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INTERESTING STUFF – 31 May 2014


OLD PEOPLE CAN BE SO UNEXPECTEDLY COOL SOMETIMES

This elder Italian joins some kids in a game of street soccer and shows some serious moves. Take a look:

Huffpost has a some more information.


U.S. LEADS THE WORLD IN OBESITY

Although a whopping one-third of the global population is fat according to a 33-year study reported in The Lancet this week.

In its summary of the study, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) notes:

”An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight.

“These are also major challenges for America’s children – nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19% in 1980.

“When looking at obesity alone, there are more obese adults living in America today – 78 million – than in any other country in the world. China follows at a distant second with 46 million obese and India with 30 million – countries which together represent 15% of the world’s obese population.

“Approximately one-third of American men (32%) and women (34%) were obese in 2013 compared with about 4% of Chinese and Indian adults.”

Infographicoverweight

Full infographic is here.


GENERAL JERUZELSKI DIES AT AGE 90

You are to be forgiven if you don't know that Wojciech Jaruzelski was the last Communist leader of Poland, the man who declared martial law in 1981 and sent tanks to crush the Solidarity movement there.

I might not know him except that in 1985, when he lifted martial law (well, only sort of but it's a long story), I produced an interview in Warsaw with him and Barbara Walters for the ABC News program 20/20.

And none of that matters to us today except that his death is an excuse for me to publish a photo of me with the general. He is the only person who ever kissed my hand not in jest:

Jerzelski and Ronni

The photographer shot this when we were first introduced. I had no idea how to behave in the circumstance, how to hold my hand, what my response should be. If I embarrassed myself, no one told me and I appreciate that.


GOOGLE'S LATEST DRIVERLESS CAR

I've been closely following the development of Google's driverless car eagerly anticipating how important it will be to elders. Here is a video with the latest release:

You can read more at Time and see Google's story about the car at their official blog.


ELIZABETH WARREN IN PORTLAND

Last Wednesday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, populist hero and hope for the future to many of us on the left-leaning side of politics, made a speaking and fundraising appearance in my town, Portland, Oregon.

During the two weeks leading up to her visit, as a card-carrying leftie I was bombarded with email to attend her speech. I would kvell to watch Ms. Warren in person, but the minimum ticket price - $100 – was unconscionably high for ordinary people.

I understand the need to raise money but if I were running these things, I would arrange at least a short public appearance (remember whistle stops – actual ones on the back of trains - in the olden days?) in addition to paid speeches.


THE GREAT FLYDINI

Speaking of the olden days, here is a 33-year-old video of Steve Martin as the Great Flydini. So funny. Thank Darlene Costner for this and by the way, on Thursday she celebrated a big-deal birthday - number 89.


3D PRINTED CAST

It is still in prototype but it looks to me like this new kind of cast for broken bones is a real advancement and seems to me that it will really work:

3Dprintedcast

”Combine this cast with the accompanying low-intensity, pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) bone stimulator system (shown above) and, according to Karasahin: “'For single 20 minute daily sessions this system promises to reduce the healing process up to 38% and increase the heal rate up to 80% in non-union fractures.'”

Read more details at Techcrunch.


TEENY TINY W.T.F. BUGS

With no apologies for the colorful headline, I am baffled by these itty bitty link bugs appearing on websites in the past year:

WTFbugs

Sometimes there is a name when you roll over each one with your mouse: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc. but the vast majority have no title on rollover. If you look very closely, there are miniscule letters and numbers in those tiny boxes but they have no apparent meaning.

So how is this better than the colorful little icons we are accustomed to? How is anyone supposed to know what they are? And what is the point of such extremely obscure iconography?


DON'T MESS WITH OLD PEOPLE STORY

Come on, now. You know you love them – the don't f**k with old people stories even if they are all variations on the same theme. Here's a good one from Darlene:

George Phillips, an elderly man, from Meridian, Mississippi, was going up to bed, when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed which she could see from the bedroom window.

George opened the back door to go turn off the light but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked, "Is someone in your house?"

He said, "No," but some people are breaking into my garden shed and stealing from me.

Then the police dispatcher said, "All patrols are busy. You should lock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available."

George said, "Okay."

He hung up the phone and counted to 30. Then he phoned the police again.

"Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot and killed them both. The dogs are eating them right now," and he hung up.

Within five minutes, six police cars, a SWAT Team, a helicopter, two fire trucks, a paramedic, and an ambulance showed up at the Phillips' residence and caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the policemen said to George, "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

The moral of the story is, of course, don't mess with old people.

Ronni here again: The email states it is a true story. I would like to think so but Snopes debunks it and even provides a warning about lying to 911 operators. They do, however, provide a couple of similar stories that are real.


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.


Rewind the Week – 30 May 2014

Yesterday I gave you an update on the development of Three Rivers Village. Working on that project is taking more of my time now and the need is growing.

With that, I have been struggling to figure out how to better apportion my time – for the Village, to keep up this blog and also get my bottom out of this desk chair now and then.

Today's post is an experiment in that direction.

As you can see above, it is titled Rewind the Week. What I intend to do is scour comments from the previous six or seven days and re-publish some that I think are compelling, provocative, informative, stand out in some other manner or seem to be worth more conversation by us.

Of course, the writers quoted will be credited. It's important to know who's saying what.

Some weeks, there might be only one strong idea. Other weeks there may be several. Some serious, others not so much. I don't know yet; I'm making this up as I go along.

If I can do this well, I hope to inspire and encourage further thought and new ideas among us while giving me a way to publish something new that doesn't take much research, brain power and, particularly, time on my part.

As I said, it is an experiment and even if we all like it, it may not appear every week. Or maybe it will. For now, let's see how it goes.


There was a lot of strong, angry, even enraged response from you to the Not One More post about the shootings last week in Isla Vista. For that reason and the fact that the media has already lost interest, it is worth our further attention.

Not a few readers are discouraged, tired of writing Washington about serious issues that are never addressed:

“I also contacted them shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings and you see what good that did,” wrote Nancy Leitz. “But, I will keep trying and will not get discouraged until they GET RID OF GUNS!”
“I will add my cards to this effort,” said Cathy Johnson, “though I am not particularly optimistic about the effects.”

Darlene feels similarly:

“Although I am discouraged, I think we have no recourse but to fight back with our limited weapons. So proclaim 'NOT ONE MORE' to one and all.”

Those three women and the rest of us who are dispirited by lack of leadership in Congress are, of course, correct that it appears no one listens to the citizenry. Most particularly, no one with the power to change gun policy pays attention.

Here is graphic of The Columbine Effect from the knowyourmeme website that perfectly depicts the life cycle of the gun debate (larger, more readable image at the website):

ColumbineEffect370

Too true, too true.

This comment from Priscilla was echoed by several others whose Congressional representatives appear to follow her senator's lead in their disinterest in guns and crime:

“As a Florida resident, possible 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio is my U.S. Senator. Unlike my other representatives including the White House, neither 'gun control,' 'firearms' nor 'crime' are among the listed topics on his online email form. The closest was 'social issues' or perhaps 'other.' Telling.”

And, I had no idea there are a bunch of revolutionaries reading this blog. I'm with you but how to rally the country?

“The oligarchy is owned by the NRA and will make all kinds of statements for the press, but will do nothing to change the status quo,” wrote classof65. “We need a revolution. Soon.”

Annie picked up classof65's song and added her voice:

“I read our comments, and have to agree that we have been writing and making our feelings known to no avail. And it's disheartening. Then, I see Classof65 again about the revolution.

You know, Class is right,” continued Annie. “I don't mean and would hope not violent and bloody, but what really important reforms have been accomplished without people going to the streets to demonstrate, sit in, protest and generally make a very big noise? Votes for women? Civil Rights of all kinds? Vietnam?

“It took a long time in each case and the courage and determination of many to get out in public saying things similar to 'Not One More.'"

Writing from Canada, Vera has a different take on the need for gun control:

“Actually it's naive to think that banning guns will solve your problems. Up here in Canada we just had 5 college students stabbed to death by another crazy student. We had a guy on a Greyhound bus get decapitated by a schizophrenic guy, another 50+ woman stabbed and killed the toddler next door, she says.

“The root cause of many of these crimes is actually untreated mental illness not guns and that's what needs fixing.”

I don't disagree about mental health issues but I don't believe that is a reason not to change our nearly unrestricted laws on guns that in one go can kill so many more (and do in the U.S.) than a knife.

All right. Now it's up to you. Have your say and don't forget that on the internet there is no space restriction.

Just, please, break up comments longer than half a dozen lines into paragraphs with a space between them. I don't read long chunks of unbroken text nor do most people.

And if you are so inclined, let us know what you think of this experiment in Rewind the Week.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: Rufus and the Games


Three Rivers Village Update - May 2014

In every survey ever done, a consistent 90 percent or so of respondents say they want to live in their own homes until they die.

This is fortunate because as I have mentioned in the past, there are not enough care home options for anywhere near the number of old people who will need or want them in coming years.

The problem for the 90 percent, however, is that as much as every one of us hopes to remain healthy and strong enough to stay in our homes on our own until the end, like it or not some of us are going to need help doing some things. Even a lot of things in some cases.

Even if we change our minds about moving to some kind of care home, as the population of elders expands over the next couple of decades, there will not be enough space in continuing care communities, assisted living, nursing homes, etc. to accommodate everyone.

In addition, in the United States no government organization – not local, state or federal – has a plan to deal with this dilemma so we – elders ourselves and some selfless younger people who are interested in aging – are on our own.

It is we elders who must help one another grow old together.

There will come to be many kinds of solutions. As they have for decades, the venerable visiting nurse services will continue their good work. Private homes in intentional communities such as co-housing will work for some. Group housing is a growing phenomenon that I expect to see develop in many new forms.

Also among the burgeoning solutions is the Village movement, the one I have chosen to work with.

Back in February, I posted a two-part story titled, What is a Village? Click Part 1 and Part 2 to read them.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, those two posts will give you a good, general overview of Villages. Today, I want to let you know how my Village is progressing.

The planning group began meeting monthly in the fall of 2013. There are about 15 of us who are regular attendees all of whom are smart, enthusiastic, eager and willing to put in time and effort.

So far, we have completed these initial tasks:

Our Vision, Mission, Values Statement
Our Village boundaries: the official city limits of three contiguous towns: Oregon City, West Linn and Lake Oswego
Our shiny new Village name: Three Rivers Village
Joined Villages NW, a "hub" that provides our “spoke” Village with administrative and financial services along with a wide variety of other support services.

Essentially, what we have accomplished to date at Three Rivers Village is the easy stuff. Now we must tackle the hard parts: raising money, marketing the Village to our community, raising money, choosing what services to offer, raising money, finding appropriate service partners, volunteers and much more.

To do all that, we need to expand our membership. Our current core planning group is gratifyingly dedicated but there are not enough of us yet. Several are taking a training course so that we can present what are called the Villages 101 talks to explain the concept to interest groups in our boundary area.

We have a membership committee and a finance/fundraising committee and just added a technology committee that will work on building the database we will need to hold all our information.

Fortunately, there are successful Villages all over the United States to lend advice and many of them are members of the Villages to Villages Network. That's a good place for you to start if you are interested in finding a Village to join in your area or starting one yourself.

The Villages NW “hub” I mentioned above is now helping develop eight spoke Villages in the Portland, Oregon area. Their website is a goldmine of information related to Villages in our area but also in general. You'll find it here.

And if anyone reading today's post lives in the northwest area of Oregon and is interested, you can contact Villages NW at that website or you can email me via the “contact” link in the upper left corner of every TGB page. I will be happy to help.

I'll let you know more about how we are progressing as we move forward.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Flora Davis: A Woman's Best Friend is her Dog


“Not One More”

This blog is about aging and for the ten years of its existence, every post has been related to some aspect of being old even if, sometimes, the connection is tenuous. But that is rare.

Today I am making the first deliberate exception (that I can recall).

This post has nothing to do with aging except that every person in the United States, all ages, should be standing with Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez who was shot dead last Friday at age 20. For no reason.

The elder Martinez has, it seems, been incapable of grieving silently and in private as the unspoken rules of American culture call for. Instead, he has been all over the media, inconsolable, making an anguished cry for attention to every child dead from meaningless gunfire. Who can blame him:

Maybe you want to take a moment to collect yourself after watching that video.

On Tuesday, Mr. Martinez told politicians to stop telephoning him with condolences:

“'I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a shit that you feel sorry for me,' Richard Martinez said during an extensive interview [with the Washington Post], his face flushed as tears rolled down his face.

“'Get to work and do something. I’ll tell the president the same thing if he calls me. Getting a call from a politician doesn’t impress me.'”

The Washington Post further quoted Martinez:

”Saying 'we are all to blame' for the death of his 20-year-old son, Martinez urged the public join him in demanding 'immediate action' from members of Congress and President Obama to curb gun violence by passing stricter gun-control laws.

“'Today, I’m going to ask every person I can find to send a postcard to every politician they can think of with three words on it: Not one more,' he said Tuesday morning. 'People are looking for something to do. I’m asking people to stand up for something. Enough is enough.'”

We often wonder at this blog if contacting our representatives in Congress really does any good but there is nothing else to do but keep trying.

In this case, what if everyone in America buried elected officials in Washington with postcards, letters, emails and phone calls with nothing more than just those three words:

NOT ONE MORE

You don't need to add anything to that. If enough people do it, they'll get it. Here is how:

WHITE HOUSE
Comment phone: 202-456-1111
Snailmail: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Email: Apparently the White House doesn't provide a generic email address and although they don't make it easy (lots of information to fill in), you can submit a comment via this online form. Remember just three words in the message: NOT ONE MORE.

CONGRESS
At this website, a click on your state name will get you a page with phone numbers and email address access to all the representatives in your state.

If you click instead on the official's name and not the email address, you will get the full page for the representative or senator with telephone, email and snailmail address.

Again, just three words: NOT ONE MORE

Who knows if the country's leaders in Washington will pay any attention, will do anything. But how can we refuse Richard Martinez's plea to us to try.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: The Little Cottage in the Mountains


TGB Reader Preferences of Names for Old People

Last Thursday, we held a poll to see what generic (usually media) names and synonyms for old people we prefer and which ones we dislike.

First, my apologies to anyone who could not participate for technical reasons. It is the first time I've used Google Docs and I'm unlikely to do so again. Although only a tiny number could not respond, I had a whole lot of difficulties creating the poll – not the most user-friendly website I've ever run into.

In addition, I cannot find what write-in names were entered – 41 in the “like” poll and 19 in the “dislike” poll. After an hour, I had to give up trying to find them and get on with my life.

Okay, enough whining. Let's see what we learned.

There were 734 responses. Before I show you the full charts, here are the top five names we like in order of preference (respondents could choose as many as they wanted so the totals add up to more than 100%):

Elder (61%)
Senior (49%)
Older Adult (45%)
Older (man, woman, person) 39%
Old (33%)

And the ones we most dislike in order of (non)preference:

Geezer (89%)
Geriatric (83%)
Silver Fox (tie: 80%)
Golden Ager (tie: 80%)
Old Timer (74%)
Oldie (45%)

Although I personally dislike pretty much every name except elder and old/older (man, woman, person) I have a particular loathing for silver fox. I can't tell you why but I can't stand it.

A number of commenters last week questioned the need for what they call “labels.” I submit that it's damned hard to talk about age groups without giving them names of some kind.

A few months ago, we discussed the lack of attractive clothing designed to fit the shapes of elder bodies. There is no way to talk about that without identifying the age of people in question. I mean, you can't say, “There is no good clothing for people” and have it make sense.

How could acne be explained without mentioning the age at which it is most prevalent? How would anyone know what kind of diapers are being sold without using words like baby and elder?

And what of medications that are safe for children or adults but may be harmful to old people?

There are many reasons to identify – that is, label - people by their ages. Age is as basic as sex, height, weight, hair color, etc. to our individuality.

Here is what is different among the names we use for various age groups. None of the words baby, infant, toddler, youngster, adolescent, teen, young adult, adult and even kid are pejorative or demeaning in and of themselves. They are neutral.

Not so for many names for old people such as geezer, coot, biddy and phrases like over the hill or no spring chicken, etc. that are disrespectful in and of themselves.

The cutesy-poo names and descriptions like golden ager, third ager, oldster and Portland, Oregon's transit designation of "honored citizen" are embarrassingly patronizing.

In American English, no other age group but old people are singled out for disrespect in this manner.

Here are the full charts with all the choices from the survey.

Names We Like Chart

Names Wed Dslike Chart


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: Prada


Memorial Day 2014

This is a good day for a bit of discussion about the recent media attention to the problems of health care at the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Last February, Senate Republicans blocked important legislation from Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont: S.1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 (full text here; summary here).

The bill would provide $21 billion to improve veterans' access to health care, education and job training. There are 29 co-sponsors of the bill, every one of them a Democrat; not a single Republican.

In that February vote, all but two Senate Republicans voted against the bill. That makes this a partisan issue and there is no question who is on which side.

Please note how, in this video from Sanders' office, that every Republican speaking against the bill objects on the grounds that there are no offsets to pay for it - just as there were no offsets for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq they championed. You know, the wars where these veterans who need help were wounded.

More at Senator Sanders' website.

You might want to keep all this in mind next time you hear a Republican wrapping him- or herself in the flag and proclaiming their patriotism.

Enjoy the holiday - and I don't mean that to be snark. It is not a contradiction to argue for our military and have a barbecue too.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Headstone Tweets and Wikihistory on Memorial Day


1952 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 1952?

  • Nicolette Larson was born
  • East of Eden was published
  • Helsinki staged the Olympics Games
  • Dr. Jonas Salk developed polio vaccine
  • First edition of Mad Magazine published
  • Sun Records released its first disk (Bear Cat by Rufus Thomas)
  • Singin' in the Rain was released
  • Geelong were premiers

LLOYD PRICE wrote the song Lawdy Miss Clawdy and his performance of it caught the ear of record producer Art Rupe.

Lloyd Price

Art decided to record him but found that Lloyd didn't have a regular band, so a few jobbing musos were roped in for support – Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Herb Hardesty and Earl Palmer.

It became the biggest selling R&B record for the year and has been covered many times since.

♫ Lloyd Price - Lawdy Miss Clawdy

TERESA BREWER's first public performance was when she was just two years old.

Teresa Brewer

Her mum entered her in a radio talent show. Later, as a teenager, she started winning these sorts of things for real which got her gigs in various clubs in New York. There was no stopping her then.

The amusing thing about Till I Waltz Again with You is that it isn't a waltz. Okay, it's not that amusing, either.

♫ Teresa Brewer - Till I Waltz Again With You

THE RAVENS seem to have one foot in the forties and another in the fifties.

The Ravens

Obviously, the subject matter of Rock Me All Night Long is pure fifties but their style still seems to be from earlier. That's just my ears, yours might tell you something different.

♫ The Ravens - Rock Me All Night Long

"Answer" songs were all the rage in the fifties. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels was one of the rare answer songs that was superior to the original.

This was a response to Hank Thompson's The Wild Side of Life, a traditional "she done him wrong" song. Jay Miller wrote the new one and KITTY WELLS sang it to great success.

Kitty Wells

♫ Kitty Wells - It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

RUTH BROWN's father was director of his local choir when she was growing up.

Ruth Brown

Ruth, however, was more interested in the music of Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. She ran away from home when she was just 17 with the trumpeter Jimmy Brown and they were soon married.

She sang in bars and clubs and caught the ear and eye of Blanche Calloway, Cab's sister, and she kick-started Ruth's career. That career would take a very thick book indeed to recount so I'll stop there and play her song, Daddy Daddy.

♫ Ruth Brown - Daddy Daddy

Several good singers came through BILLY WARD AND HIS DOMINOES.

Billy Ward & the Dominoes

The "His" is important because Billy was a strict disciplinarian and he didn't pay his musicians much, which is why they left. Two notable singers to have graced the group with their presence are Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson.

Billy wrote the song Have Mercy Baby with Rose Marks. The group performed it while Clyde was still a member, and he gives it his trademark crying ending.

Billy Ward - Have Mercy Baby

EDDIE FISHER brings us back to pop territory with Tell Me Why.

Eddie Fisher

The song was first recorded by Jerry Gray. The Four Aces then had a crack at it and they reached the pointy end of the charts. It was then Eddie's turn and he also made the top 10.

♫ Eddie Fisher - Tell Me Why

We all know about Bill Haley and the Comets. However, before them there was BILL HALEY AND THE SADDLEMEN.

Bill Haley & the Saddlemen

These were the precursors to the Comets and sound pretty much like them, thanks to Bill mainly. They covered the song by Jimmy Preston called Rock The Joint that was featured back in 1949.

♫ Bill Haley & The Saddlemen - Rock The Joint

Yet another French song that gained popularity with English lyrics. This time it is LINE RENAUD.

Line Renaud

Actually, in this case it went in reverse. Guy Mitchell's My Truly, Truly Fair is the song in question. Line's song is called Ma p'tite folie.

♫ Line Renaud - Ma p'tite folie

It wasn't just Clyde McPhatter who cried on his records. An even more famous crier is JOHNNIE RAY.

Johnnie Ray

He recorded a couple of songs this year with crying as the theme, the most famous (to me anyway) is just called Cry.

♫ Johnnie Ray - Cry

You can find more music from 1952 here. 1953 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 24 May 2014


92 YEAR OLD DENIED RIGHT TO VOTE

As a result of a new voter ID law in Texas, 92-year-old Ruby Barber who was born in Tennessee and has voted all her life was refused an ID because she has no birth certificate:

“'I’m sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp,' Barber [told the Waco Tribune]. 'Didn’t have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and deliver me.'”

Many states have recently enacted extremely restrictive voter ID laws reminiscent of Jim Crow. It will mainly affect elders, people of color, people who don't drive and the poor. Hmmmm – I wonder which political party thought up these new laws.

Ms. Barber now has a temporary voter ID card but most people denied the right to vote won't be getting the publicity to nudge authorities to do something.


FEHER ISTEN (WHITE GOD)

Feher Isten is a new movie from Hungary about a pack of 200 wild dogs terrorizing a city. It has made a big stir at the Cannes Film Festival but not for the subject matter. Instead, all the talk is that the 200 dog actors are all strays, not a single animation among them.

"You know it's unheard of to think of doing 200, 250 dogs running together through the city of Budapest," [the trainer who prepared the dogs for the movie] told Reuters.”

A professional dog actor plays the leader of the pack, explained the director, but the rest are rescues from a pound.

”Filming them was like working with four- or five-year-old child actors, but he got what he wanted, the director said.

"'There are really harsh and heavy scenes which were simulated by playing, he said, speaking of how the dogs were prepared for filming.”

Here is the trailer:

All the rescue dogs were found homes after the film was finished shooting.


SNOOPY EXPLAINS HOW TO LOOK YOUNGER THAN YOU ARE

From old friend and TGB reader, John Brandt.

Snoopy


DUCKLINGS PLAYING ON A WATER SLIDE

I love this. It amazes me that those tiny, little ducks are playing exactly as two-year humans would and know to walk back up the ramp for another go. And look how they each wait their turn.


YOU KNOW YOU'RE OLD WHEN

I cannot recall the last time I saw a “You know you're old when” joke that didn't offend me. This adaptation sent by Sunday's TGB Elder Music columnist, Peter Tibbles, is really funny and in an unexpected way.

Know You are Middle Aged


400,000 FREE IMAGES FROM THE MET MUSEUM

About a year ago, I told you about the gorgeous high resolution images of Dutch masterpieces available online for free use from Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. A handful of other museums have made their collections similarly available and now the U.S. granddaddy of such museums, The Metropolitan has joined them.

Rembrandt-self-portrait

As the Met's press release notes, the initiative is called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) and it

”...provides images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media.”

You'll find the collections at this page of the Met's website. Images that are included for free use can be recognized by this OASC bug below the images: MetOASCbug


WHO KNEW HOW CASHEWS GROW

It's my favorite nut (which, I just learned, is technically a seed) and I sure didn't know. Here's a little video about cashews:

Just as I was getting ready to prepare this Saturday post yesterday, a serendipitous message popped into my inbox from the Clinton Foundation:

”See how our new project with PepsiCo is taking the cashew fruit, which typically goes to waste, and sourcing it as a new, vitamin-rich ingredient for PepsiCo's local juice business in India - simultaneously improving the livelihood of thousands of cashew growers in the process.”

Here's the Clinton/Pepsi promotional video about their initiative:


HERO CAT TRIPLES ATTENDANCE AT BALL GAME

Remember Tara the cat I told you about last Saturday who saved the little boy she lives with by bodychecking an attack dog? Last Tuesday, Tara tripled the usual attendance at the Bakersfield Blaze baseball game when she “threw out” the first ball. Take a look:


OFFERED WITHOUT COMMENT

From the 19 May 2014 issue of The New Yorker magazine:

New Yorker Elder Cartoon


REPUBLICANS NEVER GET IT RIGHT ABOUT WOMEN

You have probably heard that the Republican Party has lately recognized that they have more than a few difficulties communicating with women and have dedicated themselves this midterm election year to improving.

Here is how that effort went down on Tuesday at a debate with candidates for governor of Colorado that was meant to reassure women. The name of the debate was “Women and Colorado's Future.” (Hat tip to Daily Kos)


A MOMENT OF ZEN

At the end of every episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart includes a “moment of Zen” and this video from Darlene Costner seemed a good candidate for our own Zen moment.

The Iguazu in Argentina is the largest collection of cataracts in the world. There are 275 individual water falls that run together in this panorama.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


A Couple of Thoughts on Growing Old

We spend a lot of time here on the specifics, the nuts and bolts of age – maintaining health, navigating government programs, age discrimination and ageism, political attacks on elders' well-being, death, movies, books, appearance, living arrangements and so on.

I have been writing this blog now for 10 years, a decade of keeping a close watch on aging: in our overall culture, in the comments on this blog, keeping note of my own changes and responding to all that on these pages of Time Goes By.

Superficially, I've changed a great deal. At age 73, I am more wrinkled, have a lot less hair on my head, maybe I'm a bit slower of foot but also, I am healthier after a 40-pound weight loss and continuing efforts at daily exercise.

It amuses me to watch the physical changes. Lately they (wrinkles especially) seem to multiply with greater speed than in the past but these are only the inevitable stuff, not what's important.

It is the bigger things that have not changed: my beliefs, political leanings, attitudes, opinions and principles – except in one way: I have become magnitudes more fierce when confronted with discrimination, prejudice, unfairness and injustice.

In individual instances, I can stand up for myself pretty well. When other people are targets, maybe those who cannot defend themselves as easily as I can, I become enraged.

At least with those I can sometimes help. What's worse is when such abuses are perpetrated against an entire population by the rich and powerful and influential.

Rich and powerful like U.S. presidents, billionaires Pete Peterson and the Koch brothers and members of Congress who, to pick one example, continue to use their unlimited resources to cripple (read: kill) Social Security.

Or when mega-corporations (actually, the people who run the corporations) renege on pensions, cheat on mortgages, poison the land and waters without consequence to themselves - only the people, the planet and animals who are sickened, killed and made extinct.

(Do you think it is an accident - or a reflection of reality - that about half the movies released these days are about catastrophic disasters?)

Of course, there is much more wrongdoing to list but you know all that. My point today is that for most of my life, I was just as angry as now but did not feel it with the urgency and distress I have now.

In younger years, I kind of shrugged, believing that since there was nothing I could do to affect change, there was no point in getting overwrought about it.

I remain just as impotent today but I have lost that knack of shrugging it off. It's with me every day, growing with revelations of corporate criminal behavior, government spying on citizens, killing foreign nationals with drones, lack of healthcare for veterans and other iniquities on massive scales revealed nearly every day.

Collective or personal, large or small, it feels to me like injustice has become law of the land and for the lack of outcry and revulsion, is now the norm.

To bring this back down to earth and my original point, it's hard to know if my new-found ferocity is attributable to an aspect of age. Maybe the change is just a function of time (slow learner) and I finally arrived where others have been for years.

I have no answer for that.

The other generality that has been on my mind is loneliness. We have talked here specifically about the dangers of being alone in old age, that it can literally kill us prematurely.

But I have come to think we are all lonely – maybe we are lonely at every age but I'm concerned here with old people.

One way it is manifested for me is that most of the people I knew in my young adult years are either dead or we lost track of one another. I didn't realize it at the time but there was an easy comfort with people who had known me for a long time, and I them.

There are four or five left but we live nowhere near one another and as easy and cheap as it is these days to keep in touch, I miss being quiet in a room with an old friend, the touch on an arm to make a point in conversation, the knowing that he or she understands all kinds of things that can't be explained to a new friend (you had to be there) and even with the uncomfortable truths, he or she loves you anyway.

That doesn't mean I am not finding solace in new friends I am getting to know. But I am pretty sure that loneliness for friends along with even the non-friend, familiar, cultural icons who are gone is in the nature of growing old and that part of our job is to make peace with that.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today. Vicki E. Jones: Acceptance


Some Good and Not So Good Names for Old People

A whole bunch of readers sent me the link to an NPR story about what names old people like and don't like to be called. For me, the first problem was the NPR headline that referenced “the over-65 set” in a manner that felt mildly patronizing.

They report that an NPR correspondent discovered how passionate elders can be on this topic after a story about al 71-year-old midwife was broadcast:

"Listeners were furious," Jaffe continues. "Maybe once upon a time, 'elderly' referred to a particular stage in life, but now people think...it means you're ailing and you're frail."

Actually, elderly has meant “frail” for a long, long time – maybe always - and I'm with those angry listeners about that (along with some other words I don't like).

The NPR story page has a survey about names but as far as I can tell, has never followed up with results. So in a slightly changed form, I have created a survey just for us at Time Goes By.

(Some long-time readers may recall that this is not a new topic for TGB. We have discussed it several times in the past and even had a survey. But it's been a long while so let's see what the consensus is this time.

I've omitted several of the NPR choices because they mixed apples and orange – names for individuals who are old with names for the phenomenon of growing number of elders, like silver tsunami. I omitted the latter group for our survey.

Clearly, emotions run high on this topic; the NPR page has more than 400 comments and there's not a chance I can read them all but I certainly like the first one:

”I am a palliative care doctor. A couple years ago I was taking care of a woman in her 60s who had immigrated from Tibet. She was in the hospital, quite ill, and for a period of time became confused.

“I spoke with her adult son and daughter about end of life issues. One morning her son told me, 'She's awake and she is mad, she wants to talk with you.'

“When I walked into the room she sat up and waved her finger at me as she said, 'I am and old woman. I am responsible for this family. You should never have talked to my children.'

“The way she spoke old woman sounded like an honorific, 'I am an Old Woman.' A wise person, a responsible person, the guide and leader of this family. She made no effort to hide her age. My sense was that 'living young' would have been a failure in her mind.”

Yes!!

Here is the survey. I've also given you a place in the form to insert an additional name you like or dislike. I'll report results here on Tuesday 27 May.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today. Janet Thompson: The Box


Was (or Is) Your Work a Labor of Love?

Undoubtedly because we are in college commencement season, last weekend a philosophy professor held forth in the pages of The New York Times on the subject of the well-worn counsel to “follow your passion” or “do what you love” or “find meaning” or “self-fulfillment” in the livelihood you choose.

He is questioning whether such advice is “wisdom or malarkey” and because philosophers can't help themselves, he embellishes his otherwise thoughtful enquiry with a lot of word salad before coming down on the side of malarkey:

”Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation,” writes Gordon Marino. “Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.”

Before arriving at his conclusion, Marino notes that others have found the standard “passion” guidance to be elitist – that whole sets of people, such as some of the students he counsels, don't have that luxury. Nor did his father (or mine either):

”My father didn’t do what he loved. He labored at a job he detested so that he could send his children to college. Was he just unenlightened and mistaken to put the well-being of others above his own personal interests?

“It might be argued that his idea of self-fulfillment was taking care of his family, but again, like so many other less than fortunate ones, he hated his work but gritted his teeth and did it well.”

Even when there is not the imperative to support a family, few people grow up with a passion that either cannot be ignored or can be turned into a career. I didn't have one and I didn't go to college because, in addition to another issue or two, I had no idea what I wanted to study. Not an inkling.

So, prepared with a decent high school education and barely adequate typing skills (I got better), I earned my living as an office clerk and then secretary.

In my world back then, secretary was a step up but it wasn't any more engaging than being a clerk. The work was deadly boring but no one had ever suggested to me that how I supported myself should be interesting or that I should like it.

After several years, I got lucky and spent the rest of my working life in television production and, for the last ten years, in internet development – engaging, fascinating work where I was always stretched intellectually and was learning every day. I was never bored again.

But I want to stress that it was pure luck and until that happened, it never occurred to me that work would ever be anything but tedious.

(Historically, it is important to recall that back in the 1950s when I started out, women had few career choices. If they attended college – not many of us - they could be nurses or teachers. Without college, waitress or secretary was about it so the question of following a passion or not in those days was primarily a male prerogative .)

Perhaps I'm mistaken but it is my sense that the idea of pursuing one's passion or self-fulfillment is relatively new – that it gained widespread traction in “the Sixties,” a time when America's relative economic well-being and the rise of the “me generation” allowed such indulgence. Marino seems to agree:

”The faith that my likes and dislikes or our sense of meaning alone should decide what I do is part and parcel with the gospel of self-fulfillment.

And, to me, sounds hopelessly middle class.

To repeat Marino's malarkey conclusion:

”Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation,” writes Gordon Marino. “Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.”

So here is what I'm interested in from you today: Whether you are retired or still working, did/do you follow your passion? Did/do you find self-fullment or meaning in your livelihood?

Have you eagerly gone to your job every day? Or have you detested it?

Tell us about it. And if you were giving a commencement speech this year, would you advise the graduates to do what they love? Is that idea wisdom or malarkey, do you think?


At The Elders Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: When It Hits


REPEAT: Net Neutrality on the Ropes

IMPORTANT EDITORIAL NOTE: Yesterday, my blog host again suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and both this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place were unavailable until late in the day.

Therefore, I am leaving the Monday stories on both blogs at the top of the list today, Tuesday, so they don't get lost in the persistent internet rush forward of new information day after day.

Not to mention that in addition to your being unable to get to the blogs, I couldn't get into the back end to prepare the new stories for today.


Interest was high on this page last week when we discussed net neutrality in the lead-up to release of a proposal for new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

That proposal was released by FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler on Thursday and it was as net neutrality supporters had feared. Here's how Reuters explained the proposed rule change:

"[It] would ban Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites but may let them charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.”

Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth: no websites may be slowed down but sites that pay more to their ISPs (internet service providers) can be speeded up. More on the proposal from the Washington Post:

”The plan, approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines, could unleash a new economy on the Web where an Internet service provider such as Verizon would charge a Web site such as Netflix for the guarantee of flawless video streaming.

“Smaller companies that can't afford to pay for faster delivery would likely face additional obstacles against bigger rivals. And consumers could see a trickle-down effect of higher prices as Web sites try to pass along new costs of doing business with Internet service providers.”

That, at least, is approaching what I worry about that no one in media is explaining directly: if these new regulations are enacted, it won't be long until additional, new charges for speedy delivery will trickle down to the rest of us - small business trying to get some traction, non-profit charities and partisan political sites, personal websites like mine and yours, for example.

I mean, it's not like Comcast, Verizon and Time-Warner ever left behind a single dime they could gouge out of anyone.

The proposal was approved by the FCC on Thursday in a 3-2 vote, the three being the commissioner and his two fellow Democrats. Just so you know, Commissioner Tom Wheeler spent many years of his career as a lobbyist for the cell phone and and cable companies before being appointed to the FCC six months by President Barack Obama. And as Gothamist pointed out:

”...Wheeler managed to drum up about $700,000 in campaign contributions to both of Obama's presidential runs.”

So even though the president campaigned in 2007 for an open internet, nowadays it's probably not a good idea to look to him for support. After the FCC vote last week, presidential spokesperson, Jay Carney said,

“We will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality. The President is looking at every way to protect a free and open Internet, and will consider any option that might make sense.”

In hopes? Hardly a ringing endorsement for a free and open internet.

The text of the FCC net neutrality rules proposal is here. They are not in effect yet – the purpose of the vote was to open the period of public comment which runs until 15 July 2014.

You can do that at the website of the FCC. This page gives you many choices on how to contact the Commission in general or individual commissioners.

There will undoubtedly be many petitions around the web – please sign them. And I'll be back here to remind you to write or phone the FCC between now and mid-July.

If you have any questions about how the speed up/slow down would work if the proposal is approved, this short, little explanation from The New York Times makes it easy to understand.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Who Wants to be a Scammed Millionaire?


Net Neutrality on the Ropes

Interest was high on this page last week when we discussed net neutrality in the lead-up to release of a proposal for new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

That proposal was released by FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler on Thursday and it was as net neutrality supporters had feared. Here's how Reuters explained the proposed rule change:

"[It] would ban Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites but may let them charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.”

Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth: no websites may be slowed down but sites that pay more to their ISPs (internet service providers) can be speeded up. More on the proposal from the Washington Post:

”The plan, approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines, could unleash a new economy on the Web where an Internet service provider such as Verizon would charge a Web site such as Netflix for the guarantee of flawless video streaming.

“Smaller companies that can't afford to pay for faster delivery would likely face additional obstacles against bigger rivals. And consumers could see a trickle-down effect of higher prices as Web sites try to pass along new costs of doing business with Internet service providers.”

That, at least, is approaching what I worry about that no one in media is explaining directly: if these new regulations are enacted, it won't be long until additional, new charges for speedy delivery will trickle down to the rest of us - small business trying to get some traction, non-profit charities and partisan political sites, personal websites like mine and yours, for example.

I mean, it's not like Comcast, Verizon and Time-Warner ever left behind a single dime they could gouge out of anyone.

The proposal was approved by the FCC on Thursday in a 3-2 vote, the three being the commissioner and his two fellow Democrats. Just so you know, Commissioner Tom Wheeler spent many years of his career as a lobbyist for the cell phone and and cable companies before being appointed to the FCC six months by President Barack Obama. And as Gothamist pointed out:

”...Wheeler managed to drum up about $700,000 in campaign contributions to both of Obama's presidential runs.”

So even though the president campaigned in 2007 for an open internet, nowadays it's probably not a good idea to look to him for support. After the FCC vote last week, presidential spokesperson, Jay Carney said,

“We will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality. The President is looking at every way to protect a free and open Internet, and will consider any option that might make sense.”

In hopes? Hardly a ringing endorsement for a free and open internet.

The text of the FCC net neutrality rules proposal is here. They are not in effect yet – the purpose of the vote was to open the period of public comment which runs until 15 July 2014.

You can do that at the website of the FCC. This page gives you many choices on how to contact the Commission in general or individual commissioners.

There will undoubtedly be many petitions around the web – please sign them. And I'll be back here to remind you to write or phone the FCC between now and mid-July.

If you have any questions about how the speed up/slow down would work if the proposal is approved, this short, little explanation from The New York Times makes it easy to understand.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Who Wants to be a Scammed Millionaire?


ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Jimmy Webb

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.


Jimmy Webb

Although he's recorded a whole bunch of albums over the years, JIMMY WEBB is best known for writing songs for other people. I first heard of him in the sixties when Glen Campbell had a string of hits that Jimmy had written. I imagine it was the same for most of you who know his work.

Jimmy was from Oklahoma where his father was a minister who wandered around that state and west Texas presiding over rural churches in the area. Young Jimmy learnt piano and organ early and accompanied dad in his services along with mum on accordion and dad himself on guitar.

Dad was a bit of a crank and restricted Jim's radio listening to country music and white gospel. Hmm. He obviously hadn't listened to the words of country songs.

After a time Jimmy discovered other music and was taken by Glenn Campbell's voice when he first heard him. It was around then he started writing songs.

You're going to hear only a fraction of those he's written over the years. Jimmy is the master of regretful or resigned songs. Songs of philosophical acceptance I guess you could call them. There will certainly be some of those.

Naturally, I'll start with GLEN CAMPBELL.

Glen Campbell

The inspiration for the song was when Jimmy was driving through Oklahoma, a long stretch of road through Washita County. He noticed the power lines stretching on to the horizon with an occasional workman up a pole with a phone in his hand.

He thought that would make a good song and so it proved. He changed the name to Wichita Lineman as it sang better than Washita.

♫ Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman

A song, and a version, that resonates with me. More to do with my life than the intrinsic qualities of the song and that's all I'm going to say on that matter.

It is MacArthur Park, the singer is RICHARD HARRIS, the actor and famous drinker.

Richard Harris

♫ Richard Harris - MacArthur Park

Another song with which Richard had a hit was Didn't We. However, I'm going with Jimmy's version.

Jimmy Webb

It turned up on his fine CD called "Ten Easy Pieces" where he recorded some of his most famous songs, mostly just accompanying himself on piano.

♫ Jimmy Webb - Didn't We

One of my favorite soul tracks was written by Jimmy and recorded by AL WILSON.

Al Wilson

That's the soul singer Al Wilson, not the guitarist from Canned Heat, and the song is Do What You Gotta Do. Linda Ronstadt did a pretty good version which Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, prefers.

She said that it's one of those great songs that sounds good no matter who performs it. I agree, but for me it's Al's version that's the pick of the bunch.

♫ Al Wilson - Do What You Gotta Do

Another song that was a big hit for Glenn Campbell is Honey Come Back. Here is Jimmy's version of the song helped along by KRIS KRISTOFFERSON.

Jimmy Webb and Kris Kristofferson

To say that Kris's voice sounds lived in these days would be a gross understatement, although given the life he's led it's probably an apt description.

♫ Jimmy Webb and Kris Kristofferson - Honey Come Back

This one had to be present as it's been recorded by many people and is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Given all those others, I still like JUDY COLLINS' version best, which is why I'm playing it.

Judy Collins

It came from her album, "Judith," which is an odd, but interesting nonetheless, mix of pop tunes, art songs and several of her own compositions.

♫ Judy Collins - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

P.F. Sloan was a singer/songwriter in the sixties who wanted to be the next Bob Dylan, or perhaps he wanted to be Jimmy Webb. He didn't succeed at either of those.

He did have one song he wrote that was a huge hit for Barry McGuire, and that was Eve of Destruction. Jimmy wrote a song about P.F. called P.F. Sloan that he (Jimmy) recorded quite some time ago. Here it is.

Jimmy Webb

♫ Jimmy Webb - P.F. Sloan

ROBERTA FLACK recorded See You Then on her third album, "Quiet Fire.”

Roberta Flack

That album didn't get much critical acclaim when it was released and even now it's dismissed somewhat. It does contain Jimmy's song though, and it's worth it for that alone.

♫ Roberta Flack - See You Then

I contemplated playing Isaac Hayes' version of By the Time I Get to Phoenix but it does go on a bit, even longer than MacArthur Park, close to 19 minutes which is just a tad too long, so I gave it a miss. Instead I've gone for Jimmy performing it.

Jimmy Webb

♫ Jimmy Webb - By the Time I Get to Phoenix

There were two groups over the years called THE HIGHWAYMEN. One was a folk style one from the early sixties, the other was much later and it was a quartet consisting of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, a handy bunch of performers.

Highwaymen

Yes, that really is a beardless Willie on the right. I don't know if they were inspired by Jimmy's song, Highwayman, to name their group, but they certainly performed it. Here it is.

♫ The Highwaymen - Highwayman


INTERESTING STUFF – 17 May 2014


MOVIE: A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY

It is easy to think at first that this is a quiet little family comedy in which nothing much happens. But under the surface it is roiling with the difficult dynamics common to many families as the parents age.

A struggling New York writer (played by Bryan Greenberg) whose girlfriend has just dumped him rushes to Florida when he learns his cantankerous father (Harris Yulin) has suffered a stroke. Complicating everyone's feelings is his mother's (Linda Lavin) off-and-on memory loss that isn't going to get any better.

Here's the trailer:

There have been a lot movies in the past few years about aging parents and Alzheimer's and how people cope with it. Or don't. Some of them are pretty good. This one is the least slick, least movie-ish and the most real I've seen. And it's funny too.

Odd that it seemed to be slight when I was watching it but it keeps coming to mind even more than a week later.

A Short History of Decay opened yesterday at the Village East Cinema in New York City. No word yet of where else it might play or when but you can check the website here. If it turns up in your vicinity, I recommend it.


THE 9/11 MEMORIAL DEDICATED IN NEW YORK CITY

It took a long time but on Thursday this week, at last, the 9/11 Memorial was dedicated and it will open to the public next week.

Live television did a good job of showing some of what is on display in the museum and I was touched by a video in the The New York Times about one item in the exhibit. Take a look.


BEN'S WISH LIST

Ben Pierce, a young boy from Texas, is gradually going blind. His family doesn't know how long it will be until his vision is gone but they are trying to make every moment until then count for him.

He has a kind of kid bucket list they have been fulfilling and earlier this month, Katie Couric made sure Ben got to cross "tour of New York City" off the list.

Here's the video of his visit to the big apple. Watch carefully at about 5:20 minutes at Midtown Comics and note the man who greets Ben with a shopping bag of goodies. After the video, I'll explain why I've pointed that out.

Nancy Leitz, a long-time contributor to TGB's companion blog, The Elder Storytelling Place, alerted me to this video because the man with young Ben is Nancy's grandson, Andrew Cohen, the marketing director of Midtown Comics.

Nancy specializes in telling us the many wonderful, funny stories about her family and two of them are about a much younger Andrew. If you'd like to catch up, one is Andrew's Eulogy and the other is The Ring - both definitely worth the read.


DON'T PUT OFF CATARACT SURGERY

Anyone reading this blog regularly knows that the first big item on my 2014 agenda was cataract surgery, that I was thrilled with the result then and still am. It is like having brand new eyes.

One of the things I harp on regularly is how to prevent falling which can devastate elders' lives. Now I can bring these two things together for you due to a research report presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

”In a study of more than 400 Vietnamese patients who were 50-plus years old with cataracts in both eyes, the number of falls patients suffered before and after cataract surgery was monitored.

”Researchers found a 78% decrease in the risk of falls the year after patients had cataract surgery on one eye.”

Imagine how high the percentage of risk decrease would be after surgery in both eyes as I had. Don't be tempted to put off cataract surgery. You can read more here.


BARBARA WALTERS RETIRES

Yesterday, Barbara Walters made a final appearance on her daytime ABC-TV program, The View, and throughout the week leadiong up to that, she had been making the rounds of print, internet and television outlets to discuss her official retirement at age 83.

I mention this because for 11 years between 1977 and 1988, I worked for Barbara on her Specials and produced stories with her on 20/20. It was the longest I ever stayed at one job and I had a wonderful time.

It is only fitting that on the occasion of her retirement ABC has named one of their buildings in New York for Barbara because she paved the way for women in broadcasting. People forget, I think, that before her there were hardly any female reporters, certainly no female anchors and few female producers.

It is Barbara Walters who changed that for women. Undoubtedly including me.

There is stuff all over the web this week about Barbara and her 53 year career. Go here for a slide show referencing a few of her memorable interviews. I worked on some of them.

Through the years, Barbara has often been accused of not having a sense of humor about herself. Wrong! I know that from personal experience, and here she is last weekend on Saturday Night Live having fun with a few of the more amusing digs she's suffered through the years.


YOU'RE NOT TOO OLD TO...

It has been conventional wisdom for my entire life that all the great inventions, writing, innovations, etc. were made by people in their youth, mostly before they turned 30 or so. “Everyone knows” old people can't be creative anymore.

Oh yeah? Take a look at this video, the winner in a contest a couple of years ago from SAGA, the British organization similar to the U.S. AARP.


GOOGLE FIBER

It is – or should be – well known that compared to the rest of the developed world, access to the internet in the United States is both slow and expensive.

Some while ago, I read that Google Fiber intends to bring 1,000Mbps (megabites per second) internet to a few test cities in the U.S. (That's 100 times faster than current broadband – essentially instantaneous.)

My so-called broadband connection is so pokey it nearly brings tears to my eyes sometimes so I was ecstatic when I discovered awhile ago that my little town, Lake Oswego, is under consideration for Google Fiber.

Then, on Thursday, an email arrived from Google Fiber with this message and image:

”We’ve been impressed by how enthusiastic the City of Lake Oswego has been as we’ve worked with them over the past few months — so let’s take a moment to thank them for everything they’ve done so far.”

GoogleFiber

Kansas City residents can already start signing up for the service and there are about nine other cities under consideration.

Google Fiber service may be fast but it ain't cheap - $120/month for internet and TV; $70 for internet alone. I'll have to think hard about that if my town is selected but I suspect I'll figure out how to afford it.

You can read all about Google Fiber and the test cities here. See if your city is on the list.


SURGING SEAS RISK FINDER

No matter what Senator Marco Rubio believes, I'm convinced that the Antarctic shelf will melt and the seas of the world will rise as a result. Of course, other events will contribute to further rise of the oceans.

Climate Central is an organization that does sea level rise analysis and has unveiled a U.S. map showing what will happen to all 3000-plus coastal towns, cities and counties in the lower 48 states of the U.S. if the sea rises 10 feet.

RisingSeas

According to the map of my Zip Code, even my town – about 85 miles from the Pacific Ocean - will see a rise in height of the river of one foot.

You can find out about your city here. Scroll down below the map to enter your town name or Zip Code. Amazingly, you can expand the map clear down to your own house.


CAT SAVES KID FROM DOG ATTACK

Alan Goldsmith and Nancy Leitz are just the first two readers who sent video of this event and it's gone so viral that you may have seen it but what the hell, you'll enjoy seeing it again.

Watch closely - the dog ambushes the kid only to be immediately bodychecked by Tara the cat. One of those things you don't often see in life.


MADELINE'S TRAIN DELIGHT

To round out a Saturday that may have overdosed on saccharine (why stop now), here's little Madeline who's dream to ride a train, YouTube tells us, came true on her third birthday. I promise, you'll kvell.


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.


Extending the Human Lifespan

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This post is wonkier than you usually find on TGB but I think it is remarkable that in a short period of time new research has shot down three venerable areas of longevity research – something that should be noted, I think, on a blog about aging. Maybe you will find it as interesting as I do.]

Rumors of fountains of youth go back as least as far as 500 BCE and the notion of eternal life is a staple of literature.

For many years, decades in fact, scientists have been spending millions of research dollars – make that billions over time – looking for a modern fountain of youth. One of the most well-known, Aubrey deGray, believes humans can be made to live for as long as 200 years.

Back in 2008, I was privileged to interview respected geriatrician Robert N. Butler, the man who coined the term “ageism” and who devoted his career to improving the lives and health of elders. I asked him about these research efforts:

RB: What is your view of Aubrey deGray and others who believe human life can be extended for up to 200 years. Is this a worthwhile goal?

RNB: I think the extravagant claims for longer life by people like deGray are questionable, indeed. We do know that it is increasingly likely that we will be able to slow aging while at the same time delay the onset of diseases. This means that we should devote new financial resources to understanding the basic biology of aging, but we should not get carried away.

Yes, indeedy and some are doing as the late Dr. Butler advised while others continue to follow in the footsteps of Ponce de Leon, as we shall see.

But first, here is a nifty little video posted late last year explaining some of the biology of aging (hint: we don't know much about it at all) and how lifespans might be increased.

Integrative Biologist Joao Pedro de Magalhaes is the narrator. It is produced by +Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) in partnership with the Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group at the University of Liverpool Liverpool.

Did you notice all the “probably” statements in that video? More interesting is the assertion that “we know” calorie restriction extends lifespans in rodents by 50 percent.

Uh, not so fast. Although you should go read the full report for more nuanced details, those claims for mouse caloric restriction as possibly applied to humans ran into contradictions two years ago:

”...there is a dearth of evidence that caloric restriction slows ageing in humans. Observational studies have found that people of average weight tend to live longest.

“Nir Barzilai, a gerontologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says that the centenarians he studies have led him to believe that genetics is more important than diet and lifestyle. 'They’re a chubby bunch,' he says.”

You might have caught a reference to resveratrol in the video. It is a compound that occurs in red wine, peanuts, some berries and dark chocolate which researchers have spent years hoping to show that it helps prevent cancers, heart disease and, most exciting to the researchers, extends lifespan.

As it turns out, however. probably not - as the journal JAMA Internal Medicine reported when it published the results of a study at Johns Hopkins partially funded by the U.S. National Institute of Aging:

"In conclusion, this prospective study of nearly 800 older community-dwelling adults shows no association between urinary resveratrol metabolites and longevity. This study suggests that dietary resveratrol from Western diets in community-dwelling older adults does not have a substantial influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer or longevity."

And then there is the free radicals crowd who have long insisted that those molecules, also known as oxidents, should be avoided because they contribute to the aging process. Now, new research from McGill University in Canada reports just the opposite:

"People believe that free radicals are damaging and cause aging,” write the researchers, “but the so-called 'free radical theory of aging' is incorrect.

“We have turned this theory on its head by proving that free radical production increases during aging because free radicals actually combat - not cause - aging. In fact, in our model organism we can elevate free radical generation and thus induce a substantially longer life (of cells)."

This may have future application with neurodegenerative diseases.

The reason for most of the increase in life expectancy during the 20th century is a question of math: science reduced and/or eliminated many of the diseases of childhood so that fewer people died within the first year or two of life skewing the statistics and lifting the apparent life expectancy.

(As Wikipedia notes: “During the early 1600s in England, life expectancy was only about 35 years, largely because two-thirds of all children died before the age of four.”)

For many years, some scientists have been hard at work to accomplish similar results with the diseases of age – that is, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc.

If preventions or cures cannot be found, the idea is to push the onset of those diseases into latest possible years of life. It would not necessarily add years to our lives but would improve the health and wellbeing of elders for longer. There has been some progress in that direction though not nearly enough.

That is why Dr. Butler called for more research into understanding the basic biology of aging. He said he had no reason to oppose work to increase longevity but he had reservations about it too.

In his 2008 book, The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life, he seemed conflicted, dismissing longevity research in one breath while also seeing some hope for the ancient, magical idea of the fountain of youth:

”What is at issue is quality of life, especially the interrelationships of population with societal and natural resources. Until we can do better, it is probably just as well if we do not have a breakthrough in longevity.

“Or, perhaps, were we to have a breakthrough, would we move faster in making adjustments?

“...Enthusiasts over the future of cell, tissue, and organ replacement imagine successive, comprehensive reconstitutions of the body. Replacement or regenerative medicine would push death back, presumably indefinitely.

“One must not doubt the possibility of the unexpected in science and uneven evolution of knowledge.”

Undoubtedly so. But for now, that kind of progress appears to be repeatedly thwarted.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Richard Wiesenthal: Simplicity


Customs of an Earlier Age

There are not usually many people in the streets of my suburban town. Even on weekends, I can walk two or three blocks in the main shopping area without passing anyone.

That changes on holidays like last Sunday – Mothers Day – and because it was a gloriously sunny spring day, the park, streets, restaurants and outdoor cafes in the central area where the farmers' market will soon open for the season were crowded with families.

Since I am not a mother and my mother is long dead, I was not involved in this holiday. That left me free to observe the several generations eating and drinking together, talking and laughing, telling stories and all with the mothers, young and old, at the center of the celebration.

Except that it wasn't like that. Just as the media regularly reports about how we live now, technology (over)ruled.

There was a woman at an umbrella table turned away from her family so deeply involved in a phone conversation that she seemed not to notice a child tapping her shoulder.

At another table two kids, probably brother and sister, were intent, thumbs a-thumbing on their phone screens, at some kind of game. Or were they texting? One another?

A young couple who might be in love, stood under a tree holding hands while they each peered into cell phones held in their other hands.

When I took a wider view, everywhere I looked people stared at little screens. White-haired old women in the group played with the babies in carriages or stared at the trees in the middle distance.

Being apart together.

I'm not saying this was true for every family on that plaza but it was enough to be disturbing - maybe half of them.

It's been a long time since I've seen so many people all gathered in one place. I rarely go into Portland. I don't like shopping malls. I never attend arena events where there are certain to be crowds.

So until last Sunday, there had not been a recent opportunity for personal anthropological observation of groupus Americanus in the wild and it was uncanny how closely the scene matched those described by the scolds who regularly nag us to put down our electronic gadgets and engage the world around us.

I've used a cell phone for 12 or 15 years, a smart phone for – oh, I'm guessing five or six years.

I keep a calendar on my cell phone and there is, of course, my contact list along with the public transit app, a turn-by-turn map program that talks to me (“turn left in 50 feet”) and a good camera.

There is a Kindle app I downloaded but the screen is too small to read comfortably so I also have a Kindle paperwhite. There is a browser so I can surf the web but I rarely think to do so. Sometimes when I'm out all day, I check your comments but not often.

A friend or two complain that they can't text me. That was true until my newest phone. Now I do have texting capability but don't tell anyone because I despise the implied immediacy of it – that I am supposed to always read and respond on demand. So I don't.

Oh, one more thing: now and then I – ahem, this may be foreign concept to some - talk on the phone. I haven't had a landline for eight years.

There are no games on my phone and no information that could compromise my bank or other money-related accounts if it were lost or stolen.

As you can see, I have never got the knack of making my cell phone the center of my life particularly when I'm away from home. Aside from travel directions – public transit or driving - I think of it as an emergency device to call a tow truck if my car stops working.

In restaurants, I never lay my phone on the table and if it rings in my handbag when I am with others, I let it go to voice mail.

Now that I think about it, smartphones come with so damned much unnecessary stuff installed that maybe I am the only person who has discovered there is a simple record-and-retrieve function for calls and texts on every cell phone. Could it be?

Because when I've met someone for lunch or dinner who sets their phone on the table as they settle in, I am tempted to excuse myself and leave.

Sometimes they make a pre-emptive strike at apology by telling me they are expecting an important call; sometimes not. But always their eyes wander to the screen and they poke it now and then throughout our meal.

The people who do this are thereafter diminished in my estimation of them – even ones I like - which is only fair since they have already made it obvious that I take second place to anyone, anyone at all, on their telephone.

As you can see, I have not made the transition to 21st century manners and etiquette. I am not keeping up with the zeitgeist of the times and while I strongly believe we all have an obligation to adapt to and adopt innovations that are clear improvements for society (the cell phone and internet are obvious examples), I won't be bullied into behavior that discomforts me and my sensibilities.

Just because "everyone does it" - well, you know what mom said about that.

All the above is, of course, an old person's view and if some scorn me for being a relic of an earlier time, I prefer to think of myself in this instance as Penelope Lively described her 80-year-old self in her book Dancing Fish and Ammonites:

“...some observant time traveler, on the edge of things, bearing witness to the customs of another age.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Browning: Tapioca and Chocolate Pudding


The Losses of Age

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the death of a good friend I had met in 1970. She was younger than I by a handful of years and according to the actuarial tables, she should still be here. I wish she were.

Last year, three other old friends died and undoubtedly one or more others will die this year. After a certain age, that's what happens. If you live long enough. It doesn't even take living to an extremely advanced age to have your friends regularly drop away.

I'm fortunate (for all I know this may be common among elders in general) in being able to call old friends to mind in great detail. I even have conversations with them sometimes. This is not meant to suggest that it is anything at all like having them with me in person.

What gets me is that when we were all younger and hanging out and going places and laughing and crying and making our way through life together, I didn't appreciate how precious our shared time was. Or, at least, I don't recall doing so.

Old people don't get enough credit for withstanding – most of them with great forebearance – what they lose in these last years.

In addition to beloved friends and relatives, some people's mobility goes and where once they ran up and down stairs, played ball games with ease, rough and tumbled with the kids, they are now confined by walkers or sticks or scooters or wheelchairs.

When we leave the workforce – pushed or by choice – we lose not just our livelihood but, in the eyes of the younger, employed population, any value and respect we once earned by our talents and expertise.

Beloved places where we have lived – cities or homes or both - and treasures we have kept close to remind us of important moments past - must be set aside, sold, given away when circumstances demand we live smaller than we have before.

And we must not overlook the ultimate loss for some - our minds - and I can only weep at the thought that in many cases, they know it while it is happening.

The most amazing part is how well we manage the diminution of our presence on this Earth, absorbing the losses, inventing new kinds of lives from the ones we assumed we would have until the end.

Except on days like this one when the personal losses combined with the collective ones I haven't even mentioned swamp the senses.

Here is a video reading of a related poem by Elizabeth Bishop: One Art.

You can find a text of the poem here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: I Can See You Smile


Net Neutrality and Elders

If you have been reading this blog for more than a couple of weeks, you know that I believe in the internet for old people with my heart and soul, for all the reasons I harp on:

It helps keep our brains active and healthy
It is a means to learn new things
It provides a social network of friends, new and old
It keeps us connected to the world
It entertains us

And it does all this even when some of us are no longer capable of getting out and about as easily as we once did.

So it is important to me – and should be to you – when our access to the internet is threatened.

You might have heard of net neutrality. The concept was named a dozen years ago by Tim Wu, now 41 and a law professor at Columbia University. At it's most basic, net neutrality means an open internet,

the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

And that is how the internet has been working in the United States from the beginning - you can get this little blog or any other as easily as any behemoth website. Now, however, that may be about to change.

In the U.S. the internet and access to it is regulated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The current commissioner, Tom Wheeler, has announced that new regulations will soon be forthcoming and the internet community is fighting back because

”...the F.C.C. has signaled its intention to grant cable and telephone companies the right to charge content companies like Netflix, Google, Yahoo or Facebook for speeding up transmissions to people’s homes,” explains The New York Times.

“And this is happening as the F.C.C. is considering whether to bless the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which could put a single company in control of the Internet pipes into 40 percent of American homes.”

Here is a well-done video that gives you all the information you need to understand all this:

Or, as Philip J. Weiser, dean of the University of Colorado Law School, put it:

“'It’s like FedEx,' he said. 'You pay a certain amount for overnight delivery and a certain amount for two-day delivery. You could end up with something like that for the Internet.'”

Netflix, Facebook, etc. can afford to pay Time Warner and Comcast the big bucks to make sure we can get their content quickly. I, however, cannot afford it.

Nor can entrepreneurs who are trying to fund their projects. Nor charities. Or community organizations. Or your grandkid who wants to show you his or her new puppy. Or political activists. Or most elders.

As The New York Times put it:

“The future of the Internet — which means the future of communications, culture, free speech and innovation — is up for grabs.”

The social and political harm of a pay-for-play internet is unmeasurable.

FCC Commissioner Wheeler may announce new regulations on Thursday. There are good people all over the internet protesting these potential changes and there is a petition for maintaining a “fair and open internet” at Daily Kos. Please go sign it.

If you want more information, the same New York Times story I linked to above has done a good job of covering the issue from several points of view.

At The New Yorker, Tim Wu himself offers a solution.

So I don't overwhelm anyone with too much information, just search “net neutrality” under the news silo and you'll get a lot of good stuff.

Please support an open internet. It is crucial to all people - old as well as young.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: At Least I Phoned


Sinking of the Titanic - Mom’s Conception

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronni here. I'm taking a day off and since it is the day after Mother's Day, here's a poem from Tom Delmore – from a point of view you might not have considered about your mom. See you tomorrow.

By Tom Delmore

(Ronni - Here is a poem I wrote about the conception of my mother. I figured backwards that it was in the same month as the Titanic sinking.)

I wondered if they counted back
Maybe ice shattering
Shook some part of the marital bed
In rural Minnesota
Did they wake the next morning
As usual
Read the paper or hear
A Greek chorus of tragedy
Was mom conceived as snow blew
Or in a warm front passing
Did mom’s mom have a glow
Or was she pondering another
Mouth to feed
Conceived in the month
That the greatest ship sunk
An exclamation No
An aberration in timing
I want to imagine a slower
Paced world two years previous
Before the war to end all
Wars
Did mom’s mom get a chill
At the titanic news
One that co-laced into amniotic
Fluid like a blood drop in water
Or did a bit of meconium
Settle in the recesses of the fetus

I don’t have a clue of this conception
The tell
By this descending ladder of questions
But the anniversary of the Titanic
Over a century ago still fills paper
With black ink and voices the air waves
And I cannot recall for the life of me
Mom’s vibrato.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: My Many Mothers – A Mother's Day Tribute