals' producer, the notorious Phil Spector, put out the same album again with that song and another in place of two on the original.

The song today wasn't the best song The Crystals ever did but it was far from the worst – that would be He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss).

♫ The Crystals - What A Nice Way To Turn Seventeen

At least the age is increasing, up to nineteen now with MUDDY WATERS.

Muddy Waters

The song, She's Nineteen Years Old came from 1958 when Muddy ruled the roost when it came to Chicago blues.

♫ Muddy Waters - She's Nineteen Years Old

Seven and eleven are often associated together; I assume it's the influence of crap shooting. The next two songs have both seven and eleven in their titles so you get two for the price of one (or four for the price of two, technically).

It's been said (by the A.M. certainly) that all guitar music of the twentieth century comes from CHARLIE CHRISTIAN.

Charlie Christian

I like to throw T-Bone Walker in the mix as well. On the track, Seven Come Eleven, you have the added bonus of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Fletcher Henderson.

The tune has a nice loose feel, not usually associated with anything to do with Benny.

♫ Charlie Christian - Seven Come Eleven

Here's something quite different from the rest of music today. I give you AKI TAKASE.

Aki Takase

Aki is a Japanese jazz pianist and composer. These days she lives in Berlin with her German husband but tours all over the place. Here is Seven Eleven, a bit of reversion to big band sound. Well, sort of.

♫ Aki Takase - Seven Eleven

Now some seven on its own. There are lots of seven songs and I've selected two of them. The first is by GEORGIA GIBBS.

Georgia Gibbs

Seven Lonely Days has been recorded by many people, probably the pick of them is the one by Patsy Cline. However, Georgia's version isn't too far behind and that's the one I've included.

♫ Georgia Gibbs - Seven Lonely Days

CHARLES BROWN first made a name for himself musically in Los Angeles where a smoother style of blues singing was in vogue influenced, no doubt, by Nat King Cole.

Charles Brown

Charles was probably the smoothest of the lot and a fine pianist as well, very similar to Nat in fact. His seven song is Seven Long Days.

♫ Charles Brown - Seven Long Days

Finally an eleventh song and it's about eleven.

JESSE WINCHESTER hasn't included the song Eleven Roses on any of his albums.

Jesse Winchester

He sang it here in Victoria when he visited some time ago. Parts of his appearances were recorded and released as a CD for 50 very lucky people. I was one of them and I'd like to share it with you.

We've just heard that Jesse died last week.

♫ Jesse Winchester - Eleven Roses


INTERESTING STUFF - 19 April 2014


TWO GRANDMOTHERS FIRST AIRPLANE FLIGHT

Just about every TGB reader has sent this or shorter versions of it. Here's the whole thing.


ELDERS VOLUNTEER WITH FOSTER KIDS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Tom Delmore of crowsperch sent this story from PBS about a special housing project for foster children and low-income elders that is working out nicely for both groups. You can read a transcript of the video here.


SOUNDS OF SILENCE/GROUNDS FOR VIOLENCE

There are parts of North America (and the rest of the northern hemisphere for all I know) where winter, this year, refuses to end. Bev Carney sent his parody of the Simon and Garfunkel classic. The YouTube page tells us

”Bartley Kives captures the sullen attitude of Winnipeggers towards the neverending winter,”


GORGEOUS ALBERTA

Let's stick with Canada for one more item. Darlene Costner sent this advertisement from Travel Alberta – shot, mostly, not in winter.


WE NEED MORE OF THIS IN THE WORLD

TGB reader Suz sent this video from a Thai insurance company. What if we all behaved this way all the time.


FOUR GIRL CHAIR TRICK

This is so silly and so much fun. I need three more people so I can try it. Oh, wait - it takes five people to do this.


CHATASTROPHE WEB SERIES

Ken signs up for Frenchat.com thinking he's going to improve his language skills, but when his foreign exchange teacher Guy arrives, he's – well, take a look for yourself.

This is the second episode. Episode 1 is here and it's all for a good cause, produced by a cat adoption agency.


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.


Mental Health Day No. 2

What an interesting and fruitful discussion we had on Tuesday on the post about retirement living preferences. If you haven't read the comments, you should. You will be enlightened.

Elizabeth left a comment that may or may not have been in jest:

”Rather than an eventual move to a nursing home or other type of care facility, I am thinking of a cruise ship where care is apparently available. When I die, just throw me overboard!”

A lighthearted discourse on cruise ship retirement has been published here twice in the past, most recently here. Go read it, you'll enjoy.

The cruise ship suggestion, I believe, is a sequel to an internet original, Let's Retire to the Hilton which has also been published here in the past. Since I am still on mental health leave, I am reposting it today for your pleasure.

It's quite old and prices involved seem to be outdated but just adjust the numbers in your head and don't let it impinge on your enjoyment and amusement. Here it is:

No nursing home for me! I'm checking into the Hilton Inn. With the average cost for a nursing home per day reaching $188.00, there is a better way when we get old and feeble. I have already checked on reservations at the Hilton. For a combined long-term stay discount and senior discount, it is $49.23 per night. That leaves $138.77 a day for:

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in any restaurant I want, or room service

Laundry, gratuities, and special TV movies

Plus, they provide a swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge, washer, dryer, etc. Most have free toothpaste and razors and all have free shampoo and soap. They treat you like a customer, not a patient. $5.00 worth of tips a day will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.

There is a city bus stop out front and seniors ride free. The handicap bus will also pick you up (if you fake a reasonably good limp).

To meet other nice people, call a church bus on Sundays. For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there. While you're at the airport, fly somewhere. Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.

It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Hilton will take your reservation today. And you are not stuck in one place forever. You can move from Hilton to Hilton, or even from city to city. Want to see Hawaii? They have a Hilton there, too - the wonderful Hilton Hawaiian Village and Spa.

TV broken? Light bulbs need changing? Need a mattress replaced? No problem. They fix everything and apologize for the inconvenience.

The Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks if you are okay. If not, they will call the undertaker or an ambulance. If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip and Hilton will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.

And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you at the Inn and will probably check in for a few days' mini-vacation. The grandkids can use the pool.

What more can you ask for?

So, when I reach the golden age, I'll face it with a grin. Just forward all my email to the Hilton Inn.

Ronni here again. According to one of the emails I received years ago with this retirement idea, there was an addendum. Here it is:

Upon telling this story at a dinner with friends and too much red wine, we came up with even more benefits the Hilton provides to retirees:

Most standard rooms have coffeemakers, easy chairs with ottomans, and satellite TV - all you need to enjoy a cozy afternoon.

After a movie and a good nap, you can check on your children (free local phone calls), then take a stroll to the lounge or restaurant where you meet new and exotic people every day. Many Hiltons even feature live entertainment on the weekends.

Often they have special offers, too, like the Kids Eat Free Program. You can invite your grandkids over after school to have a free dinner with you. Just tell them not to bring more than three friends.

If you want to travel, but are a bit skittish about unfamiliar surroundings, in a Hilton you'll always feel at home because wherever you go, the rooms all look the same.

And if you're getting a little absent-minded in your old days, you never have to worry about not finding your room. Your electronic key fits only one door and the helpful bellman or desk clerk is on duty 24/7.

I told Stephen Bollenback, CEO of Hilton this story. I'm happy to report that he was positively ecstatic at the idea of us checking in for a year or more at one of their hotels. Stephen said we could have easily knocked them down to $40 a night.

See you at the Hilton. And not just for a "Bounce Back Weekend," but for the rest of our lives.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: How to Make Your Own Luck


Mental Health Day No. 1

Do you ever just feel like throwing it all in for awhile? Don't get me wrong. I like doing this blog. A lot. Although at minimum it gives me a reason to get out of bed every day, that is the least of it.

Until 17 or 18 years ago, I never much thought about my age. Then came that day I realized I was old enough to be most of my colleagues' grandmother. Not even mother; grandmother. And then I got fascinated with what aging is all about.

It still interests me. We – scientists, the medical world, sociologists, psychologists, writers, thinkers, poets, etc. - don't know anywhere near as much about elders as we do children, teens and adults so there is a constant stream of new information to learn from – at least provisionally until further study comes along to support or refute new findings.

That's on the macro level. On the micro level, it interests (and amuses) me to watch my own aging – physically, cognitively, emotionally – and it is my good fortune to have so many who seem to want to read my meanderings about all this aging stuff.

Which reminds me - I don't tell you frequently enough, dear readers, how much I appreciate you every day. For your support, input, kindness and interest – among other attributes you have.

The first thing I do every day is check the computer to see what you've had to say overnight. It is as embedded nowadays in my morning routine as feeding the cat and starting the coffee. On the rare occasion the internet is down, I am at a loss.

But now and then, I need to stop. I feel brain dead. I'm behind in simple living – you know, wandering around without having something nagging at me that I need to do.

Hmmph. That's a lot of something to tell you I have nothing to say and that it might go on for a few days.

There will still be a word or two here each day (rerun? poem? a wave of the hand?) so that there is a page on which to link to The Elder Storytelling Place. I'll be back in full form when it feels right.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Browning: Another Way


What is Your Retirement Housing Preference?

UPDATE AT ABOUT 10AM PACIFIC TIME: This is the most interesting thread I've read here in a long time. I'm fascinated by all the different choices, reasons and the thoughtfulness you are putting into this. Please keep the comments coming. We all can learn a lot from one another on this topic.


Last week we discussed location choices and the finances of retirement living. It was interesting to read how many who commented left an impression that elders and boomers coming up on retirement soon are all doing fine financially.

Today, let's talk about the type of housing we are interested in for our retirement.

Although I can't prove it, it is my sense that a large number of our parents and grandparents worked hard to pay off the mortgages on the homes where they raised their children and, barring the need for full-time care, stayed there until they died.

Some may have moved to Florida, Arizona or their personal equivalent but there were not a lot of retirement living choices beyond Sun City-type, 55-plus communities. Today there are many more.

In fact, there are so many that I can't possibly cover them all here so let's go with the most common new kind of choices that do not involve the need for caregiving.

NORCs: These are neighborhoods most commonly of condominiums or single family homes that, unplanned, hold a significantly high number of retired people.

Cohousing: Communities that are planned, shared and owned by the residents that may include common facilities like kitchen, dining room, child care, laundry, offices, etc. They are usually multi-generational with common interests, often involving environmentally sustainable living.

Age-Restricted Communities are usually segregated by age: 50-plus, 55-plus, 60-plus are the most common. Sometimes children – grandchildren, for example - may visit for only a limited number of days per year.

Active Adult Communities: These, too, are usually age restricted to 50-plus, etc. of privately owned homes and/or condominiums that also provide recreational facilities such as golf courses, gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools, etc.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities: CCRCs for short are a hybrid idea for life-long living. Residents can move from independent living in apartments or individual homes to assisted living to nursing care as needed.

Shared Housing is a growing phenomenon of two or more unrelated retired people living together in a single family home. Think Golden Girl although there is an uptick recently in elders who own their homes taking in college students or unemployed who can't otherwise afford housing on their own. New matchmaking services that include background checks are helping like-minded people connect.

Common Identity Communities: Quite new are retirement communities with people who share an interest or identity: LGBT elders, musicians, unions members, a specific religious faith, etc.

RV-ers: Speaking of common identity communities, a couple of TGB readers have commented in the past that when they need a respite from travel, there is a specific community of RVers to which they return to live until the next time they head out. (Please do enlighten us further, RV-ers.)

The Village Movement: I've written about how I am working with a group of people in my town to start a Village – a group of people living independently in their homes who band together to provide the services they and one another need help with as they grow older.

These are only some of the possibilities. Personally, had I not been forced out of New York City, I would have stayed in my Greenwich Village apartment until I die (or need full-time care). Maybe I would have attempted to create a Village in my part of Greenwich Village.

As it turned out, I chose a medium-sized condominium community that, unbeknownst to me when I bought, is a NORC. The most planning I did was for affordability (e.g. condo to share big costs rather than a single-family home) and continued ease of living as the normal declines of old age increase in coming years (e.g. no stairs).

If I were doing it now, I suspect I would choose differently but I am not uncomfortable here and I have little patience for regret. I am fine where I am.

Now, what about you? I am curious how others approach retirement living arrangements, and the reasons are probably as varied as individuals themselves.

How did – or will – you choose how to live in your retirement? Does it come easily? How much did you or have you planned? How has it worked out so far?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: No Blue Hair, Please


Crabby Old Lady and the Old Gray Lady

(For those who may not know, “The Old Gray Lady” is a nickname of The New York Times.)

For the past few years at that newspaper there has been a blog titled The New Old Age where almost exclusively the posts deal with decline, disease, disability and caregiving of elders.

If The New Old Age was all you knew about old people, you would be forced to conclude that old age – at least, the new kind The Times has staked out for itself - is nothing but misery, and Crabby has whinged about this stereotyping in the past.

In keeping with the paper's negative view of aging, a few days ago there appeared an essay titled, What, Me Old? that is an unrelenting complaint about strangers assuming the writer is older than she believes she appears.

”In the space of a day, three people offered me their seats on buses. I remember doing that when I last lived here in New York, three decades ago. But when I gave my seat away back then, it was to old ladies...

“The next day, three residents of my building raced past me to hold open the heavy front doors. 'What's their problem?' I thought. I mean, I go in and out, without assistance, many times a day...

“Then, not two hours later, I went shopping at the grocery store, seven blocks from home. As I was leaving with three bags of groceries, the 20-something at the checkout counter asked if I wanted a cab. I huffed out and carried my bags home. My shoulders are just fine.”

"Huffed out" of the store? Since when is kindness a cause for taking offense?

The writer of this story is 66-year-old Jane Gross, a long-time reporter at The New York Times. She is one of the few blog regulars who does not entirely toe the age-defeatist editorial line of the blog.

Two recent examples worth reading are Conversation with the Dead and Finally Taking Her Own Advice to Downsize.

On those two stories alone, Crabby expects better of Ms. Gross Instead, we find that like too many others in the final third of life she not only denies her age, she is aggrieved when others don't share her willful blindness of it.

Worse, she is a jerk about it. “Huffed out” of the store? Don't think that 20-something, who was being polite, respectful and kind, didn't notice. No wonder there are too many nasty “get off my lawn” jokes about old people.

Contrary to the position of Jane Gross in particular and The Old Gray Lady in general, there is nothing wrong with getting old. Crabby Old Lady is both disappointed in and ashamed of them both.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: The Panhandler


ELDER MUSIC: 1949

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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 1949?

  • Bonnie Raitt was born
  • Death of a Salesman opened; it ran for years
  • Hopalong Cassidy began on TV, the first TV western
  • J. Edgar Hoover gave Shirley Temple a tear gas fountain pen. Hunh?
  • The best film ever made, The Third Man, was released
  • America won the Davis Cup
  • Essendon were premiers

Although, as we've seen and heard in previous years, songs that could be called rock & roll were around earlier, this next one by FATS DOMINO is often credited with being the first.

Fats Domino

It's The Fat Man, the first of many, many hits for Fats.

♫ Fats Domino - The Fat Man

Here is VAUGHN MONROE with his most famous song.

Vaughn Monroe

Or maybe the most famous of his is They Call the Wind Mariah. It could be either one as far as I'm concerned.

The song we're interested in today is Ghost Riders in the Sky. Burl Ives was actually the first to record the song but Vaughn wasn't far behind.

♫ Vaughn Monroe - Riders in the Sky

ROY BROWN was one of the foremost exponents of jump blues.

Roy Brown

His vocal style was influential as well; Jackie Wilson listened closely to him. James Brown and Little Richard probably lent an ear as well.

The song Miss Fanny Brown is rather unusual. Fanny's an older woman, not a girl of seventeen as is often (too often, probably) the case in these songs.

♫ Roy Brown - Miss Fanny Brown

Bill Haley obviously listened closely to JIMMY PRESTON.

Jimmy Preston

I know that because he covered this song and pretty much pinched the arrangement. Jimmy was a sax player as well as a singer, although the wailing on this track wasn't his. It belonged to Danny Turner.

Okay everyone, let's Rock This Joint.

♫ Jimmy Preston - Rock This Joint

It's not all jump blues and rock & roll this year. Here is EZIO PINZA.

Ezio Pinza

Ezio was an Italian opera singer. He sang bass. Outside of opera, he's best known for playing Emil de Becque in Rodgers and Hammerstein's “South Pacific" on Broadway. He wasn't in the film because he died the previous year.

Here is Some Enchanted Evening.

♫ Ezio Pinza - Some Enchanted Evening

Back to the rocking with WYNONIE HARRIS, another great jump blues musician.

Wynonie Harris

All She Wants to Do is Rock was the most successful song of Wynonie's career. I notice in the song she hucklebucks as well. That's yet another euphemism that's gone into the language to mean something different, just like rock & roll.

♫ Wynonie Harris - All She Wants To Do Is Rock

Okay, that's it for the rocking for this year. MEL TORMÉ is the antithesis of that style of music.

Mel Torme

I don't know about all that hand clapping throughout the song, but the Velvet Fog gives us another great performance with Careless Hands. This has been covered by such diverse performers as Bing Crosby, Dottie West and Jerry Lee Lewis. A good song will work in any milieu.

♫ Mel Torme - Careless Hands

Black Coffee was recorded first by SARAH VAUGHAN.

Sarah Vaughan

She wasn't the last – Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and scads of lesser singers have had a go at it. It's a fine, mellow song until that blast of brass in the middle woke me up. I could have done without that.

♫ Sarah Vaughan - Black Coffee

Both Sarah and CHARLES BROWN are favorites of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist.

Charles Brown

Charles had classical training on the piano and he also earned a degree in chemistry that he put to good use for a while. He later lit out to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, initially with Johnny Moore's group and then with his own trio. Trouble Blues was a hit for him.

♫ Charles Brown - Trouble Blues

FRANKIE LAINE enters the picture. Well, our picture; he'd been around for a few years by 1949.

Frankie Laine

Get out your stock whips so you can sing and crack along to Mule Train. Frankie's version was the first recorded, pipping Bing Crosby by a couple of weeks. I think Frankie makes a more authentic mule driver than Bing.

♫ Frankie Laine - Mule Train

1950 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 12 April 2014


FORD MUSTANG 50TH ANNIVERSARY

One of the many terrific things about living in Manhattan is that there is no need to own a car, a possession I find annoying in the extreme. It always wants something – gas, tires, washing, tags, insurance – not to mention that it is unwieldy and expensive.

(I believed we would have the Star Trek transporter by now and I'm deeply disappointed that we don't.)

But when I got married in 1965, we bought one of the first then-new Ford Mustangs in a gorgeous deep green color. It is one of the best looking car designs in the history of automobiles and I cannot imagine why we got rid of it.

But here, on the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, is a video from a man who kept his 1964 Mustang all these years and he's still driving it.


HAPPY COWS

Cows are big, lumbering lumps of animal flesh who never have seemed to me to have much personality. Now, thanks to TGB reader Jan Cooper, we have a glimpse of what they can be like when they are filled with joy.

And it's also a nice story about people who care for these cows.


BLACK DEATH NOT CAUSED BY RATS?

The black death that killed a third or more of the British and European population in the 14th century was caused by infected rat fleas biting humans. That's what they've always told us. But now some researchers believe they have a different cause:

”...for any plague to spread at such a pace it must have got into the lungs of victims who were malnourished and then been spread by coughs and sneezes. It was therefore a pneumonic plague rather than a bubonic plague.

“'As an explanation [rat fleas] for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn't good enough. It cannot spread fast enough from one household to the next to cause the huge number of cases that we saw during the Black Death epidemics, said Dr Tim Brook.”

If this proves true, there will be a lot of textbooks to change. You can read more about this potential historical reversal in The Guardian.


NICHOLAS BROTHERS – BEST TAP DANCE EVER?

According to the YouTube page for this video, Fred Astaire himself said it is the best dance number ever filmed.

Whether everyone agrees or not is beside the point. It is from the 1943 movie, Stormy Weather and and it is fantastic. That's Cab Calloway doing the lead-in song.


ACTOR KEVIN SPACEY ON THE BOSTON BOMBING

Tuesday 15 April is the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. A few weeks ago, Kevin Spacey told David Letterman about visiting recovering bombing victims and what puppies have to do with that.


WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU DIE

Now don't go thinking this is icky or scary or something you'd rather not know. It a really interesting animation about literal dust to dust from Scientific American.


HOW TO BE A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER

I found that Scientific American video because TGB reader Chic Barna sent a link to another story from that magazine: “How to be a better son or daughter.”

Usually, articles with such titles are a bunch pop psychology hooey but this one caught my attention for its ring-true simplicity. Just four smart, little rules we all should know but sometimes we need to be told:

Have a happy life
Accept help
Don't tell them what to do
Have patience

Now go read the short explanations that go with each rule. You'll be glad you now know these things. There are other places to apply them besides with parents.


HOW WEIGHT LOSS HAPPENS

You probably know all this. I do. But it is a good refresher course of facts to help explain to people who think they will lose 30 pounds in two weeks if they eat nothing but pineapple.


SIMON'S CAT – CRAZY TIME

Just when I think Simon's Cat has lost his touch a good one comes along. Hat tip to Bev Carney.


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.


Retirement Living Reality Check

In March, Better Home and Gardens Real Estate released a new survey about where baby boomers intend to retire that is getting some media attention. The big surprise, they say, is that the boomer generation does not want to live in Sun City and its equivalents.

Surprise? A zillion surveys over recent years have already told us that and in this one, only 27 percent say they will choose 55-plus retirement communities.

Here are some other highlights:

57 percent will leave the homes they now live in and

72 percent of those will remain in the state where they now live

39 percent want to move to a rural community such as a farm or small town

26 percent are aiming for an urban, metropolitan environment

Survey results on at least one question confirm the baby boomer reputation (deserved or not) for self-centeredness:

”...83 percent – do not expect family to move into their home in the future, indicating that any 'house guests' will be temporary.”

Those guests include both parents and grown children – no granny flats for this generation.

Of those wanting to move to a new home, 69 percent are willing to upgrade or renovate to fit the home to their needs but most of all they want low-maintenance homes. (Who doesn't?)

25 percent intend to buy a second home for retirement.

Really? All of this seems wildly optimistic to me - on the part of the boomer respondents themselves and the real estate industry promoting the survey results to their constituency. Median savings of the boomer generation is about $120,000. That won't go far.

The survey doesn't really tell us anything about boomers overall and here's why: it was conducted with 1000 respondents age 49 to 67 who were self-selected by answering an email inquiry. And, it's designed for people in the real estate industry who want to build and renovate homes for old people.

So we have an impossibly rosy picture of those 77 million boomers living it up in pricey, big-city condos or on rural gentleman farms with leisurely weeks at their second homes at the shore or in the mountains.

What are these folks smoking? 2008 changed everything. Millions of boomers were forced into early retirement or are working at much lower salaries than before the crash or they have lost their homes to foreclosure (illegally or not) or are struggling with underwater mortgages or all of the above. (No one talks about this stuff anymore but it is still real.)

As a Businessweek story noted:

”Boomers lost more than other groups in the stock market and housing bust of 2008, and in the aftermath many also lost their jobs at a critical point in their productive years.”

So I thought that today, we might get some real retirement information from people who have actual experience at it – those of us, usually a bit older than boomers, who have lived through the retirement transition – a lot of whom, even though not boomers, live with the effects of 2008.

A couple things that occur to me:

Except for the wealthy, buying a second home is out of the question.

Every elder fears losing the privilege of driving but it happens and it's good to live in a city, town or neighborhood that is walkable and has good public transportation. Farms do not meet those criteria.

I doubt that as many as in the survey will find it possible to sell their homes in the near future and will need to adjust their attitude about remaining where they are now.

All of us, young people starting out, mid-life earners, boomers facing retirement and those of us already retired - live in a post-2008 world that is not as affluent as this silly survey implies.

It is a much more serious world for the 99 percent now with fewer choices that must be made more carefully than in the past.

What, for you who are already retired, is the reality you would want people soon to retire to know about life in retirement? Did you need to adjust your expectations? If so how? What's working for you and what is not?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Sondra Terry: The Giving of a Tallis